Keep It Simple

Especially With Your Money

Among the many things that I’ve learned since becoming a mentor of The Business Wealth Club Birmingham, it’s the importance and power of keeping things simple. That is, when we are able to break down seemingly complex issues and powerful business concepts into digestible, understandable chunks of information.

One of the most common challenges for many businesses (small and large) is the matter of the clear, confident and comfortable understanding of “money matters” such as cash flow.

“Cash is or oil in your business engine. Without it, your business will seize up and die.”

This a quote from Paul Avins and another clear example of how, in this instance, cash flow can be boiled down to clear and powerful metaphors that business people understand. That’s what we do at The Business Wealth Club.

Recently, The Guardian newspaper (the online edition), published one of my articles on the subject of cash flow. In the article. I explain how establishing and maintaining cash flow can also be broken down into three core principles (yes, another tetrahedron)

We have always based our Cashflow management on the following:

  • Relationships
  • Systems
  • Processes that are bound by trust backed up by paper (written agreements made while relationships are good).

To read the rest of this article go to www.bit.ly/i2iguardian

Advertisements

Three Steps to Better Cashflow

Cash is King.

Cash is the oil in your business engine. Without it your ‘engine’ will cease up and die.

Your ability to maintain cash flow is best when based upon

  • Relationship,
  • Systems and
  • Processes

that are bound by trust backed up by paper (written agreements made while relationships are good)

1.  Relationships

Informal – Identify and recognise alignment with corporate and individual values with customers, suppliers and stakeholders.  Your ‘gut’ instinct is often a very good guide that could save you money in the long run.  This also paves the way to understand how the other people and organisations really operate so that you can navigate through tough times – yours or theirs.

Formal – Ranging from profile tools to credit checks. Set thresholds for putting various ‘checks’ in place commensurate to the level of financial risk associated with the relationship.  This can then be formalised in a written agreement or be used to ensure if ‘standard’ terms and conditions fit the situation.

2.  Systems

Systems, particularly electronic systems, don’t sleep and can keep you aware of where you are and, ideally, where you’re headed.  Systems ranging from accounting packages to sales systems provide an early warning prior to cash flow problems OR can highlight opportunities to invest your surplus more wisely.

3.  Processes

Control and Predictability (most of the time).  You can’t control people, but you can control activities. Setting clear DOCUMENTED processes (based upon best practice for your industry) and exercising the discipline to follow them EVERY time will ensure ongoing success.

“Cash is King”

I say all of that to say this….

Economics is more about people and their behaviours that it is mathematics.  When one person starts to hold on to their cash, it brings about fear.  The fear spreads and soon enough, lots more people are holding on to their cash. 

It takes a strong level of self belief to break out of the cycle of fear, but if you don’t the money you are holding on to is the VERY REASON you may find that you’re not getting paid. 

They (you) too have forgotten their value, let go of their values and are causing someone else (you) to be more fearful.  In the process they (you) are damaging their (your) credibility, credit rating and self esteem. 

When you step into a world and mindset of abundance and, better yet, into communities where people don’t listen to or subscribe to the messages of fear, you’ll find that you’ll let go and see an abundant flow (including cash).

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that…..

Are you holding on to cash that you promised (with a PO, a verbal agreement, a contract) to pay someone?  Are you holding off on making an investment into yourself or your business that you know (or are guaranteed) that it will give a return but you are still are waiting?

If so, you’re participating in the fearful behavior that is keeping THE (and your) economy from recovering faster.

My call to action:

“Keep your word pay what you can from what you have…. MORE will come

Invest in yourself and your business.  When the rest of the country and the world gets out of ‘fear mode’ you’ll be ready to serve and grow like never before.

Walking on the Travelator

Moving Without Moving

Do you ever feel as if you are doing a lot of work and putting in a lot of effort but you’re just not moving forward fast enough or at all?

It’s rare that you’re not moving at all because you may, in fact, be moving backwards!

That said, I’m not a believer in ‘moving backward’ as I believe that there’s always something that was gained from the perceived movement in the opposite direction that you may have intended. Whether it was learning ‘just one thing that I know not to do again’ or ‘now I know that I don’t want to feel this way again’

So what does this all mean in the context of business?

In my usual way, I’ll give the answer up front for those who still think that the answer is the answer.

“Movement is perception. Perception can also ensure movement.”

The best metaphor that comes to mind is the travelator.  For those who are unsure what I’m referring to, a travelator is the moving walkway that you find at a lot of large international airports. It’s similar in look and design to the escalators in buildings and malls except it moves you horizontally.

