All posts by Maze

Opportunity Cost, Where are You Investing Your Resources?

Have you ever heard the term, “Opportunity Cost”?  Opportunity cost is defined as: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.  It’s a powerful business concept but doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves.  This concept affects owners, managers (at all levels), sales people and professionals.

Your Product, Your Marketing, Time Management and Opportunity Cost

time management ideas

Are you missing opportunities by spending major time on minor things?

Developing your product and marketing it are the 2 most important, high-value tasks in your business or career.  Your product and your marketing of the product will produce more income now and set the stage for automatic income (repeat business & referrals)  in the future.

The best way to make $100 per hour is to stop doing $10 per hour work.  Most of us are on the mouse wheel trading time for dollars.  We fool ourselves with a long to-do list crossing off low-value tasks, responding to texts, emails and unscheduled phone calls.  We get a lot done on paper but it’s often minutia we should be paying a $9.50/hour assistant to do or not doing any of it at all.

Invest Major Time in Marketing and Product Development

Assuming you have a product to sell, whether a tangible item or a service, let’s focus on marketing it for now. When was the last time you can honestly say you dedicated major, uninterrupted time on planning your marketing and executing the plan?  No phones. No email. No interruptions. Inventing or discovering a marketing tactic which makes selling faster and easier is going to impact your income faster than anything else.  Sure, it’s easier said than done.  But it can be done and it must be done if you have any hope of doubling or tripling your income.

“It’s no in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.”Mark Cuban

An investment of just two 1-hour segments each day for focusing on major, high-value task is probably all it takes to make a huge impact on your business. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile really is.  If you study time management (and who doesn’t), this is one discipline which is actually very easy to do because it’s not hard to make an unbreakable appointment with yourself at the same time every single day.  Tip: Do this first thing each day and you’ll feel better and more productive. Everyone has their “best” time of day for energy and brain power.

Examples of Major Time Investments Toward Marketing Your Product or Service

  • Networking.  Get out there and meet more people. Be consistent in your networking. Show up and add value to others who network. Networking is a marathon, not a sprint but it works to stay the course.
  • Writing. Write a blog post for your website or for someone else’s. Other blogs (like this one) already have an audience.  Getting published extends your reach drastically.
  • Calling clients for sales, requesting referrals or to introduce them to something new.
  • Create a video.  Utilizing video for attracting leads is easy today. There’s probably someone in your industry doing it successfully. You can too.  All the equipment you really need is within 3 feet of you right now…your smart phone.
  • Create a direct mail piece with 5% conversion rate. (It’s a beautiful thing to have a message that pulls a consistent response)
  • Write a book.  It makes one hell of a business card.

“Is this the best use of my time?” What a great question!

Here’s a question which takes it a step further: Ask yourself “what ONE THING I could do to make more money faster so everything else could be done by others or not at all?” Then ask yourself, “what else?”. Sit quiet for an hour. Make this your first 1-hour investment in this exercise. Make a big list and then narrow in on the best 3-5 things you can do. Now you know where to invest major time for the rest of the year.

Aside from the highest-value tasks, everything else you do is trading away opportunities which await you if you were to be investing in “the majors”. This is opportunity cost. Keep this concept in your conscience by asking yourself constantly, “Is the the best use of my time?”

——————————————————

Article contributed by Andrew Mazer, Founder of Small Business University and the King of Mazer Marketing

Five Steps to Develop Initiative

Initiative is a top skill of personally effective leaders. 

Initiative-takers are often presented with significant opportunities because others know they will see things through.   

 So what is taking initiative really all about?

Take initiative, get more done and lead the field.

Take initiative, get more done and lead the field.

  1. The person is able to see what needs to be done, and starts to take action before being asked.
  2. Initiative-takers surprise others with their commitment and follow-through because they typically go above and beyond the initial expectation.
  3. They reach out to others so that their collective brain power makes for a stronger solution to an issue or problem.
  4. Initiative-takers often serve as re-directors.  They sense when to steer something in another direction.  They don’t fear rejection or embarrassment.  They take a risk for the good of the whole.
  5. Initiative-takers differentiate between the trivial many and significant few.  They determine what is important, take action, and see things through to completion.  They are regarded as movers and shakers.

