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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

How Creativity Can Generate BIG Profits


Creative spaces can help you think differently!
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/osterwalder/


Many business owners spend exactly zero minutes per year on creativity and innovation.  Richard Branson spends, oh, probably around half of every week!  How many multi-zillion dollar businesses do you run? Do you think creativity and innovation could be worth just a little of your precious time?

So what can you do to make your business more creative and more profitable?  One technique I love for its simple but highly effective profit-generating capacity is to expand your product or service offering.

When I was 14 my parents bought a business in a beachside tourist village.  The bloke who previously owned it quietly said to my Dad… “I reckon you could add another 10 – 15 product lines, but that would be about the limit.”  The shop had around 50 product lines at the time.  My parents added another 500!!  Profits skyrocketed...It allowed us all to live very comfortably for many years…and it enabled my parents to sell the business for substantially more than they bought it for.

Are you limiting your thinking on how many product lines your business can offer?  Are you too tired to think of more?  Here’s three ways you can find new product lines with ease:

  1. Research your (international) competitors online.  Often the US market is 1 – 2 years ahead of Australia, and developing nations are much more creative than we are because they have to be!  There are profitable ideas everywhere… you just have to look!
  2. Research business trends and apply them to your industry.  Start with www.springwise.com and www.trendwatching.com and your ideas will flow.
  3. Get out!  Listen to your clients – what other problems can you solve for them?  Go to trade shows – what’s new? Make networking events fun – do your research with people who are potential customers – what other products or services could solve their challenges?
Today's business coaching challenge:  Invest 20 minutes researching and find at least one new product or service idea that has the potential to add at least 10% to your turnover this year.

Want to know more about using creativity to generate profits?  Enjoy our FREE Teleseminar on Tuesday 15 September at 7pm (Brisbane) time.  Bookings Essential!

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Simple Rules or Stupid Rules? Which type is running your business?



All businesses have rules – some are simple, smart and understood by everyone; others are stupid, senseless and resisted by everyone.  Simple rules make you efficient, they make you money and they make your team and customers happy.  Stupid rules ensure you and your brand will be talked about for all of the wrong reasons…

Let me give you an example.  On the weekend I went to the Queensland Art Gallery. My sweetheart was carrying a bottle of water.  At the entrance we were informed that the water could not be carried around – it would have to be put into a bag.  Not only that, they would supply a bag if we didn’t have one!

Further discussion with the staff member revealed that you could not drink water whilst in the gallery – for reasons which are still mostly unclear, but seemed to relate to the risk of spillage.  Less than 20 metres away, inside the gallery is a lovely water feature that is easy to splash in if you feel like it… This ‘water in a bag’ rule is illogical, inconsiderate of visitors and makes the gallery look insane.

I’ve been to some of the best art galleries in the world, and never has anyone suggested I could not have a drink of water or carry around a water bottle. Australia is one of the hottest countries in the world. Does QAG really think that people will visit for hours on end without sustenance? (And no, don’t suggest the Café – sadly it was overpriced and the service underwhelming…)

I don’t know what their marketing cost of acquisition per visitor is, but it seems to me that the benefits arising from having a staff member mop up a spill if the unlikely was to occur would far outweigh the costs. Does this rule create a thirst for art or thirsty visitors?

What crazy rules are ruining your business? What written or unwritten rules are enforced in your business that annoy your customers or staff and create virtually no value except a sense of satisfaction for the bureaucratic bore who invented them?  What would happen if you expected the best of your customers and staff instead of the worst?

Today’s task is to go find a few stupid rules and get rid of them – it is so easy to create happiness in business… why do so many make it so difficult?

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Start a creative revolution in your business!

Now, at this point, many hard-nosed business owners will be thinking, "What do you mean creativity? Have you forgotten we're in a recession? Got better things to do with my time and resources!"  So, this is the moment when I’m going to ask you to forget your tunnel vision, and focus with total laser vision instead! I promise you won’t be sorry!

Marketing Guru Seth Godin says that “Ideas That Spread, Win”.  Now I bet you are thinking, yes, but my product isn’t interesting enough, isn’t innovative, isn’t new, isn’t….. whatever!

Just because what you are selling may be “boring”, does not mean you or your company should be! So, if your business was offering something boring, say a blender, what could you do to make people take notice of your offer? Take a look at this...



Is it cheesy?  Sure!   Is it cheap advertising? Well how would you like to spend $50 on props, make 5 ‘homegrown’ videos and get over six million views on YouTube within one week? BlendTec make the world’s best blenders, but until they thought creatively about their marketing, no-one knew! 

Is it worth starting a creative revolution in your business? Well, as business owners and managers, you know that results are where the rubber meets the road.  Since the introduction of the videos:
  • Overall sales increased 43% in the first six months;
  • Blendtec's consumer sales increased 500% in 2007;
  • Website traffic increased 650%;
  • The extended ‘Will It Blend’ campaign has received over 100 million views on YouTube;
  • The campaign provided a breakthrough in market segmentation – previously the company was primarily a commercial blender manufacturer;
  • Marketing department is now a profit centre for BlendTec!
So, what can we learn about combining creativity and marketing?
  1. Be compelling, be quirky, be different.
  2. Be entertaining, be surprising.
  3. Be willing to experiment.
  4. Solve a problem or provide proof your product works.
  5. Create a personality for your business.
  6. Be prepared to leverage your success.
  7. Use social media to your advantage!
Creativity is about culture.  What can you do to encourage creativity in your organization?

