It’s amazing the chain reaction one simple idea put into practice can have on your business. The ripple effect one action can create in your business is something you won’t see at the start. But looking back five years from now you can put the pieces together to trace your success back to its roots.
I’ve assembled this list of 21 game changing actions to help you take that first step. Maybe some day you will look back at this moment as the start of your path. Put one or two of these into action today and I know you can’t help but improve. Want to catapult your business? Try all 21.
Let me know which ones you’re putting into action TODAY!
1. Call A Past/Recurring Client
This is something so simple to do, yet because it’s not on fire it doesn’t have your attention. So many positive things have happened for me when I’ve called a past client. Reopening that dialogue can lead to more work with that client, a referral or just a boost in your attitude. When you have them on the phone ask them why they enjoyed working with you. Ask them what you could have done better. Ask if they have any other projects coming up or if they know of someone else that might have a project that fits your company.
2. Pick A Repetitive System And Write It Down
When I first started in business almost 20 years ago, I found myself doing things differently every time. “Winging it” was a way of life. By writing out my recurring tasks I fine tuned my approach to sales calls, contracts, hiring and so many other tasks large and small. Writing it down helps you to think it through. And by having a starting point you can consciously tweak your approach to test new ideas without completely starting over. And of course, once you have it dialed in, you can automate it with software like ONTRAPORT.
3. Turn Off Push Notifications On Your Phone
Nothing says ‘shiny object’ like your smart phone. **SQUIRREL!!!** If it’s constantly going off all day long how can you focus on MAKING MONEY? ‘Nuff said…
4. Take A DiSC Profile Assessment
I’m a big fan of DiSC. That’s because it was such a huge revelation for me in business and in life. Knowing yourself – I mean TRULY knowing yourself is the basis for everything you do in life. And that includes your business. A DiSC profile will start you on a journey of self-discovery. I know it sounds touchy-feely, but understanding why you think the way you do and why others think the way they do is important in setting up your business for success. It made a HUGE difference for me. Take your own DiSC Profile here.
5. Find A Book To Improve Your Business Knowledge
A business coach of mine, Steve Sipress, says “Rich people have big libraries…poor people have big TVs!” I love that saying. While the rest of the world is feeding their brain Ryan Seacrest and Snookie, feed your brain Napoleon Hill, Chuck Lencioni or Micahel Gerber. Here are my 10 favorite business books.
6. Reach Out To A Power Partner
Building your own network takes time. Building a list of customers can take years. Kickstart your efforts by leveraging someone elses’ network. Find someone that has a similar customer base to yours and work a deal to cross-market with each other. If you work for homeowners, find another company that has a relationship with homeowners in your area. Landscapers, plumbers, realtors, mortgage brokers are all companies that might be a good fit. If you work with new businesses maybe an attorney or an accountant would be a good power partner for you.
7. Write Down One Reason Why You Own Your Business
So many times when setting goals we get caught up with the quantitative number that we want to hit. For example, “I want to make $100,000 this calendar year.” That’s a great place to start. But following through and hitting that goal is a lot harder if you aren’t clear on WHY you want to make $100,000 this year. Have a reason. Write it down. Your reason might be because you want your spouse to be proud of you. Or maybe you want to retire in five years and move to Belize. Whatever it is, write it down. It will help to keep you motivated three months from now when the excitement of your new goals have worn off.
8. Raise Your Prices
I don’t know you personally. It’s highly likely we will never meet in person, but I can tell you with 90% certainty that you’re too cheap! How do I know? Because EVERY small business owner undervalues themselves at some point in their career. I certainly have. And some days still do. It’s a continuous struggle to find the balance between getting the job and charging too little. But I can tell you from experience that going to work each day is a lot more fun if you are being well compensated for what you do. Always looking over your shoulder for the one little mistake or hiccup that will cost you all the profit on your current project gets old fast.
Start by trying baby steps. 5% on a job. When you feel better there move up another 5%. Until you think you’re the most expensive in your town. I’ll bet you good money you STILL aren’t charging as much as you could or should.
9. Say ‘No’ To Someone
Most small business owners are passionate giving people. ‘No’ is not in our vocabulary. Unfortunately, we are still human and there are only 24 hours in our day. We have not cracked the code to the space-time continuum. Being in the habit of always saying yes not only eats up a bunch of your time through new commitments, it also devalues your time. Let me say that again – it devalues your time. If you don’t value your time enough to guard it from every chamber meeting or wasted late night sales call then others won’t value your time either. You have no exclusivity. By saying no once and a while you send the message that your time is important and valuable. People should feel privileged to spend an hour with you. That won’t happen if EVERYONE gets your time.
