Focus on the Fundamentals of Your Business

Here’s one thing about the end of the financial year that most people don’t think of: It forces most business owners to focus like a laser on the fundamentals of their business. You know, things like making sure you deliver quality products and great customer service.

Focus on the Fundamentals of Your Business

Perhaps most importantly, the end of the financial year often prompts many owners and entrepreneurs to take a hard look at how they’re managing their business finances. Is inventory being managed efficiently? Are receivables turns stretching out too far? Is monthly cash flow positive or negative? Where is money being spent wastefully? Is debt getting out of hand?

When the good times are rollin’, it can be easy to let the financial side of things slip a little. But when times get tough and sales start slowing down, most companies find it beneficial to go back to the basics of sound financial management. Here are five key areas you might want to go back and reexamine if you haven’t lately:

Work Your Current And Past Customer Lists

As the CEO of a $30 Million company , I get a lot of people calling me desperately searching for ways to keep their business growing; to make a lot of money for all the effort they put into it. Ironically, all of these people are searching for some complex, high-tech — almost mystical — solution.

Yet for me there is a much easier , simpler and more expedient way of growing your business.

Work Your Current and Past Customer Lists

The first thing to do, is identify and start conscientiously working your current and past customer lists. Why? Because you spent hundreds, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars, initially, to locate, court and close those people. You ran huge newspaper ads, paying to reach millions, when in fact you ultimately only induced dozens or hundreds to do business with you. Or you spent a small fortune on the sales efforts your staff made initially contacting, or calling on, all of the suspects and prospects to locate, identify and sell the customer.

Once you’ve developed a customer, you have the most cost-effective, direct access to the single best source of future business there is. All you have to do is intelligently work that list, and rework it over and over again. By intelligently, I mean logically. (more…)

10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days

Many years ago an old friend and I were discussing the meaning of life.  He said, “I don’t think the point of life is to accomplish a certain level of external success.  I believe we’re actually here to acquire and enjoy experiences.”

10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days

That conversation took place about 15 years ago, and this idea has remained with me ever since.  It’s a Zen-like philosophy because experiences imply living in the present while accomplishments dwell in the past or future.  Reading this particular article is an experience, but you probably wouldn’t consider it an accomplishment… although reading some of my longer articles might qualify.  ;)

We’ve been socially conditioned to value accomplishments and events more than everyday experiences.  Graduation day is more important than some random Tuesday in the middle of the semester.  The day you get hired or promoted is more important than an uneventful work day.  Your wedding day is more important than the day you saw a forgettable movie.

Accomplishments and events are certainly experiences too, but most experiences don’t qualify as either.  You’ll likely spend most of your life experiencing non-events.  It would be amazing if your accomplishments amounted to even 1% of your experiences.  Saturation tends to reduce the occurrence of salient events.  The time you spoke your first intelligible word was a major accomplishment, but speaking that same word isn’t such a grand achievement today.  Regardless of how much you accomplish in your lifetime, you’ll probably still perceive most of your days as typical, normal, or routine.

If you’re going to spend most of your time experiencing rather than accomplishing, then perhaps it makes sense to focus on the quality of your daily experiences and not merely on the heights of your accomplishments.  It’s nice to have a truly fantastic day where you accomplish something wonderful, but what about your normal days?

When you realize most of your life will be consumed by normal days rather than extraordinary ones, you may feel motivated to raise the overall quality of these normal days.

In the pursuit of a better normal day, here are ten changes I made that yielded strong positive results.  Hopefully this list will trigger some ideas you’ll be able to apply as well.  The overall concept is far more important than my particular menu of habits.

How to Make Smart Decisions in Less Than 60 Seconds

Sometimes we face tough decisions that involve one or more unknowns.  We can’t know in advance what the consequences of each alternative will be.  This is especially true of big decisions like quitting a job, entering or exiting a relationship, or moving to a new city.

How To Make Smart Decisions In Less Than 60 Seconds

When faced with such a decision, what do you do?  If you can’t figure out the consequences, can you do any better than guessing?

Usually what people do in such situations is freeze.  Even when you don’t like what you have, you may worry that the alternatives are worse.  In a way every decision involves a choice between maintaining the status quo vs. making a change.  When we can’t be certain a change will work out for the better, by default we stay put.

Let me give you a very simple method of making these kinds of decisions.  In most cases it takes no more than 60 seconds to evaluate any particular path.

For each alternative you’re considering, ask yourself, “Is this really me?”

What you’re asking is whether each path is a fair expression of who you truly are.  To what degree does each option reflect the real you?

10 Myths About Self Employment

I figured it would be nice to write something about the realities of self-employment.  Since there are so many myths about self-employment (especially among lifelong employees), a good place to start would be to dispel some of those myths about Self Employment

10 Myths of Self Employment

1. Self-employed people have to work really long hours.

Many self-employed people work longer hours than employees.  Some enjoy their work so much they want to put in long hours.  Some set up their businesses in such a way that their physical presence is necessary for income generation.  Either way it’s a choice though because you’re the one who decides how to set things up.

Many self-employed people start businesses where they get paid only while they’re working, such as an attorney who opens a law office and bills his/her clients at a certain hourly rate.  When the attorney is at home, s/he generates no income.

But there’s no law of self-employment that says you have to start a business that only generates income while you’re working.  If you start a business like this, you’re really just creating a job for yourself.  I prefer to think of self-employment in terms of systems building.  You build income-generating systems that generate income for you, systems you own and control.  It’s like you own the golden goose, and it does the work of laying the golden eggs.

So working long hours is largely a symptom of the type of business you create as well as your personal choice.  If you don’t like working long hours, you certainly don’t have to.

To Be A Successful Entrepreneur You Need To Learn To Say No

Saying no isn’t easy, but it’s a required skill if you wish to have any degree of focus in your life. If you say yes too often, you’ll likely fall into the common trap of saying yes to the good while simultaneously saying no to the best.

Saying No Isnt Easy

There is no unconditional yes. Whenever you say yes, you’re also uttering a background no. Whenever you allocate time to one pursuit, you say no to everything else you could have done with that time.