Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Obstacles: Over, Under, Around, Through

Often, in business and life, it’s easy to get caught up in one obstacle while trying to overcome another.  Being an entrepreneur is never a cake-walk and is not for the faint of heart. Moving past obstacles has been at the forefront of my businesses this past week.
Give this week’s podcast a listen and explore some of the tools I use to move forward and cast off the evil twins of fear and doubt.
You can listen to the podcast live on the internet by clicking here or download the mp3 file and listen to it in your car or on your favorite mp3 player.
Your feedback and comments are encouraged.


While on my recent trip to Miami, I had the opportunity to hear an outstanding street performer.  He was rapping with just a microphone and a small stereo box with a faint beat, but he was awesome.  You name it and he had it down: humor, strong messages, rhymes…everything.
After listening to him for a few minutes, I began to notice a pattern to his awesome act.  Every so often, when it appeared that he was about to run out of something to rap about,  he would ask a passerby what their name was.  He would persist until he got it out of them and then launch off onto a new lyrical path based on rhyming with the persons name.  This performer was simply using a sure-fire technique he had established to keep his momentum going and the crowd involved. Mastering this sure-fire weapon, no doubt, is what consistently draws crowds to him.
I was reflecting on this when it hit me how important having a proverbial “ace up your sleeve” is.  Having a surefire technique that works for a given situation, closing a sale perhaps or a negotiating a deal, is a an absolute must to increase your level of success.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had the ’sky hook’, the Packers of the Vince Lombardi era had the ‘power sweep’, the Mighty Ducks (yes, those Mighty Ducks of Disney fame!) had the ‘flying V’.
Any way you slice it,  you have to develop sure-fire techniques in at least 5 areas of your business or professional life:
1. A sure-fire technique for closing sales 9 times out of 10
In business, and in life, sales is everything.  You are selling yourself to your boss, your idea to a colleague or your product to a customer.  As Blake (Alec Baldwin)  famously says in a memorable scene in the movieGlengarry Glen Ross: (paraphrasing) “either you sell the customer or he sells you on why he can’t buy - either way, a sale is made!”
There is a certain method that you can internally develop, unique to you, that you can use to make a sale when you need to. Even though each customer is different, and you must cater your message accordingly, you can still pull out a killer close to seal the deal.
Here is one I always like to use:
Me: “Ok, Jim.  From what you’re saying this seems like a good fit, doesn’t it?
Jim: “Sure”
Me: “Great, Jim.  Then I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t move ahead, do you?”
Jim: “Well…no.”
I have used this technique in many instances to great success and I still rely on it - like having an ace up my sleeve.
2. A sure-fire technique for quickly evaluating the financial numbers of a project or deal
Many times you will be faced with a situation, whether it be investing in a real estate project or evaluating a new marketing expenditure, where you will need to make an analysis and move ahead with decisiveness.  Developing a simple internal method for evaluating these situations will make you tons of money - because you will consistently scrutinize and evaluate what makes sense and be able to do it quickly.
Here are a few methods that successful people I know like to use:
  • Payback method- evaluating a project by examining the time it will take to receive your investment dollars back.  The premise of this technique is that the faster the investment pays your money back, the faster your money can be used for another investment while still maintaining your stake in the first one.
  • ROI (Return on Investment) - evaluating a project by looking at the dollars the investment yields versus the dollars invested.  For example, if you invest $100 and receive $110 back in one year, you received $10 for your $100 investment.  $10/$100 = 10% so your ROI is 10%.
  • Cost/Benefit- evaluating a project or investment by weighing the benefits received against the costs outlaid to receive the benefit.  This technique is common when it it hard to put number or dollar terms on a decision.  For example, when deciding to have your business put on a fundraiser for a political candidate.  In this case, you might weigh the costs (cash outlays, time investment) against the benefits (recognition for yourself and your business, etc.)
I strongly urge you to find a method that works for you and that you can use on a consistent basis.
3. A sure-fire negotiating tactic to help you win in any situation
Negotiating is another facet of our professional and business lives that we must become good at in order to succeed at high levels.  Developing a technique that you can use to win in key situations will come in handy.
Here is a personal favorite of mine:
Me: “Jim, if I like the __, but I don’t like it at $X, should we just forget about the whole thing?”
Jim: “Ah…no, no, no….”
Once you find something that works, practice it as often as  you can and hone it to perfection
4. A sure-fire marketing method that will bring customers in
All business begins and ends with marketing.  It doesn’t matter what business you are in, where you are located or how long you have been doing what your are doing.  Make no mistake, in any business, times will get tough and customers will seem scarce. If you don’t have a sure-fire way to jump-start your sales, you will be dead in the water.
A few ‘aces up your sleeve’ here might be:
  • a huge online promotion or contest
  • unique e-marketing campaign
  • a dynamic direct mail campaign (with a great list)
  • a super-sale/promotional event - properly publicized
  • a strong newspaper advertisementAny of these (and countless other methods) can be the surefire technique you need to stoke the fire when you have to.
Check out 151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales by Linda Sparks for more brain food on this area.
5.  A sure-fire way of handling critical employee issues
Inevitably, in most businesses, employee issues creep up.  It could be from myriad reasons, such as: personal problems with the employee, theft, tardiness and poor performance.  If you have, or wish to have, a business that employs people, you must develop you own unique way of internally handling and being proactive with these types of problems.
You may have to put your thinking cap on for this one, as personalities and work environments will dictate this to a large degree.  Whenever I have an employee problem, whether the issue is brought to me by the employee or someone else, I always tell myself three things: 1. you hired this person for a reason, 2. people aren’t perfect and 3. listen to the story and get all the facts.In most circumstances, the ‘boss’ has a tendency to overreact and make the problem worse by talking more than listening.
So, there you have this week’s Top 5 and a lot of food for thought.  I  hope these things will help prosper you as they have me.

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