Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

April 2013

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Asking a fair and reasonable price for business services sometimes feels risky for small business entrepreneurs. Whether it’s the fear that no one will buy, a lack of belief in oneself, or a not having the pricing know-how, small business owners frequently price their services below market value and suffer the penalty of underearning.

Prior to launching my coaching practice, I spent 25 years in sales. It provided excellent training for understanding how and why people buy. One of the most important bits of wisdom I learned was that prospects have two imaginary buttons in their head – one button is labeled “price” and the other button is marked “value”. When your prospect realizes how the value of your services outweighs the price of your services, they seldom shy away from a fair price.

Properly pricing your products and services begins with clearly understanding your value. The two tools that help discover the significance your business services provide are your marketing persona and your key benefits.

A marketing persona is a fictional characterization of your ideal client. Your marketing persona helps identify what is most important to your ideal client. It helps you speak directly, distinctly, and more confidently, to their needs.

Well-defined features and benefits differentiate your service in the marketplace. Features are aspects of your service that are tangible, factual, identifiable, and are of greater importance to you. Features lead to benefits. Benefits are more important to the buyer. They create emotion, incite passion, solve problems, and enhance results. Benefits are what and why customers buy. Make sure the benefits of your business service are in sync with what your ideal client values.

Understanding your value helps institute an appropriate pricing strategy for your business – one that creates a win-win for you and your client. You’ll be surprised how easily clients will accept your price when they realize that it’s a fair exchange for the value you provide.

Related Blog Posts:

Common Pricing Mistakes to Avoid

The Small Business Pricing Conundrum: Underpricing

Solo Entrepreneurs: Better & Smarter But Maybe Not Richer

Growing a small business is complex. It’s tricky to stay abreast of the latest industry developments and keep pace with up-to-the-minute business trends. Instead of leading, many small business owners are running as fast as they can to keep step with their business.

To stay on top in your industry and relevant in business requires a team approach that encourages tangible business results. The 5 professional advisers that every entrepreneur needs on their team to make their small business more manageable include the following:

1. Business strategist and coach – helps you focus on the big picture and identify strategies for growing your business.

Read more – How Are You Growing Your Small Business?

2. Accountant/Bookkeeper – ensures your financial house remains in order to accurate evaluate and plan for your future.

Read more – Hire the Right Accountant with Strategic Coaching Questions

3. Attorney – makes sure your legal structure, including agreements, are up-to-date and in order to protect your assets.

Read more – Business Entity Basics: A Quick and Dirty Guide

4.Graphic/Web Designer – makes certain your brand is presented properly to your audience and your services are found online.

Read more – 5 Factors That Boost Your Website Bounce Rate

5. Copywriter – communicates your message in a way that compels your target audience to act.

Don’t grow your small business alone! Surround yourself with professionals whose job it is to stay on top of the latest developments in their industry so you can stay on top of yours.

Don’t miss our upcoming blog on how to create a collaborative approach with your team of advisors that saves time and money! Subscribe to our blog today.

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Entrepreneurs are notoriously optimistic people. Their forward-thinking optimism likely sparked their entrepreneurial launch and inspired others to join their dream. Add the fierce desire for independence and the ability to call the shots and you have a perfect mixture for an entrepreneurial tidal wave – or do you?

Optimism while running and growing a business is a must. It gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you scurrying throughout the day despite whatever is going on around you. Nevertheless, could too much optimism be hurting your business growth?

As a business strategist, I’ve seen many overly optimistic entrepreneur. Although an appealing quality, too much optimism can challenge business growth during the first stage of business growth and development – Core Business Development – when laying a solid foundation for your business can make the difference between success and struggle.

