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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Is It Time For SMEs To Take IT Seriously?

It could be said we all take the internet and our new technology for granted. Even those of us who have been around for a while have become used to Tweeting on the move or sending emails and working on our tablets and laptops, connected to each other by the wonder of Wi-Fi. Most of us will have some sort of virus software on our devices, and that's often all we need to do to keep ourselves relatively safe.

But for businesses, particularly smaller companies, their relationship with IT is a little more complicated. According to cyber-attack gurus Kaspersky, a large proportion of small companies do not think they are as vulnerable to cybercrime as large enterprises. They consider themselves either too small or feel they have little in the way of value worth stealing.

This is a mistake according to the Federation of Small Businesses who recently highlighted how over 40% of their members have been the subject of some kind of cyber-attack with almost a 1/3 being subject to online fraud. With the majority of SMEs nowadays heavily reliant on being connected via their laptops, tablets and smartphones it's a level of complacency that could be considered dangerous.

It's not just attacks that try to get at our finances that are the worry, most devices nowadays hold a good deal of personal and sensitive information. That could include the contact and even bank details of customers, your passwords and other security details, supplier details and your bankroll information and a host of other stuff that could be useful to a cybercriminal.

Only a quarter of SMEs currently use an outside IT consultancy to help them cope with the dangers of the online world, most preferring a do-it-yourself approach that can, at best, be described as naive. According to Kaspersky, this is all symptomatic of many a SME having a 'consumer' mind-set rather than looking at their online and IT security in a more business orientated way.

It's even more remarkable when you consider that 31% of those asked what they would do if there was a cyber-attack on their business didn't have a clue. Only 1 in 10 realised how much it could cost their business, not only financially but also in terms of their reputation if customers realise that they cannot keep their private information safe.

If you take into account that there are nearly 5 million micro-firms and sole traders in the UK alone, you get an idea of the size of the target. Companies who take the advice of an IT consultancy who can highlight the areas where improvements and safeguards can be introduced are far better placed to fend off any remote or targeted cyber-attack that may come their way.

IT security isn't just about having the right virus software and firewalls in place, though these are important. Professional IT support helps your business to protect itself - an ongoing process that explores all the possible catastrophes that could befall you in the online world. It allows you to develop the smart options that keep you safe and protects your privacy in a variety of ways, from creating a robust password policy to keeping your virus and anti-spam software completely up-to-date.

I am Erika Chitty. I work for M2Computing in Operations & Sales support. At M2Computing, We provide flexible and affordable Small Business IT Support, systems support, Cloud, virtual desktop and Blaze Back Up services across the South East, UK.

By Erika Chitty


For IT related information and resources for small business check out Broadband Nation

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

7 Questions That Every Business Owner Needs To Answer To Create A Truly Great Marketing Plan

Have you ever spent time and effort creating a Marketing Plan to then experience disappointment and frustration because it made zero difference in your business performance?

If so it's probably because you fell into one or more of the following traps:

1. You may have followed a template that's been designed for a large corporate entity instead of one that's proven effective for a smaller business

2. Possibly you bought a Marketing Plan training course from a charlatan who knew that the course they were selling was useless but who continued to sell it regardless

3. Or perhaps you followed the advice of a well-meaning business coach or consultant (who probably didn't actually own their own business) that relied on out-dated theories. And if that's the case then you probably noticed that after several months and many thousands of dollars later you had no new clients to show for your time, effort and money

4. Or possibly you fell into the very common trap of starting with tactics and not paying deep attention to strategy first

If any of the above describes you then you need to know that it's probably not your fault: there are simply too many confident-sounding, smooth-talking crooks and simpletons out there who are selling half-baked theories that don't actually work.

And on the subject of putting strategy before tactics, the latter are the important details of a Marketing Plan and include the creation of testimonials, guarantees, websites, advertisements, email or direct mail campaigns and so on but whilst that's all very important you'll soon see that it's a big mistake to start with tactics before you've got yourself an effective marketing strategy.

This article in an introduction to seven strategic questions you need to answer when putting together an effective Marketing Plan.

Strategic Question #1: What's your PEG? PEG stands for Personal End Game and while it's technically an objective and not a strategy as such, I include it here because it's critically important as a source of motivation for when you hit the inevitable obstacles along the road to growing your business: "reasons are the fuel in the furnace of motivation".

The PEG question is normally the easiest of the strategic questions to answer. All you need to do is identify two numbers and three things.

The two numbers are: how much income do you want each year and how many weeks off work do you want each year?

Then you add three things that you will use that money and time for - three burning motivators. These can include your family but don't keep it completely pure! If big sea side houses and fast cars really spin your "whizzer" then add them to your list.

Strategic Question #2: What is your Ideal Client Profile and what is their Specific Unmet Need? You need to develop a simple description of your Ideal Client and what they want. And ideally the "what they want" part is a need that they can't get met someplace else.

This is not rocket science so keep it simple!

Include any generally applicable characteristics such as gender, religion, location, age bracket, occupation, company size, income and also a little bit about their buying motivators. Anything that you think is relevant is fair game for your list.

For example here's my Ideal Client Profile: English speaking business owners who are comfortable with the internet and who want a marketing plan that is designed specifically for small business and that's actually proven effective to bring in new clients.

Another example from a client: Fast food restaurant owners in the Asia Pacific region who want to increase their sales and profits through smarter sales software analysis.

And another client: Mothers in Australia, New Zealand and North America who want delicious but healthy Greek style yoghurt for themselves and their families and are prepared to pay a slight premium for healthier and more nutritious food

Note: in the last example we've excluded women without children to feed and we've excluded men despite being fully aware that some of those two categories will buy the product. However we want to create a marketing message (see below) that reflects their Specific Unmet Need and we can't do that if we try to appeal to everyone. The message that's designed for everyone is a message the no one is interested in.

Have you noticed that I haven't asked you yet about your product/service yet? That's because your product/service features are irrelevant at this point.

It's not until you figure out what your market place wants that you are in a position to know if your product/service can be effectively marketed.

That may sound like bad news but it's probably not. There's a fair chance that your product/service, with a few tweaks, is fine. But you can't assume that. If your product/service features are not well matched to market place needs, then getting people to buy will be very hard work.

An effective Marketing Plan always, always, always answers questions regarding market place needs before addressing the issue of product.

Strategic Question #3: What's your Bold Promise? Another way of asking this question is "what does my Ideal Client have to hear in order for them to want to buy my product/service?"

