Four 2017 Challenges from The Growth Coach

shutterstock_520714927At The Growth Coach, we work with clients and companies to help them build stronger businesses and better lives throughout the year, but since January is a great time for resolutions, we thought it we’d come to you with a set of Growth Coach challenges to get 2017 off to a great start.

 

Resolve to Stick to Your Resolutions

When you make a resolution on New Year’s Day, it’s with the glow of a brand new year ahead. Whether your resolution is about your career – maybe breaking out on your own as an entrepreneur or earning that pay raise – or about your life, family or personal wellness, sticking to it means creating an action plan and holding yourself accountable. If you’ve created lofty resolutions for 2017, set small goals throughout the year to help you get there and to track your progress. Another tip: Go into the calendar on your phone and set reminders about your resolutions to keep you on track along the way.

Learn to Let Go
Even if you love your business, working 24/7 will drain your enthusiasm, make you less productive and, eventually, turn your sights elsewhere. Challenge yourself to focus on balancing your life and making more time for yourself and your family. If you’re a business owner, this means looking at the tasks you do each week, evaluating which ones are the highest priority and find ways to delegate the others. This blog we published in 2015 has some great tips on figuring out which tasks you shouldn’t be doing: https://growthcoachblog.com/2015/11/05/time-is-money-learn-to-let-go/.

Think Boldly

Being your best and building a successful future means having the right mindset. If you can’t see yourself as a successful business owner and you don’t have a vision for an amazing business, how can you get there? For 2017, set aside time to create bold goals and dreams and get serious about focusing on them. As we said in a blog a few years back, you can’t get comfortable with good enough: https://growthcoachblog.com/2014/11/13/business-owner-dont-get-comfortable/.

Make Your Mental Health a Priority

Many of us already have eating better or getting more exercise on our list of resolutions, so at The Growth Coach, we want to challenge you to think about your mental health. The stress of being a business owner or company leader can take a real toll on your mental (and, subsequently, physical) health, so taking care of yourself needs to be on your radar. Be sure to set aside time to recharge your emotional battery, whether that means taking a vacation with your family or finding a few hours to do something you love each week. Make yourself a priority in 2017.

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Five Last Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

unnamedThe holidays are a great time to grow your business, but it’s also hectic and easy to get lost in the shuffle of big box stores’ email campaigns and huge sales. Fortunately your focus on providing excellent customer service and a better shopping experience combined with the uniqueness of your small business is what will help you bring in those last minute holiday and year-end shoppers!

Here are five marketing ideas you still have time to put into place before Christmas and 2017:

12 Days of Christmas

Plan out 12 small things you can do for your customers – one each day – before Christmas Day. Create shareable images on social media and promote one each day to encourage customers to do business with you. By sharing one each day, you can keep people coming back for the next day’s deal!

Focus on the Customer Experience

People are swamped during the holidays and, for many, shopping becomes a real challenge. If you have an in-person retail store, you need to crack through the lure of online shopping and get people out to your business. Consider decorating your business, making your business family-friendly by offering a kids corner to entertain the little ones and offering snacks for hungry customers.

Offer Something Special

You don’t have to offer huge discounts to make your customers happy, but you might want to think about stuffing their stockings with a little something extra. Consider giving away sample sizes of new or under-advertised products or services, coupons or other future discounts with purchases during December. Giving your customers something they’ll actually use – like including some nice tissue paper (complete with your business card) for any purchase over a certain amount – can also be a great way to stay top of mind.

VIP Hours

Do you have a list of emails from your loyal customers? Or a dedicated social media following? Consider offering extended hours – advertised specifically to those people – to help them wrap up their holiday shopping without the usual crowd. This is a great way to say “thank you” to the people who have been supporting you AND bring in some extra sales without much extra work.

Send New Year’s Cards

If your company isn’t necessarily focused on holiday shopping, consider sending Happy New Year’s cards to encourage business in January. Your marketing efforts may have gotten lost in the holiday shuffle, so New Year’s is a good time to get back in front of your customers early.

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Drive Success by Driving Sales

lisa-hudson

Growth Coach Lisa Hudson

Many entrepreneurs are leaders in ingenuity and innovation, but sometimes they forget about one crucial element of business – sales. Whether you’re a chief-everything-officer handling the entire business alone or a company leader looking to strengthen the numbers from within the ranks, sales is an essential component in businesses of all shapes and sizes.