My work as a speaker and coach often requires me to travel internationally. This means that I spend a fair bit of time at airports going from one terminal to another.  There are times where a flight has been delayed and time is short to make the transfer between planes.  On these occasions I have a clear objective: get to the next terminal in the next 10 minutes or risk missing a flight.  Yes, of course, I could get the benefit of the exercise and run between terminals. I could also, where the opportunity presents itself, also use a travelator.  Typically the speed of the travelator is that of a fair paced walk. Additionally, the ‘rules’ of the travelator are that you can stand still and stay to the right or you can walk (even briskly) on the left.

http://youtu.be/6UH0-Gnffl4

The result: even standing still you are moving as fast as someone who is walking briskly. Better yet, if you walk briskly you’re really moving and making up ground.

I say all of that to say this….

Spending time with an experienced Coach or Mentor is an opportunity to step on a ‘travelator’ for your life or business. The strategies, insights and advice will often move you along faster and with less effort than if you didn’t have this valuable resource.

Then, if you decide to put more effort into your journey you’ll move from where you are to the next point faster giving you time to relax, reflect or even cheer on the people who chose to do things a different (harder?) way.

I’m also a believer in the saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” That said, there are times where I’d rather use my energy to cheer others on at the destination over struggling to get there.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Have you read a book or attended a conference, workshop or seminar where you were shown strategies to get ahead BUT you haven’t put them in place?

Do you have a desire to help more people, make more money or feel more fulfilment but just don’t feel like you’re moving as fast as you know you want to?

If so, it’s time to be accountable. First, to yourself. Next to someone who can support you, encourage you and give you sound advice from experience.  If money is a challenge, there are a number of inexpensive or free ways to get started.  It can be as simple as going to Google and searching for a free coaching service. If you are serious about making progress for yourself and your business then (if you’re in the UK or USA) check out The Business Wealth Club. I also offer a 40 minute “i2insight” session that I don’t charge for BUT I do ask you to make a small contribution to one of the charities that I support. To register for a session simply go to www.bit.ly/i2insight01

So get moving today and get more of what YOU want out of YOUR life.

Getting Paid What You’re Worth

The (not so) Secret Forumula

Let’s start with clarity. And for this let’s go with a couple of definitions

  • Value (used as a noun) the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.
  • Values (as in your personal values) Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to. Violation of the ‘core’ values usually leads to discomfort, disruption and even dis-ease.

Now that we have that out of the way I wanted to tell you about a recent experience I had with a client who was frustrated and exhausted because she wasn’t able to get customers to pay her the rates that she wanted to charge.

She felt that she was (and for the most part she was) doing the right things.

It’s not that she was not correctly accredited, trained or experienced. It wasn’t that she hadn’t identified her USP in a marketplace where people needed her service.

She’d paid money to get more traffic to her site.  She’d been on webinars on getting more customers.  She’d paid lots of money for a pretty logo and new stationary but when it all came down to closing the sale the only tool that seemed to work was offering a discount on the price (typically less than she felt she should be charging). 

She would usually rationalise this by telling herself that “in time they’ll pay more” and “the next job is going to finally pay me what I’m worth.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you begun to rationalise and try to convince yourself that “I’ve only been doing this a short time. In this way, so maybe over the next year or so things will get better.

Or maybe you’ve been convinced by the slick marketing of an Internet Guru who promises fame and fortune FAST.

There is a clear and sometimes tough reality that EVERY entrepreneur and business leader must face.

“To get more then you’ve got you have to be more then you are”

This means you need to learn more and apply more of the foundational aspects of how to connect with your customer for sustainable business.

The whole thing about being an ‘overnight success’ is that it typically takes more than one night.

For many of the successful entrepreneurs that I spend my time with, work with, coach, mentor and I am coached and mentored by; “overnight” typically took between three and seven years.

When the successful men and women made to specific distinctions for themselves through having a coach, mentor or trusted (professional) advisor,  things began to change for the better. Three of these distinctions are

  1. Most of success is all about mindset.
  2. The value you offer isn’t valuable to EVERY individual that you may meet.
  3. Value yourself and others will value you

I say all that, to say this….

When you are willing to do the work to dig, look within and recognise that each of your experiences, no matter how trivial, make you a unique and powerful resource for SOMEBODY who is willing to give you something of value to you (products, services, MONEY) in exchange for what you know or what you do. THAT is the beginning of the discovery of your value.

