Financial Killers Impact How You Grow Your Business

July 11th, 2013

I know business owners who are literally afraid to make a plan. And they are in pain. Right now. Today. The pain comes from the chaos that is driving their decisions. And that chaos is occurring because they don’t have a plan. It’s a vicious cycle.

The good news is the cycle can be broken.

The bad news is those business owners who are afraid to make a plan have to get over it. That is if they want to break the cycle.

Failure to plan properly is just one of the 6 financial killers that affect your ability to make your business successful.

Take a moment to explore these financial killers — are you guilty of any of them?  Could just focusing on one of these improve your ability to make and keep more money?

Financial Killer #1: Failure to plan properly.

Financial Killer #2: Failure to understand how your company makes and keeps money.

Financial Killer #3: Failure to view profit generation as an organizational function.

Financial Killer #4: Failure to understand the relationship between price, volume and costs.

Financial Killer #5: Failure to manage cash flow.

Financial Killer #6: Failure to manage growth.

Not too sexy, right? I’m not giving you great marketing ideas or telling you how to sell better or how to utilize social media.

I’m talking about the foundational concepts that have been serving successful businesses for hundreds of years. Yet too many business owners, caught up in the passion of what they do or the belief that they just have to ‘get the word out’, ignore these basics. They may not pay the price in the short term, but they will pay the price in the long term.

Finding solutions for these 6 financial killers mainly take the one thing a business owner isn’t willing to give. And that’s time.

Time to think about your plan.

Time to think about how you make money and how you will keep the money you make.

Time to set up a profit model and adjust it as your company grows.

Time to understand what it costs you to produce your product or service.

Time to set up a cash flow management system.

Time to proactively plan for growth.

The amazing thing about time, according to Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings is this: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

What are you doing with the time you have every day to run a successful business?

Want to learn to love your financials? Learn the positive side of making a plan that works and drives more profit to your bottom line? My Destination, Greatness program lays the foundation for growth while helping you proactively plan for your success.

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3 Surefire Tactics to Making and Implementing Your Business Goals

July 9th, 2013

Are you frustrated with your attempts at setting business goals and watching them dissolve into the recesses of your file drawers?

Have you resolved not to set any more goals in order to avoid feeling like a failure?

Relax. Goals are good. You just need a system that allows the process to work for you instead of against you.

Surefire Tactic #1:  Start with focusing on your top 3 goals for the year.

What do you want to focus on? What are the 3 biggest areas of profitability? What do you need to get done in the next 12 months? Once you are clear on those top 3 goals, everything you do from that moment on has to be put up against this reality:  is this activity helping me achieve one of my 3 goals? If the answer is no, stop doing that activity.

This process stops what I refer to as ‘scattered thinking’. It’s the precursor to chasing those ‘shiny white objects’ that always sound so promising (read easier) and then aren’t.

As business owners we are challenged with staying focused – there are a lot of distractions and a lot of work that has to get done every day. To set priorities that keep you focused on those top 3 goals remember that your top priority is driving revenue into your business – my mantra is ‘follow the money’. If you are trying to choose between reading your Facebook page or picking up the phone and calling that warm lead, remember to ‘follow the money’.

Surefire Tactic #2:  Create specific initiatives for each goal.

You have your top 3 goals selected now let’s create 3 – 4 initiatives under each one that move you closer to achieving those goals. Start slow. If one of your goals is to build a new website, maybe your first initiative is to research and hire a webmaster. A second initiative could be to find 10 websites you like and use them as models for your own. When you have completed these two initiatives, add other steps that need to be done.

This is taking on those 3 goals in what I call ‘bite-sized pieces’. You don’t have to swallow the entire concept of creating that website overnight. Take it one step at a time and you’ll be amazed at how much work gets done. On top of that, you are also creating behaviors that only increase your efficiency.

Surefire Tactic #3:  Track your success.

Statistics prove that when you track and measure progress, you increase your outcomes by 15-30%!  In the case of creating that website, setting milestones of progress and deadlines is an excellent way of tracking your success. Your 3 goals can all have measurements that tell you where you are at any given time and show your progress. This is the feedback that lets you know something is working and more importantly when something isn’t working.

Find simple ways of tracking your progress every day or every week. You’ll be surprised at how easy it can be and how well it keeps you motivated to see that progress turn into profits.

Strategic planning has its place. However, if you need help in getting traction in your business, staying focused on tactical approaches to completing business goals will ignite your profit-engine today providing you with a business that will around tomorrow.