There are a number of elements that combine to create successful marketing results but let me be explicitly clear: the two most critical factors are who you put your offer in front of (Ideal Client Profile) and what you actually offer; your "value proposition" as I call it.

The best offer in front of the wrong person is dead in the water. For example if you were a teetotaller and I offered you a great deal on a case of fine wine, even if I discounted it by 90%, would you buy? Probably not. That's a great offer in front of the wrong person.

So now let's assume that we've got the right audience let's look at some different ways of presenting the offer.

For example: as a business owner which of the follow value propositions would you find more motivating?

"We show you how to grow your business" Versus "Increase your sales and profits by 50% within six months - or you don't pay"

The second one is the hands down winner because it's a bold promise, it includes a specific numerical benefit and it adds a guarantee. That combination is one Kick-Butt formula so take note.

Here's another set of contrasting offers to further illustrate the point

"Your Building Consent Experts" Versus "Your Building Permit Approved In 14 Days Or Less - Guaranteed"

Do NOT skip this. I know your brain may hurt but this is critical. If you can come up with a bold promise like the ones above then you'll achieve better marketing results and you'll get those results faster and easier.

Your Ideal Client is bombarded with literally hundreds of marketing messages every day. You need to do something dramatic to make your message stand out.

Strategic Question #4: Where do my Ideal Clients hang out? So far you've figured out what motivates you, who is your Ideal Client, what their Specific Unmet Need is and what they need to hear in order to want to make an inquiry or to buy.

Now you need to figure out what they watch, who they listen to, what they read, which meetings they go to, which clubs or associations they are members of, which other businesses have them in their network, which websites they visit and what they search for on Google when they are looking for your type of products or services.

The reason is obvious: once you know where your Ideal Clients hang out then you can direct your bold promise to them with direct offer.

And you don't have to spend much money on this. I've built multi-million dollar businesses on what I call my "Godfather" offers (an offer that you can't refuse).

I identify the owner of a database that contains a lot of my Ideal Clients. I prepare a great offer for their network and then I offer the owner as much as 100% commission on the sales.

Why would I give away 100% of the sale? Simple: I want people in my database who are buyers, not tire-kickers. And the purpose of a sale is to get a client (most people think it's the other way around).

Once I have a client, I can then nurture the relationship until they are ready to buy again... and again... and again.

(Bear in mind that most of my product offers are in digital format so I can afford to give away a lot because value delivery costs are zero.)

Strategic Question #5: What's your Black Jellybean? If there is a jar of jellybeans at a counter I'll be the guy standing there picking out the black ones. There is no such thing as liking black jellybeans. You either love them or you hate them.

Similarly, you need to figure out that what you offer, your Ideal Client will love and create/adjust/refine a product/service accordingly. And in creating something that your Ideal Client will love, probably means that there's a whole bunch of people who hate it.

For example: in my business I work with clients almost exclusively on-line. My clients love the fact that they don't have to travel to meet with me, that they are one click away from being straight back to work and that they don't have to have me in their offices or factories.

Naturally, there are others who would work with me if only I would visit them face to face, three dimensionally.

And so my on-line strategy is a Black Jellybean, in that people either love it or hate it.

Another example: the Quick Beauty House offers 10 minute haircuts for $20... for women! For every 8 women who hate that idea there are 2 who love it. And in a city of fifteen million people that 2 out of 10 adds up to a whole lot of women!

Strategic Question #6: What will your Funnel look like? Imagine a Funnel, wide at the top and becoming narrower as is goes downward. A Funnel represents a series of product/service offerings that are free at the top and then increases in price as you descend down the Funnel and its design is a critical part of any effective Marketing Plan.

a Funnel starts at the top with free stuff and as people descend down the funnel there are less of them but they are spending more with you.

Let's assume that whatever "Core Offering Product" you currently have it good or even great.

All too often business owners are trying to sell that Core Offering Product without romancing, seducing and engaging prospects with great added value free stuff first.

I got married three years ago. The millisecond I first saw my wife I was in love. Gone, smitten, out for the count!

Imagine I simply walked up to her and invited her to marry me on the spot. Or worse still, how do you think it would have gone if I'd asked her to join me in bed? Of course that's a ridiculous idea but how often have you put your Core Offering Product in front of an Inquiring prospect and popped the question "So, you want to buy it or not?" (or words to that effect).

You need to ask yourself what you can offer for free, that if a person grabbed at it, they would be qualifying themselves as a likely client.

For example: I offer a free Marketing Plan training course. It runs over 30 days and contains a complete step by step training system for putting together a truly effective Marketing Plan for a business owner.

I offer the training course for free because the prospect can get great value from me without having to risk anything more than a few hours.

I know that most people who get my free course will never pay me even a cent, ever.

I also know that enough of the people who do that course will descend down to the next level of my Funnel and (wisely) accept my two month free trial offer for my Killer Marketing Club which is a great example of the "Easy Entry Level" product from the chart above.

And enough of the people who join the Killer Marketing Club will go on to invest in something else and so on.

And so the Funnel represents a game of patience and romance. It also says to a potential new client "you may have been burnt before so let me prove to you that I'm different and that I can add great value to you before you trust me with your money".

Other examples and ideas for Free Added Value option: free trial period, free sample, free demonstration, free class, free added-value newsletters or Ezines, free check-up, free in-store tasting.

Patience + Free = Millions

Never underestimate the power of free!

Strategic Question #7: Which Streams will you tap into? A Stream refers to a source of prospects. I've identified well over sixty different places that most businesses can get qualified leads from. These include the traditional sources such as media advertising (don't start here, you'll burn too much money!), referral systems, Search Engine Optimization, banner adverts, direct mail or email campaigns, Joint Ventures, Host Beneficiaries, Social Media Marketing, Adwords, events, word of mouth and many more.

Your Marketing Plan needs to start off by listing at least ten different lead generation sources that you will start work on initially.

You take the one place that you think it will be easiest, cheapest and fastest to get leads and you put a system in place for getting your message out to that place and you then measure the results and when necessary, you refine the offer until you have a proven marketing system that brings in a predictable stream of new clients.

And then you do the same for the next system and so on until you have layered ten proven marketing systems on top of each other.

At that point you'll have a flow of new leads and new clients.

Conclusion: Creating a truly effective Marketing Plan that gives you a flow of high quality new clients, predictably and systematically, is both critically important to the health of your business as well as pivotal to your success in life financially and personally.