 Use these powerful  initiative-based questions to build stronger influence with others:

    • What isn’t working quite right with this situation?
    • What kinds of solutions may make it right?
    • How can I help make it right?
    • Who else can help?

————————————————————————————————————

This article has been contributed by Diane Allen of Strategic Leadership Academy

  • Voted Best Executive Coach, South Jersey Biz Magazine, 2013
  • Winner of the Central New Jersey Women Business Owners’ Association SEED Award

Diane will be speaking at a future Small Business U event and is a regular contributor to our blog and newsletter. Learn more about our upcoming live events. Click here.

Strategic Leadership Academy LLC
PO Box 1616
Mount Laurel, NJ  08054

Writing Tips. What to do When You’re Stuck

It happens all the time.  Even right now, for me.  I just used a technique to get unstuck and I figured it would make a good topic for a quick article.  The topic:

Writer’s Block. How To Get Unstuck.

As I sit at my desk to write these tips, I got stuck just trying to figure out how to start this article so I will start with this as the first tip:

writers block tips

Break through writer’s block with these 7 simple tips

  1. Don’t sit down to write until you have something to write about. When you have it, start by telling your audience why you’re writing on it.
  2. Make the article a benefit for your readers. It’s about them. It’s about teaching them something they don’t know. Fascinating or inspiring them.  It’s about telling them what’s possible which may help and enlighten them.
  3. When you get stuck in a paragraph and there seems to be no place to go, switch the sentences around. Sometimes the last sentence you wrote works better as the first sentence in the paragraph, then you get unstuck and in the flow.
  4. Unless it MUST be done today, put it down and revisit it tomorrow or the next day.  Read it again.  You’ll find ways to make the sentences flow better. You’ll add new words and sentences and take a few wasted words out.  Your stuff must be easy to read and enjoyable. Small tweaks make a big difference.
  5. Short sentences.  Short paragraphs. No extra words. Keep adjectives and superlatives to a minimum
  6. Use an image. Find one which makes sense on the page you’re writing and write a caption for it.
  7. Write at the same time of day all the time. There is most likely a time when your brain works best on writing. This will help.

I hope these 7 quick tips on getting unstuck are helpful and motivate you. Write something valuable for your customers, friends and prospects to enjoy, learn from and share.

Resolve to Spend Major Time on Major Things

Time.  It’s more precious than anything because no matter how successful we are, we can’t get any more of it.  No one can have any more of it than anyone else but yet, some people get so much more done with it than others.  What’s their secret?

Time management does’t start with a To-Do List, it starts with priorities. The biggest time-suck is spending major time on minor things.

To-do lists are vital and I believe in starting a day, a week, a month with a list of objectives. However, it’s important to run your to-do list through a filter: “Is this a major thing or a minor thing?”  Basic RGB

Major things make us money, build our businesses or investments stronger and build our relationships stronger (maybe you can think of one or two more “majors”). If you can get someone to do stuff FOR you for $10.00 per hour or less, it is probably a minor thing and you should find someone to help you. This will free up your Major time.

To make $50-$100 per hour ($100,000-$200,000 per year) or more, make more time for Major things.

If you can’t afford to have someone at your beck and call for $10/hour, then this should be on your

All top performers are careful with their time.

All top performers are careful with their time.

goals list, not for the sake of relieving you of minutia but for the sake of driving more time into more major things.  When you can see through the cloud of menial tasks, you can set new kinds of goals for growth and expanded relationships.  THIS is how to build successes in all life’s most important departments.

What is “Major Time”?

Major time is personal development, relationship building, health, family, continuing to learn & grow. Major time, is prospecting, presenting and following up.  Major time is learning how to leverage technology to make better use of your time.  Major time is taking the time to train, manage and

quality networking in Philadelphia and south jersey

Be the best you can be. Become a part of Small Business University

communicate with your underlings so they can better serve YOU.  Major time is setting up systems in your life and business so your time and the fruits of your efforts become more predictable.