For this blog, we spoke to Growth Coach Lisa Hudson, President and Owner of The Growth Coach of Carmel. Lisa has been serving business and sales professionals in Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers, Zionsville, Westfield and the surrounding areas in Indiana since late 2015. Prior to The Growth Coach, Hudson was with Macy’s for 26 years, including Vice President Store Manager for 19 years. She worked with team ranging from 60 employees to 450 employees and was charged with using strategic leadership and development skills to drive business results.

Hudson offers the full suite of Growth Coach services, including Sales Mastery, a year-long program aimed at helping business owners, sales professionals and sales teams learn how to turn leads into prospects and then into clients.

“Sales Mastery is a strategic approach to helping participants to drive stronger sales results.  In that program, we learn and practice how to turn leads to prospects to clients at an improved time frame and with a stronger closing percentage.  I like to think of it like taking the swirling clouds you might see at the beginning of a storm and watching it explode into a tornado!  Do you really need more leads or do you need to be more strategic with the leads you already have? Can you learn to maximize and close more often?” Hudson said. “Anyone who drives their business results with a sales focus can benefit from sales coaching, including business owners who started their business and now realize that selling their services is critical to the growth of their business to sales team members that have goals to exceed and want consistency in their sales results.”

Although individual coaching is available, sales coaching – like The Growth Coach’s cornerstone Strategic Business Owner program – is best done in a group setting through the Sales Mastery program. Hudson said working in a group, whether as a company team or as a group of strangers coming together with a shared goal, has a great impact on learning.

“The group setting experience encourages great discussion and allows us to share ideas and best practices, brainstorm and learn the Strategic Mindset approach.  Everyone has successes and, often times, the people in the group are all struggling with many of the same challenges. It is great to see the participants thanking one another for an idea or process that they can try to help ease their workload and results. The group feels a sense of accountability to have met their commitments and share successes with everyone at the next monthly workshop,” Hudson said.

Working with a sales coach isn’t just about learning new skills, it’s also about finding new ideas and inspiration, figuring out how to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable, and being more strategic about goals and actions – skills that can help you learn to build trust relationships that turn into sales. In addition to personal coaching, Hudson recommends that her clients spend time reading industry expert-written business and sales books to keep the inspiration and motivation flowing. Learn more about Sales Mastery here: http://thegrowthcoach.com/sales-mastery-sm/ and visit Lisa’s site here: http://thegrowthcoachcarmelin.com/.

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Business Owner Checklist: Your 2016 Goals

goals-blog-picThe stores are packed with Halloween decorations, some early shoppers are starting to check off that holiday list and the weather is turning colder… which means we’re into Q4! But don’t panic, we still have almost three months left in 2016, which means you still have time to work on your 2016 goals.

We know, in January, many business owners and company leaders took out a notepad and started to think about three things: (1) What were the biggest achievements and challenges of 2015 and (2) What should we do differently in 2016 and (3) What goals are we going to set for the year. Some of those goals might have been specific, such as a sales goal, while others may have been more nebulous, like finding more time to spend with your family. So today, since we’ve crested into the final quarter of the year, we want you to take a few minutes to be brutally honest and ask yourself: How are those goals coming? And did you make the changes you said needed to be made?

If you’re meeting your goals and things are going well in your business and your life, then we just want to remind you to celebrate! It’s important to recognize your progress and the work you’ve put into making things better. And if you’re struggling to meet those goals, here are a few suggestions from The Growth Coach:

Get Busy Being Less Busy

Whether or not you’re a business owner, time is always a convenient excuse. We are all busy with work, life, family, friends… so how can you find time to work on your goals? If being up against the clock has kept you from meeting your 2016 goals, then it’s time to evaluate your life. Look at your calendar and your bank account – where are you spending the most time and money? Do those answers align with what you want in life? If not, then it’s time to re-evaluate your life and make decisions about what’s important and what’s not. When you’ve got your priorities in line, weigh those priorities against your goals and decide what to work on for the rest of the year.

Focus on Owning the Business

Many small business owners are trapped in their business because they’re the most important person on staff.  They are the main technician, the answer for all the questions, and the heart and soul of the business. Can you take a month off work and come back to a healthy company? If you’re spending every waking hour RUNNING your business instead of OWNING your business, you can’t possibly find time addressing the challenges of the previous year, which will mean falling behind in achieving those goals. Before you can make headway on those 2016 goals – many of which you can probably still accomplish before the end of the year – you have to learn to delegate and get your head out of the everyday operations.

Amending Your Goals

Sometimes we all have to admit that our goals may be out of reach in the timeframe we’ve set for ourselves. Of course we want to encourage you to do better than your best to meet your original goals, but we also know that life happens. If your goal honestly required a year’s worth of work and you’re now stuck at three months until 2017, it’s OK to make changes. You have to hold yourself accountable for reaching your goals and, if those goals need to be amended to make the most progress in Q4, then that’s OK. Beating yourself up over lost time won’t help you build a stronger business OR a more balanced life.

