What All Entrepreneurs Must Be Obsessed With

Entrepreneurs like to make business complex.

We have so many metrics, so many things on our To Do List.

And if we’re not careful, we can lose sight of the 3 metrics that really matter.

 

  1. How many potential clients have we reached out to this month? (With ads, calls or emails)
  2. How many potential clients are we in regular contact with? (With promotional materials, education or calls that keep us top of mind)
  3. How many good offers or proposals have we made to them?

At the end of the day, if these numbers are high then your business will grow quickly.

If they are low it won’t.

Get serious about these 3 things. Focus on them every day and make sure those numbers are rising every week.

Remember, the best quality company does not necessarily win. The company with the most consistent marketing system does.

The Most Underestimated Way To Win Clients

Over the years, companies have become much more professional at winning clients.

Slide decks look more sophisticated.

Background research has got more comprehensive.

Presentation skills have got slicker.

In a nutshell, overall professionalism has greatly improved.

But as we have become more smooth in what we present to clients ( and how we present it), there’s one area that seems to have been forgotten.

Yet this one element is often more important in convincing clients to pick your company than all those other factors put together.

What is this missing element?

Raw enthusiasm and passion.

Enthusiasm for the client’s issue. Passion for what we present.

You see, clients don’t just buy good answers. They also buy the people who are presenting them.

Often, clients find it difficult to pick which company they want to go with. Sometimes all the finalist companies present very similar solutions to their brief.

So they revert to giving their business to the people who seem genuinely excited by the opportunity. Who exude optimism and certainty about what they present. Who seem like they actually give a damn about helping them.

Clients are right to look for this. Because when the euphoria of winning the account has worn away, all that the client has really bought is the dedication and passion of the team working to help them. Someone might be super experienced and ultra bright, but if they don’t really care that much about helping the customer then the outcome will usually be mediocre.

So next time you do a new client presentation, try doubling your enthusiasm and passion when you’re with them. Show them how thrilled and honoured you would be to work with them. Show them you really, really value the opportunity, have come up with a  brilliant solution and intend to hit this one out of the park.

Watch how their eyes (and wallets) open.

Personal enthusiasm and passion. Definitely the most underestimated way to win clients.

Should Your Company Focus On A Niche?

One of the biggest decisions an entrepreneur can make is whether to sell their services to general clients, or whether to specialize in serving one industry.

The advantages of picking a niche are clear:

  1. Many clients in that niche assume that because you specialize in their niche, you must provide a better service
  2. It separates you from all the other generalists
  3. You can often charge more as a specialist

The arguments against focusing on a niche are equally clear:

  1. You have a much smaller potential client base
  2. You turn away clients who are not in that niche
  3. There may not be enough work in that one category of client

So we have a dilemma. Good arguments for and against.

So how do we decide whether to go general or specialize?

The answer is different for every company of course, but here are some powerful questions to assist you in making your decision.

  1. Are several of your competitors growing strongly, without resorting to a niche? (If so, maybe you need to just market better and keep your generalist model.)
  2. Are there large sub markets that are virtually untouched by specialists?  (If so, exploring one of them makes a lot of sense.)
  3. Is it easy to try out a niche and if it doesn’t work return to your generalist model? (If so, it’s probably worth a try.)
  4. Are there examples of firms in your industry but overseas that have made niches work? (If so perhaps you should consider copying what they do, in your country.)
  5. Would working in the niche excite you or bore you? (People often don’t consider enjoyment when they make strategic corporate decisions, but they should.)

There’s no definitive blueprint for deciding whether to go niche or not. But I think you’ll find answering these 5 questions carefully can be very useful in helping you make the right decision.

How Working Hard Can Reduce Your Income

The current culture of entrepreneurialism seems to worship working exceedingly hard.

And let’s be honest, there’s no doubt that working hard for long periods can aid business success.

But what I often see is a dark side to working hard that actually reduces the profits of the entrepreneur.