Want to learn to love your financials? Learn the positive side of making a plan that works and drives more profit to your bottom line? My Destination, Greatness program lays the foundation for growth while helping you proactively plan for your success.

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3 Secrets to Profitability in Your Business (and they aren’t about money!)

July 3rd, 2013

When anyone mentions profit when talking about a business, it’s normal to immediately think financials, margins, pricing — anything to do with numbers. And while numbers are critical, there are other factors that aren’t driven by financials that a business owner has to pay attention to.

Secret #1: Know where you see your business in 18 – 24 months.

The first secret to profitability is being clear about where you are going and how you plan on getting there. What does it look like? Who are you serving? How much are you making? This doesn’t have to require months of strategic planning sessions or downloading business plans from the Internet. This has everything to do with you, the business owner, and what you want your business to become.

Too many business owners come up with an idea, immediately start selling that idea and when sales slowdown, they are left second-guessing their product or service. It happens all the time which is why in certain networking groups you’ll hear business owners lament ‘I don’t know which of my businesses to talk about today’.  Since their first business didn’t succeed, they latched onto that next ‘shiny white object’ because they bought into someone else’s vision. It won’t work.

You need to take the time to SEE your business in the future and then make everything you do, every day, help map that route.

Secret #2:  Make the time to ‘think’ about your business.

The second secret to profitability is taking time away from your business to think about your business. Clarity comes with vision, your vision drives your plan and your plan drives profit.

Business owners should find 8 hours every month to simply explore what’s working and what isn’t. To think about new opportunities, new technologies, new markets, new products/services. This is a time to relax and allow your mind to think what’s possible and to make corrections if needed. Your business can quickly consume you. If you intentionally plan to disconnect at least one day a month and explore new possibilities, a renewed sense of purpose can add money to your bottom line.

Secret #3:  Creating a plan to targeting, capturing and caring for customers.

The third secret to profitability is all about the people you try so hard to impress – your customers. What’s your plan? If you’ve set up your profit plan, you’ve identified how much revenue you need to bring into your business every month.

To achieve those numbers, you need more than just a way of generating leads and landing new customers. You need to make sure you are targeting the right customer, capturing the right customer and have a plan in place to take care of those customers when they say yes.

Too often a prospect becomes a customer and once they have bought or completed the project, they go off our radar screen. It happens. We get busy chasing after the next potential customer. Not a good way to sustain a profitable business. The reality is keeping those customers is critical to your success. One approach is to create a Customer Charter. A ‘hang on the wall’ reminder poster that outlines how you are going to treat those customers in order to keep those customers.

Profitability isn’t all about numbers. Numbers are important but ignoring these 3 secrets to profitability will make getting to those numbers harder.

Want to learn to love your financials? Learn the positive side of making a plan that works and drives more profit to your bottom line?  My Destination, Greatness program lays the foundation for growth while helping you proactively plan for your success.

 

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3 Business Mistakes You Must Avoid

June 29th, 2013

If you think you need to spend more money on marketing, or hire a sales person, or buy the latest and greatness gadget for your business, I have some advice for you. STOP! Here are 3 of the biggest mistakes business owners make every day. Get these nailed and then start planning your next step.

Mistake #1:  Not knowing the costs of running your business.
You have to know what it costs you to keep the doors of your business open. Guessing isn’t an option. I worked with a business owner who was five years into her business and was struggling to turn a profit. Each time I asked her ‘what does it cost you each month to run your business’? After giving me excuses such as, ‘I don’t have time to worry about that, I need to be focused on sales’, or ‘I have a good idea’, or ‘I put everything on credit cards’ (as if that solved the problem). The reality was this: once we spent the time and dissected her costs, they were over $2000 a month more than what she thought they were. ‘No wonder I’m not making any money’ was her reality check. Don’t delay. Figure this one out now.

Mistake #2:  Not projecting the amount of sales you intend to drive into your business every month.
If you aren’t creating a profit plan for your business, you are flying an airplane without an altimeter and you will crash. It’s just a matter of time. A profit plan is my name for a budget. But since the ‘b’ word only causes business owners to run from the room screaming, I prefer to ask business owners if they would like to create a plan to be profitable. A profit plan forces you to be real. Once you know what it costs you to run your business (see Mistake #1) you know that you have to bring in at least that amount of money every month to breakeven. By projecting your revenues over a 12 month period, you’ll know immediately what’s working and what isn’t by comparing your projections to your actuals.