Here are the 3 drawbacks to an overabundance of optimism:

  1. Neglecting vital research. Overly optimistic entrepreneurs are easily caught up in their own genius. Failure to carry out the due diligence needed to make sure you develop the right product or service for the right marketplace at the right time has devastating effects on business growth.
  2. Ignoring warning signs. Entrepreneurs who view their business through rose-colored glasses often overlook early warning signs of trouble. A delayed response to early warning signs costs more in time, energy, and money to execute a successful turnaround before it’s too late.
  3. Disregarding business-saving strategies. Along with failing to heed early warning signs, dismissing strategies to get your business on the right track create a downward spiral that can make recovery difficult. Overly optimistic entrepreneurs find it easier said than done to trust proven strategies over their optimism.

Every entrepreneur needs a healthy dose of optimism to get them through both good and bad times in business. As long as you don’t let an ample supply of optimism get in the way of being smart and strategic about your business growth, you’ll be just fine!

Ready for More? Here are a few more blog posts we think you’ll like:

10 Common “Growing Pains” of Stage One Business Growth

The Four Stages of Growing Your Business

Business Metrics: If You Don’t Know it, You Can’t Grow it

5 Smart Businesss Strategies to Set Yourself Up for Success

Become a Strategic Thinker for Your Business

Every small business entrepreneur has to sell – like it or not. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs would rather (fill in the blank) than have to sell. Why? Entrepreneurs who are “sales reluctant” have experienced bad examples of the sales process and are led to believe that if you’re going to sell, that’s how it’s done.

When you think of “selling”, what immediately comes to mind? The sleazy used-car sales guy puffing on a cheap, stinky cigar wearing lime-green plaid polyester pants and a faded orange shirt? The annoying sales person on the phone who doesn’t seem to understand “no, thank you” and continues to hock their wares? Put aside any preconceived notions of sales to consider these strategies to help you overcome your “sales reluctance”.

1. Reframe your mental notion of selling. Selling isn’t vigorously convincing someone to buy what they don’t want or need. Selling is finding a need and filling it. Selling solves problems for your prospect. Selling provides solutions to their predicament. To conquer “sales reluctance”, shift your thinking from selling to solving problems and providing solutions for your clients needs.

2. Be passionately curious. Those who are passionately curious make excellent sales professionals. They love to learn about things and people. This natural curiosity fuels lead generation. Prospects generally notice your authenticity and care. As someone once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” To overcome “sales reluctance”, sincerely show how much you care.

3. Create your sales scripts. Not knowing what to say or how to say it makes even the bravest of entrepreneurs uneasy. Work out what you want to say in advance of any sales meetings. Make the conversation natural and authentic – not contrived and rehearsed. Practice. Massage your scripts until you’re comfortable. To defeat “sales reluctance”, style your sales language to fit you like a glove.

4. Exercise enthusiasm. Enthusiasm ends with I – A – S – M which stands for “I am sold myself”. The first person needing to be sold is YOU. You have to be convinced that you are the solution to your clients problem. If you’re not sold on the solution you provide, how will you sell anyone else? To triumph over “sales reluctance”, sell yourself on your products value.

5. Let go of the outcome. Sales is a numbers game. Holding too tightly to the prospects need to say “yes” puts unnecessary pressure on you and your prospect. You can’t control whether or not a prospect says “yes” but you can control your marketing efforts and the volume of leads you generate. To rise above “sales reluctance”, free yourself from any preconceived conclusions.

Selling isn’t optional if your small business is to grow and succeed but with the right strategies, you can learn to embrace and enjoy sales.

Have you overcome “sales reluctance”? What strategies helped you overcome this hurdle?

Related Blog Posts:

Five One Liners That Kill a Sale

How Your Mindset Sparks Business Success

Top Ten Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Women’s Soccer

Five Ways to Erase Your Fear in Business

Business growth doesn’t occur accidentally. Reliable, dependable business growth occurs when small business entrepreneurs put emphasis on the importance of planning. In fact, minus consistent and regular planning, business growth is quickly stunted during the most critical stage of business growth and development – Core Business Development.