Do not be mistaken, this is only the beginning. The next step for you is to find out who that “somebody” is and if there are enough of these “somebody’s” to build a sustainable business.

As the saying goes;

“You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.”

This goes back to your own feeling of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. When you get to the point that you realise that it’s OK if everybody doesn’t have the means, foresight or understanding to pay the fees that you ask for your products or services, then things will get better – fast.

Your goal, if you happen to surround yourself with people that don’t have the aforementioned resources, is to find out what, in fact, they DO value and if you have or can develop a product or service to meet that particular need.

This information can be the foundation for you to develop and to provide valuable products and services as part of your product matrix (product staircase, product ladder, product funnel) that leads customers to the insights, foresight and understanding of the value of the product that they previously did not want to pay the full price for.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Are you getting the price that you feel you really should be getting for your product or services? Are you finding yourself trying to “sell” people into your product or service offering with less than a 50% conversion rate?

If either of these are true, then I would suggest that you consider developing a product matrix or product staircase that makes it easier for people to get the value that they need at a price that is right for them, and very importantly, right for you (in respect of the cost of development and delivery) so that you can build a clear pathway for them to do business with you and pay you for your contribution to making their lives and businesses better.

For more information on building an effective product matrix /  product staircase visit www.thebusinesswealthclub.com where you can see how this has been transforming businesses just like yours over the past 8 years

It’s All About Flow (Cash Flow, that is)

Are you heading for a cash flow ‘heart attack’?

Cash is as important to your business as blood is to your body.  As the leader of your business you are at the heart of the business. If you are unclear on how much cash should be in your business 30, 60 or 90 days from now, then a 15 minute low tech exercise could ge the first step to gaining clarity and confidence around your cash flow.

This video is an introduction to the i2i IPA Flow Planner.

IPA Flow Planner Intro Video

For more information on the IPA Flow Planner and Free* i2insight session on how to use it, contact me at marcellus@marcelluslindsay.com

*In order to qualify for the session you must complete a 3 minute survey and give a small donation to one of our charities is required to qualify for the free 40 minute session. www.bit.ly/i2insight01

No More Cold Calls.

SME’s & SoloPreneurs – Turning “Cold Calls” into “Warm Conversations

Have you ever received a phone call from a salesperson that you did not invite to call you or show interest in their product?  The call could have been at home or at work but there’s one thing about a phone call that is received at any time that you weren’t sitting there waiting for the call;  the  a phone call is an interruption.

Based upon the fact there you’re usually not sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring –  and for the purpose of this blog –  I’m going to make a broad, sweeping statement, primarily for illustration.  That  statement is:

“All phone calls are interruptions.”

I’m not the first person to say this, the first person I heard say this was Tony Robbins during his “Time of Your Life” program. And when you think about it……that is SO true. I mean, really, whether it’s a cold call from a salesperson or a call from your mom, a phone call is usually an interruption and a distraction from something.

The real question is “how you will handle the interruption?” And behind that, is “what is the basis for how you will handle the interruption?”

Let’s imagine that you were doing some housework and, while we’re at it, let’s imagine you kind of enjoy doing housework (I know this may be a stretch for some people, but bear with me.) As you are doing the housework the phone rings……   (Brriiiing, Briiiiinnnnnng)

Scenario 1

You have the standard set of choices:

  • A) ignore the call and let it go to voicemail.
  • B) let it go to voicemail and screen the call to see if it’s important.
  • C) answer the call and stop what you’re doing
  • D) answer the call but tell them that you will return the call or to call you back at a specific time that is more convenient.

Let’s say that it is someone near and dear to you that is on the phone. Because of your relationship with them you choose letter [Insert your choice here]

Whatever the choice, normally you will feel fine with it and the person on the other end would be fine with it because you respect each other’s time and know that you have time to achieve the outcome when it is mutually beneficial. No rush, no pressure, no problem.

All of these choices will depend upon the relationship that you have with the person who’s calling. The relationship has been built over time and you have specific values, views, ambitions, genetics or at least something in common with that person. The key here is the depth, breadth and importance of RELATIONSHIP.

Scenario 2

The call is from a company that you

  • do not know,
  • are not expecting a call from them and
  • you did not express an interest in their products or services (to expect a call).

You still have the same choices but there is a different feel to this situation. For some (and may I say this particularly applies to the high number of polite, British people who wouldn’t dare say “NOT INTERESTED” and then hang up) there can be a sense of fear that they may get trapped into buying something. Or, possibly, that they will end up on the phone for longer than they would want to be away from the activity that they were doing – all the while feeling pressured into doing something that they had not planned on doing.

