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Are You a Small Business Owner Speeding Towards Burnout?

Is your business out of control? If you are a small business owner who feels like your business is running you, instead of you running your business, learn how to STOP the cycle. It’s all about your hat!

As a small business owner, we have to balance and wear many “hats” to succeed. In fact, there are up to 9 “hats” a small business owner has to wear for any business to run successfully!

With such a tremendous learning curve for small business owners, it is easy to understand why “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”

How can a small business owner hedge his bets on keeping the doors open?

This is where the Hat Concept comes into play.  You need to make it an absolute priority to schedule time each quarter, each month and each week to “wear the hat” necessary to keep things running smoothly in the business.

Here are the “hats” business owners need to schedule time for:

CEO HAT – The CEO is the visionary of the company. As such, he has to keep the long term vision of the company alive and in focus. This will ensure that the company does not expand too fast or “chases too many squirrels” (deviating from the planned path). It is also his job to, at a high level, review financials, fund and defund the business as necessary, and keep focus on the long run.

CFO HAT – The CFO is the penny cruncher of the company. He keeps a tight reign on the bottom line financials in the month to month operations. He is not necessarily popular with anyone in the company because “conservative” is his middle name. He serves a very necessary function however, to ensure the company does not overextend itself financially and stays in business.

CMO HAT – The Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for all company branding, press releases, managing company perceptions, getting out the ‘word’ on what is new. This is crucial to start laying a foundation for community involvement, contribution, and good will.

VP of Sales HAT – He is the lifeblood of the business. Sales in any business drive revenue.   Master the art of upsell, downsell, cross sell, drive for results and live with no fear.

CIO HAT  – The Chief Information Officer works all of the latest technology and office technical/communications processes and systems.

COO HAT – The Chief Operations Officer is all about the product delivery. In my case, I am the COO every time I pick up and phone with a client.

Additional HATS – Human Resources, Legal and Customer Service Officers come into play once the business is large enough.

 

In real life, how does making time to wear each of these hats relate to the solopreneur, entrepreneur and small business owner’s success or failure?

Let’s look at a Forbes article by Eric Wagner titled “Five Reasons 8 out of 10 Businesses Fail

“Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue.” 

HAT to wear – Chief Operations Officer: needs to be able to effectively understand client needs, see gaps in the market, listens to what the clients want and need instead of what the business owner thinks they need.

“No real differentiation in the market (lack of unique value proposition).”

HAT to wear – Chief Marketing Officer: needs to time to look at competitors, positioning in the market place, develop compelling strategies for product promotion and client engagement.

“Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion” 

HAT to wear —  VP of SALES: for small business owners, he needs to consistently focus on listening and selling based on client needs and not ‘benefit’ selling. Focus on building a sales funnel that solves a problem and communicate clear value propositions to meet prospects’ needs.

“Leadership Breakdown at the top (yes – founder dysfunction)”

HAT to wear – The CEO is responsible for bringing the whole group together. Most small business owners are just scrambling to cover expenses, fill payroll and keep the doors open. Who has time to break away every week, month, and quarter for strategic positioning, thinking and planned promotions of the business? But the reality is that planning time is CRITICAL, even if it’s just one quarter at a time.

“Inability to nail a profitable business model with proven revenue streams.”

HAT to wear – CFO: As a small business owner, taking time out to manage expenses, focus on revenue, and analyze numbers is not fun! And, it can be easily avoided by just focusing on payroll each week. Unfortunately, not keeping track of your revenue and expenses at least every 2 weeks can lead to disaster.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Be courageous and fire yourself, if needs be! Then, hire a new ‘you’ and wear the HAT you need to drive your business to continued success. I want to see you celebrating long after that 5-year anniversary!

 

4 Absolutes for any Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner

4 simple principle for every entrepreneur and business owner

Every skill, from playing an instrument to being in a small business owner or entrepreneur, has simple fundamental concepts that need to be mastered. They are the ABCs for success. Keeping these four principles in action will make your business more productive and more profitable.  Here are 4 that come to mind.