Set aside some time today to dig deep into your original goals, evaluate what you needed to be doing for the last nine months and decide what you can still accomplish in 2016. Just keep in mind that, if you’re changing your goals to meet your expectations for what you can accomplish this year, be careful not to set the bar too low. It’s OK to amend your goals, but don’t do it just so you can put a checkmark next to the line items in January. Your goals should be achievable, but challenging to keep you at your best!

If you’re having trouble reaching your goals or holding yourself accountable, or if you’re ready to talk about next year, then it’s time to chat with a Growth Coach. Find your local Growth Coach here: http://thegrowthcoach.com/find-coach/.

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Growth Coach Kim Ellet Takes On Leadership Role with Successful BNI Group & Discusses the Importance of Networks

kimellet

Kim Ellet

Kim Ellet has recognized the value of networks and working within groups for quite some time. As a member of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and several smaller groups within that organization, Kim has grown her professional friendships and her business.

Kim had visited a number of BNI groups over the years, too, but wasn’t sure BNI was for her. She knew if she was going to be referring business to her fellow BNI members and depending on them to help her grow her business, it had to be the right fit. So when she found the Smyrna Business Exchange, met the high-caliber membership and saw their dedication to results as well as fun, she decided to give it a shot.

“When I found this group, the time was right and the people were right – it just felt like a great fit. The energy, dedication and knowledge the members of the Smyrna Business Exchange bring to the group is extraordinary …  Any team is only as strong as its members and we’ve had the opportunity to bring on people who are fully committed to continuing to uphold the values and purpose of the group as a whole,” she said.

Now Ellet has been appointed president of the Smyrna Business Exchange, which has been ranked as the top BNI chapter in the region for the past 28 months. Kim is the owner of The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta and is an experienced business owner and coach. You can learn more about her and her business here: http://thegrowthcoachatl.com/.

Joining a BNI Group can be a powerful tool for your business – if you’re selected to fill a vacant seat within the chapter and if you put the effort into making the most out of the experience. BNI is a closed networking group, which guarantees your competitors aren’t in the room. There is only one member for each profession admitted to each chapter. This enables the members to get to know each other, develop a high level of trust and confidence, thus feeling very comfortable referring business to one another.  The BNI philosophy is “givers gain.” Members also gain an opportunity to better serve their clients by referring trusted service providers as well.

The concept of a group of professionals adding value to one another is also a tenet of Kim’s business coaching philosophy and The Growth Coach process. In addition to individual executive coaching, The Growth Coach also serves business owners, leaders and managers in a group coaching format. “It’s powerful to get a group of business owners and leaders together to realize that they are not alone. Many business owners are facing the same issues of leading a growing business, even though their industries may be very different from each other. Not only do they have the benefit of working with an experienced, certified professional coach, they also have a group of peers to help hold them accountable. It’s a very powerful process that generates results.”

There is great value for business owners and leaders in working with peers in a group format, whether it’s a closed networking group such as BNI and/or within a group coaching program, like the Growth Coach provides. It’s important for business owners and leaders to connect.

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Seven Business Books to Add to the Pages of Your Summer

photo-1462902601997-44b97835e3f5Summer is a great time to schedule yourself some time off – even if it’s to catch up on industry news or read a new business book. Recharging your emotional battery and finding new inspiration is a great way to re-energize yourself to grow your business in the second half of the year.

If your book list is empty or you have a few Audible credits left over after all your business traveling, here are seven of the industry’s most recommended business books of the year that align with what we do here at The Growth Coach.

How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb

Webb shows readers how to use recent findings from behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience to transform the quality of everyday life, both at work at home. This book aligns with much of what we tell our clients – like having the right mindset, maintaining balance, setting priorities – with Webb’s findings. Inc. Magazine recommended this book in their 10 Must-Read Business Books for 2016 article.

First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

You’re getting things done… but are you happy? Is your life full of great relationships, peace, balance and confidence? In business – especially startups – sometimes our ‘first things’ really aren’t first. This book looks at how you can change your mindset and align your life. Insights by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business recommended this book for their alumni entrepreneurs.

Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

Everyone has heard about the magical workplace of Google, but even if you can’t provide gourmet meals or allow employees to bring their dogs to work, there are ways you can improve company culture and attract great talent. Business.com named this one a top 10 book for 2016.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein

Transforming an industry sometimes comes down to finding, fostering, encouraging and supporting and even sometimes letting go – of talented people. How they deal with talent makes them organization builders and superbosses. Inc. Magazine recommended this book in their 10 Must-Read Business Books for 2016 article.