10. Create A Lead Tracking Form
Do you know where your leads came from last year? No, I don’t mean a ‘gut feeling.’ I mean know. As in 33% came from referrals and 26% came from past clients. Real data. If you knew, wouldn’t it be easier to see what’s working in your marketing and what’s not? For instance, if you knew that the last Yellow Pages ad you ran only got 4 calls and no contracts you would cancel it, or at the very least change it drastically. And if the data showed that you only got 3 referrals last year wouldn’t that ring a GIANT bell in your head? Like, what’s wrong with my company that no one refers us? Or maybe you’re not making it easy for your clients to refer you. Either way having the data in front of you will get you thinking and guide you to make smart decisions with your marketing dollars. No data? …You’re just guessing.
11. Open A Separate Checking Account For Your Business
Even if your business is not incorporated you still need a separate checking account. Co-mingling your personal and business expenses is a good way to get in trouble. Having separate accounts will certainly make tax time easier and may help keep the IRS from your door. But even beyond the legal issues, just being able to track your income and outflow from your business will be so much simpler with separate accounts. This will naturally lead to better accounting practices which will just lead to better decision making.
12. Put Yourself In Your Prospects’ Shoes
Spend five minutes thinking like your ideal client. What are their fears? What are their common questions? Visualize your sales process. What would your first impressions be of you as a salesperson? If you can answer these questions and truly understand the thought process of your client you are way ahead of the game. Really doing this exercise gives you the confidence to see your value.
13. Employ The 80/20 Rule On Your Next Sales Call
You know the 80/20 rule, right? Listen 80% – talk 20%. Your client will sell themselves the more they talk. If they are really in the market for what you sell they are looking for permission to buy. They get permission from themselves, not from you. The only thing you can do by talking is KILL THE SALE. The more useless information you puke up in a sales situation the more reasons you give your prospect not to buy. SHUT UP and sell.
14. Go For A Walk
Taking time in your day to decompress is essential to staying sharp and motivated. Elevating your heartbeat is also a good way to reduce stress. Personally I love to use walking as a way to empty my head of chaos. Walking in the park or forest preserve lets my mind clear out of all the immediate on fire items. When my brain is free of all the unnecessary clutter I am able to think about the bigger picture. To think about the long term strategies that will help me make huge leaps in my business.
15. Find One Thing That Makes You Different Than Your Competition
If you did the exercise in Action #12 then you should have the answer to this question. If not spend some time looking for the one thing that makes your business unique. Being able to have something your competition doesn’t gives you a giant tool you can use while selling and marketing.
16. Learn The Basics Of A Profit & Loss Statement
If you don’t know if your company is making money how can you win? How can you hit the goal of being profitable without knowing where you are? So many business owners I meet don’t know if they made any money until their account tells them After The Year Is Over! By then it’s too late. Learn how to read a P&L statement so you don’t need to rely on your accountant. Here’s a great article to get you started.
17. Find A SCORE Chapter In Your Area
I have met with a SCORE counselor on more than one occasion early in my business career. It’s a great place to bounce some ideas and get practical advice from someone that’s been there before. SCORE (Service Core Of Retired Executives) is a free mentoring service. Retired business people volunteer their time to help those starting or struggling in business. Find a chapter in your area.
Everyone needs a little motivation – a little accountability. Sharing your goals with someone pushes you to actually achieve those goals. No one likes to disappoint people or to fall flat. By sharing, you build in implied accountability. Also your friend will likely encourage you along the way to achieving your goals! Listen to their goals, too. That way you can encourage each other.
19. Find A Charity To Support
Don’t worry, I’m not actually suggesting you become charitable for business reasons. Supporting a charity is something you should be moved to do – not something you should do for financial gain. But let’s be honest, there are side benefits to being involved with a charity. You will meet other like-minded people. Chances are these people will have respect for you because you share the same charitable objectives. It only follows that they would be inclined to purchase products from you or recommend you to their friends. Again, a nice side benefit of improving your community.
20. Calculate The Break-Even Point For Your Company
Do you know how much you need to sell this month in order to break even? How can you hit a goal (see #18) if you don’t know where you’re aiming? Breaking even is just the beginning. You obviously want to make more money. But you have to start somewhere. Here’s a great article on how to calculate your break even point.
21. Download The Non-Sellers Blueprint
It’s my list. So of course I’m going to have a small plug in it. 🙂 Fill out the signup box below and I’ll send you the system I used to increase my close rate by 250%