Small Business Development – Election Time! What Are You Voting For?

There is a lot of talk today about the Presidential Primary elections and the November elections. However, whether you know it or not, today is your voting day. It is the day you must make a decision about your future leadership and the direction your life and business will take going into the future. I encourage each and every one of you to go and cast your vote and make your choice count.

However, I am not talking about the Presidential Primary, I am talking about your life and your business.

You see, every morning you have the opportunity to make a choice. There are many options to choose from. You can choose success; failure, growth, status quo; risk, security, comfort, challenge, opportunity, problem, or countless other options.

The problem is most if us don’t cast our vote. Today, I choose success.

Here is the simple truth. Now is the only moment that matters, and you can only live one day at a time. Every morning we have the opportunity to vote on how we want our day to go. We can choose what kind of attitude we are going to “take to the marketplace” as Jim Rohn would say. We can choose how much time we want to put into preparation; self-development; physical and mental fitness; building our businesses; and parenting our children.

The problem is, most of us don’t take the time to vote. Today, I choose risk.

Eben Pagan, in his Wake Up Productive Program talks about designing daily rituals for the first 90 minutes of each day that allow you to “make yourself strong first.” By designing a daily ritual that allows you to start each day strong, you are choosing success. You are casting your ballot each and every day.

What rituals can you develop that will remind you that you have a choice. You can choose success today. What you will discover is that success is not the cars, and the money, and the clients. Those things are the result of you being successful. Today, I choose growth.

“Success is not something you achieve, rather it is something you attract by the person you become” Jim Rohn

I encourage you to follow the advice of Eben Pagan and develop those early morning rituals that lead you towards becoming a successful person.

Steve Chandler, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Time Warrior, talks about the distinction between reacting and creating. When you cast your vote each morning you are involved in the creative process. You are actively participating in the creation of your day.

When you don’t cast your vote, you end up living your life in reaction to what happens to you and around you. Today, I choose success!

Did You Vote Today! It’s Not Too Late.

Business Planning – A Good Business Development Strategy is Crucial for Success

As part of my consulting practice, I read and review business plans written both for venture capitalists and for grant applications. The weakest part of every business plan is always how will the company get from today to “the dream” five years out.

Usually, there is a pretty good description of what will happen in the next six months and a decent description of what will happen in five years, but there is nothing in between.

Technical entrepreneurs have a good handle on what product development they need to do to get the product into a usable form. They understand the costs and the time involved. However, once the product is developed, they seem to be at a loss as to what to do next.

The lack of a business development executive early in the process often leads to the product being developed in a vacuum. There is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here: start-ups don’t feel like they can afford a business development person until they sell product and they can’t figure out how to sell a product without business development.

Also, I’ve noted that a number of engineer or scientist CEOs tend to discount the role of business development, as if the science behind the product is really what sells the product. This is just not true – if it was true, universities would be a lot richer.

A company is a machine, each part is equally as important as every other part. For instance, you may have the hottest, top of the line engine in your car, but without tires, the car isn’t going anywhere. And continuing on with the car analogy, you can purchase cheap, junky tires. If you do, your car won’t perform at its best and will eventually crash and burn.

A good business development executive will plot each step of the way how your product will go from prototype to dollars in the bank account. At the early stages of your company, if you cannot afford to hire a business development exec, look for an adviser who has performed the role for other companies and listen to him or her carefully. Your business development plan should include

  • An Assessment of the Market Opportunities – Who is it who might want to buy your product? What do they have now? What is their purchasing cycle? Who at that company actually makes the purchasing decision?
  • Competitive Analysis – Who is trying to sell into the same space? Why is their product worse? Why is it better? Don’t forget inertia as a competitor. As an example, everyone should have a will, but many people do not because they just don’t get around to it.
  • Lead Generation – Once the market is narrowed down, you need a good strategy for how you are going to find the people who want your product.
  • Follow-up Sales Activity – This is broken into two categories, one pre-sale, one post-sale. You should have a strategy for how to deal with potential clients who have been contacted, but are not interested at this time. You also need a strategy for reconnecting with the customers once the sale is complete. Even if you do not think they will need another product from you, they may be able to give you a referral.
  • Pipeline Development – There should always be another customer in the pipeline. Without a strong pipeline of continuous customers, you will be unable to forecast sales and are likely to get caught short on cashflow.

Don’t neglect the business development strategy when building your business plan. If you are planning for five years out, know what you will be doing over the next six months, year, two years, three years, and so forth.

Business Development Tips For Massage Therapy Business

Massage therapy is one field where if you know your basics right, eventually there is just no need to market. The interested will in fact look for you. The field has a massive career opportunity waiting for you. Your massages can treat illness and as they say, only the rich can afford the luxury of being treated, so just no need to worry about making money.

So the first tip for business development of the message therapy business is to work on your offering. If your massages are capable of treating illness like joint pains, act as a stress buster, and help achieve the state of relaxation, then the business prospects are bright. On the other hand, if you are counting on your knowledge in the field, then ensure that you have the right subordinates with the requisite skill set.

