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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

What's Missing In Your Business?

You know that feeling you get when you know something is missing, but you just don't know what it is?  You 'should' be making way more money, but you're not.  You 'should' be moving forward faster with your projects, but you're not.  You 'should' be engaging with way more people, but you're not!  

When I looked underneath all of the 'shoulds' in one of my businesses it came down to one thing.  Consistency. I was great at doing lots of the things that were needed to make it work. Occasionally. Randomly. When I felt inspired. When I remembered. When I wasn't distracted with client projects. And when I looked at the times the business had worked really well, it was when I was doing the business generating and expanding activities CONSISTENTLY!

Most of us have some idea of what to do to create growth in our business.  When we first started we figured it out - because it was get it to work or go back to the JOB.  Motivation comes from interesting places!  And once we had it figured out and the business was moving forward, we got busy with other activities.  The actions that sound important, the actions that are required to service our customers. The actions that took us away from the genuinely essential actions.

These are the actions that keep a business running...  Somewhere in your business there are some actions missing that make the difference between a thriving business and a surviving business.  What are they?  It's different for every business.  You know your business model and you know what it takes to keep the engine humming.  And if you aren't sure, that's your first action - find out!!

If you know what it is, how much attention are you giving to the daily, weekly or monthly actions that keep the engine in tune and humming along effortlessly?  If a few things have fallen off the consistency wagon, now is the time to change that.

I know what you are thinking.  "If it was easy for me to be consistent with these things I'd be doing it!"  Yes, I hear you! Consistency not natural for me either - I much prefer to play with new ideas!!  And I'm inviting you to find a way to make it work for you - because you know and I know that when you do these things consistently, your business will grow!

Here are three ways I get myself in the energy of being consistent:
1)  Produce in blocks.  For example, instead of writing random blog posts because I haven't posted lately and I need to show up, I'll write 10 - 15 posts at a time and schedule them in advance.  Faster and easier and everyone feels the love!

2)  Delegate.  There are just some things you'll never get to.  Find someone who is better than you at the task in hand and make it their job to deliver regularly.  Make a diary note so you can check the task is being completed.

3)  Power Hours.  I've talked about these before.  They are one of my favourite things.  Make a list of all those small things that need doing regularly that you just have to do and set aside a daily or weekly power hour.  It might be making client appointments, paying your team.  Whatever it is that will create more space and more possibilities for the future, schedule it!  Some weeks I even have two!  Because I know that an hour of priorities each week saves me many more hours down the track.  And we'd all like to work less right?

So, this week's business coaching challenge is to identify at least two things that would make a difference to your business if you did them consistently, and set up a system for getting them done!  You don't need to be the source, you just need a system that works!

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The Mysteries of (Not) Delivering Value

WARNING:  I'm having a rant today... that's what happens when I put on my 'customer' cap instead of my coaching cap... luckily dear readers, it doesn't happen too often!  There's some valuable lessons in here for us all :)

In conversation with a real estate agent he mentioned they charge $990 + GST to upload a property for sale to 14 websites and put a sign out the front.  This was their cheapest advertising package for selling a home.  

I have an extensive marketing background and a pretty good working knowledge of marketing on the internet.  When I expressed my astonishment at the lack of value, all the fellow could say in response was “I’m the principal, this is our cheapest advertising package”.  It seems his job title was supposed to make this lack of value acceptable?    

He then proceeded to stutter and stammer that writing the copy takes him 2 – 3 hours… I know amazing copywriters who could get it sorted in less than an hour for a grand investment of around $80.  So what exactly are his clients paying for?  Someone to sell their home, or an incredibly expensive copywriter??

Big hint to business owners – you should never be doing work that you could outsource for way less than what you could be earning. You need to spend your time doing what you are best at!  If this guy spent those 2 – 3 hours getting new listings or selling properties his business would be infinitely more profitable.  

 Then there is the question of the 14 websites – at roughly 10 minutes each for uploading pictures and copy that’s just over 2 hours for an admin person – say $40/hr.  Of course, this also assumes it is of value to use those 14 sites.  Most real estate traffic goes through just a couple of main sites – those 14 sites are really awesome for his search engine optimization though!  And how wonderful that his clients pay for him to be “#1 on” as he proudly informed me.  Sounds very impressive… unless you understand what it really means!

Unfortunately, your brand being #1 won’t sell my house.  Most people search by suburb not agent.  Do you not understand your business or do you think your customers are stupid?  Either way that’s not a great value proposition for building a strong business in an industry that is facing tough times.