You of course already know the virtues of working hard, but here are 3 dangers that you should also consider:

1. Your Productivity Can Plummet

C. Northcote Parkinson came up with Parkinson’s Law, in my view one of the most important concepts of human effectiveness.

The law is as follows: ‘Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.’

Put in other words, if you work longer hours you often take longer to do things.

I have seen this again and again with business owners I coach.

They are immensely committed, working often 14 hours a day, sometimes 6 days a week. But if you look at their output it often is not much better than someone working 45 hours a week efficiently.

You need to put pressure on yourself to get tasks completed quickly. And working short hours is one of the most efficacious ways of doing that.

2. Your Brain Does Not Assimilate Information As Quickly

It is well known in neuro performance research circles that when you stop work and go home to rest and sleep, your brain uses your off time to organize files of data that have occurred during the day, and connect them with other pieces of data previously stored there. It then attempts to make meaning of the data collected to help you make decisions.

So if the amount of rest and sleep is limited in your life because you are working long hours, you can find that the quality of your thinking can be impeded. Your conclusions about important issues may not be as sound, your ideas may not be as plentiful.

3. Your Subconscious May Begin To Dislike You Working In Your Company

If you are feeling stressed about work because of incessant long hours your subconscious and semi-conscious mind can start having negative thoughts about being an entrepreneur. Yes you’ll still want to succeed, but there may be parts of you that wonder whether it’s all worth it. And as a result you can become less enthused by your company, and some say can even self-sabotage your success, so you are forced to work less hard.

I know that these 3 points are not commonly thought about, in this culture of ultra work.  But please consider them.

They may be unusual ways of thinking. But thinking unusually is at the heart of entrepreneurial success.

The World’s Simplest Way To Increase Your Revenue

Over the years I’ve learned over a hundred techniques for lifting a company’s income.

But there is one strategy that is so simple it’s almost ridiculous. Yet the entrepreneurs who really embrace it report extraordinary results.

It takes only a few days to do, and can then be used to reliably increase a company’s revenue for decades.

What is this crazily simple technique?

Make more offers to your clients.

Let me explain. Generally entrepreneurs have a handful of services they offer to their clients. And rarely are clients offered anything new down the track.

That’s such a wasted opportunity.

You go to all the trouble of winning over a client, then you keep giving them the same menu of services. Yes they may like what you do, but you’re missing the chance to make a lot more money from them.

Just ask yourself, what else could you offer them?

Is there something deeper? Or more expensive? Is there a service you could offer that is closely aligned to what you do now but different?

Could you offer them another company’s services?

With a little thought I’m confident you’ll come up with several additional services you can offer them. Now spread out those offers throughout the year, so that every quarter you offer your clients a different service. (So in total you have at least 4 different offerings).

The result of this extremely simple technique can be wondrous on your bottom line.

It usually improves your client relationships too. Clients see your company as forward thinking, progressive, proactive. Always coming up with fresh ways to help them.

So try the world’s simplest method to increase your revenue.

It may be simple, but it works.

5 Brilliant Business Books You Should Check Out

As you probably know, I spend a huge amount of time studying the art and science of business success.

As a result, I’m frequently asked what business books I recommend.

There really are SO many awesome books, it’s hard to choose which ones to suggest for you.

But below I’ve compiled a list of 5 that most people haven’t read or even heard of, but I view as being extremely useful for entrepreneurs.

1. From Zero To One, by Peter Thiel

This is written by one of our era’s most successful and controversial founders, Peter Thiel.
It’s got some radical views about what makes a superb business, but reading it you can see how Thiel became a legend in the technology and venture capital worlds.

2. The Founder’s Mentality, by Chris Zook and James Allen

These guys work at Bain, one of the perennially hot management consulting firms. The book is very simply written, but is crammed with important research on what common traits of thinking successful company founders possess.

3. The Sales Acceleration Formula, by Mark Roberge

This is all about using data, technology and inbound selling to go from $0 to $100 million. What makes it really interesting is the author used this exact technique to grow a hugely successful sales based organisation with phenomenally fast growth. It’s all about turning your sales system into a predictable machine.