The second crucial advice to grow your existing volume is to ensure that your existing clientele make more frequent visits than otherwise. This is one stream where slight manipulations can get you double the business from the exiting client base. Introduce some monthly packages, offer discount schemes on frequent visits, plan special massage therapy charts for specific requirements like pains, render the comfort edge and most importantly SMILE! Most of the time, you tend to ignore the importance of a smile. Your cheerful attitude can help you strengthen the client base more than your services. A simple smile can help you charge double the amount and still make it look meager. The trick is to befriend your customers who expect personal attention, especially in the small business segment. Entertain them and have all the necessary equipment. The right music, the right fragrance and privacy are a must.

Generating referrals is the third most-important aspect. Advocate consultancy, if required, free of cost. Encourage people to drop in with friends who have any specific problem, which you can solve with your massaging capabilities. This free advice can pay beneficially in the form of new customers. Give more time to curious visitors and tell them in detail about the associated benefits. Do not give discounts to new entrants, since this could create a commotion among the existing clientele.

Another tip is to pass on add-on services rather than advocating discounts. If you have to oblige an old customer, do so by adding more treatments in the existing package rather than allowing them to pay less. This is an addictive habit. If they can talk you into a discount once, the tendency would be to get as many more as possible. So discourage any monetary bargains.

Introducing life memberships, home massages, free pick-ups and other related add-ons are just a few more ways to increase the client base and hold on to what you have. However, the key is to impart the best massages and ensure a soothing effect to every one of your customers.

Business Development Training: Follow Up Business Opportunities

Consider the scenario of a business networking event. These are superb sources of leads and referrals that can be the life blood of your business. The business skills you develop in this arena can easily be applied in any business scenario. Assume you have engaged in conversation with a good potential contact. Once you have created a positive first impression start the interesting chat about various areas of common ground. By careful listening, you may identify an opportunity to do some business to your mutual benefit at some later date. You are looking for the moment when someone says something to you to make you think, “Ahaa, there’s a potential business opportunity here.” Suppose you are a business development consultant who specialises in the food industry and who has a good track record in helping companies to increase their margins. If you were asking all the right questions such as “So how you finding things at the moment?”, and you hear the answer “We’re doing reasonably well but we don’t seem to be getting the efficiencies in the factory.” That is an Ahaa moment.

Can I mention again, that networking using business development skills isn’t selling; it’s building business relationships, and gathering business information?

This should be the start of the follow up business development process which is as follows

1. Ask for their business card and read it carefully.

2. Always find something to comment on; maybe the spelling of their name or perhaps they have their business in a particular part of town which you know intimately. It doesn’t matter as long as you show them that you are interested in them, their business and their circumstances.

3. Now this is a key moment. Ask if you can phone them next Wednesday or Thursday to discuss the problem they have with their margins. You can say something like “Now isn’t the time or place, but maybe your problem is a simple issue which I can give you some help on”. The chances are if you have made the right impression, the answer will be “yes”.

4. Bear in mind all the time that if you don’t ask the question then you don’t give the other person, with the business opportunity, a chance to say yes.. You will be at your most popular at this juncture. If you have done it all right, are you really going to waste a great opportunity? Not every business event and not every person you meet is going to turn into a business opportunity but if you are awake alive and alert, listening attentively and with empathy… you just never know.

5. Write down on their business card the day you have agreed to call and let them see you do this. This shows that you are serious and the chances are you’re likely to do it. At this point, there is no reason whatsoever not to excuse yourself in one of several ways which we will show you another time.

6. As part of the bridging process ensure that when you get back home or to your office or even before you leave the business networking event write down where and when you met the person a quick description of them and any salient facts which you may use at a future date to show them that you are truly listening to what they had to say.

7. When you make the follow up call as agreed, review the business card or refer to your business development software if you use it and confirm that they were happy for you to follow up. If you had picked up that the person was going away for weekend then make sure that one of the questions you ask is “How did the weekend go?” I’m not asking you to remember these details. What I am doing is asking you to write down some small talk facts that you gathered on their business card. It helps break down their barriers to talking about business.
When I ask my audiences “what is the most important thing with regard to business cards?” the normal answer I get is “make sure you carry plenty of them with you”. Of course you know now that the most important thing is to ask for theirs. Offer your business card by all means, but don’t be too quick to do this. I think it’s a little pushy and it’s another form of saying “aha you want to know all about me don’t you. Here’s my business card”. It just may be that they don’t want to know all about you … not at that moment anyway. There’s a lot more to say about business development training and in particular working the room but you can find out about that on my other articles.
Take note that business development and networking is about giving first and receiving second. If you go into it thinking “What’s in it for me and what am I going to get out of this tonight” then the chances are you won’t succeed. If you ask questions such as

· “How can I help you?”

· “Who would you like me to introduce you to?”

· “How will I know if someone I’m talking to will be a good introduction for you?”

You will be showing them you are a proficient and skilled business networker.

Dr. Albert Scweizer once said “Give without remembering and receive without forgetting”. That should stand you in good stead when you’re out there looking to create new business opportunities.