Ten Major Elements of a Good System

“If you put good people in bad systems you get bad results.” - Stephen Covey

Make sure each system you develop contains the following ten elements:

1. The name and purpose of the specific system. Write a clear, concise statement of the result the system is intended to accomplish and give the system a brief, descriptive name. For example, the sales system should produce X number of prospects and sales per month.

2. A diagram of the system. The system should be presented in a diagram showing the sequence of steps and how they relate to each other.

Suspects, Prospects, Customers, Clients, and Partners

"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher." - Oprah

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.

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.

Look Outside of Your Industry to Find Innovation

"There’s a way to do it better - find it." - Thomas Edison

Ninety-five percent of your competitors in any city or industry will be manufacturing, selling, and marketing in exactly the same way as you are. That’s why it’s so important to look beyond your locale and your industry for ideas and opportunities.

In the late 1990s I enjoyed tremendous success by looking at what type of business-to-business services were available in the “real” world and then adapting them to the martial arts business.

Are Your People Doing What They Should—OR What They Want?

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.

Back when I was in the karate consulting biz, I hired a guy to sell. He had been one of my customers and he told me he was great at sales. For a couple of months he did okay. Then he found out he liked creating the content we were selling far better than actually selling it. Slowly but surely he made fewer and fewer sales calls until he was spending almost all his time creating content. Sad to say, I let a couple of months go by before I asked him why we had no sales. He made a passionate plea about why he needed to be creating content and that he was just TOO BUSY to make sales calls. Great, but we already had someone on staff who produced the content rather well—ME!

I have a number of clients who have someone on their staff who insists on writing their monthly e-newsletter because “they are the only ones who can do it right.” Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with this if that person’s job is MARKETING. But if that person’s job is sales, then it’s not a task they should be doing. They should outsource it to my professional copywriters, and give them some input and direction if needed.

Why is someone in sales spending two days writing an e-newsletter rather than selling?

Simple—they would rather be creating than cold calling. You see this a lot with “salespeople.” They offer to do the newsletter, the e-blast, and stuff envelopes, and pretty soon they are too busy doing just about everything else to actually sell.

Selling is hard, selling is measurable; most of this other stuff is not.

This scenario is by no means limited to sales. Just this week one of my new employees spent the entire day correcting typos on one of our information sites. When asked why, she said because a customer had taken the time to write in and point out the mistakes. Great, but I couldn’t care less if there are a few typos on a site with 10,000 pages of content. I am selling ideas and solutions, not English grammar!

Some golf pros love teaching and are never in the shop, others hate being out in the sun and are excellent in the shop. This might be a problem, or it might not, depending on the club. The fact is, people gravitate to what they like to do (or feel most comfortable doing). And they do it very quickly, without telling you or anyone else. Heck, sometimes they don’t even notice it themselves.

Unfortunately what this also means is the job they were hired for—their core function—is running at half speed, and that’s at best. This means something critical is NOT getting done in your business.

This gives you two choices if you want to get the most from your employees:

1. Assuming that position is open, allow them to do the job they gravitate towards, although it’s rarely the one they have been hired for. In some organizations, usually larger ones, this can work out and at least they will be doing something they are passionate about. In smaller organizations it will usually leave a gaping hole.

2. Manage your expectations with a brutally detailed position agreement that leaves no wiggle room for wandering off in another direction. If they want to volunteer to do something else, add it to their position agreement.

People quickly gravitate to doing the work they like. You must continually make sure that’s the work you need done.

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For $99, Greyhound Will Take You Anywhere You Want to Go!

“You ask any actor—they’ll tell you they’d rather shoot on location because you don’t have to invent the energy, the energy is there.”
Adrian Grenier

Several years ago I was doing a seminar where a young man in the front of the room kept saying, “That won’t work in my town because [take your pick]…It’s too small, too conservative, too many sign laws, bad zoning, not enough traffic, no good retail locations available…”

After my usual spiel on “Why most towns really aren’t that different” (THEY ARE NOT.) I finally gave up and said, “For $99 Greyhound will take you anywhere you want to go!” (Which was a popular ad campaign at the time.) Everyone but him laughed.

While you may think this answer is a little trite, nasty, or obvious, believe me it is not. Many people simply do not consider the simple answers to their own problems because they place a great many mental constraints on their thinking.

“I can’t do that because …[take your pick once more]… I grew up here, my friends are here, I like it here, my parents are here, I have family here, I know everyone here.”