Ted Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

Done right, a short talk can be a lightning rod for inspiration, excitement, empathy, knowledge and more. But how can you turn five minutes into something memorable and powerful? Forbes Recommended this book in their Must Read Business Books for 2016 article.

Originals by Adam Grant

How do you recognize a good idea? And how do you fight for that idea without being silenced? This book looks at history and examines sports, business and entertainment to see how we can recognize and foster originality. This was on the NY Times Best Seller list earlier this year.

Sprint by Jake Knapp, Josh Zeratsky and Braden Knowitz

Go behind-the-scenes of some of the country’s most interesting startups and see how they overcome difficult challenges. This book is a practical guide to answering business questions  and is applicable to companies of any size. Forbes Recommended this book in their Must Read Business Books for 2016 article.

 

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Grow Your Business By Considering Your Exit Strategy

ExitBlog.jpgSo many small businesses rely entirely on the owner – the family-recipe chocolate shop without a manual, the diner with all family employees, the bicycle repair company where the owner is doing the repairs… These businesses are part of Main Street in communities around the world, but without their owners, how can they survive?

At The Growth Coach, we are asking this question because, whether you want to pass your business onto the next generation, sell it when it’s time to retire, or just take a vacation, you have to have an exit strategy. If you own a business that relies on you being there every day (or at least available every day), how can someone else come in and run the show? And who would buy a business they can’t make successful on their own?

Getting out of the day-to-day of the business will be a long process, but you can do it. Here are three places to start:

Create Systems: For your business to run without you, other people have to know what goes on both day to day and long-term, which means creating a sort of owner’s manual for your business. Writing down instruction on how to operate your business will help whoever comes after you, but it also gives you an opportunity to evaluate your role in the business’s daily operations and figure out how to step back.

Hire and Train Staff: Whether you’re sick for a day, on vacation for a week or traveling for a month, your customers – and your bank account – count on your business being open. If you or your family members are the only ones working in the shop, how can you live a life outside of the company? It requires an additional level of accounting and a different kind of system, but if you want to grow your business, you have to bring on staff members and then invest time and money into training those staff members. It’s a mindset switch to hand the daily operations over to trusted staff members, but it’s a necessary step!

Stop Being the Answer: Once you’ve created systems and brought on a trained staff, it’s time for you to step back and focus on business growth and marketing. Of course, if you’re going to spend time on those items, you can’t be spending time managing the shop! As long as you have managers or employees you can trust to make good decisions about your business, there’s no reason for you to be stopping by every day. Find ways to take off all those hats and focus on being a business OWNER and not a business MANAGER.

If you need help getting your business to a place where it can run without you – or you are closer to retirement and would like someone to help you put a value on your company – contact your local Growth Coach: http://thegrowthcoach.com/find-coach/.

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Take Advantage of Summertime

daydreamIt’s hard to stay focused during the summer – from vacations and pool-side Saturdays – and as a business leader, you can actually use that to your advantage. For this blog, we talked to Growth Coach Michael Neuendorff, who owns The Growth Coach franchise in San Mateo, California.

Michael said that summer is definitely the season of relaxing and recharging and that’s a good thing. It’s vital for all hard-working people! Ideally, plans for vacations and staycations were set prior to the beginning of summer, which means you won’t have any unplanned disruptions to the business – or the activity necessary to keep the company going and growing.

“You see, the truly strategic business owner who has great work-life balance will calendar their life at the beginning of the year, then work around the life events. This is because of the clear understanding that a business’ appetite can never be satiated. If you work, then look for downtimes to relax, they will be far and few between. Looking for ways to fit in relaxation rather than plan them ahead is also a way to create stress for the family of the business owner who are looking for increased leisure activity during the summer. The key is to plan ahead! By doing so you’ll focus on work when it’s time to work and play when it’s time to play,” Michael said.

However, when you’re not enjoying your downtime, it’s important to stay on your game. The fact is that a business should always be active – activity creates momentum and that leads to growth. Stifling that momentum by reducing activity beyond an understandable rest period may impair the business’ opportunity for next stage growth. Momentum is as important in business as it is in athletics and, sometimes, you have to make a concerted effort to keep it up.

You can also look at summer as a time to get ahead. Is your competition taking it easy because things have slowed down? This is an excellent opportunity to seize and double your efforts! When your competition is getting lazy, each extra effort on your part will count for even more.

