Business Strategies for the Entrepreneur in 2012
I get asked questions all the time about how I have become so successful. I’ve had a great year in a horrible economy and want to share what has helped me be so successful. I’m not selling you anything here. You can read for yourself. Speaking of reading, here’s #1 on the list!
1. Read “The Success Principals” by Jack Canfield & “The E Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber
If you’re in business for yourself or you’re a goal oriented person, “The Success Principals” by Jack Canfield cannot go unread. This was referred to me by a member of my Mastermind group and has changed the way I think about business.
My first business coach referred “The E Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, which changed the way I structured my companies and how I looked at business in general. Both of these are unbelievable reads and I revisit them every year around this time.
2. Get Your Team & Processes in Place
The ideal strategy would be to create a blueprint for every single job title you have working at your company. Figure out how you can automate each one of those processes and create a manual that explains everything in step-by-step fashion. This will make hiring employees easier and you can easily hold them more accountable for the mistakes they make. Use project management software like ProTasker (http://www.protasker.com) to organize your tasks. This will allow you to keep track of your projects, assign them to different users, keep track of time, make task templates to easily create a similar project process, and collaborate all online. My employees now work more efficiently and I save thousands of dollars and create more dollars.
3. Work On Your Company, Not For It!
Seven years into business I decided I didn’t want to deal with clients, do production or manage employees. I was burnt. I decided to train my existing employees to do my tasks, took a pay cut, and hired another person to take over my production while I focused on planning, selling, and marketing my business. My net increases have been 22% in 2009, 26% in 2010, and 33% in 2011. I still have to jump in and deal with clients, do production, and manage employees, but my total time doing this per week is around four hours. The best thing I’ve learned is to schedule time for myself. I’ll book time in my calendar to do things that I need to accomplish personally and professionally.
4. Marketing Online
If you’re a business in today’s world, you need to aggressively market online. Print strategies are seldom effective unless you are trying to build brand equity. Social media will be larger than life in 2012. Build a quality (not quantity) following by giving away great information that attracts your targeted audience. Consider the same strategy for getting better placement on search engines. Do not hire just an SEO expert – hire a marketing agency that can give you a well-rounded approach for an integrated strategy and a maximized online exposure (Paid Search, Social Networking, Search Engine Placement, Brand Recognition). If you’re too small of a company to hire a marketing agency, join some internet marketing forums and consider authoring on a few blogs outside of your own. I use Big Web Daily (http://www.bigwebdaily.com) and it’s in the top 10 list as a traffic referring domain. All the traffic I get has an extremely low bounce rate making the visitors quality. You can visit my website at www.cmdsonline.com.
5. Surround Yourself with Elite Professionals
I’ve created my network of professionals for business and personal use. I have experts in each field that I communicate with (two per field, just in case the other fails) and I’m always meeting with people to make sure I surround myself with the best team. Surround yourself with a good financial advisor, lawyer, mortgage agent, accountant, business coach, and other highly successful entrepreneurs that you look up to. I wasn’t saving for retirement until a few years ago. Now I put money away weekly. My accountant is great at keeping me conservative and on top of all the changes that take place. My business coach and I talk weekly about what I’ve accomplished during the past week and what I will be working on the next week.
6. Build Customer Trust and They’ll Keep Coming Back for More
Every customer is different. For some people buying a house is no big deal and for others going to the grocery store can set off cognitive overload. Take the time to get to know your customer. How do they think? How do they buy? What are their top concerns? How can you go about putting them at ease with you as their salesperson as well as your entire company?
Customers are smart and they know when they’re being sold to. As a result they are more likely to trust a recommendation from a stranger who has nothing to sell them and no money to take from them. Effective sales communication starts by avoiding general claims about products or services. A crowded marketplace full of nonspecific product and service guarantees has lost all value with consumers. A creative, specific, and consumer-focused statement of information will help you reach your customer in a meaningful way. One sure fire method to increase the weight of your message is to quantify your value.
7. Make Time for YOURSELF
I know the title says “Business Strategies” but what good is business if you don’t have health and happiness? This past year I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I went misdiagnosed for six weeks and got pretty sick. I was mentally and physically handicapped. I couldn’t figure out how to open the door in my bedroom to get out. I’m almost 100% recovered, however it’s been a long journey. Luckily I have good processes and great employees and family which allowed me to take almost 2 months off and go back part time after that. All the money I have, my wonderful family, all the five cars, the houses… they all don’t mean a thing if you’re not able or around to enjoy them. Stay healthy! Eat healthy and organic when possible, exercise, go on vacations a few times a year (I do two small and two large) and work no longer than an 8 hour day. Productivity experts say that people are more productive working just 8 hours as opposed to those that work 12 hours. Your family, friends and business will thank you for it.
Have a stellar 2012!
Multi-Business Owner & Marketing Coach