Major time is getting yourself and your message out there so people can get to know you, like you and trust you in order to build a network of customers and referral sources so you can create a steady flow of new and repeat business.

Major time is setting aside the time for networking and learning.  Come to a Small Business University event and find out why so many others dedicate a Monday morning every 60 days to network, learn, share and improve.

Introduction: The 3rd i in The 3i System of Sales & Influence™

In the first post on the topic of The 3i System if Sales & Influence™, I talked about the importance of

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOpVA7MYWX8?rel=0&w=370&h=208]

delivering valuable information to your prospective customer or client.  Value in the form of information shows you care.  It shows your a student and not just a salesperson.  It shows you’re an asset and you bring more to the table than just your product or service.

This system of sales and marketing gives you and your business a distinct advantage.

The 2nd i is for invitation.  When you reach out to a prospect with information or an invitation to something and not asking for an appointment or a sales, you’re showing patience and you’re delivering value.  All meaningful relationships start out with a courting process.  You know…a little romance.

The 3rd i in The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ is Introduction.

The 3i system is about contacting your prospect not about you, your business or your product, it’s about giving them something of value.  An introduction to someone influential,  a prospective customer, a politician or celebrity are examples.  Being matchmaker for 2 businesses puts you in a very good position for reciprocation.  This is gold.

The 3i system is as much about personal branding and marketing as it is selling….perhaps more because when your prospect views you as a knowledgeable expert, a valuable part of their circle, one who benevolently leads them to opportunity through information, invitation and introduction to other people of influence, you have transcended from unwanted pest into welcomed guest.

Watch the videos on the subject of The 3i System of Sales and Influence™ and share them with your peeps!

 

How to Create a Mailing List: Free Resource

There’s less “junk mail” cluttering up mailboxes these days, have you noticed? They haven’t been this empty in 50 years. This is an opportunity.

Direct mail is still a great way to reach your prospective customers.

In this video, I’m demonstrating a powerful and free resource you can use to generate fresh prospect lists fast and easy. This tool is called Reference USA and it’s as good a list-building software system as any I have ever used.

If you are marketing business-to-business or business-to-consumer, it doesn’t matter, this resource has it. If you’re a local business like a restaurant, service business or retailer, you can pull a list of “new

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxLXu1Q_Gmw?rel=0&w=370&h=208]

movers”. These are a great target for a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” postcard campaign.

The list builder has lots of options in order to drill down to find your best prospects. Criteria such as:

  • Geographical location. Choose by city, state or plug in specific zip codes
  • Income or annual business revenue
  • Number of employees
    and much more.

I like to choose the records where the name of the owner (or “executive’s) name is listed because it’s a well-known fact that personalizing a mail piece gets a better response. In this video demonstration, I chose 4 zip codes and an annual sales range of $500,000 to $5 million and there were over 6000 results. Then I show how I can choose to select and download only specific records which have the contact names and rule out certain specific types of businesses.

Access to Reference USA is Free on My Local Public Library’s Website

I highly recommend you check your municipality’s public library website for this awesome resource. There’s no need to create lists. You can just get one record at a time. Sometimes a use it just to find out the name of the owner.

Some of the other cool functions of this program are the ability to generate New Business lists, Canadian lists, Healthcare-Specific Lists and even Job Postings.

This is a powerful tool everyone in business can utilize to build a list of prospects for direct mail marketing, email marketing and telemarketing.

Don’t wait another minute. Go to you local public library’s website and see if they have Reference USA available. If not, find out if they can get it.

By the way, you’ll need a library card to access Reference USA, but don’t worry, that’s also free!

 

Invitation: the 2nd i in The 3 i System of Sales & Influence™

The idea behind The 3i System of Sales and Influence™ is to position yourself and your business as a welcomed source of value before you ever even deliver your real product or service.

The Secret to Creating the Best Business Relationships is by Adding Value Every Step of the Way

The 2nd i in The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ is INVITATION.  An invitation to an an educational event,

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL1DFrvqGZI?rel=0&w=370&h=208]

a networking meeting, a fundraiser, or a professional sporting event are some ideas.  When your prospects accepts your invitation and something goes very well for him or her there, YOU will be the one remembered for such a gesture.