Stumbling Blocks to Planning

Entrepreneurs, by nature, are risk-takers and opportunity-makers. Devoting any importance to planning would suck the creativity and innovation out of their day. Even though planning is crucial to operating a successful business, many small business entrepreneurs view planning as busy work and a waste of time and energy. Subsequently, they advocate for ad hoc planning.

Ad hoc planning is improvised and impromptu. With no apparent forethought, ad hoc planning creates a lack of clarity and squanders precious resources such as time and money. Off-the-cuff planning pulls entrepreneurs off track. In most cases, small business entrepreneurs end up with very different and disappointing results.

Business changes quickly in the digital age and you need to be prepared. Your business needs to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of your audience. By overlooking the importance of planning, your business can quickly become obsolete and irrelevant triggering a loss of clients to your competition. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

Planning Your Business Growth

Planning for business growth requires intentionality. Skills required for planning on purpose – keeping on top of things – not letting things fall through the cracks – moving your business forward strategically and intelligently – have changed over the years. Just as we upgrade our operating systems to keep our computers performing well, we also need to upgrade our planning skills.

Planning for business growth is not limited to strategic planning, although strategic planning is imperative for sustainable business growth. Planning for business growth needs to occur at four regular and consistent cycles:

  1. annually,
  2. monthly,
  3. weekly, and
  4. daily

In fact, habitually planning your business growth is the core endeavor of any small business. It keeps you focused and on-track, saves you unnecessary effort, prevents decision fatigue, creates the right mindset, and spawns small wins that set up the craving for more wins. Additionally, it encourages better use of your resources, prevents burnout, and reduces your stress.

Don’t Pass Up Planning

Even the best of planning doesn’t account for the “unplanned” in business, however, the downside of the “unplanned” has much less of an impact on the outcome. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur before you develop the importance of planning for your small business.

Someone once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Although I don’t totally agree with that premise, one thing I know for sure, without adequate planning, you can count on unnecessary stress with business growth that is sluggish and fragmented.

Women in business are captivating the news. From Facebook Executive, Sheryl Sandberg, who told women that to succeed, they needed to “lean in,” to former Lehman Brothers CFO, Erin Callen, who shared how she leaned in, leaned in hard, and regrets her choices, women are at the forefront of recent conversations.

Whether the conversations have been good or not for women in business, remains to be seen, although anytime a discussion is focused on the powerful role that women play in business, it’s a good thing. It leaves many businesswomen feeling frustrated, however, not only with the backlash of the conversation but over what it really takes to succeed. Do we lean in? Do we lean out? It seems as though everyone has an opinion! So, here’s mine!

Frankly, “leaning in” isn’t new for women in business. We’ve been leaning in for a long time including, but not limited, to these five ways:

  1. Every time women take a risk, they “lean in”. Whether that includs the choice to delay family for the sake of career or delay a career to have a family. Both choices likely feel risky – and take tremendous courage – for those who are making them.
  2. Every time women experience uncertainty, they “lean in”. That ambiguity runs the gamut of how to meet the looming needs of aging parents alongside the needs of a growing family to how they are going to meet their payroll requirements in a wobbly economy.
  3. Every time a woman “goes against the grain”, she “leans in”. When a woman in business does or says something different from what is expected, she takes a risk.  By assuming the gamble, she leans in. Her vulnerability is on the line by doing, saying, and being who she chooses to be rather than as she may have been socialized.
  4. Every time women say “no” to conform to feminine norms, they “lean in”. In studies on conformity to feminine norms, researchers listed the most important attributes for “being feminine” as “passivity, submissiveness, and compassionate, caring, nurturing behavior toward others, especially infants, are widely considered feminine traits in comparison to masculine assertiveness and competitiveness.”
  5. Every time a woman chooses a path different from the one chosen for her, she “leans in”. This can look very much like “leaning out” if a woman chooses not to aggressively compete in the culture in which she dwells.