4. Playing To Win, by A.G Lafley and Roger L. Martin

This book is totally focused on how to develop a great strategy for your company. Lafley was the CEO of Proctor And Gamble during some of it’s finest years- the guy is a legend in consumer goods marketing. You’ll be amazed at how often he took an ordinary, boring product category and revolutionised it with creative product development. If you think there’s no room to break the mould in your industry you’ll think differently after reading this insightful book.

5. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got, by Jay Abraham

This is one of those rare books where you can literally just copy the author’s suggestions and you will almost certainly increase your company’s sales. It is full of practical methods of increasing revenue, if you are willing to put in some work to make them happen. Read Abraham’s book and you will know how to make any company more profitable.

Okay, so there’s 5 awesome business books. Pick one right now and order it – you won’t regret it. 

In the end, business is about knowledge and action. Any of these books will give you knowledge most of your competitors are simply unaware of. It’s an incredible advantage to know some of this stuff.

Then it’s up to you of course to take action on what you learn, methodically, comprehensively and daily.

How To Handle The Stress Of Being An Entrepreneur

When you get overloaded with work, what do you do?

Most people push through it, work much longer hours and just accept that they are in a stressful period. In essence, they try to out work the problem.

I coach a lot of entrepreneurs, and when I see they are overloaded with work I suggest they do the opposite.

Stop work entirely. Take a break. Get centered and calm. 

Then begin the process of getting clarity over your work situation.

Here are the 5 ways to get clarity.

1. Tidy up your work environment
Your office environment definitely affects how well you think. A messy desk helps create a messy mind. It’s hard to think clearly when your direct work environment is chaotic. Just ten minutes cleaning, tidying and organising your desk makes a phenomenal difference to how well you think. And how on top of things you feel.

2. Write down absolutely everything you have to do
One of the main reasons we get stressed as entrepreneurs is the sheer number of tasks we have to do weighs us down. This feeling is magnified when we are not absolutely sure what we should do. Take another ten minutes to get on paper every To Do you have – put your business tasks on one page and your personal tasks on another.

3. Prioritise your tasks
Put the number 1 next to your most important To Do. Then put a 2 next to your next most important, etc.  This creates a further level of clarity and calm as you realize that many of the jobs you may have been fretting about are just not that important. Usually only a few of your To Do’s really matter. Getting clear on the vital few makes a world of difference to your stress levels. This should take another 5 minutes.

4. Discipline yourself to work on the most important tasks first
This is not easy. Many of us pick the easy or fun tasks to do, particularly when we are stressed. If you can force yourself to work on each item on the list in accordance with the priority number you gave it, then you will find you will make huge progress quickly.

5. Avoid perfectionism at all costs
When you are overloaded with work don’t try to do every task perfectly. Just do every job to a 70 – 80% standard of excellence. That way you’ll get through the list in half the time. If you have some time left over at the end you can always go back and finesse some tasks, but generally in the business world you are better off getting more stuff done then doing a small number of jobs exceedingly well.

So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed with your workloads, resist the urge to just work harder and longer. Instead, stop working. Get clear. Get calm. Get direction. Then and only then get to work again. This simple 5 step clarity system will make a major difference to both your effectiveness and your happiness.

 

2 Minute Test For Entrepreneurs: Are You Hungry Enough?

I’ve met a lot of really successful entrepreneurs.

I’ve noticed that one trait they all share is a great hunger to create more, achieve more and get better.

But as you become more successful, hunger can give way to comfort, satisfaction and a slow and almost imperceptible lowering of standards.

Results then decline in alignment with this mental softening.

That’s why it makes sense to regularly put your hunger for excellence to the test.

Let’s do this now.

