Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Concept of negative statistics due to crisis
Jun 25

Why sales and marketing strategies won’t grow your business

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

I’m really sorry.

We’ve misled you. Not deliberately or maliciously, of course. I think most sales and marketing consultants are good, honest people who are just trying to help.

But when we fed you specific strategies to help you grow your business, we probably misrepresented what it takes to truly grow.

You see, many people think that growth is about diving in and implementing a range of practical sales and marketing strategies. Like distributing brochures, email campaigns, print media, google ads, SEO, social media, lead magnets and so on.  

Well, I’ve got news for you: if that’s all you do, don’t be surprised if you see limited results.

So what does it take to truly grow your business? What does it take to increase sales and revenue?

Clarify your business strategy

Don’t get me wrong: you do need to dive in and implement practical sales and marketing strategies.

But before you do that, you need to be clear on your overall business strategy first.

You see, many business owners begin implementation without really thinking about their underlying business strategy: who their target market is, what their unique, driving needs are and how they’ll meet those needs better than the competition. Those are foundational strategic questions.

And though it’s much easier to ignore this strategic step, it’s also a recipe for limited success.

Take the classic case of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers. As a teenager, he famously became the most successful paper delivery boy in Chicago’s history. How?

His strategy was simple but powerful: rather than take a random, door-to-door approach (which had a 10% success rate at best), he looked up all the newly wed couples in the Births, Deaths and Marriages register – and only visited their houses. His success rate was astronomical because many of them had just moved into a new home – and that’s exactly the kind of person who’s in the market for a newspaper subscription!

How did he do it?

Answer: he didn’t start with a practical strategy like knocking on doors. He started with deliberate, well-considered business strategy – he identified who his target market was and only then did he begin implementation.

Can you see the difference?

5 questions to fuel your growth

If you want to achieve real growth, you’ll also need to start by defining your overall business strategy. In particular, you’ll need to ask yourself 5 critical questions:

  1. Purpose: What impact do you you want your business to have on your customers and stakeholders? If you think of growth as journey, your business purpose is the engine that powers you along that journey.
  2. Clarify your Values: What attitudes and behaviours are critical to achieving your purpose? Like a compass guides a traveler along their path, you need clear business values to guide you and your team along your growth journey.
  3. Create your Vision: What will the future look like if you’re successfully fulfilling your purpose? Which markets will you target? What products or services will you sell them? Where geographically will you sell them? What will the result be? Set a destination for your growth journey, so you know where you’re heading.
  4. Differentiate your business: How will you differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd, so you can achieve your vision? Give customers a reason to choose you over your competitors.
  5. Set Strategic objectives: What goals or objectives will you set to track your business performance as you move along your growth journey? Without metrics to measure your success, you’re flying in the dark.

If you can answer those 5 questions thoughtfully and honestly, you’ll have a rock-solid strategic foundation to fuel your growth. If you’d like more guidance on how to apply these questions to your business, try our Growth System program for free right here.

All the best,

Joel.

Businessman authoritarian order to raise the statistics
Mar 14

How to make your business run without you

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

Let me be controversial for a moment.

If you’ve already built a reasonable customer base, you should probably stop trying to grow your business.

Say what?!?

Okay, before you lynch me, let me explain.

You see, if you try to grow your business without the infrastructure in place to support your growth, it can all fall apart too easily. You need the infrastructure necessary to grow sustainably into the future.

And there’s another reason, too. Even if customers are coming through the door, there’s real chance your business isn’t giving you the kind of life you’d hoped for: perhaps it’s largely dependent on you and sapping all your time or maybe it’s creating constant stress and frustration as you continually put out fires. Either way, more growth layered on top of an already-pressured system won’t actually help you.

Break free

That’s why you’ll need a different approach. You’ll need to do something quite radical: you’ll have to ‘break free’ of your business before you can grow it. Let me explain.

Do you ever find yourself saying: “If I’m not doing it, watching it, making it happen… it just doesn’t happen – at least not properly!” It’s common. But it’s also debilitating. As my own mentor, Michael Gerber, often says: “If your business can’t run without you – if you can’t safely leave your business for a few weeks – you don’t really have a business; you have a job – with overheads!”

A business that truly serves your life, on the other hand, is a business that gives you the freedom to choose how much or how little you want to be involved. That’s what breaking ‘free’ means. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting ‘out’ of your business. It’s about choice.

But choice doesn’t just occur on its own. You need to create it. And the way to do that is to intentionally design your business to run smoothly and profitably – with or without you. You design it to run on-time, as promised, every-time, seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine, even if you’re not there – so it no longer depends on you.

That kind of business – the kind that just works, almost by itself – is called a turn-key operation. It’s the kind of business that builds a true, saleable asset that others would actually buy. It’s the kind of business that entrepreneurs seek to create. And, if you want to choose how to live your life, it’s the kind of business that you need to create too.

How do you create this turn-key operation?

Abdication, delegation & ownership

First let’s explore how not to do it.

