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Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of presenting to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs and veteran small business owners at the 10th Annual Ohio Growth Summit. As always, it was a great event and I had the opportunity to trade ideas with some incredibly smart and talented people – both on the speaker and attendee sides. The premise of my session, “Systems for Growth: Why Building Bridges Is Better Than Building Islands,” was that business owners today spend a lot of time spinning their wheels jumping from one tactic to the next. The result is a graveyard of incomplete business systems that don’t work to support one another. Worse, they often amount to a plethora of things owners can (and maybe should) be doing but don’t have the time to focus on. Social media seems to be the primary distraction these days, but it is certainly not the only culprit. So I zoomed out on the problem until I identified where business owners are wasting their time, and the four keys areas to focus on instead that will lead to dramatic improvements over time. The Power of One Percent As owners, we often want to experience massive...Learn More
If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you may have the perception that systems are simple – that if you set them up once, they’ll run themselves and solve all your problems in the meantime. Bad news: that’s not (always) the case. This is especially true if your system(s) have been set up recently. Systems – especially new ones – are fragile. They are generally weak and susceptible to outside forces. They may generate some of the desired outcomes you hoped for, but they almost certainly will not be able to sustain themselves for any period of time. Why? Mostly because they aren’t tested. They haven’t had a chance to interact with the world yet. And while they may have all the components they need to be successful, they are often underdeveloped and too weak to be useful on their own. Learning from Experience As some of you may know, my wife and I just had our first child – a daughter named Lane – a few weeks ago. The time we have spent with her so far has been incredible. The past three weeks have revealed many parallels between the business systems I build...Learn More
Most entrepreneurs view themselves as superheroes. Faster than an Internet meme, more powerful than an assembly line, able to conquer markets in a single bound. We like to do everything ourselves because it sounds glamorous. And we’re gluttons for punishment. We’re also smarter, more focused, and more driven than anyone else out there. What we might lack in skill we surely make up in willpower and instinct. A brilliant strategy for working 70+ hours a week; a horrible plan for building a system that will actually help our businesses grow. But that “E” emblazoned on our chests – the same one gives us our superhuman determination and vision – is often the same one that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Why Doing It All Is a Horrible Idea As a business owner, your purpose is to hone and deliver your core competency – the one thing you do better than anyone else and customers are willing to pay for – as quickly and efficiently as possible. But when many small businesses are just getting started, it may not be financially feasible to outsource work to the best accountant or the best videographer or the best digital marketing strategist...Learn More
Why is this always the hardest part of everyone’s job? Regardless of job function or industry, everyone is ultimately held accountable to the dreaded ROI questions: what defines success / were our efforts successful / what is the ROI? What makes this topic so daunting is that there appear to be an endless array of success factors to choose from – so much so that defining what success looks like can feel paralyzing. Furthermore, getting to a valuation of ROI seems nearly impossible when there are an increasing number of intangibles in play throughout customer experiences. 3 Steps to Measuring Success In my 10+ years of experience, I have worked in the automotive, healthcare, banking, insurance and fashion retail industries. As disparate as these sectors are, I have learned three practical lessons that are germane to each industry as well as to the larger ROI conversation. Shift the Conversation Have you ever been asked something like, “What’s the ROI of our social media program?” My favorite response to that type of generality is, “Well, what’s the ROI of your phone?” The ROI of an organization’s entire social media (or print or creative, etc.) program cannot be accurately defined, by...Learn More
Every weekend, I send out the Sunday Systems newsletter. In it, I share a bit of inspiration, a story, and a link to my latest blog post about how to get the most of your business/money/life using systems. But last week I didn’t have anything to share. No inspiration. No blog post. No newsletter. Nothing. It’s not that I dropped the ball or that I was being lazy. Quite the contrary; I had tons going on, but I decided to practice what I preach. I committed to completing something that would pay dividends in the long run instead of taking the quick, easy win. Sure – I could have dropped everything to knock out a quick blog post or two. But it wouldn’t have had as much impact for the site in the long run. Why? The Problem with Instant Gratification Our natural inclination is to do the easy stuff before the hard stuff. It is far more satisfying to chalk up a bunch of small wins than it is to labor away on a single project for month or a week or a day. Do you know someone who is a “social media oversharer?” I feel like everyone does. They’re the people who...Learn More
I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I see good businesses struggle – businesses that make the world a better place, do great work, treat people with respect, and generate money for everyone involved. It pains me even more to witness sleazy, snake oil salesman-types sneak in at the last moment, land a big sale, do shoddy work, and leave their customers (and competition) flustered and angry. Today, we’re going to break down why both scenarios take place – and what you can do to prevent your sales funnel from costing you money. What is the Sales Funnel? The “sales funnel” is a phrase used to describe the process of moving people and/or businesses from total strangers to customers of your company. The exact labels and number of steps will vary depending on the type of product or service you offer – as well as what industry your company services – but here are the major stages: Stranger – Someone who has never heard of your company/brand. Prospect – Someone who has heard of your company and may need what you offer, but doesn’t know what you do. Lead – Someone who now understands your product offering...Learn More