How to Build A Successful Business?
Starting a business and becoming successful is often part of the American Dream. But there is a difference between starting a business and building a successful business. Many businesses fail within the first few years of existence due to the lack of planning for the long-term. There is not enough vision and there is not enough done to strengthen the business properly from the ground up.
If you want to start a business there is an easy way to get a better understanding of why some businesses fail and others don’t. When starting a business think about it similar to building a house. If done right it is protecting you against any kind of storm or danger of the outside world and will last for a long time. It offers shelter and protection. For you and your business that could be translated to that you want to have a business that is able to weather economical ups and downs (=storm) and that will provide income to pay the bills (shelter and protection).
When building a house there are several different steps you need to follow to have the house build. You know you want a house, but you got to pick a location and get an architect to plan everything out. In the business world that would be: you know you want to start a business, but you have to come up with a business idea and work out a business plan. The next thing for the house would be to build the foundation (and eventually the basement) for the house. In the business world – you got to build the initial infrastructure (example: connecting with vendors, find a manufacturer for your product, create a sales team, rent office space, get a delivery truck, etc.). Once that is in place you able to actually do business and earn some money. But you are not completely done yet. You need to build a frame, put in windows and you also need a roof on house. For your business this means that you pay off debt, improve business processes and get professional help when needed (example: find a tax accountant, select a payroll service, etc.).
Once the house is build you probably want to fill it with furniture and make it livable for the future. Nobody wants to sleep on the floor, right. Again translating this to the business world it could mean that you invest money you earned back into your business. You buy machinery instead of leasing it. Eventually you buy a building, hire more staff, develop more products, move into new markets, build up a high cash reserve, and buy other businesses and so forth. This is often the step where winners and losers separate. Re-investing money into the business is a key factor for success. If you go and spend all the money on your own salary to buy things you have nothing to go back to when the economy slips into a recession or if disaster strikes.
The successful business owner has build up a cash reserve or can borrow money from bank – securing loans with the assets of the business. Going back to building a house this pretty much matches the same efforts. You pay off your mortgage and have equity available to eventually borrow against when emergency arises. Emergencies do not include paying off credit cards to use them again or to buy a car. Financially responsible you should be looking at the long term and not finance short-term goods with long-term debt.
Does your business needs an outside accountant?
It all depends. If you require an audited or reviewed financial statement, then, yes, you need a CPA. In any event, it is always a good idea to maintain a relationship with an accountant no matter how small your business. Whether your accountant is a CPA is up to you. The real question is: To what extent do you need outside accounting services? That also depends on you and the nature of your business.
I always start with the admonition: The Buck Stops With You! You cannot afford to dissociate yourself from understanding the meaning of your financial statements. If you solely rely on your accounting staff or accountant for completely accurate financial data, then you are asking for trouble. If you are going to own or manage a business, then you have a responsibility to learn how to speak the language of business. The language of business is accounting knowledge.
How involved you become in the accounting process will be determined by time schedules, your mental pre-disposition, desire for control, cash flow, etc. One scenario, if you can afford it, is to hire an internal accounting staff to prepare financial statements on a monthly basis and have an external accountant check them over. Another common scenario is to prepare part of the compilation yourself, such as preparing a sales journal and a cash disbursements journal, and then hire an outside accountant to prepare a bank reconciliation and the financial statements for you. Some do this on a monthly basis, others quarterly. Some business owners do the books themselves all year and turn them over to the accountant at the end of the year to verify the balances and do the depreciation entry for tax purposes.
There are numerous ways to work with an accountant. Regardless, you should learn enough about accounting to be able to communicate intelligently with your accountant. Since you are intimately involved in your business you may recognize danger signals that not even your accountant will see.
Selecting an accountant
Relying on the yellow pages to find an accountant can be risky. The best way to find any professional is by a referral. However, you need to interview prospective accountants before signing on. One of the first priorities is to find out what their experience level is. Your business may have very specific accounting and tax issues that require a certain amount of expertise. Perhaps you have a manufacturing concern. What does the accountant know about raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods inventory accounting? Does the accountant know how to set up job-costing and overhead burdens? Ask for references from other like-kind businesses.
Keep in mind, that you may go to an established firm with a good reputation, but with whom are you going to have a relationship? Is your account large enough to warrant a relationship with a partner? You need to feel confident with the person assigned to your account. Perhaps a smaller firm with four or five accountants who are all seasoned veterans might work better.
You will also want someone with whom you can relate. The ability to communicate is a crucial factor. Your accountant may be technically proficient but can you understand what he or she is telling you? Does he or she listen when you ask questions? Dont be afraid to ask for someone else if you are having difficulty communicating.
Another important criterion is accessibility. Is your accountant too busy to talk to you? Can you get your questions answered within a reasonable period of time? Do you feel important to him or her? Situations may arise where you need information immediately to make an important business or tax decision, will your accountant respond quickly?