If you run the only coffee shop in a town of 1200 people, it may well be better than being one of ten coffee shops in a town of 50,000, but it’s not nearly as good as being the only coffee shop in a town of 10,000 people.

When I opened my second karate school, I was the ONLY karate school in an affluent town of 60,000 people. When I sold my karate school I was one of 23 schools and recreation center programs in the same town! Unless the market demand grew by 2000 plus percent, (it didn’t) something had to give.

I was still the best school in town, and likely the most profitable, but business was getting much harder to acquire and would only have gotten worse. Even if I had wanted to stay in the karate business at the time, it would have made far more sense to sell that school and open somewhere else.

I am constantly amazed by the number of people unwilling to change locations to massively increase their opportunities for success, and by the number of people who expect the status quo to be maintained despite a massive increase in competition.

Even if you are not in any type of retail business, the location question can still raise a number of important issues. For instance, are you in the right part of the country? As a rule, in America, the South is a far cheaper place from which to operate a business than the North or the West. The middle states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri are the perfect place to locate a business that ships nationwide. And the prospect of living a better lifestyle in the sun can attract workers to take slightly less pay in return for better weather and living conditions in places like Florida.

This country is a large and wonderful place. If you can’t make a living doing what you want in one area, move closer to the major city in your state. Better still, move to a fast-growing area in the Sunbelt—like Nevada, Texas, Florida, or California. There is no reason on earth why you can’t do it, other than your own lack of desire.
It was this very location factor that a decade ago convinced me to move my business from California to Florida. The result was an immediate improvement in shipping time to my clients, since 90% of them were East of the Mississippi, decreased phone costs, and the beauty of no state taxes. As soon as my lease ran out in California, I rented a new office in Florida that cost $20,000 a year less. I bought a bigger house for the same money and generally improved my business and my life with the simple decision to relocate. While that’s a step not everyone wants to take, it is something to consider.

You have to be willing to move where the opportunity is. Fish where the fish are and the other fishermen aren’t.

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Why Most Business Contracts Are Worthless

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

For most of the time that I have been in business, I have done business—including some really large deals—without contracts. At various times I have tried contracts, or others have insisted upon them against my wishes.

I tried them in the karate business when I was selling licenses. I had what I thought was a simple yet complete five-page contract drawn up at great expense by a contract-law attorney. The majority of people signed it without any fuss, but about a dozen sent it to their attorneys. All of these came back with numerous paragraphs they wanted changed on the advice of counsel. But you know what’s really funny? None of the 15–20 paragraphs in question were the same.

After trying to appease a couple of potential licensees whose attorneys were doing nothing more than TRYING to justify their fees, I finally just said to sign it as is or don’t, I am not making any changes.

Eventually they all signed.

My web business took off no upfront fees or contracts, I began to use contracts as my product became more and more powerful it took far longer to set up, so I changed to contracts again. People signed them, dated them, faxed them back, and then completely ignored them five months later when a new manager showed up who demanded a cheaper solution.

In my experience it just doesn’t make a difference having or not having contracts, as the results are the same.

FACT: When someone wants to break a contract, they will lie, steal, cheat, dream up nonexistent problems, and blame you and your staff for every ill in their lives.

This person is not someone who will bring joy or prosperity to your life. Forget the indignity of it. Forget the lies. Forget the fact that you are 100% in the right and the contract breaker is wrong. It simply doesn’t matter. If you sue them, you MAY win. (The lawyers always win!) It will cost you a large amount of time, money, mental energy, and lost opportunity, and even if you win that’s just where the fun starts.

IF you win, you then have to collect. Ask the Brown family how much they ever got from multimillionaire and “presumed” double murder O.J. Simpson and you will begin to get an idea of what chance you have of ever seeing a penny from your judgment. Yes, you should have things spelled out in as much detail as possible to avoid confusion down the road. You can even go to the trouble and expense of having an attorney draft a solid letter of agreement so you both know what you should be doing, or just write something up yourself so it’s clear to both sides what the deal is. Just don’t expect it to mean much once a person has decided to no longer do business with you. If you have a good attorney—and I have had a few—they will give you exactly the same advice as above when it comes to pursuing contract settlements through the courts. People who want to screw you will try, and people who don’t won’t. A piece of paper, no matter how well written, won’t stop either party from acting the way they act.

Contracts kill more deals than they save; use them only when you have no choice.

Please consult your attorney before following this sage advice (LOL).

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