For free training on creating a marketing plan visit: www.8020Center.com/FreeMarketingPlan/

About the author: Tom Poland started his first business 31 years ago and has gone on to start and sell multiple businesses including two which he took international. Since 1995 he's trained over tens of thousands of business owners in almost every English speaking country in the world on how to get more clients and make more money by helping more people. In this article he reveals the seven strategic questions he asks business owners to answer when setting up their marketing plan. An overview of his free Marketing Plan training course can be viewed by visiting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc6paMhZmiM.

By Tom D Poland

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Having A Sales Plan Is An Essential Component To Your Marketing Plan In A Small Business

Why is it that people in a small business do not generally create and implement a written "marketing plan?" And, why is it that people in a small business also do not generally implement a "sales plan" to compliment the marketing plan? Even if your plan is in your head, how are you tracking your activities? These are questions I ponder as I talk with small business owners every day. If your perspective of what exactly a "marketing plan" is and the value which it brings to your business is not aligned, you should take a step back and re-visit your goals, vision, and mission statements.

Your marketing plan is optimal when you're tracking your sales activities, which tie back to your marketing plan and who your ideal client is, what they want, and how they want it! The main key is to utilize strategy marketing vs. tactical marketing. Knowing your client's hot buttons, accessibility needs, what they are thinking, and how you differ from the last coach they spoke to, will give you the leverage you need to find qualified clients. Try to enter the thought process going on in your client's head during their decision process.

A sales plan is absolutely necessary to supplement your marketing efforts and implementation. This will determine whether you run your business with a revenue or expense focus. The no-brainer is we all should absolutely focus on revenue. (Another day, we'll talk about the Pareto's 80/20 rule, which is very interesting when you break down your daily activities). If you are a visual person, mind mapping is an effective way to create your sales process. Creating a sales process, while it sounds administrative, is actually a sales tool, rather than something to be perceived as negative.

Reflect on the following questions as it relates to your sales and marketing plans simultaneously:

1. Do I have a written marketing plan and is it effectively aligned with the values of my mission and vision statements? Are my daily activities reflective of the actions needed to support my vision and mission statements?

2. Am I meeting my financial expectations? Is the business making money? Could I take on more clients? What do I need to do to increase business, sales, and revenue?

3. Do I have different methods that separate me, or a bold statement I can back up with action?

4. Do I have opportunity to raise prices based on demand, my competitors, and the marketplace?

The common thread with small business growth is a well-thought marketing and sales plan. Once you have these in place and implemented, your "ideal client" will be obvious to you and your prospects. This is when you define who your "qualified client" and focus on those prospects 80% of your time. You and your client will have a win-win experience.

Finally, the questions above create great discussion points in any coaching, consulting, or general business. Thank you.

I will give anyone who enjoys this, my first article, a Comprehensive Business Assessment ($1,000 valued) for free for the remainder of January.. Comments are also welcome. Email donnaslater@women4womenclub.guru, or fill in your contact information at http://www.women4womenclub.guru/contact Alternatively, give me a call at 925-822-8519 for a free consultation.

By Donna Slater

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Key IT Trends For SMEs In 2015

After the trials of the last few years, we are finally moving away from the recession and heading for more prosperous times with nearly 30% of SMEs stating that they expect further growth in 2015. Key to their success, according to a recent TalkTalk survey, is how they interact with technology - faster broadband and greater connectivity being at the top of the list.

Here are our key IT trends for the year ahead:

  1. According to some sources, 2015 could well be the time that SMEs start to demand more from their IT suppliers, with almost half complaining that they don't get the best out of areas such as their broadband provision. That could lead to many small and medium size business moving towards outsourced IT support, heading for the companies who offer the full package that can facilitate their organic growth and development in addition to faster and more reliable internet speeds.

  2. The Internet of Things where everything is connected to everything else is set to become more and more important for SMEs (potentially connecting us to some 26 billion devices by the year 2020 according to research company Gartner). This has come hand in hand with our continuing adoption of the cloud where we can access any device from anywhere in the world, something that provides SMEs with a greater number of options and the chance to work ever more productively.

  3. The rise of predictive analytics and drilling deeper into consumer behaviour and responses to products is also one of the areas that many businesses, both big and small are going to need to come to grips with. We are increasingly operating in an online world which daily creates huge amounts of data that needs to be interpreted, analysed and utilised if businesses are going to maintain their competitive edge.

  4. More businesses will also be moving to the cloud for their mission critical work, taking advantage of the growing number of IT consultancy firms that offer state-of-the-art desktop solutions including cloud based email and desktop platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 where employees can work on the move from any connected device.

  5. With the desire to reduce costs in tandem with the connectivity provided by the Cloud, many small and medium size business ventures will begin to move their telephony towards hosted PBX systems in 2015. VoIP is fast becoming the more cost effective way to run a telephone system, not only for SMEs but for large organisations too, and more businesses will be looking to connect their smartphones and other devices that can be used whilst roaming away from the office.

  6. And finally, the threat from cybercriminals will continue to grow and become more complex and SMEs will start to depend more and more on their hosted IT support in order to keep their systems and processes robust enough to repel any attacks. With more and more of us using our own smartphones and devices for business, the need to develop a comprehensive security strategy will be of prime importance for many businesses.

It has become all the more important for small and medium size businesses to partner themselves with a reliable IT support team that can provide all advice and updated information a company needs to survive in the modern age and navigate the maze of options and opportunities that will be available.

Whilst the world may be becoming more technologically advanced, businesses who find the IT consultancy to work in partnership with will have a major advantage over their industry competitors.

I am Erika Chitty. I work for M2Computing in Operations & Sales support. At M2Computing, We provide flexible and affordable Small Business IT Support, systems support, Cloud, virtual desktop and Blaze Back Up services across the South East, UK.

By Erika Chitty


For information on resources to help your small business {USA based} check out what's listed at Broadband Nation

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Start To Manage Your Business Expenses Not Just Your Sales

It is surprising how many businesses owners do not monitor the expenses incurred by their business and ensure they are getting best value for money when purchasing products and services. Many business owners are too busy working in their business and carrying out the day to day operations of what their business entails that they don't take the time to work on their business.

As time goes by your suppliers increase costs gradually and unless you analyse these incremental increases it is very easy to not realise that they have become expensive. I am not suggesting you should simply buy cheaper goods or services I'm encouraging you to analyse the expenses and see where the true value lies for you and your business. We all know cheap is not always best but likewise you don't always get what you pay for in life.