Always Be Closing:  Alec Baldwin is famous for the scene in the movie Glengary Glenn Ross when he is working to motivate a group of salesmen. Two of the greatest quotes from the movie are, “Coffee is for closers” and “Always Be Closing.” As a small business owner and entrepreneur, it is easy to get caught up in the “running” of the business and get sidetracked away from the most important aspect of your business: prospecting/sales.  Some of the most difficult fundamentals of any business to master are prospecting, marketing effectively, building relationships and closing deals. However, that is the life blood of every business and should always be a top priority. Always Be Closing!

Conceive Believe Achieve:  This ABC has to go in reverse. Remember Napoleon Hill’s famous saying is, “Whatever the mind of a man can Conceive and Believe, he can Achieve.” In any business, it is critical that you keep your competitive advantage, unique selling proposition, brand and identity. Staying focused on what you have Conceived as the Core of your business, reinforcing it every day so you continue to Believe in your mission, and then engaging in Action will help to ensure your success.

Assets – Bills = either surplus Cash or Credit card debt: Which would you rather pursue as a business owner, making more money or spending less? Correct answer: BOTH! Remember that businesses always have to work diligently to maximize income (Assets) and simultaneously minimize Bills (expenses) to the lowest level possible. It can be easy to get distracted in other people’s “opportunities” to help you grow your business. Be diligent with your research when it comes to marketing and promotions. Ask yourself, “Is this task or opportunity revenue generating? or is it a distraction?”

Always Be Coached: Every small business owner and entrepreneur needs a mentor. Someone to brainstorm with, share the highs of success and the lows of misfortune. There is always power in a Mastermind group, group coaching or, you guessed it, a personal relationship with an Executive Business Coach. No one ever stands up at the Oscars and proudly proclaims, “I did it all by myself!” When you give your Business Success acceptance speech, who will you have on your notecard to thank? Fill that card up, so they have to cut you off with a commercial!

The first three ABCs will keep a small business owner and entrepreneur BE in business while the last one will help you STAY in business. 

Executive Business Coaching Marketing Tip #211

It is that time of year! I am starting to receive all sorts of promotional marketing materials from companies who want me to, “Order early for special discounts.” With budgets being tight, how can a small business owner get the most out of the company marketing budget? Here is the simplest strategy for maximizing client impact with efficient cash layout.

I am sure you have heard the saying that you get 80% of your business from 20% of your clients. A small business owner can use that to their advantage in developing an efficient promotional marketing plan using these simple 4 steps.

1. Define the demographics of your top tier clients. Are they are the top because they provide the biggest income to your business, consistent repeat business, responsiveness to surveys, social media or favors they do for you or the most referrals? What are the natural categories you could use to classify and sort them, in terms of their levels of importance?

2. Pretend you are grading on a Bell Curve. Label your clients A, B, C & D. Who are your star players?

3. Determine how often you want to have contact with them. The easiest way to illustrate this point is to show an example. It would look like this, you would start with monthly contact with “A” clients only. Once a quarter you conact your A & B clients. Semi-Annually you contact “A & B & C” clients and once a year you contact “A, B, C & D” clients. In this example, A’s would get contacted a total of 12 times, B’s would be contacted 4 times, C’s would be contacted 2 times and D’s would be contacted once.

4. In this manner, your promotional marketing dollars would be spent the most efficiently. Your A clients would get nicer product gifts, B now quite as nice (but A’s would be included), C’s would be your typical magnet calendar (along with A’s and B’s) and so on.

This marketing strategy can also be adapted outside of promotional gifts in an even simpler way. A’s may get a personal lunch date every month, B’s (and A’s) get a telephone touch every Month and C’s (plus A’s and B’s) get an email blast once a month.

The application of this strategy is endless and can provide peace of mind that, as a business owner, you are taking care of the people who take care of you. In this day and age of computer technology, one of the easiest ways of distinguishing yourself from you competition can be going back to the basics of a handwritten thank you card, a personal phone touch or a “drop by” in person. It is too easy to think that text, email and social media are good mediums for a “personal touch” with clients. “Personal touch” implies person to person touch (contact by voice or person).

Your phone may ring soon since I have to take my own advice and I look forward to personally connecting again.

To your continued success, James