Become a Business Sponge

Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self-development) in order to guarantee your future.
Brian Tracy

Before you start your new venture, commit to becoming a business sponge. Soak up every bit of key information you need to rapidly increase your competence in sales, marketing, time management, and other key entrepreneurial skills that will dramatically affect the ultimate success of your business.

It’s a pretty simple yet seldom discussed fact that competence in various disciplines of business brings success, lack of competence—failure.

If you have no money, then you most likely have never studied money, stocks, real estate, or the power of compound interest. If you don’t have enough customers, then you probably don’t know enough about marketing.

If you have customers but aren’t making enough money, then you probably don’t know enough about sales.

If you are having trouble finding time, then you don’t know enough about time management.

In my mid-twenties I discovered the amazing power of audio learning. I simply switched off the radio and swapped it for the power of great minds like Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Zig Ziglar, Roger Dawson, Tony Robbins, and a host of others. I quickly learned more about the real world of business in my Audi GT than I had ever learned in school.

Learning in your car takes away the excuse that you don’t have time and makes it painless. The car, of course, is not the only place you can rapidly gain knowledge. Books, DVDs, webinars, seminars, and teleconferences can all quickly add to your knowledge base. Focus first on the areas that you know will provide the largest payoff and continue from there.

You must commit a portion of your personal income, 3–5%, and a portion of your week to your own personal growth. If you are not growing, you are shrinking and if you are shrinking you are dying.

The more you know, the more you grow.

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Go Beyond Your Normal Circle for Answers

To solve any problem, here are three questions to ask yourself:
First, what could I do? Second, what could I read? And third, who could I ask?

Jim Rohn

An exclusive apartment building in New York had only one set of elevators, and there were growing complaints from the upscale tenants about the amount of time it took to get up and down in the building. Several engineers, consultants, and elevator specialists were called in to study the problem.

Lots of solutions were generated. Unfortunately, most dealt with adding more elevators, which in an old building was financially unfeasible. Some focused on trying to speed up the existing elevators with smart programming and so on, but this would still not increase the speed enough.

One of the tenants, who was in the television industry, heard about the attempts to solve the problem and put forward a solution of her own. Instead of messing around with the elevators, she simply suggested adding TVs around the elevator waiting area. She surmised the real problem wasn’t the time it took for the elevator to travel up or down the building, rather it was that people had time to think about the wasted time while they waited for the elevator to actually arrive at their floors.
Suddenly people waiting for the elevator could watch the news while they waited and catch up on the day’s events. Now that they had something interesting to do to pass the time, they actually thought the elevators had been sped up!

Sometimes the best solutions will come from outside your organization.

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Suspects, Prospects, Customers, Clients, and Partners

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
-OPRAH WINFREY

I group people with whom I do business into one of five categories. I am interested in all of them since you need all to succeed, but I am most interested in the last category because it’s not only the most profitable, it’s the most personally and professionally satisfying.

Suspects

These are people you suspect might like to do business with you. You identify them because of some factor: They may live in your local area, receive a certain magazine, or be on a list that might make them look like possible prospects. Online , they might frequent the same chat rooms and discussion boards you do.

Prospects

Prospects are people who essentially put up their hands and say, YES, I’m looking for a new place to eat, a carpenter, dance school, or new car. They have the need for whatever product or service you might provide.

Customers

Customers are people who buy from you occasionally, maybe even quite often, but they see you primarily as a vendor. They have no special connection to you or your business and might just as easily shop down the street.

Clients

Clients are people who buy from you repeatedly. They like you. They may be interested in your advice or comments on how to best use your product, or form a deeper relationship with your company. They will most likely refer you to others and some should be cultivated further into partners.

Partners

Partners work for the good of both parties. I call all of my customers partners because that’s really the only type of customer I want. Truly though, only a handful really are partners. Few of your customers and clients will ever become true partners either. They will say they are, they may even want to be, but they are not.

In my marketing business, when a partner is truly involved with us it results in the mutual success of both businesses. We refer business to them, and them to us. The success of our campaigns helps us generate more clients as much as it drives more revenue for our partners. When things don’t go as planned, both sides identify shortcomings rather than point fingers. Partners are engaged in the process of coming up with great offers and executing the programs. They understand that generating leads is only half the battle and that THEY must be responsible for lead conversions (sales).

Most people would rather this was not so. They would rather take all responsibility for success, but blame the “marketing” when things don’t go well. Every one of my partners has my cell phone number. Every one of my partners can call me seven days a week, but few ever do because when they do, they often find out that they have to work—that there are a great many things on their end that remain undone. They have to make decisions about offers, timing, and planning. They have to engage in SALES TRAINING to increase their staff’s performance, and I guess that most would simply rather not. Like most business owners, they are already up to their arses in alligators and they would rather have someone else just fix it.

I will go above and beyond in investing my personal time and effort, as well as leveraging all of my resources and connections, to help a partner succeed. Great partners stimulate each other. They share success stories, ideas, and leads. These are the type of “customers” you must strive to reach and it really doesn’t matter if you are in the marketing business, the restaurant business, or the flower shop business.

Look to cultivate your customers and clients to become partners. That’s where the money and satisfaction will come from.

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Life’s Three Great Income Multipliers

Beyond your immediate technical skills, life has three great multipliers. We can all commit some of our time to enhancing our skills, but which skills you choose to enhance will have dramatic effect on your income. Say what you like, Mrs. Dale, about the educational benefits of learning Latin, but I assure you it proved to be—as I suspected at the time—a total waste of one hour of my life, twice a week for three years while in high school!