If you keep up to date bookkeeping records and run regular management profit and loss accounts and balance sheets this will help you track increasing costs and identify them at an early stage. Many business owners wait until the year end till they get their accounts from the accountant, this is flawed logic because not only could you have been incurring these higher costs for well in excess of a year but also you may not realise from year end accounts that individual costs have risen. For example you may have suffered a large increase in business insurance yet a decrease in motor insurance, so if you simply look at the insurance figures compared to last year the total may be very similar, as the total of the two hasn't increased but if you were to analyse this in closer detail as you process your invoices you would notice the difference and identify a possible cost saving.

Many people in business focus on increasing sales every time that they want to increase profits, however reducing costs can be equally effective, if not more effective at times.

Also consider what expenses you can eliminate altogether, for instance you might engage the services of a bookkeeper, however with bookkeeping training you might find that you can do this work yourself, or you might give your accountant a bag of invoices at the year end, can you imagine the savings if you gave your accountant a well-compiled set of bookkeeping records that you were able to produce yourself if only you had some basic bookkeeping training.

Free bookkeeping training http://www.thebookkeepingtutor.co.uk

By Derek Dale

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Developing Self-Discipline For Starting Your Own Business

The American Dream
More than 50% of all Americans dream of starting their own business some day, but only 3% ever do, in their entire lifetimes. In our free market economy, where it is extremely easy to start and build your own business, and where there have never been more opportunities in all of human history than exist today, why is it that so few people follow their dreams into entrepreneurship and business building?

I have studied the subject of entrepreneurship, business and management for many years. I have started and built several successful multi-million dollar companies from scratch. I have read literally hundreds of books and thousands of articles over the years, and taken a masters degree in business and administration on the subject. I have worked with many thousands of entrepreneurs and business people in large and small organizations all over the country and all over the world. I have trained many tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, managers and executives on subjects ranging from sales and marketing through to strategic planning and finance.

Even today, with all of this experience, I really don't consider myself to be an expert. However, I am a little bit more knowledgeable than the average person and I have some very definite ideas on what you can do to start and build a successful business.

You May Not Get Rich
First of all, why would you want to start a business in the first place? Most people think that the reason for starting your own business is so that you can make a lot of money and retire rich. This is a great idea but it is not the real reason that people take the risks of entrepreneurship.

The number one reason, ahead of all the others, is for the personal freedom offered by owning your own business. There is a little joke that says that when you start your own business, you only have to work half days; and you get to decide whichever 12 hour period you prefer.

In my work with entrepreneurs over the years, I have found that, although they do not necessarily become rich, they do become happier, more self-confident and more self-reliant. Very few entrepreneurs would ever go back to a salaried job. Even though they don't make an enormous amount of money, they love the freedom so much that they could not imagine turning their destiny over to anyone else.

You Can Do It Too
Someone once said that you can only be a successful author if you cannot not write. You can only be a successful entrepreneur under the same conditions. You can only be successful starting and building your own business if you cannot not do it. The starting point of success as an independent business person is a burning desire for independence, freedom and opportunity. It is the desire to be your own boss and not be controlled or dictated to by anyone else.

But let's go back to the first question. Why is it that so few people actually start their own businesses? And the primary reasons are fear and ignorance. Fear and ignorance are and always have been the greatest enemies of human success.

Don't Be Ignorant
Fear blows even the slightest risks out of proportion and paralyzes the person, holding him or her back from ever taking that giant leap of faith into the uncertainty of entrepreneurial business activity. And fear thrives on ignorance. The less you know about anything important or risky, the greater is your level of fear and the lower is your likelihood that you will ever take any action at all.

The good news is that when you begin to chip away at your ignorance, your levels of fear and hesitancy decline at the same rate. When you become thoroughly knowledgeable about what it is that you want to do, you will find yourself with far more confidence and courage than you have fear and doubt. And from that point on, you can begin to make some real progress.

Three Types of Businesses
More than one million men and women start their own businesses every year in America. More people are starting more businesses, selling more products and services today, than at any other time in human history. Remember, there are three types of businesses that you can form. They are corporations, a sole proprietorship and a partnership. Only corporations are registered and the registration is running at over 850,000 per year. The number of sole proprietorships are in the hundreds of thousands. Nobody really knows., You can start one by simply deciding to, this very minute as you listen to this tape, without even registering it, The number of partnerships is also in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions every year.

Because so many hundreds of thousands of men and women are starting various business organizations each year, this means that you can as well. Maybe one or two of these people are smarter or better than you, but you can be sure that hundreds of thousands of them have far more problems and obstacles in their lives than you could ever dream of. In other words, there is no reason whatsoever for you to be afraid of starting your own business.

The key is to make your business a low-risk operation at the beginning with a high possibility for success later on. And these are what you will learn here.

You are the President
By the way, you are already the president of your own company, whether you know it or not. You are the president of an entrepreneurial company with only one employee, yourself. Your company has only one product to sell on the marketplace, your personal services. So, you are the head of your own personal services corporation. And if you name your company after yourself, you don't even have to register it to protect the name. You can go out and print business cards with your name, John Jones Enterprises or John Jones and Associates, and your title, "John Jones - President" with your home and address phone number. The next time you are out with someone and they ask you what you do, you can tell them that you are the president of your own company. When they say that they thought you worked for such and such a company, you can reply by saying that, "Yes, I do work there. They are my best clients right now."

As the President of your own company, you decide how much you earn. Maybe not in the short term, but over the long term, by the things that you do, or fail to do, you determine your own income. If you want to earn more money, go to the nearest mirror and negotiate with your "boss." Your raise will become effective when you do.

Two Categories of Business Owners
You have heard it said that most businesses fail in the first two years. But this is not entirely accurate. If you divide businesses into two categories, those started by people with extensive knowledge and experience and those started by people with no knowledge or experience at all, you get two totally different failure rates.

Businesses started by people who have done what I will tell you about in this session have a success rate in excess of 90%. Businesses started by inexperienced people who have not done their homework have a failure rate of more than 90%. And even if your business fails initially, it is only by failing in business that you eventually learn to succeed greatly. As Phil Knight of Nike once said, "You only have to succeed the last time."

On the David Susskind show many years ago, they interviewed four young entrepreneurs, each of whom was a self-made millionaire by the age of 30. David asked them to calculate how many different business start-ups they had been involved in before they found the business that enabled them to make more than a million dollars. The average was 17 businesses per person! But they had not been failing while their businesses had been failing. They had been becoming smarter and smarter as time passed until finally they were so knowledgeable and experienced that the very next business opportunity put them over the top. And this can happen to you as well.