Mistake #3:  Not understanding how fast your cash is coming into your business and going out of your business every day.
When I’m talking with small business owners, I ask two questions:  Do you know how much cash you have in the bank today? Do you know how much cash you’ll have in the bank next week? Knowing the answers to these two questions is what drives successful businesses. Cash IS king. But too many business owners treat it like a distant (and not much loved) relative! Managing your cash flow, when cash is coming into your business and when cash is going out of your business, is the #1 focus for any business owner. If you aren’t managing your cash, you aren’t managing your business.

While the financials aren’t the sexiest part of your business, they are the most critical.

If you become passionate about the financial aspects of your business, you’ll always have a business to be passionate about.

Want to learn to love your financials? Learn the positive side of making a plan that works and drives more profit to your bottom line?  My Destination, Greatness program lays the foundation for growth while helping you proactively plan for your success.

 

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Financial Dos and Don’ts When Running a Business

June 26th, 2013

As an experienced business owner, I know the value of keeping things simple, especially when it comes to running a business. As business owners we get bombarded every day with challenges that have to be dealt with (they won’t wait), decisions that have to be made (they can’t wait) and ideas that can scatter our thinking so we chase those ‘shiny white objects’ instead of focusing on our core competencies (they have to wait).

Over the years, my clients have found these five simple concepts helpful. Remember, it’s not the big things that take good businesses down, it’s the small things.

#1:  Follow the Money — Adopt this MANTRA as you produce more revenue so you can grow your business.

DON’T waste time on activities that don’t bring in revenue.

DO focus every single day on 3 – 4 activities that you can do that will start your Revenue Machine working.

DON’T waste time networking with groups that aren’t going to move your business ahead.

DO be very picky about where you spend your time. If a group offers great contacts where you can plant seeds for growth, great. If the group is only a ‘feel good’ group, or a reason for you to get away from the real work of generating income, rethink the time you are spending with them.

#2:  Get something productive done every single day that moves you toward making money.

DON’T spend untold hours during the day entering data into your database (or filing, or cleaning out your office). Do this work at night, not during the productive working hours of the day.

DO create lists of people to contact and make a commitment to talk to 75% of them every day.

DON’T run out and buy every gadget, every new tape dispenser, the latest ‘get rich quick’ marketing scheme.

DO spend time thinking about what you need to really generate money. If the expenditure of the dollar has the potential of bringing you in two dollars, that may be a good deal. If the expenditure has long term ability to add to your productivity, like a contact manager database, find the money.

#3:  Track your money.

DON’T make the assumption that since you don’t have any money, there’s really no reason to track the comings and goings of your money.

DO put together an easy-to-use Profit Plan and Cash Flow report that outlines where and when your income is hitting your pocket and where and when your expenses are leaving your pocket.

DON’T make rash decisions when you panic because no money is coming in.

DO go back over the ‘seeds’ you have planted and find other ways of harvesting those seeds.

#4:  Create partnerships.

DON’T try and build a successful business on your own.

DO start thinking about what you offer that someone else could profit from and see if there are partnership opportunities with people who have been around a lot longer than you have.

DON’T give away the farm in these partnerships. Think clearly and confidently about what you bring to the table and NEVER lose sight of the value you bring. NEVER let yourself believe someone knows YOUR business better than you do.

DO find people who share your values, your beliefs and that get excited about your vision. Explore ways to work together even if at first, it’s only sharing links on websites.

#5:  Be very clear about what you want.

DON’T think you can simply muddle along and your business will run itself or that hiring someone right out of the box will solve all of your problems. You are the critical component in your business.

DO write down the Vision and your Values and where you see yourself in 3 – 5 years. If you can SEE the future, you can build the future. Letting the future happen won’t cut it.

DON’T be afraid to dream big, to talk to people who are more successful than you are, to find people you can ask for help from.

DO get outside your comfort zone – every day, every week, every month.

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The 7 Reasons Business Owners Don’t Create a Financial Plan

March 4th, 2012

I believe that smart business owners make a PLAN to be profitable. I also know that most business owners don’t take the time to make a PLAN to be profitable. I know that because I talk to business owners all the time who believe they can simply focus all their energy on their marketing and sales efforts and the money will come.

That’s true. Good marketing followed by great sales will bring in money.

However, the main purpose in setting up a business is to make a profit. Bringing in money is one aspect of running your business. The other aspect is making a profit. And that can’t be done without a plan.

Here are the 7 reasons why business owners don’t create financial plans:

1. You fear money or what you think money will do to you.
2. You won’t like what you see.
3. You don’t think it’s important.
4. You don’t think it’s necessary.
5. You don’t know how.
6. You’ve managed without one for so long, why start now?
7. If you ignore it long enough, you won’t need it.