If you’re like many business owners, your approach to managing your business often falls into one of two styles: it’s either largely ‘hands off’ or seriously ‘hands on.’

Put differently, you’ve either employed people, given them some tasks (with a small amount of training, if they’re lucky) and then sent them on their way, trusting (hoping) they’ll be successful. (Think of your bookkeeper, for instance.) Or, alternatively: you’re micro-managing their every move, frequently stepping in to ‘handle things’ in the fear that they’ll get it wrong.

Both approaches are understandable. But they’re also dangerous. Here’s why…

Take the ‘hands off’ approach, for example. Leaders sometimes call it ‘delegation’. But it’s not; it’s actually abdication. Abdication is handing over responsibility and then hoping for the best. And abdication rarely works. Indeed, why should it? Without the appropriate training, without a clear role definition and expectations, without clear, documented systems for how to do what needs to be done, very few people will succeed. Sure, you might be able to point to a few committed, motivated, self-starters. But they’re exceptions – not the rule. And they’re extremely hard to find (and keep).

And what about the ‘hands on’ approach? Unfortunately, it’s no better. When you ‘step in’ to deal with the tasks that others are supposed to do, two counterproductive things happen:

  1. Your staff begin to expect you to handle things and begin to feel disempowered; you create a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy as your continued lack of trust only reinforces the message that you’re not (really) relying on them to do it right; and
  2. You end up doing most of the work. And it’s usually technical, operational work – rather than the kind of entrepreneurial work that actually builds your business. The result is that you continue to be trapped in the vicious cycle of fighting fires and not having enough time to work ON your business (let alone to live your life).

So what’s the answer?

Thankfully, there’s a very clear, proven, step-by-step management strategy for empowering your people to deliver the results you desire… even when you’re not there.

It’s not abdication and it’s not micro-management. It’s what I call ‘taking ownership’.

Four kinds of clarity

Taking ownership for the way your business runs means that you need to create clarity for your staff around what they need to do, how they need to do it and track that it’s actually happening. When you do that, you’ll empower them to deliver the results you desire.

Let’s be more specific. Taking ownership means you’ll need to introduce 4 kinds of clarity into your business:

(1) Structural clarity, which is about killing role confusion, so everyone’s clear on what jobs need to get done and who’s responsible for each job.

(2) Job clarity, which is about clarifying the tasks and expectations for each job, so your staff know exactly what’s expected of them and can perform to their potential.

(3) Task clarity, so everyone knows how to perform the key tasks within each job. You’ll need to create production and delivery systems that work seamlessly every time, no matter who’s operating them, delighting customers and freeing up your time.

(4) Performance clarity, so you know whether you’re achieving the intended results.  That requires you to set up a management and reporting system to create staff accountability and ensure your finger is always on the pulse, even when you’re not there.

Of course, once you’ve done that, there’s one more step: you’ll also need to enroll your staff in the process. Don’t assume they’ll simply comply. You need to motivate them to help you achieve your goals.

Sound daunting? It’s actually quite straight-forward once you get the hang of it. If you’d like more guidance on how to apply this process to your business, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.

All the best,

Joel.

visual representation of steps to growth
Mar 14

3 steps to differentiate your business (and charge more)

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered how to get customers to choose you over your competitors… without simply dropping your prices?

If so, here’s a critical insight: to get customers to buy from you rather than your competitors, you’ll need to differentiate your business in their minds.

Let’s explore how…

1. Understand customer needs

To effectively differentiate your business, you’ll first need to understand what drives your target customers to buy – in other words, their driving needs.

Why? There’s no point trying to differentiate around needs that your customers don’t actually have. Advertising copy that doesn’t hit on your customers’ core, driving needs simply won’t work. If your target market is hard on cash and after a low cost product, yet you focus on your environmentally friendly qualities, you’re way off the mark.

So step 1 is to ask yourself:

What are the needs of my target market customers? And which of those are the ‘driving’ needs the ones most critical to their purchase decision?”

2. Differentiation strategy

Once you know what drives your customers to buy, you’ll need to make a strategic decision about which key customer needs you want to differentiate around – such that it will make you stand out in their minds.

At the end of the day, customers want their needs met – and if you can meet one or more of those needs better than others, you can effectively differentiate your business (and charge more as a result).

But be careful here. Don’t make the mistake that many businesses make. Differentiation doesn’t merely mean being unique or different. It that means that your business can meet one or more of the driving needs of your target customers better than the competition.

For example, all customers expect good value, fair prices and good customer service. That’s not better. That’s your threshold requirement to be in the game and not go out of business.

The real question is: What’s your unique value to your market? Is it your lower price? Better selection? Higher quality? Greater convenience? Speedier delivery? Better warranty? Exclusive source? More socially conscious? More fun? Hippest?

So step 2 is to ask yourself:

“Out of the ‘driving’ needs of my target market, which 1-2 needs can I meet better than others to differentiate my business?”