This is a cold call. What’s missing here is depth or breadth of relationship. And as you may not have expressed any interest in the product or service

“the call has no importance and becomes more than interruption it becomes an annoyance.”

And who wants to start a relationship with someone that is an annoyance?

I say all that to say this….

With the advent and growth of social media, users are giving enough information about themselves (for free) to the social media platforms to allow more targeted marketing than ever before. As such,  it seems a bit’ old hat’ to call people who have neither shown interest in the product or service or that are unaware of your particular organisation.

“There are plenty of ways to find that common ground to establish some depth or breadth of relationship with a potential customer before making direct/one-to-one contact.”

In fact, there are ways to make the relevance and importance of the call greater than that of a cold call for next to nothing per lead – if you know how.

The way to do this is to use some of the features built into the advertising choices on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This will allow you to do a “bullets not bombs” campaign that could save you hundreds and make you thousands (depending upon your budget, product or service).

I will discuss some of these strategies in a future blog as space does not allow at this time.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Are you aware that you can advertise on Google for free? Granted, there are techniques that you can use that will make it more effective and it should be part of a marketing campaign/strategy, but Google will fund your first exploration of their advertising platform.

If that seems a little too technical then I would suggest that you attend one of the many free workshops that are available online, in person or in books/magazines.

If even that seems a little bit too much like’ hard work’ then you can always seek out an expert in this area who would be happy to do it for you, at a price.

The techniques and strategies that are used to transform cold calls to warm conversations are actually part of the curriculum within The Business Wealth Club (an organisation in the UK and USA). I endorse this organisation as they provide its Members with the strategies, skills and support to not only understand how this all works but to also use it in a way that grows their business.

For more information please visit www.thebusinesswealthclub.com and request a voucher to visit a local club. The voucher, worth £99 is only available from the club mentors, members or head office (just so that you know). Tell them “Marcellus sent me

Dandelions In My Lawn

Catch It Early To Save The Day

So, it’s spring again. It’s the end of the tax year and the dawn of a new financial year. Just as we can use this time for Spring cleaning of our physical environment, it can also be used as a time to Spring clean your head and business.

Recently I encountered another sign of the season….. yellow dandelions that flowered in my lawn. For readers who do not have the ‘joy’ of tending a lawn or a back garden this may not be a big deal. For readers who know the challenges of nurturing, caring and grooming the ‘perfect lawn’….. this is a DISASTER waiting to happen – unless I act quickly and decisively.

The Causes

This situation can be the result of combination of small events including

  • Seeds – carried on the wind from a neighbours weed infested garden – landed, found good soil and took root
  • The ‘April showers’ watered the fertile soil – as nature intended – to nourish the seeds in the soil (both desired and undesired seeds)
  • I failed to do my weekly ‘pacing’ of the lawn – an activity that I do to look for moss, thatching and other signs of undesired growth. During the activity I normally dig out the weeds (including the roots) and treat the area to get rid of what I don’t want and replace it with what I do want.
  • I failed to pay attention to the early warning signs, i.e. leaves and stems that, although they are green and (to the undiscerning eye) blend into the landscape, the leaves are broader and longer that the grass that surrounds them. The size of the leaves have a relationship to the depth of the roots that they support.

The Cure

Act immediately.  No delay is acceptable.  The fact that the plant is flowering means that it has established deep roots.

Once the flowers turn into those ‘pretty white domes’ the seeds will be carried all over the lawn to start the cycle all over again but this time it will be dozens of them…. in MY lawn!

I say all that to say this….

Problems in your life, your finances and your business are rarely a surprise if you have been paying attention to the events that, when combined, normally add up to a larger matter that will take more time and energy to overcome that if you had spent time attending to the events that lead up to the issue.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

When it’s time to act, it’s time to act.

  • You’ll need to take the time to remove the offending or unwanted issue and ensure that you remove the root.
  • You’ll need to get into the habit of being vigilant and discerning as part of a routine/habit or inspecting the particular area of your life so that you can identify the early signs of a problem before it multiplies.

These activities are best achieved when you invest in yourself.

  • Invest your time – in yourself – for reflection
  • Invest your energy – in yourself – through physical exercise
  • Invest your money – into products that nourish your mind and body (e.g. food and education)

By doing this you will plant the seeds that produce the outcomes and fruit that you desire.