Which one works for you? Your business should have been designed to bring in a profit. If you are profitable, congrats!

If you aren’t profitable or don’t know if you are profitable, start making a plan to be profitable.

It’s my goal to teach business owners the financial basics so that they can sustain their business through good and bad times. Every and any sized business needs to operate with a plan. I created Destination-Greatness.com with you in mind. This is a self-directed on line program that provides you everything you need to set up a profitable business. After all, what other kind of business is there?

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Making Money is Only Half the Battle

February 26th, 2012

There is a lot of information in the business world about Making Money — there are Sales Gurus all over the Internet — touting their solution to selling and Marketing Gurus also advising you on how to generate leads. And yes, you should listen to the ones that resonate for you. I do.

However, you can be a powerful sales person and an extremely effective marketing person and still struggle building your business.

Why?

Because you don’t want to be bothered with the financial aspects of your business. You hand over the financials to a bookkeeper or your CPA and you trust that they will take care of the most critical aspect of your business.

And they will. To an extent. They will make sure your entries are correct in your accounting software. They will send out invoices. They will pay bills. They’ll figure your taxes.

I have several examples of business owners who abdicated all responsibility of their financials over to someone else only to find out later they were in a world of hurt. One bookkeeper decided to not pay quarterly taxes. When the business owner received the tax bill of thousands of dollars in back taxes and penalties, the bookkeeper was fired. And the business owner almost went under trying to pay off the debt. Who is really at fault?

Another business owner found out their bookkeeper was skimming off the top, writing checks to bogus companies and depositing the funds into a personal account. Another example of a business owner abdicating authority to someone else when it came to the financial aspects of their business.

These are the stories that make you cringe. And they are so preventable.

There is nothing more important for a business owner to understand then the financials of their business.

You don’t have to handle all aspects of those financial pieces. However, you do need to understand what is going on and you have to direct the activity.

This responsibility for a business owner never stops. The level of involvement changes. But a business owner can never step away from understanding the financials of their business.

Two critical financial concepts every business owner should focus on from day one:

1) Understanding how your company is going to Make Money:   This is all about intentionally determining what your product or service is going to cost you to produce, understanding at what volume you’ll have to sell to breakeven and setting out a 12-month profit plan in order to stay ahead of problems and capitalize upon successes.

2) Understanding your cash flow cycle and managing Cash Flow:   All businesses are not equal when it comes to their cash flow cycle. Some businesses collect money when they sell a product or service. Their cash flow cycle is at point of sale. Other businesses collect a set amount up front and collect the remainder when a project is completed. Their cash flow cycle could be 30 – 60 days or more. Running cash flow reports at least every 2 weeks when a company is getting a handle on receivables and payables is critical.

If a business owner attends to these two financial priorities, he or she will set in place a solid and predictable foundation on which to build a successful business. Anything less is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Start to Make and Keep More Money

February 1st, 2012


http://www.destination-greatness.com

Here are 3 activities you can do TODAY to start making and keeping more money.

1) You have to have a plan. This isn’t a 15 page document with charts and graphs. I’m talking about what you need to do in the next 3 months to make more money. Start short term. Evaluate what will land you more business. If you’ve been blogging and no one is reading your blogs, find out why. If you have been networking and none of those leads have panned out, find out why. If you’ve been calling people and they aren’t getting back to you, find out why. I’m all about starting with REALITY and going from there. So what plan do you need to start revenue flowing your way in the next three months?

2) You need to create a profit plan. This is a budget but I get all kinds of push back when I talk to business owners about budgets. So I call this your Profit Plan. It’s how you will plan to be profitable. By projecting your financial vision for the rest of this year, and identifying what revenue goals each month that looks like, you have put a stake in the ground. Now you need to make a plan on how you are going to meet those revenue projections. If you are also projecting your expenses each month, you’ll know how to adjust your thinking months before you end up in trouble.

3) You need to track and measure to see what works. If you don’t have a goal, say you want to land 5 new clients in April, then landing no new clients in April will be okay. Set up key success indicators to track so you can evaluate what is working. As entrepreneurs we love to chase that ‘shiny new object’. Chasing isn’t intentional. Chasing can take you a hundred miles out of your way. And it can cost you a bunch of money.

Want to have help in creating your Path to Greatness? My Destination Greatness program could be your road map to a sustainable and profitable business.

http://www.destination-greatness.com

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Oops – you mean that didn’t work for you?

January 1st, 2012

Starting and running a successful business is NOT easy.
There is no FAST TRACK to success.