Small Business University events are an ideal place to which you could invite a prospect.  There are dozens of people there with whom to network and with 3 fast-paced presentations delivered by experts in their field, everyone in the room stays busy jotting notes.

When you invite someone to an event like like SBU, YOU will be remembered as the conduit for their new valuable relationships and ideas

The 3i System of Sales and Influence™ effectively eliminates the awkwardness of cold calling and soundly positions you as a persona of value and trust.  The law of reciprocation will at least land you and appointment and possibly a sale and referral.

This system is a long-term effort but like any long-term, wise investment, patience is required. If you’re looking to build long-term business relationships, it’s well worth it.

Sales Techniques: The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ (Part 1)

One of my core philosophies is, one good idea or one good connection can change your business or your life.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHPAC97SD8I&w=370&h=208]

 This is the foundation of Small Business University.  As a venue meeting people in a networking setting, it’s also a resource for absorbing the knowledge and experience of others who share their expertise on our stage, on this website, and in our printed newsletter.

This and the next 2 blog posts here are on the subject of

The 3i System of Sales and Influence™. Sales techniques to get more appointments and build long-lasting relationships.

Ever since I started executing the 3i System of Sales & Influence™, not only has it become easier for me to get more appointments with people, but more prospective clients have approached me first!

The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ moves one from being an unwelcome pest to a welcomed guest.

Even if you’re not in sales, the principles in the system are very useful and to get what we want, we all need to be better at the game of influence.  As business owners, sales professionals, parents and employees, the power of influence is a key element in elevating our chances of success whether for making more money or teaching our children.

The first i in The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ is INFORMATION

Information has value. People pay for information.  We pay for books. We pay for newspapers.  We subscribe to magazines, take classes, go to seminars and attend Small Business University events in order to consume information.  We tend to trust those people who volunteer information we feel is valuable.  We tend to view them in a positive light. Most of all, we tend to reciprocate to those who give us good information.  We reciprocate by giving them more of our attention and often, giving them our business.

In a networking environment, we’re usually put off by those people who request a follow up appointment immediately after the first contact.  Successful relationships require a bit of romance. This is true of intimate relationships as well as business relationships.  Sure, there are exceptions, but even then, long-term relationships are rare when the courting process is short.

When you share information, you are looked upon as intelligent, empathetic, an expert and not desperate to make a sale.  Your credibility rises and your influence rises as well.  It’s powerful.

What kind of information should you share?

Don’t share information about you, your company or your product.  Keep your eyes open for new information on useful technology, information you think your prospect will be interested in on a personal level, or find some industry-related trends which could be helpful in his or her business or marketplace.  Now, when YOU consume information, look at it in a new light and ask “who else in my circle of influence could this help?”

I write a monthly newsletter.  It’s a resource you can pull ideas from to use for your new “swipe file” of useful information.  Subscribe to it.  Small Business University events are also a rich resource you can leverage for material.

Seek Business Coaching & Consulting to Stay at the Top of Your game

Running the Business with Your Fingertips

The most successful business executives and owners understand that even the best athletes, as an

example, recognize the need for “outside” objective coaching and mentoring. You can remain at the top of your game without growing.

Wrestling with your business is not a sport, however most executives and business owners engage in it like it’s a prerequisite to success.

Your response is “OK maybe I do but it’s not because I want to. You don’t really think I’d be doing this if I didn’t have to, do you?” The quick answer is “Yes I do, because you don’t have to!”

All top performers use coaches and consultants. From inside the business, we can't see what someone outside can see.

All top performers use coaches and consultants. From inside the business, we can’t see what someone outside can see.

I’m betting you believe you’re already doing everything you’re supposed to do and you’re still fighting the daily fight to keep revenue and profits up, deal with disgruntled employees and a laundry list of other problems.  Being at the top isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Most of us get caught up in the “Tribulations of Operations”.

When you’re driving, you continually make small adjustments to your steering while looking ahead down the road. How far do you think you’d get before hitting something if you were focused on only the first ten feet in front of the car? Yet that’s the trap we fall into. We focus on the wrong, and I’ll use a technical term here, “stuff”!