Take 2 minutes to answer these questions and see how hungry for entrepreneurial excellence you currently are…

BUSINESS HUNGER TEST

  1. Are you emotionally excited about your business?
  2. Are you always checking on what competitors are doing?
  3. Do you think about your business at night, when driving and in the shower?
  4. Are your goals for your company huge?
  5. Do you constantly push your staff to get things done better and faster?
  6. Do you eagerly study business courses and books?
  7. Do people marvel about your passion for your business?
  8. Do you have business heroes that you follow and learn from?
  9. Do you get to work early?
  10. Do you have a list of improvements you are itching to make to your company?
  11. Are you constantly dissatisfied with your company’s performance versus it’s potential?

Now look at your results. If you can’t answer Yes to at least 70% of these questions, I’ve got bad news for you: you ain’t hungry enough to make your business a super success.

The good news is that hunger can be cultivated its a choice, you can will yourself to be inspired about your company. And many have done so.

Make the commitment today to massively increase your hunger for entrepreneurial greatness. 

When you do you won’t just become a whole lot richer, you’ll become vastly happier too.

Business Lessons From A Stripper

Sometimes the fastest way to grow your business is not to add anything new.

But rather to strip away the old.

Old tactics. Old products. Old ways of thinking.

There’s power in reduction. Every element you strip away from your business allows you to focus more deeply on what is left.

It takes courage to throw out what you have. It’s so easy to stick with what you’re used to.

But when you regularly strip away the unnecessary and extraneous, you are left with a far fitter, leaner, more effective business.

With that in mind, here are some powerful questions to ask yourself, to help you strip away the clutter in your company’s strategy and operations:

  1. What products or services don’t make me much money or take a lot of time to deliver? What if I dropped them?
  2. Should I get rid of all clients that waste a lot of my time or don’t spend enough?
  3. Which staff aren’t excellent? Can I train them to be great or should I get rid of them?
  4. Which jobs in my company would be better outsourced?
  5. Which business relationships should I end or reduce time on?
  6. Which suppliers should be dropped?
  7. Which marketing methods should be cancelled or reduced?
  8. Should I change or drop my current brand/ company positioning?
  9. What office furniture, filing or administration materials should I throw out? 
  10. What ways of thinking or behaving no longer serve me and should be dropped?

Keep these questions so you can come back to them – every quarter is ideal. Strip away what’s not great regularly.

They’ll keep you and your business sharp, efficient, effective and profitable.

How Your Self-Image Affects Your Success in Business.

If you are frustrated with how fast your business is growing, take a look at how you are using your mind.

Have a think about how you think.

Specifically, examine your self-image – and whether it is putting a limit to the level of success you are reaching.

In 1960 a plastic surgeon, Dr Maxwell Maltz, published a book that was a total breakthrough at the time: ‘Psycho Cybernetics’.

Maltz was a plastic surgeon and noticed that many people’s issues with their looks were really just indications of how they thought about themselves inside.

From this discovery came a boom in studies about self-image psychology, which is still prevalent today.

The essence of the field is as follows:

  1. You have an image of yourself.
  2. You will usually perform in line with that self-image.
  3. If you start to perform above your self-image for a while, you will unconsciously sabotage that to return to the level of your self-image.
  4. Likewise, if you perform below your self-image for a while, you will soon take actions that bring your results back up in line with the person you believe yourself to be.
  5. Therefore the key to higher levels of success is to develop a higher, better self-image.

So how can this be applied to business success?

Well Maltz would suggest that if you want to achieve much more at work, you should do two things.

First, you should design a new image of yourself. (For example, more driven, more focused, more confident, more organized, more daring, more of a learner, unstoppable.)

Second, you should practice mentally ‘seeing’ yourself as that person, again and again, daily.

Now some may view this technique as dubious, but it is precisely this method that forms the core of today’s sports psychology training. The same mental training that has been shown in countless research studies to dramatically improve many athlete’s performances.

So if you’ve hit a wall with your company’s growth, give it a try. Develop a new version of you – with the personality traits that you would most like to have. Then twice a day, morning and night, spend 5 minutes imagining yourself to be that person. See and feel it as if it’s reality.

If you do this sincerely for a month, you will likely be astounded by how your performance and results improve. It borders on magic.

There’s a reason that Dr Maltz’s book is still in print 57 years later.

It works.