MOST of these online marketers started 10 – 15 years
ago and have worked hard to get where they are today.

And for that I congratulate them! What I have no
patience with is their ‘stories’ that leave you believing
that getting where they are is Easy. Affordable. Not
Risky. Fun.

==> NO ONE is talking about how to build a sustainable
profit model.

==> NO ONE is talking about how to manage your cash.

==> NO ONE is talking about the steps it takes to PLAN to
be profitable.

==> NO ONE is explaining that running ANY business is
all about RISK. And that to mitigate that RISK you
have to understand the foundational aspects of business.

Stop Chasing Those ‘Shiny White Objects’!

I talk to business owners all the time! And too many are
struggling because they believe that if they just chase
the next ‘shiny white object’ they will succeed!

If they just set up a Sales Page and learn how to
write copy for a Sales Page, they will get rich!

No one is asking business owners if a SALES PAGE is
a part of their OVERALL BUSINESS OBJECTIVES!

One of my clients recently tried to set up teleseminars.
She had been swept up in the rhetoric of one of the
online gurus who promised she could make 6 figures in
income by simply learning how to conduct teleseminars!

You know what? She gave it the old college try and she
failed! Why did she fail?

Because, when I asked her to step back and remind herself
about what her Vision was for her business, teleseminars
weren’t a part of that vision.

Her Core Competency is Speaking. And she has been a
successful speaker for over 20 years. Yet she was
ready and willing to ignore her core competency, jump
on the teleseminar bandwagon JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE TOLD
A GREAT STORY ABOUT GETTING RICH ON TELESEMINARS!

STOP! THINK!

What is your overall strategy for YOUR business?

What is your Vision? Where do you SEE your business in
18 – 24 months?

THERE IS NO QUICK TRIP TO THE TOP!

There is hard work, focused energy, critical planning
and a strong vision.

Are you ready to try for some of that? Even if I can’t
promise you ‘6 figures’ in income in 90 days, would
you be willing to spend some of your hard earned cash
to learn how to:

1. Set up a business to make and keep money

2. Make plans that works

3. Manage your cash so you have more of it to spend

4. Stop spinning your wheels and never getting ahead

5. Start building a foundation for a long term business

I’m not suggesting that teleseminars aren’t a viable
delivery mechanism for your business.

I use them every month.

BUT — I SET MY VISION for my business and I researched
how teleseminars COULD HELP ME REACH MY VISION.

I didn’t just start offering teleseminars because I could.

Anyone can offer a teleseminar. The people that pump you to
use teleseminars are also getting an affiliate hit for
everyone that signs up under their affiliate link.

So of course they want you to use Teleseminars!

You Are Critical to Your Success

The question ONLY YOU can answer is this:

==> WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?

<== THAT is the BIGGEST single issue that business owners struggle with
ALL THE TIME!

It’s why we chase every ‘new online marketing idea’
that comes into our in boxes. When you don’t have a PLAN,
it’s easy to think ANY PLAN will work. That’s where you would be wrong.

The only plan that will work for your business is the plan
that you develop based on:

1. Market research – this requires a plan
2. Identifying your ideal customer – this requires a plan
3. Setting up a plan to make a profit — this requires a plan
4. Managing your cash – this requires a plan
5. Driving revenue into your business – this requires a plan
6. Building a list of people who believe in you – this requires a plan
7. Knowing how much money you can spend – this requires a plan

I get so frustrated listening to all the successful online guru’s
attempt to make you believe that the success they have achieved
was easy – that they had one difficult time – then an epiphany – then
succeeded beyond their wildest imagination!

And they make sure you know that if you BUY THEIR Product or Service,
you will achieve the same results.

Make a Plan — Implement the Plan

Here’s what I believe.

==> You will be successful in business if you create a plan that outlines the HOW.

==> You will be successful if you create a plan that outlines the WHAT.

==> You, and only you, can determine the WHEN.

==> You and only you can determine the WHO.

No one can do this for you. To think that if you just apply what
someone else is doing — with blinders on to the uniqueness of what
you do and how you do it — you will more than likely fail.

Building businesses has been done successfully for centuries.
While the ability of a business owner to reach larger audiences
has never been easier, building a successful business still
requires sound decision making skills, a solid plan, money,
and solid thinking.

Laurie Taylor is a business growth specialist. Her program Destination,
Greatness will begin soon. For information on how to help your business
make and keep more money, visit http://www.destination-greatness.com
and listen to Laurie’s FREE video on the 3 Critical Concepts to Grow a
Grow a Successful Business.

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