Special Disciplines
To start and build your own successful business you need special disciplines; disciplines that are practiced by all successful entrepreneurs and self-made business millionaires. You can either learn and practice these disciplines early in your entrepreneurial career or you can learn and practice them later. Sooner or later you must become knowledgeable and skilled in each of these seven areas if you are going to build a successful enterprise. And the longer it takes you to master these seven areas, the longer it will take and the more it will cost, before you eventually achieve your financial and business goals.

The first discipline is the discipline of market analysis. This is where most entrepreneurs fail. They start off with a great idea, and often don't want to tell anybody about it; for fear that someone will steal their idea. So they go off half-cocked into the marketplace with a product or service that has not been thought through properly and they are amazed when it fails.

The fact is that people are far too busy to steal your idea. 99 out of 100 new business ideas fail anyway. People who are operating their own businesses are far, far too busy to have even a minute of time to "steal" your idea, whatever it is.

Ask People's Opinion
In fact, if you have an idea for a product or service in a particular industry, you should go to someone who is already in that industry and ask for their opinion. If you are really smart, you will get in touch with as many people in that industry as possible and lay out your idea to them in full and ask for their candid comments.

What you are looking for is "negative thinking." A negative thinker is someone who will point out the holes and flaws in your plan. If you cannot patch the holes or fix the flaws in your plan for a new business, that is probably a pretty good indicator that your business is not going to succeed.

Beware of "Positive Thinkers"
The most dangerous people you can talk to are "positive thinkers." These are people who will tell you that your business idea is wonderful and that you should "go for it!" They will tell you that this is a great time to start a business and that you will be a great success. Often these are your friends and relatives. But don't get carried away. The only advice that is of any value to you is advice from people who are thoroughly knowledgeable and experienced in the area that you wish to start a business. Anyone else may be well-meaning but their advice is not worth much.

If you had a sore stomach, you wouldn't ask your coworker if you should have surgery or whether or not he thinks that you have cancer. This is not the right person to talk to. For something as important as this, you need a specialist.

The discipline of market analysis requires that you thoroughly examine every detail of your market segment before you commit your time and money to offering your product or service there.

The Law of Three
Every new business starts with an idea to serve customers with a product or service that is faster, newer or better in some way. In fact there is a Law of Three that applies to a new business start up. Whatever you are offering, it must be better by a factor of three than anything else currently being offered to the same customers.

It must be a little faster, a little cheaper and a little bit more effective. It must have at least three benefits that competing products do not offer. If it has only one or two, you will probably fail in the long run.

Market analysis means that you find out if there is a real market for your product or service. How big is the market? Where is the market concentrated? Is the market concentrated sufficiently so that you can reach it effectively with advertising and sales? Who are your competitors in the marketplace? Why are your prospective customers buying from your competitors today?

Give People a Reason to Buy
And here's the most important question: "Why should someone switch from their existing supplier of a similar product or service and buy from you?" The failure to ask and accurately answer this question has been the downfall of many small businesses. You have no idea how hard it is to get a customer to switch from a known supplier to an unknown supplier.

When I started one of my businesses, I thought that people would buy from me because it was me! I thought that because I was so positive, enthusiastic and convinced in the value and quality of my product, that customers would find my enthusiasm contagious and would buy it and use it in high quantities. What I found was that customers were not interested in switching at all. I had to call on customers over and over again before I could even get them to test my new product.

Eventually, I had to give my product away free, and give guarantees before people would even test it. Once I had given away free products with absolute guarantees of satisfaction, and people tested and used my product, I finally began to sell it. And I began to sell it just in time to avoid going broke completely.
What inducements will you have to give to your prospective customers to get them to switch from what they are doing to buy from you? How will you be able to describe your product or service in such a way that customers will be willing to give up the "devil they know," for the devil they don't?

Plan, Plan, Plan
The second discipline that you must become very good at is the discipline of planning. What this means, at the bare minimum, is that you must take the time to prepare a complete business plan before you start operations. Most entrepreneurs fail to do this, for a variety of reasons. And this is the reason that most entrepreneurs go broke.

The purpose of a business plan is not to acts as a road map or as a precise guide to the future. The purpose of creating a business plan is that the preparation of the plan forces you to think through every single critical issue that you will deal with in the future.

The very best and smartest business people are those who have already given a lot of thought to the various things that could happen and to the various things they might have to do, should those things happen. The least successful business people are those who have given no thought at all.
When you prepare a business plan, you are forced to sit down and carefully analyze and justify every single penny in it, first of all to yourself and then second of all to anyone from whom you are trying to raise money.

Three Parts to a Business Plan
A business plan consists of three main parts. The first part is the top line. This is the quantity of your product that you intend to sell on a monthly basis, projected forward 12to 18 months. Your ability to accurately project your sales is a key measure of your intelligence and your business ability. Once you have conservatively estimated your likely sales, you should cut that number in half to get the number that will turn out to be closer to reality once you begin business activities.

Remember the great rule of entrepreneurship is that everything costs twice as much and takes three times as long. I have shared this idea with thousands of entrepreneurs who have then told me that they were going to violate this principle and prove that it was too conservative. They came back shattered, like survivors of a battle, with their tails between their legs, finally admitting that the two times, three times rule was extremely realistic.

The middle line of your business plan includes every single expense that you can possibly imagine incurring in order to achieve your top line. You must deduct the total costs of the goods or services you plan to sell. You must deduct expenses like rent, telephone, utilities, printing, stationery, stamps, photo copiers, fax and Federal Express, staff costs, furniture costs and every other single detailed cost that you can imagine. These are called the "Costs of doing business."

Once you have added up all the costs, you then take the total and add another 20% as a fudge factor to get a more realistic estimate of your final costs. Your ability to budget and project your sales and your costs accurately is the true measure of your business acumen. Leave nothing to chance. Go over every detail again and again.

When I prepare business statements, I will go through and estimate every number. I will then do a complete assessment, with documents, research, estimates, and actual proposals to justify every number in the business plan.

For example, if a person says to you, how did you estimate these costs for postage? You should be able to say that you estimated a certain number of letters of a certain weight going out on a daily basis over a one month, two month, three month and 12 month period to come up with an average postage cost of the amount that is in your business plan. Don't ever let yourself be caught flat footed.

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is the amount of profit or loss that you expect to experience on a monthly basis. You then accumulate this amount along the bottom of the page so that you know how far ahead or behind you are on a monthly basis according to your projections.

You should probably expect to lose money for the first three, six or nine months. The minimum rule is that you should have six months of operating expenses set aside before you launch your new enterprise. You should assume that you will not make a single sale for six months. This may be conservative, but it is much better than the alternative of finding yourself broke and wiped out because you did not plan well enough.

