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10 Danger Signs for Business – Part 1

danger We’ve heard that diagnosing a medical condition early greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. The same is true for our businesses – we want to spot the minor issues so they don’t become major problems.

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Cash to a business is like blood to our bodies. It has to continue flowing or we won’t survive. As a small business owner, the bottom line is that you can’t run out of cash. So you have to know how to diagnose and treat the source of the ailment before it spreads. With that in mind, here are ten signs that your business may be heading for trouble:

#1 – Lost market share

Your sales may be growing, but your share of the market may be falling. Are they up because you’ve increased prices? Is the growth of your sales keeping pace with the growth of the markets you serve?

Market share is precious – among other things, it provides leverage to raise prices as your costs increase. As competitors enter your market, you have to work even harder to maintain (and hopefully increase) your share.

#2 – Declining customer counts

Your sales may be holding steady, but fewer and fewer people are making purchases. Your remaining customers are spending more, possibly because of price increases. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to find a way to attract new customers because a certain amount of customer attrition is natural.

We don’t want our customers to leave because they’re unhappy. But you can’t make everyone happy all the time so even that will happen. We’ll also have customers move away, pass away, grow out of our product or service, and the like.

#3 – Low repeat and referral business

Many businesses actually lose money to get a customer for the first-time. If they break-even, they’re very happy. It’s the follow-up purchases that make a difference to our bottom line.

A healthy percentage of repeat and referral business also shows that your product or service is still meeting the needs of a core base of people. And these people are the ones who will refer other people to you, which is much less expensive than depending totally on advertising to grow your business.

#4 – Declining sales

Right now, a lot of businesses are experiencing this. It may have nothing to do with you – it may be your industry that is experiencing trouble. So you have to ask yourself … is this a long-term trend or is it cyclical? That’s the first thing you have to determine.

Next, ask yourself, will my industry recover? Some industries were facing challenges even before this recession. It’s only accelerating the long-term trend. Other industries will do just fine coming out of it. You have to know which one applies to you.

Once you’re satisfied that your industry will survive, you have to look at your own business. A lot of shake-out is happening even in healthy industries. Isolate whether it’s a problem with your business or the industry as a whole to know your best strategy.

#5 – Disproportionate sales to a small group of customers

Picture this extreme situation – all of your sales come from one customer. You’re totally at the mercy of that customer. It’s like being an employee without the safeguards that go with employment!

Generally speaking, if more than ten percent of your sales are to one customer, you may face trouble at some point. Five percent is even better. Bigg customers are great. But serving a bigg number of customers leads to bigg success.

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Thank you for reading our post today. Join us next time when we talk about five more early warning signs of trouble ahead in your business. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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Dissing Plan B

success_and_failure Here’s a great quote by entertainer Steve Harvey …

“Don’t live by old sayings that don’t apply to you. For instance – ‘Have a Plan B.’ Having a Plan B means you believe that Plan A might fail. Having a Plan B requires that you put time and energy into what you could’ve been doing for Plan A to make it work. And if Plan A doesn’t work, guess what, get a new Plan A.”

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There’s some real wisdom in his quote. We’ll look at it line by line:

“Having a Plan B means you believe that Plan A might fail.”

Believe

He’s emphasizing how much we have to believe in success, not in failure. We have to believe, in ourselves and in our plan, in order to succeed. The first person who has to be on board with our plan – the first person who has to follow us so to speak – is ourselves. If we’re not in line, we’re in trouble!

Throw away the security blanket

There’s another thing that comes to light with this quote. Think Linus van Pelt, Charlie Brown’s best friend and Lucy’s younger brother. He never went anywhere without his security blanket. 

We can’t succeed if we hold on to our security blanket, or blankets, as the case may be. We have to throw it away once and for all if we’re going to succeed bigg.

A lot of times we hold on tightly to that security blanket just in case. Just in case, things don’t go as planned.

Well, here’s the brutal truth – no matter how good we get at planning, things never will go as planned.

That’s when we have to hunker done. We have to double our efforts to make our plan work. We have to overcome all the obstacles that we will face and keep the faith.

The covenant with Nature

We must keep on believing that we will succeed because we have no choice but to succeed. When we reach that level of resolve, the forces of Nature begin to conspire with us, instead of against us.

It’s not a miracle. It happens too frequently to think of it that way.

It is no accident. Because that implies a randomness that doesn’t exist.

It’s isn’t luck because it happens more often to people whose thoughts lead to certain behaviors. The more determination we have, the luckier we get!

It’s more like a covenant. Nature says, “This is how much you have to believe. Here is what you have to let go of in order to have my blessing.”

Now, let’s look at the next line …

“Having a Plan B requires that you put time and energy into
what you could’ve been doing for Plan A to make it work.”

Setting priorities

Since we only have a certain amount of time, we can’t afford to waste it if we’re going to succeed bigg.  It’s all about priorities.

We tend to think that:

  • we’re super-human
  • we can do ten things at once
  • we don’t need to focus on just one or two major objectives at a time

The bare naked truth is … all of that is a lie!