And lastly there’s the sign for about $150… In total, even my best estimates for marketing costs don’t get much past $350 if the agent is operating efficiently!  So at $990+ that is some profit margin.  Given the extortionate price of housing in our fair country, real estate agents also receive a very generous commission on sales as well.  I know a lot of business owners who would love margins like that!

Now at this point some of you are going ‘what’s wrong with that?’  Isn’t the point of business to make money?  Yes!  Absolutely!  But not in a way that offers no value to your customers or pretty much assumes they are stupid.  The playing field is levelling AND becoming more transparent.  Your business practices need to evolve!

When both you and the customer are satisfied with the deal you will build relationships that will create referrals, repeat business and ultimately business growth – you’ll be irresistible and desirable and you won’t need to charge for something that should be included in the service!  Imagine if that agent had said “we have a basic marketing package that is included free if we sell your house.”  That would have been much more attractive to a prospective seller than what he actually said: “If the client doesn’t pay for marketing up front the price for this service goes up to $1290 + GST.” WOW!  Knock me out… not even banks are getting interest rates like that!  I’m surprised he’s not receiving daily takeover bids!

The reality is if you are not delivering genuine value which is valued by your customers, you’re going to find you are facing more and more resistance.  The era of greed is good is over.  People are saving and considering their purchases much more carefully than ever before.

By the end of the conversation the real estate agent was half-heartedly suggesting he could negotiate on the marketing costs.  Unfortunately, from a client perspective, the preceding conversation had already cost him the listing. He failed to see that selling is no longer about money – it is all about value.  I am unclear as to whether this agent just doesn't get it or his BS sales pitch works on enough people to get by.  What you need to understand is that if you come across customers who see through your BS sales pitch, you look stupid and you are damaging the reputation of your business.

Most of us are no longer interested in working with people who either don’t know what they are doing or think its fine to overcharge.  We, as customers, have choice.  More and more business owners are creating true value for their clients.  Those businesses are building a solid platform for growth.  And therein lie the lessons for us all.

The New Energies of Business are here.  It is just not good business to overcharge your customers.  It’s time to start thinking about where you are not providing value in your business?  Where you are not efficient and need to find more effective approaches?  Where you are not valuing your customers? And where is what you are offering not even relevant to the value they are looking for?  

What can you change? Where there is a lack of value there is always a way to take advantage of that in the market. Look at where customers are pushing back about price and develop value propositions that create new paradigms and standards in your industry.  When you take a leadership position in creating and providing value, your competition becomes irrelevant!  (And if you don’t know what your customers are saying about your pricing, it’s time to get amongst it and talk to them!)

If you are going to have a successful business as we move forward into the new energies, now is the time to put your new platforms in place. 

Would you like to join us at our regular New Energies of Business events?  On August 29 at Peregian Beach we'll be discussing how to create value, how the energy of contribution plays out in business and how loving your work creates profits... if you can't be there you can order the videos.  Our presenters and facilitators are experienced business people who are already living the new energies and know what it takes to transform business.  How does it get better than that? 

What are you seeing with your business and the value it offers?  What value have you experienced in other businesses lately?  Comment below!!

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Rework Your Business Strategies

If you are tired of throwing out your strategies time after time (or you need to throw out the ones you've got and revitalise your business!), the phenomenally useful book “Rework”, written by the founders of 37Signals, offers some of the best advice on business strategy I have seen in a long time…  consider these five little gems (and there's more Rework inspiration at :

“Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service.”  If you ever wondered where to find your twenty of so points of difference to your competitors, this is a fantastic place to start!

“You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you've done it.”  The best way to answer your strategy questions is to put your toe in the water and get real customer feedback.  Don’t just imagine… test and measure!!

“Saying yes when you should say no leaves no bandwidth available for the great rather than the merely good.”  What’s NOT in your strategic plan matters more than what is in some ways!!

“The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch.”  Quick wins… quick wins… quick wins are the key to getting traction and profits quickly. I launched a product for BlissTribe before I had a website… I was testing the BlissTribe concept and playing with ideas… now I know it has great legs and is worth putting lots of time into!!

“A business without a path to profit is a hobby.”  This is my favourite… I see this happening every day with new businesses… the funny thing is an hour or two spent on developing your business model (ie the plan of where your profits come from) will solve it!!

If you want some different perspectives on Accelerating Your Business strategically, the next Revive Playshop is for you.  21 June 2010 in Brisbane, Australia – miss it and you’ll miss out on insights that will make your business more profitable than you can imagine!!