It’s difficult for any of us to judge or challenge another’s decision from where we stand. Honestly, whatever a woman in business decides, she needs to feel good about herself and her choice – whatever it may be. There will be times when “leaning in” is the appropriate choice and other times when the decision is to “lean out” and it feels incredible risky.

My advice to those questioning the best strategy for success – leaning in or leaning out – is to gather ‘round! Gather ‘round other women in business to support which every direction they need to lean so that we all might move forward together.

Business burnout! You may not know you’re affected – until it’s too late! Commonly associated with the first stage of business growth and developmentCore Business Development, business burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It slowly creeps into your business after an extended duration of the passionate pursuit of your entrepreneurial dream. Left to smolder, it can extinguish your small business dream.

It’s not uncommon to work extended hours when you first launch your small business. Your passion and excitement for what’s to come removes all sense of time. Your eagerness wakes you before dawn and finds you working long past the time the family has gone to bed. Over time, the extended workday turns into extended workweeks and, before long, what fueled your start-up passion, has turned into a deadly habit that’s killing you and your business.

Am I being too dramatic? I think not! Researchers have found that burnout has reached epidemic proportions. The negative consequences of burnout are well-documented, included coronary artery disease, depression, and autoimmune illness (Plus, I’ve got a personal story about a health crisis caused by burnout. It wasn’t pretty.)

Things Are Heating Up

Burnout is quite insidious. It causes decision fatigue, erodes confidence, drains your energy, infects attitudes, amplifies cynicism, promotes inflexibility, and encourages procrastination. Before long, you’re unable to focus at the task at hand. You’re easily disrupted by email and distracted by the simplest of thing. You waste valuable time poking around on Facebook or daydreaming about working at Starbucks.

Stop the Burn

Fortunately, small business owners have control over their work hours and can implement these strategies easily and effortlessly to put a stop to business burnout.

1. Establish priorities based on goals. Rather than focus on your to-do list, the “squeaky wheel”, or the biggest fire, prioritize your day based on the actions needed to achieve your business goals. By being goal-oriented rather than time-oriented, you’ll eliminate unnecessary tasks and achieve much more.

2. Perform in 40/20 cycles. Pierre Khawand, author of “The Results Curve™: How to Manage Focused and Collaborate”, discovered after a decade of research that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration.

3. Stop multitasking. Once the sought-after skill of the 80’s – 90’s, researchers are now finding that multitasking is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Although walking and chewing gum is still an acceptable form of multitasking (it’s automatic), responding to email while talking on the phone adds to inefficiency. Plus, its just plain embarrassing when you’re asked a question and you’re unable to respond appropriately because your attention is divided.

4. Delegate. Entrepreneurs are notorious for “doing it all”. Hand over suitable tasks to skilled employees or vendors that support your business objectives. It frees your vision and creativity.

5. Keep yourself healthy. You are the primary bread producer in your small business; therefore, your ability to stay healthy is crucial. Although many small business entrepreneurs don’t feel they have the time to exercise, studies show that entrepreneur who run or bike have higher sales than even those who strength train! And, to keep fueled with energy-producing foods, follow Back to her Roots solution, How I Prep Food for the Week. One more thing – don’t eat lunch at your desk! There’s nothing worse than having your keyboard stick on ccccccccccc because of crumbs.

6. Play more. Recess isn’t just for kids. Taking frequent breaks throughout the day refreshes your creativity and reboots your brain.

7. Take weekends off. Fatigue costs more than $136 billion per year in health-related lost productivity; 84% of those costs due to reduced performance at work. Is working on your day off really worth it?

8. Unplug from technology. When the clock strikes 5 pm – or whatever arbitrary time you have for closing down shop – turn off all your technology. Your body and mind needs time to renew after a day of decision-making. In our blog post, The High Cost of Indecision on Growing Your Business, we discuss the importance of rejuvenating your decision-making muscle.

Burnout is completely avoidable, especially with the advancements in technology. Used correctly, technology makes your workday more productive and efficient. You’re going to be in business for a long time. Make business burnout a thing of the past.