How many times have you heard “Learn to work ON your business and not just IN your business?” You’re response is, “Yeah, sure I’d like to do that but I don’t have the time. You don’t understand how much I have to do and how tough times are right now.”

Have you enough guts to take the step of putting aside your ego along with the list of reasons why you can’t, and admit that maybe you’re not doing things as well as you should or are not as effective a leader as you could be? AND, get this, THERE’S NO FAULT HERE!.  It’s not about blame. IT IS, however, about accepting responsibility.

Listen, ain’t nobody that does it right all the time. No one’s perfect and I’m pretty sure there’s never been an exec, that’s never made a mistake. So own it and deal with it. When you do, you’ll gain a sense of renewal and energy and be ready to accept objective input. That’s when you begin to grow again and to view the future with renewed excitement. When that occurs, care to venture a guess on what happens to the organization.

Success is infectious in an organization, but so is complacency.

An important tip is to be sharp enough to be aware of the signs of complacency or mediocrity in ourselves and businesses. Unfortunately, that isn’t something any of us are any good at, but that’s where a professional consultant can provide perspective. When we master that we keep incidents from maturing into problems.

Another trick is learning to understand what the real problem is. Suffice it to say that the “problem” is rarely the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. Digging down to expose the real culprit is the only way to develop an actual solution that will work.

Real success isn’t reaching the top, it’s continuing to learn, plan and execute. If you think you’ve reached the top, you’d better keep an eye out for those about to pass you on the ladder.

There are many business tips, tricks and techniques a truly experienced business consultant can assist you with to adjust and realign the ‘Spine” of your business or organization.

This is how to begin the process of making small adjustments to stay on course, stop wrestling with our business and “Run the Business with Our Finger Tips”.

An unknown sage wrote: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the steps.”

Are you ready to take the steps?

———————————————————————–

This post contributed by Dan Ceglia of Strategic Business Management Group. Dan’s bio and resume are far too interesting to abbreviate. I encourage anyone to read it. It’s truly remarkable. Click here to read it.  Dan is a regular attendee at Small Business University events.  Join us sometime!

————————————————————————

Advice for Business Owners and Managers

You need your employees more than they need you.

“Wait a minute that sounds like heresy to me! I’m the boss. It’s my business. I worked long and hard to get here, and you tell me I’m not important.”

Advice for Business Owners and Managers

I never said you are not important. What I said is that you need your employees more than they need

Business and management advice from a human resources conssultant

Many business owners become prisoners to their business because they never train their employees to become really effective. Have a human resources consultant show you how to break out of business prison and enjoy entrepreneurship.

you. Because if you have employees, it’s because your business has gotten to a point where you cannot do it all yourself. When you have employees they are closer to your customers, your products, and your processes than you are.

It just works that way.

As an example if you have seven employees and four of them don’t show up on a Monday morning you are in a situation where the synergistic efforts toward a common sustainable organizational goal are not going to be achieved (or using a very basic business term, you’re in deep do-do). If you do not show up on a Monday morning, my guess is that things will go ok for the day. If nothing happens because you are not there to give everyone their minute-by-minute instructions, then shame on you.

Getting Things Done Through Others

As managers we get things done through others. When it was just us doing the work it was easy. Our senses told us what needed to be done, our mind sent a message to our hands, and our hands did the work. Now we have to use someone else’s hands to get the work done. So our ability to instruct, communicate, encourage, coach, and support helps our employees and their senses, minds, and hands to get the work done. This is called management, and these skills can be developed. Some people take to this better than others, and some people really have to work at it.

Things get easier as a business if you spend the time to interview and hire good people, treat them with respect, and develop and apply good management skills with them.

It just works that way.

—————————————————————————

Contributed by Dan Sell of Danumur Consulting, LLC who recently delivered a presentation to alive audience at a Small Business University event. Dan is an HR professional, executive, and consultant with over thirty years of extensive leadership and senior level management experience.

To learn more about Dan Sell, his expert qualifications and his consulting business, please visit his website http://dansumur.com/

————————————————————————-

To contribute to our blog, go to: http://smallbusinessu.org/contributors-wanted/