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  • Aspire » Small Business Strategy

    04 Sep

    momentum

    I was one of those weird people who actually enjoyed physics in college and in fact it still influences how I think.  Here’s an example…Newton’s First Law of Motion states that:

     A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion – unless acted on by an external force.

    The application to business? If your business is stagnant, if you’re feeling stuck…if you’re not seeing growth or momentum, then you have to make a meaningful change (create a new force) to get a new outcome.  Momentum starts with making something happen!

    Have you fallen into a rut with your business?  If things are going fairly well, it’s easy to let up and just kind of coast…and if things are challenging, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and just do what you have to to get by.  Either way, now is the time for you to apply an external force and make a change.  Invest quality time and think about how you’re going to get ahead…what can you do today to create momentum?

    Hopefully the list below can help you brainstorm an idea that will work for you:

    6 Ways to create momentum

    Every business is different and unfortunately there’s not a one size fits all solution when it comes to growing your business, but it’s a safe bet that at least one of the ideas fits your situation and could direct you towards next steps.  Pick the one that resonates the most and take action!

    Addition By Subtraction

    It’s the biggest mistake a business owner can make – many businesses have at least one and maybe several employees that just don’t pull their weight.  In some cases they’re really nice people but they don’t perform.  Or (and this is even worse) they’re very good at the work but they’re poisonous to be around and no one wants to work with them.  Whatever it is, if you have an employee who’s a bad fit, if you don’t have the right people on the bus, you can build up serious momentum just by getting rid of them.

    It’s always difficult to let somebody go but there’s no better time than the present to take some action and get that drag off of your business.

    Question – Do you have an employee that’s holding you back?  What would it take to act on it?

    Straight to the Bottom Line

    Most business owners are under-charging for their services.  Even if you think you’re priced right, it’s worthwhile to at least consider raising your prices.  It’s unlikely you’ll lose business (especially if you haven’t raised prices in the last year or two) and it could have a profound affect.  Raising prices is the only thing you can do that will immediately go straight to the bottom line.  Yes there’s a risk of losing customers, but even if you lost some volume, you’re still likely better off from a profit perspective – check out this table to see the impacts (second page).

    Question – How would your business be impacted if you raised your prices by 10%?  20%? 

    Revisit Your Marketing

    If you’re like most business owners, historically you’ve done some marketing and then you get busy and lose focus.  But you’ve got to have consistency if you want to win at Marketing!  What if you made marketing your strategic priority for the next 90 days and really invested time, effort (and money) into developing the right message and tactics?  Created a calendar to help keep everything on track?  Is it time to finally redo your website and establish some repeatable tactics that will consistently drive opportunities?

    Question – Are you effectively communicating the benefits and the outcomes you deliver?  What would it take to amp up your marketing in the next 90 days?

    Find a Referral Partner or two…

    Everyone wants to get great referrals and one of the best ways to do that is to find a great referral partner.  Find a complementary business that sells to the same clients that you want to work with, someone who sees the world in a similar way to you.  Add in a little creativity around packaging new discounts or find a way to co-marketing and you’ve got a fantastic new sales channel that will help drive new business to you and your new partner.

    Question – Who’s out there as a potential partner?  What product / service complements what you do? What would it take to set up a meeting?  Can you get the ball rolling this week?

    Finally Get that Big Project Done!

    Almost every business owner I know has at least one and usually several big projects that they’ve been ‘working on’ for an unknown period of time. It’s generally a wide range of stuff: 

    • Marketing stuff like redoing a website, developing great content marketing or creating a great newsletter.
    • Getting structured…hiring administrative help to free up time, delegating more, finding a difference maker sales person or employee.
    • New Stuff like rolling out a new set of products / services or revamping the ones you have.

    Whatever it is, what would happen if you really narrowed your focus and committed to getting that one big thing done in the next 90 days? You know it’s a great idea, you’ve been thinking about it forever…now is the time to commit to doing it.