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How to Make Your Business Easy and Joyful…

Often I meet business owners who are stressed, stretched or otherwise finding very little joy and ease in their business.  One of the most common causes is they are trying to be everything to everyone!  

Have you ever found yourself spending lots of time doing things you hate and aren’t even that good at?  Have you ever asked yourself why you are doing those miserable things rather than the things that you love and find easy?

When I talk to business owners they can almost always quickly identify the actions which are joyful and easy, and those which are hard.  So why do so many people make themselves suffer?  If you have staff, you have a simple solution… delegate!!  If you have no staff you also have a simple solution… outsource!

Many business people think they can’t afford to do this.  So why are you doing a $20 an hour job when you could add hundreds if not thousands to your bottom line by spending your time on what you are good at and what you enjoy?  

It is often the things we find easy that are our gifts… is it time to recognize your gifts and share them with the world?  Most of us forget that not everyone can do what we do with ease!!

My business coaching clients receive super valuable service from me because I focus on what I’m good at – communicating, generating ideas and creating connections…  If I was spending my time on bookkeeping and administration then not only would I be miserable, but my clients would not get to experience the amazing value that I can contribute to their businesses.  Also, my own business would be growing much more slowly because I’d be caught up in tasks that don’t add value…

What one task can you delegate or outsource today that will enable you to give more value to your clients AND give you more joy in your business?

If you're not sure about the best way to add value to your business and make yourself happier at the same time, schedule a free 30 minute introductory business coaching session with Lisa Murray... it will change your life and increase your profits!

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Are you (unknowingly) sitting on a goldmine?




Every business owner knows how important it is to have a point of difference, but few businesses take this seriously and effectively establish a truly unique position in the minds and hearts of their customers.  And of those that do, few ever leverage those factors that make the business special and desirable to anywhere near the profit potential of the initial idea.  In my business coaching sessions, I often work with clients on these two issues, as they offer some of the best insurance around for creating a successful growing business which is hard for competitors to copy.

The trend for TRANSPARENCY is just one approach you can consider…
There are many industries where customers are highly aware of the risks of being ‘ripped off’ or taken for a ride. If your business is in one of these industries, you have a golden opportunity to deliver way more than your customer expects.

Find ways to make your business dealings transparent to the customer. The more honesty and integrity you can demonstrate, the more trust you can build and the more referrals you can receive and the more you will be able to charge. This works especially well in highly competitive industries or industries where the client requires a high level of trust in you to commence the relationship eg financial services or construction.

What would it take for your potential customers to trust you? What could a transparent business model look like in your industry?

Need some support in discovering your goldmine?  Contact Lisa Murray to arrange your free business coaching session. (No obligation, 30 minute introductory session for new clients only)

Got a comment?  Share your thoughts below...

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How can your business become more rewarding?

      

Have you ever noticed how many people talk about business as being hard work, boring or too difficult?  Have you ever wondered what else was possible? 

Most people think business must be done in a ‘traditional’ way, where it is all very heavy and responsible.  What if you could function from a space where your business was joyful, creative and amazing – everyday? 
When I started my businesses I only had two criteria:  that I could make insane amounts of money and that I could have a really good time doing things I love…  Yes, it is possible, and here is one of my favourite ideas for creating a phenomenal business that works for you.

Have you decided that you are the business?  When a small business first starts, it is common to see the business owner being everything to everybody and suffering under the strain and stress!  Often this is a result of being under-capitalized or thinking that you ‘should’ be in control of everything.  So, what if you were willing to allow support to arrive from anywhere?  What if you choose to focus on your strengths?  Would you be a lot more productive?

Is it time for you to get creative in the ways that you attract support for your business.  Consider:  delegating, outsourcing, contra arrangements, networking, mastermind groups, coaches, mentors and most of all generating opportunities by being willing to ask “What else is possible?”…  

Rewarding synergies are created when we are willing to ask for help.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!  What would it take to make your business phenomenally joyful?

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Marketing Mistakes to Avoid… Why Your Personal Brand is Mission Critical!

Imagine this… you are new in town and attending a networking event.  There are plenty of service providers there and you are looking for a day spa you can visit regularly. You meet a hairdresser/beautician who wears no makeup, promotes tanning but is pale as snow and has ratty looking hair…would you use them?

Most of you are already laughing – you are probably thinking ‘stupid question’!  It sounds stupid, but it is a reality for many service providers – who they are does not reflect the products or services they are promoting…  If you are going to promote yourself as a success coach then you must be vibrant and full of life first.  If you are a strategist, then demonstrate your expertise in your conversations.  If you are an image consultant then lose the bright green eyeshadow and frumpy clothes!