The Discipline of Money
The third discipline you need for starting your own business is that of money. As I just mentioned, you need six full months of operating costs, in the bank, before you go into business. If you are thinking of starting a second income business, you can usually start with a small capital investment and use "sweat equity" instead of actual financial capital. Many people have become extremely successful in life starting from a low base and growing based on cash flow and profits from selling a product or service.

There are an enormous number of successful multi-level marketing businesses nationwide and throughout the world. If you start a multilevel marketing business, your first consideration should be an extremely low up-front cash investment in inventory and sales materials. After that, all your expenditure should be for products that you have already sold at a mark-up from the price at which you are buying them.

Many multi-level marketing companies allow you to start up as an independent wholesale distributor for as little as sixty dollars. In a case like this, you invest your time and your energy rather than your cash, and you keep your full time job while you are getting your feet solidly under you.

If you need money to start your own business, you should be aware that 99% of all start-up money is called "love money." This is money that people give you because they love you, or money that you provide yourself by taking out a second mortgage on your home, selling everything that you have that you don't need, and even borrowing cash against your credit cards.

Don't Count On Banks
Banks simply do not lend money to new business start-ups. The failure rate is too high. Banks are not in the business of taking risks. Banks are in the business of making good, solid loans that they know will be paid back on a timely basis. Banks then make the margin between what they can borrow the money for and what they can lend it to you at.

Banks typically require three times, four times or five times collateralization to lend you any money at all. This means that no matter who you are or what your background, a bank will want proof that you have five dollars in liquid assets that they can seize and sell for every dollar you want to borrow from them. They will look at your business plan and listen attentively to your business ideas. But they won't lend you any money.

Be an Outstanding Salesperson
The fourth discipline you require is the discipline of selling. You must be an absolutely outstanding salesperson for your product or service before you open your doors or you should not bother opening your doors at all.

The fact is that all successful businesses are started and built by someone who has a remarkable capacity to sell the product in a competitive market. The biggest mistake you can ever make is to think that someone else is going to do your selling for you.

The second biggest mistake you can make is to think that advertising or direct mail is going to sell your product or service for you. The only way that you are going to sell your product or service is by going out and getting face-to-face with critical, skeptical, cautious customers who can buy it if you can convince them of its value. Don't waste a cent on advertising when you start up. That is one of the fastest ways to go broke sooner rather than later.

Listen to every audio program on selling that you can get a hold of. Read the books on selling written by people in your same industry. Attend sales training seminars and courses and then see as many customers as you can, all day, every day until you begin to bring in sales in excess of your costs of operation. The discipline of selling is the heartbeat of your business and the way you deal with this discipline will determine your success or failure.

The discipline of managing is something that you learn as your business begins to grow. There are thousands of books and hundreds of university degrees on management, including entrepreneurial management. Your ability to plan, organize, staff, delegate, supervise, measure and report is absolutely essential to being a good manager. Fortunately, you can learn these skills by study and practice. And always remember, your weakest important skill in management will set the limit on your success in your business. Whenever you are having problems of any kind, resolve to learn what you need to learn to become very competent in that area.

e Secrets of Power Negotiating
The sixth discipline is the discipline of negotiating. There is perhaps no better program to teach you negotiating than Roger Dawson's The Secrets of Power Negotiating.

You learn how to negotiate by first of all studying the process of negotiating, and then second, practicing negotiating at every opportunity. You negotiate for better prices for your products and services when you are buying. You negotiate for higher prices and earlier payments for your products and services when you are selling. You negotiate for extended payment terms from your suppliers. You negotiate for better loan terms and interest rates from your bankers.

With regard to money and negotiating, the rule is that you preserve cash at all costs. You never buy when you can lease and never lease when you can rent. You never rent when you can borrow and you never get anything new if you can get it second hand. Negotiating for and protecting your sources of cash flow is the most important thing that you can do for a small business. If you run out of cash, you're dead. Cash is to a small business as blood and oxygen is to the brain. You must fight, scramble, negotiate and do everything possible to assure that you always have cash reserves.

It has been said that every new business start-up is a race against time. It is a race to find a way to generate cash in excess of your costs before your cash runs out altogether. You stay in business to the degree to which you bring in enough money to pay for your mistakes until you are finally generating excess cash.

Become Resilient
The final discipline is the discipline of resilience. It is the ability to bounce back from the inevitable setbacks and disappointments that you will experience virtually every single day in starting and building your own business.

One of the marks of the superior entrepreneur is that he or she is always looking into the future and considering the worst possible thing that could happen in every area of the business. This is the mark of the superior leader as well.

I call this "Crisis Anticipation." There are many books and articles on it. What it means is that you are constantly scanning the horizon and asking yourself, "What is the worst possible thing that could happen?" In your sales; with your staff; with your cash; and with your business? And then you think through and decide what you would do if that were to occur.

And finally, once you have determined the worst possible outcome and decided what you would do, you focus all of your energies on making sure that the worst possible thing does not happen, under any circumstances. You become resilient to the degree to which you have thought through what might happen and prepared yourself against any eventuality

Sometimes, a small setback can seem almost overwhelming if you've allowed yourself to get tired and run down. You become resilient to the degree to which you get lots of rest when you are starting and building your own business. As Vince Lombardi once said, "Fatigue doth make cowards of us all."

You develop resilience by resolving to persist in the face of any difficulties, no matter what happens. Be clear about your goals but be flexible about the means of attaining those goals. If one thing doesn't work, try something else. Be willing to be flexible and adaptable in the face of a changing market.
Remember, as they say in the military, no plans survives first contact with the enemy. No business plan survives first contact with the marketplace. Be willing to chop, change and try something else. Just make a decision in advance, that no matter what happens, you will keep on keeping on.

You have within you, right now, the ability to start and build a successful business. Millions of people have done it in the past, and millions more people will do it in the future. These people are not smarter or better than you are. They have simply learned what they needed to learn and then practiced it, over and over until it became second nature. And so can you. And when you learn how to start and build a successful business within our economic system, your future will be unlimited.

Brian Tracy is one of the world's foremost thought leaders on personal and business success. For more insight from Brian Tracy and his FREE report, "Way to Wealth," please click here: http://budurl.com/gz8a

In the past 30 years, he's consulted for more than 1,000 companies, and has spoken to over 5 million people worldwide on the subjects of Personal and Professional Development. He has traveled and worked in over 80 countries, and speaks four languages.

