Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
Recently, someone in the “Occupy” movement approached me, taunting “Are you in the 1%?” “No,” I responded. Undaunted, he then demanded, “Are you happy with your state of life?” “I’m in between great things,” I humbly retorted. “Don’t you blame corporations and thank government for your status in life?” he yelled at me as I took my leave. “Actually, neither, I hold myself responsible” I mumbled as I headed down the street. Despite my share of hardship and challenges, and reflecting on this exchange during Thanksgiving week, I’ve decided we are all in the 1%. Here’s why:
I think we are all in the 1% because:
- Excepting the Depression, even people in poverty live better now than most Americans did before the 1900’s.
- Compared to the rest of the world, we live in the top 1% in this country.
- And despite it all, we still have our free will, extensive free information and a legal/governmental system that generally protects us.
- And now while most everything’s at-risk, we still do have government and social services, tax-paying companies and 90% employment.
Maybe it’s just the optimist in me, but I must live believing we are all in the 1%, because otherwise, I might really start thinking its too rough out there!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thank you for your support and for your contagious optimism and growth.
Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
In our nation’s post-recession, “progressive” economy, I’ve spoken with many businesses still struggling to adapt to the “new normal.” Most owners I work with are more worried more than ever. Why? Because now, credit comes with strings-attached, sales people often cost far more than they sell and while the Internet has changed everything, most owners still describe their social/digital strategy in terms of money spent instead of clear ROI’s.
And when it comes to reaping the rewards for decades of sacrifice, millions of baby boomers have learned their firms aren’t worth much. But just as passionate in our society are all the voices who take the profitability of small businesses for granted and assert that every firm must pass litmus tests of being clean, green, sustainable, inclusive, local and socially-focused, regardless of whether they are thriving or surviving.
If your business is finally having a decent year, and someone demands why you aren’t doing more good, remember, a great dignity itself lies in running a profitable business.
Here are four reasons to challenge all the reasons you are given to do more:
1. You can’t do much good over time if you don’t do well most of the time.
2. Your good years have to make up for your bad ones.
3. You have your own charitable and social priorities.
4. You took the risk.
This article may rile many who feel that focusing on doing well is an excuse for not giving to the millions of truly needy people and causes. Admittedly. doing both well and good is ideal. And a company who covets all its profits is a heartless organization, but a firm that embraces every form of social good may soon be looking to someone else for a handout. Creating social change from a position of strength is critical. Here and here are some suggestions.
Steering Clear of the Pitfalls: How to Do Well and Good
1. Charity Begins at Home. Make sure your employees, customers and vendors are healthy and give of your time and energy to see this happens. Americans are the hardest working people in the world. Anyone who is working hard for you deserves the help you can give.
2. Tie Your Charity to Your Best and Highest Use®. Strive to give away what you are best at doing to make your chosen cause better. For a professional service provider to sit on boards that do not exploit his or her skills is a terrible waste of time and talent. Find a cause that ties your skills to your passions and give this away. As the father of a handicapped child and as a businessman who serves entrepreneurs, I am always pleased to provide some pro bono help to business owner who is similarly challenged.
3. Run a Meritocracy and Demand Excellence. Avoid favoring employees, vendors or customers who are justifying their poor products or services by all the good works they must provide as well. Support your charities consciously; do not unconsciously let your business subsidize ones that may be subverting the needs of your customers.
4. Stay Connected to Your Customers, Employees and Vendors. Live and give in the real world of those you know and work with. Just as it is critical to understand your customers, make sure you comprehend the troubles and pains they face. The single cause I see for local companies declining to do this is how disconnected many have become from the needs of their marketplace. Understand the pains of your marketplace as well as you do of your charities.
5. Give Results and Outcomes Rather Than Money and Time. Every time I attend a big benefit, I always wonder how much I am really helping the people or problem the sponsor represents. Doesn’t it feel good to provide the person confronting the problem with the help, tools or actions he or she needs to succeed? So often, going right to the source gives you, the owner, a completely new understanding of how to resolve the pain and suffering you see. Just like finding new customer pains to solve, directly helping someone in need may take some interesting twists and turns and may reveal even better unconventional solutions.