We do have to determine what is most important right now in pursuit of that bigg success of which we dream. Then we have to focus all our energy on only that.

In the last part of his quote, he says,

“If Plan A doesn’t work, get a new Plan A.”

So the question is, how do you know if Plan A isn’t working?

One way to judge it is if you keep running into the same wall over and over again.

You’ve tried to climb over it.

You’ve tried to go around it on one side.

Then you tried the other side.

You tried to dig under it.

You even tried to blast through it.

You’ve tried five times, but the doggone wall hasn’t budged.

Plan B is like Step 2

It may be time to start thinking of your alternatives. And here’s where we deviate slightly from Steve Harvey. Because we think Plan B is like Step 2 on your path to bigg success. You have to have a clear picture of what bigg success looks like to you before you start. Then you need to map out the steps to get there.

With your plan in place, you’ll focus all your time and energy on Step 1 before you begin to take the second step. So we’ve thought about it before we start, but we don’t worry about it until it’s time.

We think Plan B is just like that. Before we start working on Plan A, we should have thought about Plan B. We’ve prepared for the contingencies. But that’s where we stop.

And the important distinction is this ….

Plan B doesn’t send us back where we were before. Plan B moves us ahead in a way that Plan A didn’t. It makes that wall insignificant.

The only path to bigg success

But it doesn’t pay to spend too much time thinking about Plan B because the wall we face probably won’t be the wall we expect. So now we’re back on track with Steve Harvey.

Think about it a little, but don’t dwell on it. While you’re pursuing Plan A, keep Plan B out of your head. Because you have to if you want to succeed bigg.

Your mindset has to be, “This is my only path to bigg success.” By thinking that way, you will find bigg success. 

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Thank you for checking in with us today. Join us next time as we begin a two-part series on the ten early warnings of a business in trouble. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00347-031009.mp3

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The Deal of Your Lifetime

sale We have an idea for your personal finances. Now if you’re one of our regulars, we may surprise you a little with what we’re about to say …

Go out and spend some money!

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Markets go through cycles. Sometimes it’s a seller’s market. But right now, we’re in a buyer’s market for almost everything!

Now, before you take our advice and rush out the door on a quest for that perfect item, consider these four questions:

  • Do you feel relatively secure in your job or your business?
  • Are you debt-free except for your low-cost mortgage on which you’re current?
  • Are you funding your long-term obligations (e.g. the kids’ college, your retirement)?
  • Do you have a nice stash of cash set aside for emergencies?

If you clear those four hurdles, you’re good to go … to go get the deal of your lifetime.

Spend, baby, spend!

It’s good for the economy, but even more important, it’s good for you. Because we’re seeing deals right now that we will probably never see again in our lifetimes.

Like the car dealer who is offering a two-for-one sale – buy a car and he’ll throw in a second car of equal or lesser value for free! That’s right … free! Did you ever think you’d see anything like that?

Many contractors are starving for work. It’s a great time to remodel your home – get those improvements done you’ve been putting off, add that room, remodel that bathroom or kitchen.

While we normally don’t suggest building a new home, for financial reasons as well as the emotional strain it can put on a relationship, it’s a fantastic time to think about having that dream house built.

And let’s not leave out businesses. Vendors in so many product lines just want some business. It’s a great time to expand or upgrade your business.

The paradox

Here’s the irony in our current situation – spenders are faced with great deals, but they often can’t clear the hurdles above. So they can’t spend!

Many savers have seen the value of their investments fall back ten years. So perhaps the lesson – live a little now, too! It will go against your grain to go out and shop. But look at it this way – you’re saving money because, by doing it now, when suppliers across the board need the money – you’ll get the deal of your lifetime! 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we diss on Plan B. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00346-030909.mp3

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Critical Keys to Business Success – Part 2

success Today we continued our discussion with Deb Neuman, host of the Back to Business Radio Show. Last time, Deb shared four of her keys to business success, which all happen to start with the letter “P”. Today, she will share her final three. Let’s get back to the conversation …

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People

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marylynnSo far we’ve discussed Passion, Product, Persistence, and Planning. Now Deb, you say we have to think about People – surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses.

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debAnd look beyond your friends, family, and significant other. They are important people to have on your team, but you want to have other people who can be objective, who don’t have any emotional ties to you as well.

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marylynnOften, to get someone to take care of a weakness, you have to pay them to do that. If you don’t have any money, what is the answer then?

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debA lot of people barter. I have a friend who is a massage therapist who needed help building the web site for her business. So she and the web designer now trade services. The web designer gets massaged and doesn’t even have to pay for it … he’s happy! A side note to that – check with your accountant to make sure you’re accounting for it properly when tax time comes up. A lot of people I know really enjoy helping small businesses. They may be an accountant or an attorney. They’re looking for new businesses as future clients. Sometimes they’re willing to give you a few hours of service at no charge or give you a reduced rate. They recognize that, if they help you get your business started, you’re likely to become a future customer for them. Talk to other business owners and see who they’re using as providers.