He's the top selling author of over 54 books that have been translated into dozens of languages. He has written and produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs, including the worldwide, best-selling Psychology of Achievement, and has recently launched an online Business Training program for small to medium size business owners called Business Growth Strategies. For more information, please visit: http://budurl.com/mz54

By Brian Tracy

Saturday, May 9, 2015

4 Ways To Keep Money Flowing In Your Business

There is one thing we all have to face up to when we run a business which is... how to attract, spend and retain money... and the often intense feelings we have about our finances!

As you know the subject of money can bring up VERY strong emotions of fear, anxiety, worry, guilt and shame, and of course excitement. All of which can have a huge impact on our enjoyment of work and life.

The fact is that money will be with us for the rest of our lives so if you're feeling stuck, want to generate more wealth and have more fun then it's worth mastering this particular, often tricky, relationship.

Because for all of us, no matter how much revenue we generate or what size our business, there is the constant need to keep the money flowing.

Financial success has always been one of my top values and I love to experiment with ways to generate income. Although at times I have had to manage my own scarcity mentality I am shifting my energy and embracing more playfulness and prosperity in my life.

Here are some tips that I've learned along the way...

Fall in love. It's really difficult to have a healthy relationship with anyone or anything if you don't like them, don't pay attention to them or avoid them at all costs. Work on your thoughts and feelings about money and wealth and if necessary get help to reprogramme your mindset for a positive relationship with money. EFT, hypnosis, coaching and therapy are different ways to access energy and mindset shifting techniques. As Barbara Stanny, the financial author wrote, "The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, "The reason people get stuck is almost always an emotional reason... and they can get stuck for years... but the consequences are financial."

Get clear. One of the best decisions I made before letting go of my monthly pay cheque was to hire a money coach. She helped me write up my entire financial situation and from there to take responsibility and keep track of it. My lesson along the way has been that when I've not paid close attention to money that's when my financial situation has gone awry. Like brushing my teeth staying on top of my money has become a daily habit.

Learn more. As an avid reader I read at least one book a month on topics such as generating income, wealth consciousness and financial management. It keeps me focused on financial success. Attending weekend workshops and financial bootcamps have also made me aware of countless financial possibilities that we all have.

Be creative and open up your money channels. The great thing about being a business owner is that you get to decide what you want to design, deliver and sell. And you CAN charge what you're worth. Unfortunately, what gets in the way are self sabotaging behaviours such as procrastination, lack of self-worth, over delivering and undercharging. To challenge any limiting beliefs about your ability to generate more revenue try experimenting with a new approach at least once a month. For example, raise your prices by a small amount, offer a new option on one of your services, host an event, become an associate, sign up as an affiliate for a product you love, launch a new product, have a sale. By doing this you'll open up many more ways for people to work with you and soon you'll start to receive more income.

By Susan Tomlinson

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Local Business Owners...5 Things You Should Know About Your Online Reputation

As you start reading the beginning of this article, you'll find yourself discovering a whole new menace to you, and your companies reputation. At the same time, a potential 'profit-killer' to all your existing marketing efforts so far. Accordingly, in this article you'll discover five hidden factors, in regards to your businesses 'local online reputation'. These factors could dramatically lower your profits, without you knowing why or how this is happening. Additionally, you'll discover 'why' Online Reputation Management, is the critical first step, above all your other marketing efforts, both online and off. And critical to every local business owner, in the new Information Age, that we are now doing business in.

In today's crowded marketplace, the overwhelmed consumer public, will make snap choices according to what they see your companies reputation is online. An example is, online reviews written about your companies services from unhappy customer or clients. No matter if your online reputation or local brand is true or not, matters very little to the busy consumer. Who are looking for local product and/or service recommendations on the Web. Which is exactly why you can't risk low doses of this critical online factor. That is, an impeccable reputation among online users. In addition, you want megadoses of positive reputation in the form of online reviews, social media posts, feedback, testimonials, and more.

Below are the 5 factors to consider when managing your online reputation in your local marketplace. Also, you might notice these five factors below, seem the same or at least very similar. The fact is, they are similar in nature, because they all seamlessly integrate into one broad important concept: Your Almighty Reputation, Future Profit Potential, and overall Survival. Moreover, within each factor below, you'll discover they are similar, but separate aspects of the whole picture. All these aspects must be considered, when guarding your number one asset. This is, your entire reputation and profits overall. Still, they do integrate into a powerful unit or matrix. That together will supply you with the Mindset and Actions required, to deploy this important marketing strategy quickly and easily. These aspects will guide you to the tools that give you iron-grip control of this most important marketing strategy. That is, Reputation Management, in your business, forever. Here they are:

1-Online research has uncovered that approximately 80 percent of all searches online, are local consumers looking for local products and services. Because of this, it's critical that you go on the defence to ensure your reputation is not marked with negativity on the Internet. This negativity usually comes in the form of bad reviews on Google's search results. As well as, bad feedback across many other search engines, negative testimonials, negative Facebook posts, and so on. Although obvious, strive to maintain 100 percent customer satisfaction with all customers. And defuse all negative customer issues quickly. Also, assume everyone has the key to damage your reputation now, in the Information Age, online.

2-The next factor to consider is Customer Service. Without being impeccable in this area, your local business could quickly become doomed. The reason is, as mentioned earlier, because today each individual consumer, has the ability to 'blast' any opinion on the World Wide Web, instantly. For example, this factor makes it critical to be 'positively irrational' when solving negative customer issues. As a result, you defuse customer issues within your company first, before they reach the mass general public online. In other words, before they have a chance to get onto the internet, by having the customer 'vent' their dissatisfaction to everyone. To be certain, 'positive irrationality' means going overboard to satisfy your angry customers. And even losing a bit of profit. However, consider this loss in profit a well spent marketing cost. This added expense will return many more dollars, in word of mouth praise from a repaired relationship. Chances are, your newly satisfied customer will be sure to praise you for your willingness to "Do right", in the presence of all his friends. Therefore, even if you know you didn't do wrong to your angry customer, it is in your best interest to assume your customer is "always right". That's where you may have to act positively irrationally, to best satisfy your customers issue. Because sometimes, you will need to act against your mind and what you know is true, in regards to your customers complaint.