That said, if your business has seasonal patterns and summer happens to be your slowest time, then this is the time for the owner and their team to focus more energy on strategic activities. There’s no rule that strategic planning should just be an end of year or beginning of year activity. Do it now. In reality, many people do little strategic planning at any time of the year. So, you’ll gain a competitive edge by reviewing former plans, measuring progress, then updating those plans to meet what the marketplace is telling you.

Your slow season is also a great time to get trained on new skills or reinforce existing skills to prepare to be even more competitive during the next busy cycle. Again, most small businesses don’t invest in real training for their employees. Many feel they don’t earn enough to warrant training, may leave before an ROI is seen, or there’s just no budget for it. This type of thinking or planning keeps a business small and employees from growing to their full potential. Great people want to learn and grow. They are seeking opportunities to contribute to the business in a significant way. Involve them in planning exercises and put them in to training programs during slow periods.

Implement these ideas and you’ll have a summer that’s fun and productive.

Learn more about Michael’s business and read his blog here: http://www.buildandbalance.com/.

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The Growth Coach Launched Podcast Aimed at Helping Business Owners Succeed

Hosts Joshua Johns and Mary Ellen Rohrbaugh

Hosts Joshua Johns and Mary Ellen Rohrbaugh

As The Growth Coach continues to grow around the world, the corporate staff back in Cincinnati is thinking not only about ways to best serve franchisees, but also how the company can positively impact the world one community at a time. It’s that mission that encouraged The Growth Coach to offer coaching workshops in the first place and then, more recently, add services like the Coaching Club, financing for coaching and more.

Now The Growth Coach team is excited to announce that they’ve launched a podcast aimed at helping the owners of small- and medium-sized businesses be more successful – whether or not they’re currently coaching clients. The Mind Your Own Business podcast, available on iTunes and hosted by Growth Coach Digital Marketing Manager Joshua Johns and Growth Coach Vice President of Operations Mary Ellen Rohrbaugh, features Growth Coaches throughout the system highlighting topics focused on creating business success, how to get there, the pitfalls along the way and resources to help owners find balance in their lives.

The podcast rolled out this spring with five introductory episodes and new episodes are expected to be published monthly. Although the specific discussions will vary, Joshua Johns said the overarching focus is to provide listeners with tactics from other leaders and business coaches on ways to improve their business and life balance. He said adding the podcast aligns with one of The Growth Coach’s primary goals – to provide useful tools and support that will help individuals around the world have stronger businesses and better lives.

“One tool may not be enough to fix up a house, but the right expert with a full box of tools designed to match the work that needs done surely will. That’s what we’re hoping to do with Mind Your Own Business – provide business owners with the right tools,” Joshua Johns said.

You can find Mind Your Own Business on iTunes at
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mind-your-own-business/id1109439060?mt=2
.

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Building Your Referral Network

shutterstock_88099609Referrals are a vital part of any successful business. If your satisfied customers  are talking to their networks about what makes your business awesome, those prospects are going to come to your business with a certain level of faith and trust in your credibility. Of course, if you want your customers to send their friends and family members your way, you have to ask. When was the last time you asked those people if they knew anyone who would benefit from your services? And did you turn that referral into a satisfied customer? If you struggle with building referrals, here are a few simple steps to put you on the right track:

You have to ask.

Once you’ve completed providing services to your client, make a short follow-up call. This is a perfect opportunity to solicit feedback from your client and, if they were satisfied with the work you did, it’s OK to ask them if they know anyone else who may be interested in what you have to offer. Explain to them that referrals are important to the success of your business and ensuring you can offer services in the future. Just be careful NOT to pressure your client. You can’t force them into offering you a referral and, if you make them uncomfortable, you could lose future business.

If a follow-up call isn’t your style, you can also ask for referrals through customer feedback or satisfaction surveys, messages on invoices, customer letters, the signature line for customer emails and on your website.

What’s next?

If a client gives you a referral, don’t stop there. Take time to thank your customer and reward them for helping you build your business. Building a strong relationship with your referral sources means more referrals and more success! Not sure how to show your appreciation? You can start with a thank you letter or hand-written note. If you’re able, customers are also often motivated by cash rewards, gift cards, free additional services, etc.

Clients? Check. Who else though?

Customers are great referral sources, but they aren’t the only ones who understand how awesome you and your business are! Consider who else can advocate for your business and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Who should be happy to share their networks with you? Friends, family members, vendors, suppliers and strategic alliances are all good places to start.

Regardless of who you ask, make sure to educate them about what you do and engage them in building your business. It’s important to take the time to talk to any potential advocates about your services and what you offer to your customers. Explain how you help them and how you can help others by explaining the problems you solve and what sets you apart!

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