3. Legitimise your claims

There’s one more step. To make your differentiation claims compelling, you’ll need to legitimise them with as much objective, measurable data and reasoning as possible. Don’t just say you’re faster, longer-lasting, higher quality; prove it with some evidence: research studies, case studies, testimonials or your unique qualifications or experience.

And where you don’t have any evidence (and perhaps even if you do), consider linking your offer to a guarantee that puts your money where your mouth is – and therefore builds legitimacy.

Here are some examples of specific, measurable differentiators:

  • Fresh, hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.
  • No-hassle, no questions asked, money-back guarantee forever.
  • My telephones give you all the power of a fancy office system – for thousands of dollars less than the leading 3 brands (and here’s a pricing comparison table…)
  • On-time printing, or you don’t pay. Used by the following top brands…

If you’ve decided which customer needs you want to differentiate around, step 3 is to ask yourself:

“What tangible evidence can I provide to justify my differentiation claims?”

If you can answer these three questions for your business, you’ll build a compelling reason for customers to choose you over others. And while it won’t mean that you can suddenly charge exorbitant prices, the more unique value you provide, the more likely it is that customers will be willing to pay you more for that extra value.

I hope this advice helps you to begin differentiating your business and standing out from the crowd. If you’d like more guidance and advice like this, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.

All the best,

Joel.

Sep 20

How to stay sane, focused & fulfilled while building your business

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

If you’re like most business owners, you probably began your business with aspirations of wealth, freedom and fulfilment. But the reality isn’t so easy, right?

So let’s take a deeper look at what it takes to live a meaningful, fulfilling life.

The problem: Life in business

The demands of running your own business are intense. Unlike employees, who can often just clock-in, do their job and then clock out, the job of a business owner never truly ends.

You carry your business with you, always. If you’re not negotiating prices, influencing customers, managing staff, chasing cash-flow or doing one of the other myriad of tasks necessary to keep the business operating, you’re thinking about the business, about solutions, about opportunities or threats. So much for a balanced lifestyle!

Thankfully, our brains and systems are wired to cope with a certain amount of stress. You know the famous analogy about the line you see on the ICU monitor that constantly jumps up and down? It’s a good sign – you don’t want a static flat line!

But there’s a limit. Unless you have a way to manage the stressors, challenges and disappointments that life will throw at you, you stop being a good owner and manager. Running the business becomes onerous, and eventually life becomes unfulfilling. And when that happens, many owners give up or fight on until their bodies give up.

The truth of the matter is that business owners choose to live in a frantic world. Your clients want immediate responses, your staff need guidance, your suppliers demand payment, and all the while you need to provide for your family. And naturally, all this places incredible stress on you and robs you of the ability to remain calm and focused, let alone fulfilled.

So what can you do? Are business owned doomed to live stressful, unfulfilling lives?

The mindful living system: 5 key practices

Thankfully, there are practices that can empower you to stay sane, focused and fulfilled while building a successful business.

At their core, these practices are about living more mindfully – that is, becoming more aware, more conscious, of how you react to events, and then choosing more deliberately and intentionally how you’ll respond.

There are 5 key practices that comprise a mindful living system:

  1. Inspiration: Your first step is to identify your ‘core purpose’. Your core purpose is an expression of what’s really important to you in life – your values – and especially the values that relate to the impact you want to have on others. Crystalising those values into a clear purpose statement can inspire and motivate you to live up to that purpose, infusing your life with more meaning and fulfillment.
  2. Application: There’s a wide chasm between coming up with a purpose statement and living that purpose day to day. That’s why your second step is to apply your high-level purpose across the various domains of your life: from your home right through to your work. That means identifying clear goals for each domain as well as practical ‘actions plans’ to bring those goals to life.
  3. Interpretation: What happens when you’re faced with challenges and setbacks that threaten to knock you and your well-laid plans off course? Running a business is full of challenges, stressors and disappointments, which is why you’ll need to stay balanced and resilient even when the going gets tough. And that’s where the skill of reframing come in. Reframing is about interpreting challenges deliberately, not just reactively, and then reframing those challenges  in terms of opportunities to growth and learn.
  4. Reflection: What if what’s holding you back from achieving your purpose – and the success you’re after – is not some external setback or challenge? What if it’s you? What if you’ve made a mistake? And what if you’re not entirely sure what you should learn from it or what you should do differently in the future? This is where you’ll need to build skills for reflecting on and learning from unsuccessful experiences, even where the lessons are not obvious, so you continue to grow – personally and in your business.
  5. Integration: How do you ensure that these practices become integrated into your daily life? It’s one thing to learn about these ideas or try to them out once or twice. But it’s another thing entirely to make them a habit, a part your life, such that they affect you  and help you  in a lasting, ongoing way. That’s why you’ll need to integrate these practices into a step-by-step mindful living system that you apply regularly – not unlike  a fitness regime – with a way to hold you accountable for staying on track.  

If you can learn and implement those  5 practices, you’ll increase your sense of balance, focus and fulfillment, even in the face of challenges. And if you’d like more guidance on how to apply these practices to your life, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help.

All the best,

Joel & Aryeh.