3-The next factor is that, today consumers have unlimited amounts of 'communication leverage'. For instance, the old advice says "if you have one unsatisfied customer, she will tell seven others in her personal realm". However, today the ordinary person has much more leverage than ever before. The fact is, virtually anyone can go online right now, connect, and communicate with hundreds, even millions of people very quickly. With that said, the leverage of bad news can now travel exponentially to wider audiences, faster than ever before in history, by virtually any lone person. Most importantly, your negative reputation will remain semi-permanently on the web for all to see, when searching for local goods and services. We're now living in a time where bad news travels the fastest. And this trend will continue into the future toward the speed of light. As computing technology advances into a future of infinite possibilities, speed and individual power.

4-The fourth factor is Search Engines. The fact is, Google could show your bad reputation at the top of their search results. Although you may have never heard of the term 'Reputation Management', this internet factor will dramatically affect your local business, in the new local internet economy. For instance, in the past Industrial Age economy, a minimum amount of other people would surely hear about bad news. However, today with the Internet that news floats to the top of Google. The fact is, today individuals of all ages are increasingly using Internet search engines to research businesses, people, services, and products, before they decide to whom they will do business with. The results, like it or not, your business will be impacted. The risk is high. Your business could easily take a negative hit with just one angry customer, one disgruntled employee or one malicious competitor. As a result, your reputation could sustain a semi-permanent "red flag" to your precious reputation publicly.

5-The last factor is, all ages are now using the web. In the Information Age, everyone is going online. From youngsters to the elderly, they all have one thing in common. This common denominator is that most of them are now going to the Internet to search for local products and services. The fact of the matter is, you must increase your reputation online. In other words, you must take an active role to control your reputation on the Internet now. To all local business owners who miss this critical concept, will leave themselves wide open for trouble in the future. You must be different. You must work hard to create testimonials, positive feedback, positive buzz and positive reviews on the Internet now. With that said, one way you can begin to easily create this, is by creating incentive programs, that cause happy customers to go to the Internet and leave testimonials about your business. Most important, with this technique your customer service and products subconsciously build trust with your potential consumers and so on. This factor will most certainly cause your company to become the top trusted source among your market.

In Conclusion, the great news is, you can actually control your reputation for the good online. Here's why, you and your company can make an effort to flood the Internet with positive testimonials, reviews, and buzz about you, your company, your customer service, your products and services. First you may want to flood your website with satisfied customer testimonials. Most important,consider the fact that there exist many review sites in every local area, that reviews products and services. Also, be sure to have your business a part of these review websites. Moreover, encourage satisfied customers to go and post positive reviews about your company online, in places such as Facebook, Google Places, and many more. Perhaps, you could use an incentive program, that could provide discounts for customers who post positive reviews about you, on the Internet. From here you will want to build this area of your Marketing on a consistent schedule month after month. This will guarantee that your Positive Reputation online becomes "bullet-proof" from subtle attacks. While laying fertile cyber-space, for positive growth of your Reputation forever, into the Information Age and beyond. Good Luck!

By R. Leigh Colbourne

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5 Common Small Business Diseases And How To Treat Them

Is your business failing, and you don't know how to bring it back to life? Does closing down seem like the only viable option? Before you decide to pull the plug, check these 5 common symptoms of mismanagement -and ways to fix them:

1. Cash Flow Hiccups: A tight cash situation can cause your business to struggle. Your inventory runs low, you skip payments thus accumulating debt, and you certainly can't reward yourself for all your hard work. Most importantly, you can't afford to invest in new merchandise and keep your stock up-to-date with the latest trends, which in turn leads to lost sales opportunities.

The Cure: If you want to turn your business around, every penny spent should be accounted for. A thorough assessment of your business financials will help you get a clear view of your current situation. Make a list of your monthly operating costs and look for items you can leverage. For example, you could re-negotiate old debt payments, ask for a rent reduction, or get some of your employees to work part-time. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses, or try to keep them at a bare minimum.

2. Suppliers' Pain: If you're buying from a single supplier, you may find it hard to negotiate better terms because your business's day-to-day survival relies on a sole provider. On the other hand, if you're using multiple suppliers, you may have trouble managing payments while losing the benefits and discounts that large purchases grant you. How can you make the best of both worlds?

The Cure: Renegotiate your contract with your supplier to see if you can achieve better terms. If that's not possible, you can shop around to decide whether you'd be better off taking your business elsewhere. Ideally, you should stick to one or two main suppliers, while also looking out for promotional offers and special deals from independent sources.

3. The Impulse Buy Syndrome: When a sales rep pitches his brand new, limited-time offer, you instantly jump on board. The price feels right, your profit margin becomes better, and you may even sell the products at a discount to attract more customers. That sounds like a great deal, doesn't it?

The Cure: When it comes to wholesale purchases, there are more important factors to consider that the price you're paying. The main volume of your inventory should consist of products with a short sell-out time, which is the amount of time it will take you to sell the entire quantity of a product. Therefore, before placing an order, you should examine whether the product is in season, how attractive or necessary it is for your customers, and how well the specific product category sells in your store. Running ad campaigns and media coverage also help a product sell faster.

4. The Best-Sellers Amnesia: It's hard to manage your inventory if you can't recognize the items that bring in the cash. In other words, you need to know not only how many units you sell per code, but also the amount of money they earn you over a given period of time. These sales figures will also help you identify the products you need to discontinue or put on sale.

The Cure: You need a reliable inventory management system, and plain excel sheets won't cut it. Inventory software will allow you to instantly check your current stock, and collect and view valuable sales stats. You may even create promotional offers and coupons for slow-moving codes, or set up automatic re-orders for your best-selling items. This way, the process is simplified and your business is always well-stocked.

5. The Discount Plague: Big box retailers and chain stores sell lower than you because they can afford to. By buying massive amounts of products, they score better deals that allow them a more flexible pricing strategy. Given that you lack this kind of flexibility, an aggressive discount strategy will have a devastating impact on your bottom line.

The Cure: Forget about the price war. There are numerous ways to add value to your products while maintaining high price points. Boost your competitiveness by providing stellar customer care and make sure you keep up with the latest trends in your field. You can also attract more customers by offering personalized services and rewards to your loyal clientele. After all, you don't want people to come to you because you're the cheapest; you want them to choose you because you're the best option on the market.

The first step to reviving a business is identifying harmful habits and behaviors, and correcting them. From then on, all you need is a solid plan and lots of determination. As long as you're willing to put in the hard work and long hours it requires, you can turn your struggling business into a success story.

Raphael Huppe's extraordinary and impressive career is that of a businessman who has overcome a variety of obstacles. Mindful of his achievements, Raphael Huppe realizes that his greatest reward has always been his ability to contribute to the success of other people.


By Raphael Huppe