When your personal brand is incongruent with your stated business image, your potential clients experience confusion.  They don’t know what to believe… and research tells us that people believe what they see before they believe what you tell them.  Everything about your personal brand needs to reflect your business brand if you are the one representing your business in public!!

As a small business coach, I encourage my clients to look at their personal brand Here’s 5 (hard) questions to ask – if you want an honest opinion, ask for feedback from others who are willing to tell you what they really see:

1.    Does my branding (logo, business cards etc) reflect my product and services accurately?
2.    Am I dressed and groomed appropriately to represent my business?
3.    Do my written communications demonstrate my expertise?
4.    If I met me for the first time, would I have confidence in me?
5.    How else can I add value to my brand to make it even more distinctive and personal?

Reinventing your brand can reinvent your business.  The devil is definitely in the detail!!

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Small Business Secrets: It’s what you won’t do that will kill your business!

    As a business coach, I get to talk to lots of business owners about the nitty-gritty of their business success.  Lately I’ve been observing the ‘I won’t’ phenomenom killing off small businesses in droves.  

What happens is that the business owner is too tired and worn out, too bored or too scared to take the next set of steps that will really move the business forward.  In some cases, they have made so many decisions and put so many limitations around how the business runs, that there is no room for creativity, innovation or taking any of the risks which could bring in a swathe of new business.

Take a pen and paper and write down the one thing you would most like to achieve in your business over the next three months.  Now write a list of everything that is stopping you from achieving this.  When you look at that list of limitations, how many of them are self-imposed?  How many of them could be solved by talking to a coach or mentor or getting in some additional expertise?  How many of them can be solved by taking a different point of view?  

Take steps to reduce or dissolve every possible limitation on your list.  Does your target look much more achievable now? When we outgrow our limitations, we can expand our businesses in ways which were unimaginable just a short time ago.  

Wherever you are unwilling to do or change something, you have set (sometimes unconscious) limitations upon yourself and your business… I recently undertook this exercise and it opened up a whole new perspective on my business!  What can it do for yours?  (And if you didn’t do the exercise, it pays to remember that denial is disempowering…the more willing you are to perceive a new perspective, the more successful your business will be!) 

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3 Ways to Ensure Networking Delivers More Profits!

      
Many small business owners ignore the marketing strategy of networking because they don’t see obvious results on the bottom line, or they feel they are just too busy to invest the time that networking requires. 

Here’s 3 quick tips on how to leverage your networking investment and maximize the results: 
1.    Define your networking objectives clearly.
‘Getting some leads’ is not a clear objective.  Consider the following instead:
•    Make contact with at least three people who want to know more about what I do
•    Meet someone who can ……….(fill in the gap – what do you need to make your business work better right now?)
•    Find at least two opportunities for joint ventures or promotional partnerships…
Now that you know exactly ‘who’ you are looking for, networking is going to start working for you!!

2.    Follow up!!!
By this I do not mean collect as many cards as you can and add them to your database without asking!!!  Be strategic in your follow-ups:
•    Write notes on the back of the person’s business card if you need to follow up in any way.  Do what you promised within 48 hours.
•    Set up an automated process on your website where you can enter their details into your database – BUT you give them the choice to opt-in!  I actually share an example ezine with my prospects to entice them to sign-up.
•    Be willing to explore.  I often have coffee with people I’ve met just to explore what the possible opportunities are – a quick brainstorm can lead to outstanding profit generating projects!

3.    Measure your networking returns
If you don’t know what you get out of networking events, it’s time to start measuring the return on your marketing investment for each event that you attend.  
•    Set up a simple spreadsheet that notes investment of both time and money, the follow-ups and the outcomes.
•    Measure the returns on any joint promotions that you undertake.
•    Measure the referrals you receive from people you have met networking.

Networking will work for you, when you start working it!  I always go to events with the approach of ‘how can I help you get what you need?”  Give first and you will always receive!

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Social Media is Buzzing for Small Business

Everywhere I look at the moment there is buzz around using social media as a marketing tool!  Twitter and Facebook are constantly in the news and the growth of 'how to' information is almost overwhelming.  It was refreshing to come across some great social media statistics today that shed some light on what's really happening out there! Over 800 businesses were surveyed by Michael A Stelzner from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report and the tangible results being achieved were very encouraging, especially as using social media is free (except for your time investment):

  • Generated exposure for my business (81%)
  •  Increased my traffic, subscribers or opt-in list (61%)
  • Resulted in new business partnerships (56%)
  • Helped us rise in the search rankings (52%)
  • Generated qualified leads (48%)
  • Reduced overall marketing expenses (45%)
  • Helped me close business (35%)
So what is your social media strategy?  If you don't have one, now is the time to start!  Email me if you'd like my free 'Get Started on Twitter' guide! Of course, for Revive Coaching clients, there will be a much more comprehensive guide coming your way soon!

Just for the record, after being on Twitter for less than two weeks, I received my first prospective client enquiry!  How does it get any better than that?

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