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Promotion

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georgeNext up on the list is something that many business owners are cutting back on because of the tough economic climate – Promotion.

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debI just did some research into The Great Depression, what businesses survived, and how they did it. Some of the businesses that made it through the depression very successfully include Procter & Gamble, Camel cigarettes of all things, Kellogg, and Chevrolet. What they all had in common is that they scaled up their advertising during The Great Depression. They stayed visible in the minds of consumers and they were able to continue to do business throughout the depression even though people were spending less money. And when the economy did turn around, and it always does eventually, they had customers loyal to their brand. So now is not the time to stop promoting your business. Now is the time to kick it up a notch because people still have money to spend. They may spend less of it and they may be more choosy about where they spend it. But if they don’t know you’re out there, you’re not even going to be considered. Few of us have the resources to just advertise here, advertise there, and just throw money around that’s not going to pay back. So you really need to sit down and identify who your customers are. Be specific. Are they men or women? What age range? What kind of profession? Where are they? What are they reading? What are they listening to? What are they looking at online? Then think about how you can best reach them. Successful promotions, marketing, and advertising don’t mean you buy an ad in the newspaper and run it once. It has to be a long term plan and commitment.

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Positive Attitude

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george
So the last “P” on your list is Positive Attitude.

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debYou just have to maintain a positive attitude, through thick and thin. That reflects on your employees. Your customers know it. I just heard from a colleague of mine who went into a retail store. She said she’d never go there again because the owner of the store was in a really bad mood, griping about the economy. She said that she wasn’t there to hear all of that. She was there to have a nice experience. It really turned her off.

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marylynn
Because shopping is my escape. This is me trying to stimulate the economy, so relax!

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georgeRight now, not just for entrepreneurs, but any leader … it seems like we’re hearing such dismal news from so many of our leaders from the highest levels in the country to the biggest businesses. And I think, in many cases, small business owners are buying into it and people don’t want to follow someone who doesn’t have a better vision for the future.

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debExactly. I’m seeing businesses, some who’ve decided to close, but others who are planning and taking a different approach. They’re being very creative about it. They’ve said that this is forcing them to not be lazy. When things are good, they do whatever they want. They can’t do that now so they realize they have to be really proactive, but they’re making changes that they’re really excited about, even if they were forced into making them. They think they’re in a much better position going forward, now and when things do turn around for the better.

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Thanks Deb for sharing your wisdom with us! Check out Deb’s site, debneuman.com for more great tips for your small business.

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

And thank you for reading our post today. Join us next time when we’ll tell you how to find the deal of your lifetime. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00345-030609.mp3

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Making Change Work

change2 Entrepreneurs see a problem and immediately start trying to find a solution. That’s why entrepreneurship has been defined as the science of change. And there’s a new concept starting to take hold – that we are all entrepreneurs. We must all be innovative in finding solutions for the problems that we each face.

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There is real value in seeing ourselves as entrepreneurs and in looking at change as an opportunity rather than something to be resisted. We should welcome change!

That’s a bigg step for a lot of people. But if we don’t change, it means we’re standing still. There’s an old saying that a rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends knocked out. We have to get out of our ruts; we have to change – either as a response to the change we see coming or by creating the change that we see needs to be made.

We’ve been talking about change in our last couple of shows. We started by talking about the lost art of making change. Last time, we talked about how saving our change can lead to bigg changes in our lives.  It occurred to us that we can think about change in our lives by thinking about change – pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

A penny for your thoughts

The change process begins with a penny for your thoughts. It’s important to generate ideas about where you want to go. Then check the validity of your idea to see if it plays to your strengths. If it passes that test, look at the customers (or employer) you plan to serve as well as the competition already serving them to see if this is a good opportunity.

If I had a nickel for every time …

But the idea itself isn’t worth much. It’s the actions that follow the idea that make it valuable. So think about the saying, “If I had a nickel for every time I (fill in the blank).” We’re usually making a joke or lamenting something we’ve done too many times to count when we say this.

But there’s some bigg wisdom in this little saying. It’s the key to moving the idea from inside your head to something tangible. It’s about inputs. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control your actions.

So if you think about the actions necessary to bring your idea to fruition and then mentally think that you’re getting a nickel every time you act, you begin to see that your inputs create the output you want. The more you perform, the more you eventually get back.

A dime a dozen

As you come up with your ideas and begin to implement them, stand out. You don’t want to be a dime a dozen. You need to be unique. If you don’t find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd, you can’t expect to be seen as outstanding. Find your niche. Entrepreneurs do it. So must we.

Two bits

One bit isn’t good enough. Have a back-up plan. If your tactics don’t work, what will you do next? This is the advantage of action. You learn. Notice that we didn’t say you fail. But you may not succeed bigg at first. You must adapt. Think about how you will need to adapt before you have to.

So there it is … the change process. Making change work leads to bigg success. 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read our post today. Please join us next time when we talk about the seven P’s of business success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00343-030409.mp3

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