    Question – What project has consistently been on your to do list for a long time?  What’s been holding you back?  How would you get really get started on it?

    Get some Help

    Building momentum is all about taking consistent focused action on great ideas -  you’re capable of doing that on your own, but it’s a lot more likely to happen if you get some help.  Find someone who can help you frame things up, get clear on what your constraints are and help push you to make things happen.  Of course you could always look into a Licensed Professional Business Coach or maybe a  Peer Group Advisory Board, but there are lots of ways to find help – the key is to get someone who will push you and support you.

    Question – Do you have resources or people you know who might be able to help you make something happen?  What’s the next step to getting them on board and helping you?

    This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of stuff you could do and you likely have different opportunities, but the one thing that’s true in every case is you have to take action if you want something to happen. 

    You want to grow your business – what are  you going to do to get the ball rolling?

    What ideas do you have for sparking growth?  I’d love to hear them or any feedback you have on my ideas above.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

    04 Jul

    trainwreck

    Everyone starts their business with the intent to win…unfortunately many a well intentioned business owner gets derailed along the way and it all comes crashing down.  Sometimes the best way to succeed in the long run is to identify the issues…what’s driving you towards a potential train wreck and then focus on fixing those issues first. 

    To that end, I spent some quality time with my clients and Peer Group Advisory Board members and asked them what qualities or traits were required for long term success as a business owner…and inversely what qualities would guarantee a business train wreck in the long run. 

    That led to the following list.  It’s a pretty powerful collection and odds are you’re dealing with at least a couple of these issues to some degree…but as they say, the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one!

    Read More…

    05 Jun

    trapped2  photo by remuz

    It didn’t start out this way. 

    When you first started your business you had a dream, it was exciting…maybe even fun!  Sure there was a lot of hard work, but you can still remember the thrill of your first clients, cashing your first check and the quiet satisfaction of delivering on a job well done.  Unfortunately that seems like a long time ago.  Now you feel more like a caged animal…trapped by a business that demands all of your time and energy and doesn’t give much back in return.

    You’re not alone – according to a recent study, only 40% of small business owners took a vacation last year – some because of lack of money, but many of them because they can’t physically be away from their business for any length of time!  You’re past the point when running harder means you go farther and faster – now running faster only makes the wheel in the cage spin harder!

    Are you a slave to your business?  Here are some surefire ways to tell and more importantly what it takes to escape that slavery.

    Read More…

    03 May

    drinkcoffee  photo by chuckyeager

    I started Aspire 4 years ago, give or take a couple of days, and it’s been a fun, exhausting and enlightening ride so far.  Not only have I had a chance to learn a ton of great things through my own business efforts, but I’ve picked up a lot of amazing things from my clients as well.

    When I started Aspire, I didn’t realize I was ramping up my business a few months before the ‘Great Recession’ started, which has led to some really strong lessons as well (things like living within your means, slow and steady, bootstrap wherever possible, etc.).  It hasn’t been easy and certainly there have been plenty of stumbles and frustrations over the years but there’s also been steady growth and I’ve gained a lot of clarity with each lesson.

    As they say…”If I only knew then what I know now…!”.  Which brings me to the point of this post – I wanted to take a shot at sharing the most useful things I’ve learned over the last few years – hopefully they’ll be helpful to others…and if you’ve got some useful things that I haven’t learned yet, then share them in the comments!

    Read More…

    12 Apr

    patience  photo by looseends

    Do the right things and be patient. That is easier said than done. As most of us are painfully aware following the Kansas City Royals has been one of the most challenging tests of perseverance and patience in the history of professional sports. The 2011 season is young, but it appears Dayton Moore’s plan of doing the right things (developing young talent through the Farm System; the foundation of the franchise) and patiently waiting for the results is starting to payoff…stay tuned and read on.

    Approaching your business with the mind set of doing the right things and being patient is also easier said than done. If you are going to have sustainable long term success in your business you must build a strong foundation. Short cuts usually only yield short term results. And the process of building a strong foundation takes patience.

    Read More…