Social good should be tied to your business goals and should never impede them. By focusing on your best and highest use, leveraging your good fortune to help others and expecting a positive result from every investment you make, you can truly do well and do good. By doing both, you can make an ever larger impact through your business, your charity and your legacy.
If it’s painful watching another small business struggle as the economy rebounds. It’s torture if it’s yours.
Why won’t your customers buy from you when they are increasing their spending with others?
When will they realize that imitating your value, products or services “in-house” is penny wise and pound foolish?
The economy may be recovering but not in the same way as in the past. Most of the buyers I’ve interviewed for my clients are buying again but with new criteria. Instead of reverting to their old ways they are pursuing total cost of any solution. And if they believe they can do it themselves, they will. So instead of fighting against the tide, why not accommodate your buyers and get them to pay you for doing so?
Here are three ways:
- Provide a Do It Yourself (DIY) Option.
Now, more than ever, there is segment of customers who have more time than money. They want to do all the work themselves. They want to accept all the burden of learning and doing by trial and error.
QuickBooks Software is an excellent example of this. For less than $200 a business can keep its own accounting. What can you offer in your business that allows a customer to do it all?
One suggestion: Offer an entry-level service or product. Let your customers adopt your product or service in its simplest form. Then you can graduate them to a more robust version where they will need your help.
- Offer a Do It With Me (DIWM) Option.
If a customer really wants to do it themselves but can’t, they might be interested in your guidance as they produce your product or service. If you can teach someone to fish and feed themself, make it a money maker for you.One example is a Jo-Ann Fabrics sewing class. After purchasing a dress pattern, you can have a teacher guide you and your project, reducing errors on your road to success.One sign that your prospect may want the DIWM option is if they have an equal amount of money and time to invest in working with you. Don’t offer them your entry level DIY service here, but clearly one for those who are ready for slightly more. But save your advanced expertise for the next option.
- Always offer the DIFM (Do It For Me) Option.
While DIFM is not as popular now as when credit was free-flowing, many businesses will once again realize that they should refocus on their Best and Highest Use® and leave everything else to experts. When customers realize that they have less time than money, they will outsource tasks to vendors whose clear value justifies spending the extra cash.An example of this would be how most firms still outsource all their transactional HR needs like payroll, drug testing and 401(K) reporting.Always keep this option open because as the economy improves there will be buyers that have more opportunities to outsource work sooner than others.
So here are your three ways to help your customers to spend money with you:
- DIY (Do it Yourself)
- DIWM (Do it With Me)
- DIFM (Do it For Me)
While, it will always be tough to run or watch a business lagging behind in profitable growth, now you have one more tool to offer to a prospect who respects your value.
So when are you going to start DIY, DIWM or DIFM in your business?
Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Top Line Growth
Consider the following scenario:
You run a successful business with a lot of good opportunities for growth. You have developed the products and services, and the people and skills to sell them and deliver on what you promised. In addition, just when you are ready to really roll, here comes a recession that threatens to derail your plans and worse yet, even your dreams. Why?
- Your sales people tell you that customers and prospects are pulling back on purchases
- Your banker is overly interested in your receivables and loan covenants
- Your suppliers are over eager to load your supply chain up with “too-good-to-be-true” offers
You don’t want to catch or spread their negativism. However, your finance manager says you should be cutting back your expenses and inventories, and your spouse is beginning to ask whether the slowdown is going to affect that vacation you have been planning. What can you do when you do have faith in your business’ opportunities, especially during a recession?
- De-commoditize Your Offer: Find ways to make what you sell more valuable through its features including packaging, pricing and its added functionality.
- Seize Your High Ground: If everyone is competing on price, then become the premium brand and make your offering less abundant and scarcer.
- Sharpen Your Value Proposition: If you know your customers need what you sell but have trouble justifying what you charge, you must make it more compelling. Narrow and sharpen how you define what you sell and what it does for your customer.
- Market Like You Mean It: Reinvest in and increase your spending. If you believe in your products and services, telling your market so is imperative. Just as tax cuts stimulate spending in the economy, by advertising your service you will increase overall demand for what you sell.
- Seek Out Winners: There are other companies in the economy whose owners think just like you do. Find the owners and companies that are and plan to stay winners. Do business with them and share in your success. There is nothing like contagious enthusiasm to encourage everyone within earshot!