Last, but not least, are the accountants billing practices. Billing practices vary from firm to firm. Some firms are very aggressive and put tremendous pressure on staff and partners to bill every minute they can. Some firms require a review process before any work goes out the door. This means that every person who performs any work on your account, including the person who puts the stamp on your envelope, bills you for it.
Find out in advance what happens if you call the firm to ask a simple question that takes less than five minutes to answer. Are you billed for five minutes or are you billed in increments of fifteen minutes even though you only talked for five? Some firms justify this increment billing by explaining that you are paying for the accountants expertise that may have taken years to acquire, therefore, they say, its worth it.
Some accounting practitioners charge a flat rate for services rendered or a combination of flat services and hourly charges. For instance, an accountant might charge $200 a month to prepare a monthly financial statement but charge $100 an hour for special projects. Within the monthly fee, the client can call to ask questions that last fifteen minutes or less for no additional charge. This way the client is not reticent about calling. Getting your question answered may prevent little problems from later becoming bigger more expensive problems.
Very often projects take longer to complete than anticipated. Complications arise and the practitioner should be paid for his or her work. Always insist that, if there are going to be additional charges over and above what has been agreed upon, that the accountant gets your approval first. Be sure to clarify these procedures before engaging an accountant in an engagement letter. This is a document that spells out the responsibilities of both parties and how the relationship is going to work.
Remember, there is absolutely no reason to be intimidated by your accountant. After all, you are paying for the services, and I promise you, the accountant wants your business.
How to grow a money tree
What is a Blunder?
Definition of Blunder:
Main Entry: 1blun·der
1: to move unsteadily or confusedly
2: to make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance, or carelessness transitive senses
3: to utter stupidly, confusedly, or thoughtlessly
4: to make a stupid, careless, or thoughtless mistake in
- blun·der·er / noun
- blun·der·ing·ly / adverb
Source: Merriam Webster
First, why even focus on the blunders? Isn't that kind of a negative focus?
The reality is that we all make mistakes. Most of us don't like to re-live the mistake so we try our best to forget what happened. Worse yet, we sometimes blame our clients (bad client, bad, bad client).
But that same coaching blunder can be used to sharpen our coaching skills. The very thing that we worry will be the end of us (a blunder) can actually catapult us to a very different level of performance.
Learning to recognize and embrace our coaching blunders is the path to better coaching. We will continue to blunder, so let's take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves!
What are some reasons to focus on the blunders?
Here are 8 compelling reasons to embrace your mistakes and use them to your advantage:
1. Become a more (polished) (sophisticated) (evolved) coach.
2. Eliminate your rough edges while refining the sharpness with which you coach.
3. Replace repetitive blunders with a stealth form of uber-coaching.
4. Give your clients the gift of effective coaching on every call.
5. Begin to learn the real reasons your clients leave (fire) you and what to do to turn that around. Coaches often have clients for 2-3 months and then they fade away. Now you can begin to learn why clients leave you.
6. Discover how to love being rated by your clients in performance reviews.
7. Learn how to self-assess, and self-coach, with honesty and compassion.
8. Discover real time solutions for when you get stuck (and who doesn't at one time or another).
What kind of Blunders do coaches make?
In the Coaching Blunders Series, available in audio with a workbook, we discuss different types of blunders and their value to us:
1. Administrative Blunders
2. Fearful Blunders
3. Avoidance Blunders
4. Communication Blunders
5. Power and Empowerment Blunders
6. Benefits of Blunders
What are the Top 10 Blunders that you see coaches make?
Although we identified close to 100 coaching blunders I feel that the Top 10 Coaching Blunders are:
1. Waiting until you are ready to coach (new coaches) or waiting to coach the more challenging clients (experienced coaches).
Get clients now! Your coaching education will make more sense if you're coaching. You're never going to "have it" if you don't "do it". I highly recommend that you "dive in and get both feet wet".
2. Taking your client at face value.
This may sound shocking but the reality is that clients come to us because they are here, and want to get there. If they could do it on their own, they wouldn't' need us. Often, what a client says to us has to do with the client's current paradigms and attitudes. If we take their goals and ideas at face value, we may be missing huge goals that they want to tap into but don't yet know how to express. They are hiring us so we can tap into the goals with them.
3. Going into solution mode.
Most coaches, particularly new ones, will jump right away to finding solutions and solving problems. Why do we tend to go to solution mode? What's our motivation? We do this because we think it will justify our fees and prove our value as a coach. This is very limited thinking on the part of the coach.
4. Not knowing your client.
a. Do a thorough pre-hire interview. If you want to know how to do this successfully consider getting the eBook Ten Step Buying Process: Converting Prospects to Clients at http://discninja.com/products.htm.
b. Have a complete intake form for your clients to complete.
c. Use assessments. My favorite is the DISC Personal Profile System. To see a number of valuable coaching assessments visit www.InternetAssessments.com.