Small business entrepreneurs have many fears in business. We fear success, and we fear failure. (That’s a little confusing, don’t you think?) We fear falling on our face and looking like an idiot. (Okay, I confess. This is my fear.) We fear the competition. We fear risk. We fear the unknown, yet we fear asking for help. Fear is gripping. It chokes our creativity and clouds our decision-making. Yet, we seem to engage in fear on a regular basis.

Stephen King said, “I tend to scare myself.” This pertains to small business entrepreneurs. We tend to scare ourselves beyond what is necessary. Is it a habit or are these fears are so well-publicized that we agree to readily adopt them as our fears. (Talk about effective marketing!)

Based on the sage wisdom of Lemony Snicket, “There are two kinds of fears: rational and irrational – or in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don’t,” I submit to you these alternate choices to fear in business.

1. Fear not achieving all of which you’re capable. Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” That’s the sort of fear to embrace in your business.

2. Fear undervaluing your talents, skills, and expertise. Don’t shrink or downplay your value in the marketplace. It’s not good economics.

3. Fear missing your TEDX presentation because you were stuck in traffic. That’s 18 minutes of your life gone forever.

4. Fear being bored from continually achieving your goals. Donald Miller said, “Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”

5. Fear being average. Even Taylor Swift is “intimidated by the fear of being average.”

Finally, I love what Lady Gaga had to say about fear, “ All that ever holds somebody back, I think, is fear. For a minute, I had fear. [Then] I went into the [dressing] room and shot my fear in the face.” Now that’s the kind of gun control I believe in!

What alternate fears would you add to the list?

small business growing pains

small business growing painsEvery business – large or small – passes through four stages of business growth on its journey from core business development to organizational maturity. No matter what stage of business growth you strive to achieve for your small business, every small business owner must first overcome the common challenges – or “growing pains” – associated with the first stage of business growth.

The first stage of business growth – Core Business Development – is described as $0 – $500,000 in revenue for a business in the service industry or from $0 – $1.5 Million in revenue for manufacturing. No matter the industry in which your small business exists, the major challenges are the same. And, the sooner you can blast through the challenges commonly associated with the first stage of business growth, the more quickly your small business will grow.

Small Business Stressors

The hurdles associated with the Core Business Development stage of business growth act much like “flies” in the machinery of your business. Although seemingly small and insignificant and, at times almost tolerable, they gum up your business growth. They’re quickly and quietly draining the three most critical resources needed to grow your small business – time, money, and energy. Once they are brought to a stop, the growth of your small business accelerates.

The most common and troubling challenges associated with the first stage of business growth and development include:

  • Burnout – physical, mental, and emotional.
  • Adhoc Planning – the type of planning involving “putting out fires” and handling the “squeaky wheel”.
  • Overly optimistic – commonly referred to as “unrealistic” related to setting improbable expectations and goals.
  • Poor cash flow – when the money runs out before the month.
  • Underpricing – pricing below what’s needed to keep you in business
  • Underearning – the evil twin of underpricing.
  • Poor system development – systems developed “as needed” or when current talent leaves your business – along with your business expertise and knowledge.
  • Undefined roles – even “me, myself, and I” are uncertain of the next best steps.
  • Inadequate funding – what your parents aptly labeled, “you can’t get blood from a turnip.”
  • Missed opportunities – what happens while you’re dealing with the “growing pains” listed above.

Sound familiar? You bet! And, you’re not alone. Every service business with revenue less than $500,000 or manufacturing business with revenue less than $1.5 million experiences the same challenges.

Business Growth Ahead!

What’s a small business owner to do? Certainly, don’t pull out your hair! Subscribe to our small business strategy blog below and tune in weekly. Together, we’ll discuss each “growing pain” in detail along with strategies you can put into practice to get rid of the challenges slowing your business growth.

Are you ready to get growing? What are some of your common “growing pains”?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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