There's more Rework inspiration at too - what's your best strategic business advice?  Share it below...

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Common Small Business Pricing Mistakes

New business owners often get stuck when it comes to setting pricing. Pricing is determined by factors such as positioning, competition, market demand and, surprisingly, how you value yourself and the services and products that you offer!

Have you ever found yourself pricing a product or service in your business based on what you would pay in your current financial circumstances?  Did you stop to think about whether your personal perspectives are in any way a good match for your ideal customer?

Pricing is a choice.  But rarely do business owners exercise that choice with awareness of the potentials created by different price points.  Let’s consider a brief case study…

Erin is a natural health practitioner who specializes in a couple of healing modalities.  She is making $60 an hour and sees clients for 20 hours a week on average.  This equates to $1200 a week – not quite enough to put her into GST territory, but getting close.  By the time you take out taxes and costs of running the business (eg marketing, hiring space, training etc), Erin brings home closer to $30 a session - $600 a week is not a lot to live on!

So, let’s have a look at the common small business traps Erin has fallen into: She is doing what she loves and is great at, but is not reaping the financial rewards – she needs to charge what she is worth.
  • She is swapping time for hours – there is no leverage in her business – if she doesn’t work, nor does the business
  • She has not differentiated her service sufficiently so that clients will pay a premium.
  • She doesn’t believe people will pay more than she is charging – but she hasn’t tested a higher pricepoint.
  • She doesn’t like asking for money for helping people - her beliefs are in conflict with her purse!
Have you ever fallen into any of these traps?  What choices did you make to improve your financial position?  Share your story below – just click the Comment link.

Need inspiration for making more money in your business?  Book your place for the April 19 2010 Playshop:  ‘Show Me The Money’ – you’ll discover more about money and your business than you thought possible!!

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Simple Rules for Business Prosperity

I was talking with a business coaching client recently about what they had learned during the GFC.  One of the key things they are changing in their business is the way they look at debt – instead of pulling every cent out of the business and investing it personally, they are now considering ways to reinvest their profits into the business so that they need never worry about another financial crisis again.

This conversation reminded me of some uncommon but simple rules for business prosperity that I learned from Access Consciousness… what would change in your business and your life if you did these three simple things?

1.    Save 10%
If you put 10% of every dollar that comes into your life away and never touch it. Within a year, your whole financial situation will change. When you save the 10%, you finally realize that you have money!

2.    Ask Questions:
With everything you buy, ask: “If I buy you, will you make me money?” If you ask that, every molecule in the universe will support you in making money.

3.    Willingness to Receive
Many business owners are very independent and not in the habit of being willing to receive…  What would it take for you to be aware of where you cut off the energy of receiving because of your point of view, your judgments or your unawareness of the possibilities that could occur if you are willing to ask more questions?

If money weren’t the issue, what would you choose?

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How Creativity Can Generate BIG Profits

Creative spaces can help you think differently!
Photo credit:

Many business owners spend exactly zero minutes per year on creativity and innovation.  Richard Branson spends, oh, probably around half of every week!  How many multi-zillion dollar businesses do you run? Do you think creativity and innovation could be worth just a little of your precious time?

So what can you do to make your business more creative and more profitable?  One technique I love for its simple but highly effective profit-generating capacity is to expand your product or service offering.

When I was 14 my parents bought a business in a beachside tourist village.  The bloke who previously owned it quietly said to my Dad… “I reckon you could add another 10 – 15 product lines, but that would be about the limit.”  The shop had around 50 product lines at the time.  My parents added another 500!!  Profits skyrocketed...It allowed us all to live very comfortably for many years…and it enabled my parents to sell the business for substantially more than they bought it for.

Are you limiting your thinking on how many product lines your business can offer?  Are you too tired to think of more?  Here’s three ways you can find new product lines with ease:

  1. Research your (international) competitors online.  Often the US market is 1 – 2 years ahead of Australia, and developing nations are much more creative than we are because they have to be!  There are profitable ideas everywhere… you just have to look!
  2. Research business trends and apply them to your industry.  Start with and and your ideas will flow.
  3. Get out!  Listen to your clients – what other problems can you solve for them?  Go to trade shows – what’s new? Make networking events fun – do your research with people who are potential customers – what other products or services could solve their challenges?
Today's business coaching challenge:  Invest 20 minutes researching and find at least one new product or service idea that has the potential to add at least 10% to your turnover this year.

Want to know more about using creativity to generate profits?  Enjoy our FREE Teleseminar on Tuesday 15 September at 7pm (Brisbane) time.  Bookings Essential!

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