How Can I Get Investors to Believe in Me?

This question comes from an entrepreneur in Chandler, AZ who asks, “How do I get investors to believe in me and want to invest in my business?”

Great question! Growth often requires outside money, so even if you’re not asking this question now, you might very well be in the future!

Here are some of the tips we’ve found useful over the years:

    • You Must Be Able to Answer the Question “Why You?”: Ultimately, people will be investing in you…not necessarily your business idea. You must be able to quickly and effectively answer “Why You?”…why are you the one to run this business and make it a success. If you fumble, mumble, and stumble through this answer, make sure you practice it until you have it down cold. Remember, there are thousands of potential business out there that an investor can make money in. Share your success, track record, and ability to overcome adversity. This isn’t a time to be humble!

 

    • Do Your Homework: We recommend watching some re-runs of the ABC TV show Shark Tank. Pay attention to the questions the “Sharks” ask on this show. Can you answer these questions about your own business? If not, do your homework and make sure you can with ease before you get in front of potential investors. Too many entrepreneurs can’t answer key questions about their business when the pressure is on.

 

  • Believe in Your Vision: A bold, well-articulated vision in which you have an unshakable belief is one of your best weapons in landing investors. To paraphrase the late Steve Jobs, “You have to have a pirate mentality…” Think big, have passion, cover your bases, and be willing to ask again and again. You have to be BOLD.

Listen to a complete recording of this conversation by clicking here

FLASHPOINTS: Are You Fooling Yourself?

BAG Screen shot 040114The easiest person to fool is yourself. 

The Dunning-Kruger effect says we can either underestimate or overestimate our abilities, as we’re simply too close to ourselves to be objective. On one hand, we don’t notice our flaws; on the other hand, we downplay our skills, talents and strengths. With maturity, both perspectives can be adjusted and fine-tuned, but having a mentor is the quickest way to do that. Engaging a trusted advisor or someone in the community that we’d love to build a relationship with may be the key to illuminating those blind spots. The goal isn’t to fix our blind spots, but to become aware of them so we can remember to check for them as we’re driving down the road of life. What do others see in you that you’re not seeing in yourself?

How do I raise prices without pissing off or losing clients?

Better and Best Price - Two-Way Street SignDuring a recent coaching session, we had an interesting questions from Pam S in Medford Oregon. As a small business owner, she wondered how to raise her prices without losing clients in the process.

Here is Larry and Phil’s response: 
Let’s assume if I asked entrepreneurs “what would happen if you raised your prices 50%?” You would tell me you’d lose 50% of your clients. Is that a bad thing? Doesn’t that give you more time to acquire more clients? In all seriousness it’s important to remember things go up in price, period.

People expect that prices will rise. If you’re in the service industry and you’re not raising your prices at least once every two years, you’ll end up doing the same amount of work for much less than the money coming in due to just common inflation.

Interestingly, entrepreneurs tend to be a lot more cautious in raising prices, because they don’t have a lot of confidence in whether their product can sustain a price increase. Product/Commodity side of consumerism is more challenging. You will have to look at cutting margins but as in Larry’s hotel business, use the Airline mode: raising prices depends on volume. If demand goes up, prices go up.

But most consumers ‘get it’. As we said before, prices go up, people expect them to. Here’s a few tips to soften the blow:

  • Give your clients/customer a heads-up. Let them know a price increase is coming so they aren’t caught by surprise.
  • Wait-lock a payment structure basically guaranteeing a price until a set time, maybe the end of the year.
  • Thank current clients/customers by ‘grandfathering’ their payments/costs.

You may be surprised at how little of your clientele leave if you show them courtesy and respect.

Communicate to current clients. If people don’t stay, it frees you up to look for more.

There are 3 ways to raise revenue:

  • Increase price
  • Increase clients
  • Increase amount per transaction – “up sell”

Client acquisition is most import.

For more information on Larry and Phil’s Training and Support Program, click here. Our Training and Support program starts Mid-April.

Is Integrity Dead?

With ethical lapses in every nook and cranny of society occurring just about every other second these days…it’s a fair question.  From politicians that shameless lie to our faces (but keep getting elected) to careless business leaders who bankrupt major companies (but still walk away with their millions) to sports heroes who display morals and values fit for a sociopath (but still keep their fans) to welfare cheats who rip-off the system (but are never punished), the very concept of integrity seems to be at odds with today’s “modern” society.

So, with seemingly EVERYONE lying, cheating and stealing…is integrity dead?

If you’re in business – and want to remain in business for any length of time – the answer is a resounding “NO!”