I prefer to have a complimentary collaborative interview with a potential new client instead of offering a complimentary free session. This way I get a clear understanding of the potential client. By using the DISC assessment, it helps me stay out of "solution mode" because I can deal with client behaviors and discover their motivations from there.
5. Avoiding difficult or touchy subjects. Allowing client to avoid issues that are "hot" (and avoid they will).
Sometimes coaches inadvertently allow clients to avoid the touchy subjects. We have to be very watchful to know what the touchy subjects are for each client. If the client keeps avoiding a certain topic, it's a blunder on the coach's part to allow that to happen. Once you notice a client avoiding a touchy subject then bring this up in session. For instance, Every time, I begin to ask you about this topic, you change the topic. I'd like us to take a few minutes and see what's here.
6. Not having a system in place for the administration of our clients.
a. Keeps us from serving our clients and growing our business.
b. Client Compass software is a great administrative environment.
i. E-Caps that can be sent to your client directly after each call.
ii. Invoicing - Failing to manage the money and/or get paid on time. Payment can be handled directly through the premium version of Client Compass.
iii. Keeping track of paid and volunteer time
iv. For more info visit http://www.clientcompass.com
c. Not having a well-written coaching policy that sets clear client expectations. If you would like to see my coaching package it is available as a part of the www.90DayMarketingMarathon.com as lesson #41. For your quick reference it is available at this link: www.90DayMarketingMarathon.com/coachingpackage.pdf.
If you set up systems, then tasks can be done automatically and you can spend more time coaching and earning a living and less time on administrivia.
7. Not building an environment that allows more people to know about you as a coach. In the www.90DayMarketingMarathon.com program, we create just such an environment for you.
a. Selling people or talking people into coaching. Once again, I recommend reviewing the Ten Step Buying Process: Converting Prospects to Clients (see #4 above)
b. Coaching any one other than your "ideal" client.
c. Not letting enough people get to know you.
A lot of coaches love to coach, but they don't love to market. If you're not marketing and people don't know about you, you won't have the business you want. Consider joining the www.90DayMarketingMarathoncom. It will help you be clear on your ideal client. And I guarantee that you will be a much better coach when you are coaching your ideal client.
8. Coaching around topics we should avoid
We know this and yet it's so easy to get sucked into it. Hold clear boundaries and coach your clients to contact the appropriate contacts such as their employee assistance program (EAP), therapist, attorney, etc. Our job as coaches is to not get sucked into it but to have strong and clear boundaries and to hold the right space for coaching our clients.
9. Constantly asking questions and/or not allowing clients to answer before asking a new question.
Silence tends to make most of us very uncomfortable. So, if the coach becomes uncomfortable we often ask new questions before the previous one was answered. This is a serious blunder. That same silence can also put your client into a certain discomfort, which can be a good thing. It teases something deeper out of them. Don't let clients "off the hook" because of your discomfort!
10. Raising fees before we are ready.
If we don't feel worthy, it will not work. Clients will sense this like dogs sense fear!
One option is to create coaching programs with a specific focus as well as a beginning, middle and end. There is less risk for the prospect or client in both time and money. And, you can often convert people who have taken one of your coaching programs into a one-on-one client.
This is because they have had a chance to get to know you and trust you. You have developed a relationship with them and they will feel more confident in working with you.
You can create your own program or purchase a license for a coaching program from a third party such as CoachVille. I am also offering several licensing programs so feel free to contact me for more information.
Parting Words of Wisdom:
The key is to embrace your own blunderella or blunderfella. Embrace them and you will learn much more quickly than when you are in resistance.
© Copyright 2005 Alicia Smith
Permission to reproduce granted if all attribution & contact information is included.
Entrepreneur Training Program: Why is there a need for it?
Many entrepreneurs get that itch to start a new business, either because they are fed up being "wage slaves" or they like the freedom that working for yourself can bring. Some even think that they will be richer or have more spare time. Many are not sure what kind of business they want.
First of all - never start a new business because you want more money or more time. Starting a new business takes both lots of time and most, if not all, of your money.
Secondly don't fall into the trap of starting a business just for the sake of it. Make sure that someone wants what you are aiming to sell! Your fruit cakes, tattoos or begonias may be the best in the area but if no one wants them - then you are going to be going bust very soon.
So how do you find out what kind of things you are going to sell?
1) Look at the type of area that you want to set up your business. A majority of aged clients is not going to be keen to have tattoos but might love your cakes!
2) Look at the other businesses selling in your area. Whilst it is sometimes good to group some businesses together such as car sales - make sure there is enough people left who may buy from you. Similarly if there is a successful company that is not coping - maybe you can inherit some of their clients?
3) Look for gaps in the market. Are their complimentary businesses close by who you can join in with to share customers? Is the market just crying out for a particular product of service.
4) Most importantly go and ask people. Give talks at clubs about your subject and see what kind of reception you get. Hold a competition for the best ideas etc.
Good luck in obtaining a firm foundation for your new business.
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