There are three skills you should acquire or enhance, regardless of your profession or business. These skills have the potential to multiple your income by a factor far greater than any other skills you could possibly learn.

The three great income multipliers are:

  • speaking skills
  • copywriting skills
  • sales skills

Your ability to communicate your ideas and convert people to your cause through speaking and writing results in a sale of some kind. It may be financial, it may be an alliance, or it may be just getting an interview, but the X factor in your ability to do this more successfully than others results in an almost unimaginable difference in income—and therefore in lifestyle and wealth.

The three skills are all quite closely intertwined, as they all deal with your ability to communicate and generate action from others. Getting others to act in the way you want them to act, be it your employer, your employees, or your customers, is the key to all business success!

  • A typical golf coach makes about $50,000 a year.
  • Those who are good at sales make over $100,000 doing the exact same job!
  • Those who are good at all three will make $150,000, triple the average instructor—not because they are any better at teaching but because they are better at communicating (selling) their expertise!
  • Those who are really excellent at speaking, writing and sales like David Leadbetter or Dave Pelz make $8 to $10 million a year!

You can apply this formula to just about any industry or profession. A person with the ability to communicate his worth at a high level will get promoted faster, although his actual performance may be no better than his coworkers’.

Golf instructors, martial-arts instructors, and dance-school owners all have years of experience teaching their art. It’s no different for accountants, dentists, or chiropractors with years of experience perfecting a professional skill. Yet all will undoubtedly be paid far less than their talent and experience is worth if they are not also masters of sales and marketing!

Universal Law: The professionals with the best sales and marketing skills make the most money, not the professionals with the most talent in their chosen field.

No matter what your skills are in these areas right now, you can quickly and easily improve or hone them. These skills are the x-factor in just about every business or career. Once you have them, you can add financial management to the list.

Start enhancing your education in these three areas today, and multiply your income immediately!

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Critical Business Advice You MUST NOT Ignore!

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1.”
– Warren Buffet

The Department of Consumer and Employment Protection had heard that a farmer was not paying proper wages to his employees and sent an agent down to interview him.
“I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,” demanded the agent.

“Well,” replied the farmer, “there’s my farmhand who’s been with me for three years. I pay him $700 a week plus free room and board.

“The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $750 per week plus free room and board.

“Then there’s the half-wit who works about 18 to 20 hours every day and does about 95% of all the work around here. He makes about $30 per week, pays for his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of booze every Saturday night. He also has sex with my wife occasionally.”
“That’s the guy I want to talk to—the half-wit,” said the agent.
“That would be me,” replied the farmer.

Pay yourself first!

I know from firsthand experience how easy it is to go into debt, borrow money from your friends, and max out all your credit cards to meet payroll while taking nothing for yourself save the promise of sweat equity in the future success of the venture. Don’t do it! Don’t even think about doing it! Demand a paycheck for yourself. Then demand profits. Do not just be satisfied with getting a paycheck. The opportunity cost will kill you if the work doesn’t!

If you are not getting paid, you are not in business!

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How to Get a Job!

I have never really had a real job, in fact the only two jobs I ever had before becoming self employed were that of waiter and bag boy at a golf club. Neither of these jobs took much skill or paid much. The chances of advancement were zero and yet it was still easy to be far better at either job than the many people I encountered in similar positions at the time.

The secret to my success in the four years I held these positions was simple. Never in four year as a bag boy or a waiter did I call in sick. Never at least in the case of the golf club where there was a definite time to be there everyday did I show up late. This made me very valuable to my employer because he knew he could always count on me which was rarely the case with the scores of other employees my own age who would use any possible excuse not to show up any time they felt like it!

There was one other thing I did that made a difference, I always even as a teenager tried to pro active. I looked for ways to help, to be of more value to my employer. This simple strategy works in any industry, for anybody and yet it is rarely used.

In these times of a poor economy I speak weekly to people looking for a job. Usually these people don’t have a job because if they did, in this economy they would be looking to keep it! Most of the people I talk to are golf pros or golf club mangers but from time to time there are others. They send me their resumes and I hook them up with whatever connections I have to try and help them. But the resumes all read the same!

20 years a team player, hard working, people person, good teacher of others etc. I have yet to see one out of the last 50 that said anything that would remotely make me think this person had done anything different to move ahead of the bunch and gain a competitive advantage on his peers. Anything that would have made him stand out in his previous job to the point where it might still have it! No there is no doubt that circumstance can catch even great people of guard but smart people are always looking for ways to build value in their jobs. So much so that even if their current employer does not notice it a competitor or customer will, so the next job is never far away. But back to the resumes, instead of the usual boring stuff I would like to see  one that read:

Realizing the tremendous impact that technology is having and will have on the golf industry in the coming decade I have recently enrolled in a night class at the local junior collage to gain more skills in the important field of internet marketing.

Or

I have hired a local collage student to coach me on the weekend on the latest aspects of communicating with the membership via the internet.

Or

Realizing that many clubs needs to increase their membership in these tough times I recently read the following five books on sales and took two seminars on selling.

Followed by an clear demonstration of how any of the above will impact the clubs bottom like, for example.

These skills will allow me to make excellent use of the latest in internet marketing and sales skills to quickly increase business for the club. That sentence along with anyone of the previous three statements is going to leap that resume to the very top of the pile!

Why?

Because it demonstrates VALUE!

It demonstrates a person who is proactive!

For more great marketing ideas read http://www.cunninglyclevermarketing.com