Harvey MacKay, business guru and author of 5 best-selling books (including Swim with the Sharks) is famous for saying:

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Just stop for a second and let that sink in…

Integrity, according to the first definition in the dictionary, is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”

It’s routinely the most important value listed by clients, customers, suppliers, supervisors, and team members when surveyed.  People want to do business with people they know, like and trust…with the starting point being trust.  Integrity is essential for developing trust and remains the single most important building block of enduring success in business.

In fact, with so many people prone to serious ethical lapses these days, embracing integrity at every level can actually give your business a competitive advantage.  Is it always easy?  Absolutely not…but it it’s definitely doable!

Here are 3 important elements to consider when examining how you are showing up around integrity:

    • Internal Integrity: Often defined as “doing the right thing even when no one is looking”, internal integrity is critical since you must first trust yourself before you can get others to trust you.  It can also be the toughest to achieve, since sometimes the person whom we are least honest with is ourselves!
    • External Integrity: This is all about “walking the talk.”  Do you follow through, meet your commitments and bring things in on time and on budget?  One of the biggest killers of external integrity is people who say one thing and do another.  Most business can survive a bad economy, but poor external integrity will quickly sink a business in any economy!
    • Integrated or Whole Integrity: It’s not enough to have either internal or external integrity…they must be combined.  Stop for a moment and think about how many famous people you’ve heard of that lived seemingly exemplary lives with external integrity, but lived a secret personal life devoid of internal integrity and vice versa. Combining the two is where the real magic happens.

Is it always easy and will you succeed 100% of the time? No one does…but it’s important to routinely reflect, realize when you’re out of integrity and then take ownership and responsibility to course correct.

We’ll leave you with one final thought, a West Point Maxim:

“Choose the harder right over the easier wrong.”

FLASHPOINTS: Have You Talked To Your Team Today?

BAG Screen shot 032514If you are traveling with children, or are seated next to someone who needs assistance, place the mask on yourself first, then offer assistance.

We’ve heard the safety presentation by the flight attendants regarding the use of oxygen masks should there be a sudden drop in cabin pressure. If we’re going to provide optimum, long-term value to our team, we must take care of ourselves first: physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Creating time for things like working out, regular break times, proper rest, and better planning to avoid the constant need for late night work contributes to that goal and sends a powerful message about priorities to our family and teams. Even taking time off to volunteer for a worthy cause does wonders for team morale, a sense of team cohesion and spiritual fulfillment. How are you ensuring that both your and your team’s needs are being met? Maybe you should ask them.

 

Once You Conduct a “Work Climate Survey”, Act on the Results

This takeaway comes from a business owner who submitted a question about declining company morale. We suggested he conduct an anonymous “work climate survey” to find out what’s really going on in the company. The owner did and got some surprising results back and now wants to know what to do with the information.

To listen to the full question and answer, click here: Virtual Jam Session replay.

  1. Beware High Performing, but Disrespectful Team Members: A strong, cohesive team is crucial for enduring success. Team members must be “coachable” and able to grow with an organization. Somebody who is a star performer, but happens to be a real jerk can quickly poison a team and cause huge problems. Don’t be afraid to part ways with top performers who lack the emotional intelligence to work effectively the rest of your team.
  2. Address Issues and Challenges in a Direct, Respectful Manner: Some leaders are more concerned with “being loved” than actually leading their organization. If challenges exist (and they do…even in the best organizations), deal with them directly and don’t beat around the bush. Tiptoeing around challenges can quickly frustrate the rest of the team and cause people to question your leadership ability. Make sure you are factual, avoid personal attacks, empathize, and solicit feedback on potential solutions.
  3. Leadership is Not the Same as Management: Leadership is all about inspiring your team to achieve extraordinary results. Leaders carry an organization’s vision, cheerlead during tough times, pitch in when needed, and recognize that the organization is far more than simply the sum of it’s parts. Smart leaders understand that they don’t have all the answers and are continually improving themselves through coaching and other professional development.

For more information on getting the most out of your “work climate survey”, be sure to listen to a past Virtual Jam Session replay.

How Do You Handle Competition?

competition, word on blackboardHere is a highlight from one of our recent coaching calls. For more information on our training and support program click here:

Wendy R. in Austin TX

“After six years with no competition, there is a competitive dance studio opening less than one mile from my location. What can I do? The owner of the strip mall where I lease my space also owns the other location. As a loyal lessee, should I contact him to ask not to sign a lease with the potential competitor?”

Answer:

First of all, congrats on being open for 6 years, you made past the averages! Also, congrats on the competition remember “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”

Now, in some respects there is no competition. And before everyone says we’re crazy think of this: if we were to work 24/7, 100 hours a week for years, we would barely be scratching the surface of those who could use or want to use our services. In other words, don’t spend time worrying about the competition, spend time looking for additional clients or services for those clients that would enhance your product. What can you offer the client to make them stay or have them come back.

As far as the Landlord, no it’s not appropriate to contact him. But as a precaution to those listening, when you’re negotiating a lease put in the lease agreement a ‘non-competitive’ clause, so that as a dance studio owner, you won’t have an dance studio opening directly next door. All that to say, one mile away, as in this caller, is not considered right next door.

Population does dictate competition, yes, but it’s more import for you to concentrate on being authentic and purposeful in your particular business. And remember ‘competition breed excellence’. Re-think what competition means.

If your interested in Larry and Phil helping your business click here for more information.

 

What’s at Your Company’s Core?

While doing some research with a past client we stumbled on this article on Core Values by Michel Hogan on the Brandology.com website. It really hit home with us because we’re such big believers that a brand is truly a product or service personified.  It has a personality with values as real and as strong as those of your workmate or neighbor.  Aligned organizations who experience enduring success find that the person’s family (management & employees) must embrace and share the same values. Additionally, true friends (customers/tribe) of the person (brand) share the same values. We try to make it more complicated than it needs to be, but common sense speaks loudly in this case. Think of your brand as a person, teammates as family, and clients as best friends.

Here is an Excerpt from Michel Hogan’s post on Brandology.com

At the core, your organization’s Brand is a reflection of the actions and beliefs of the people who work there. Those actions and beliefs are shaped and directed by the core values they hold. So before you start trying to give your brand more sizzle, ask a question sure to generate some long-term results – “Do our core values and our Brand align?”

Brand is not a subset of marketing, not merely a device for connecting with customers and shaping their perception, not a logo and tagline. While these are all useful and important aspects of a Brand they are just that – small pieces of the whole. To paraphrase author Margaret Wheatley, “Brand is both what we want to believe is true and what our actions show to be true about ourselves.

Simply, employees cannot deliver on a brand promise that is not tied to their shared day-to-day beliefs and actions and in failing to do will negatively impact the expectations of customers drawn to that same promise. when the Brand is connected to the core values of the organization, consistent delivery of the Brand meshes seamlessly with the existing behavior and belief: no high profile internal “brand education” campaign needed; no change initiatives needed; what customers expect is what they get, strengthening perception; employees don’t feel they are being asked to deliver something they don’t believe, further reinforcing the values and creating a upward spiral of motivation and belief.

Tidbits on Core Values:

Jim Collins says: “You cannot “set” organizational values, you can only discover them. Nor can you “install” new core values into people. Core values are not something people “buy in” to. People must be predisposed to holding them. Executives often ask me, “How do we get people to share our core values?” You don’t. Instead, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere.”

Patrick Lencioni warns: “Take a look at this list of corporate values: Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. They sound pretty good, don’t they? Maybe they even resemble your own company’s values. If so, you should be nervous. These are the corporate values of Enron, as claimed in its 2000 annual report. And they’re absolutely meaningless…”

 

FLASHPOINTS: There’s Power in the “WE.”

BAG Screen shot 031814There’s power in the “we.”

Our journey toward significance, influence, and achievement likely began with a simple vision, known only to ourselves (and perhaps a small band of believers). As we gain momentum, however, and begin to enlist supporters to our cause, we need to make the journey less about us and more about them. Enduring success requires we ensure our own agenda is aligned with the best outcome for the entire team. To increase team member engagement and inspiration, each action and every communication must come from the framework of “we”, not “I.” When we transform our thinking and recognize that our primary mission is about serving our teams, then trust, cohesion, and allegiance will most surely follow. And next? Success! How often do you use “I,” when you should be saying “we”?

FLASHPOINTS: Deal WITH it!

BAG Screen shot 031114 (1)Sometimes what’s on our mind is like old milk …

if not dealt with, it can start to stink.

Ever had a thought on your mind so big that it caused you major distractions in just about every area of life? When it’s standing in our way and keeping us from being fully present with our business or project, we have two options: One, we can ignore it and continue with the reduced productivity, lack of focus, and inability to deeply connect with people; or two, the more difficult but most effective option, DEAL WITH IT! When it comes time, we must be brazen and address it head on—within ourselves or with the assistance of others. It’s time to remove the nonproductive mental and emotional chatter and create room again for what’s really important—positive, uplifting mental messages. What negative mental chatter do you have that needs to be removed?