How to use time management skills to be more productive

If you are running a business, making the most of your time is critical for getting ahead and growing your business beyond being a 9-5 job. But how do we know if our time management skills are the best they can be? Could we increase our productivity?

ActionCOACH recommends the following four techniques to increase your productivity in business. Try them for a week and you’ll very quickly learn how much more productive you can be!

Technique 1. Plan your time.
At the end of each week, plan what you will do in the coming week. It’s really easy and won’t take you long. This technique will work best if you already have a clear 90-day plan in place for your business. If you don’t have a 90-day business plan, read our eBook Planning for a Successful New Business Year.  This weekly plan should be more than just meetings – be sure to dedicate specific time slots to completing the most important activities for your business.

Technique 2. Stick to the plan
When you’ve planned to do something at a particular time, it’s important to minimise distractions and get it done. After all, it’s part of your grand plan for business success, and is a key time management skill. If you skip a part of the plan you are in fact sabotaging a part of your grand plan. Distractions cause a 50% reduction in your productivity because it takes so long for your mind to re-focus on each of the different tasks. So be sure to focus on the task you planned, instead of trying to multi-task.

Technique 3. Have an accountability coach
Ever told a child that they will get a treat if they work toward their goal? That child will more than likely work hard and report back when they have (or almost have) achieved that goal. If you are accountable to someone you are more likely to stick to the plan, and therefore be significantly more productive. Your accountability ‘coach’ can be anyone (not necessarily a professional) who cares about you and is willing to help you.

Technique 4. Avoid Productivity Killers.
Believe it or not, fatigue, stress, illness, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle have a direct impact on your time management and productivity. How? Being fit and healthy improves your productivity and performance at work, which in turn makes you happier at home and a better spouse/parent/friend, which in turn motivates you to further build your health and fitness and so on – a very powerful virtuous circle. But beware….it goes the other way too so be sure to stay on top of all three elements!

Once you’ve nailed these techniques, it remains only to execute on the plan.  At this stage, the most common challenge is procrastination.  So here are a couple of ways to stay productive and avoid procrastination:

The first is called ‘Eat the Frog’. Brian Tracy coined this phrase in his book, and he means that if you were told to eat a live frog by tomorrow or die, you would either get it over and done with, or stress about it until tomorrow and then do it anyway. The same can be applied to our business tasks! To avoid procrastination, know what your “frog” is each day and do it first thing in the morning. You’ll be satisfied that you’ve made progress and are more likely to have a productive rest-of-the-day.

The second way to avoid procrastination is to remind yourself of your ‘why’. When you find yourself procrastinating, walk to a window and think about your goals and dreams and ‘why’ you are actively working towards them. Decide then whether you want to delay them (because that’s what procrastination is doing) or if you want them sooner.  Usually it’s the latter so get back to work on achieving them!

In business, you’ll have some great, productive and effective days, but you’ll also have some tough days. One great day won’t get you there, but one bad day won’t stop you getting there either – keep appropriate perspective. Stay on the road, hone your time management skills and you can achieve anything you want!

Contact ActionCOACH today and book in a free 90min coaching session to really improve your time management skills and have your most productive and successful business year ever! Or register here for the 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.

selling-your-business

3 critical steps to help you sell your business for a great price

Looking to sell your business this year? That’s exciting news – for about five minutes – until reality sets in and you need to figure out what’s required in order to sell your business to the right investor at the right price!

ActionCOACH is highly experienced in helping business owners sell businesses, and in this blog they share their 3 proven steps to get organised and get a great price on your business within a year.

Firstly, be aware that to get the best sale value, it takes a good year of preparation before you even put your company on the market. Savvy investors will see that you took the time to plan for the sale, and will shortlist your business immediately, in front of businesses who will make the buying process too difficult for them.

Step 1. Prepare your financials

Over the next year, run your business with accurate financials, keep your paperwork up-to-date and document everything. Outline the responsibilities of each job and include KPIs that clearly establish what is expected of each player and group. ActionCOACH has an extensive checklist to help you get your financial data in shape. Call us today on 02 9146 4439.


Step 2. Investigate potential buyers

Investigate who your potential buyer could be, and how to best position your company to get the most value in the marketplace. There are basically two types of buyers: Those who are looking to buy a business that needs work, and those looking to buy themselves a job. To get the best sale value, look for an investor who wants to take the business to the next level, and who can work with your current team and systems. These buyers are usually willing to pay more for a business that already have effective systems in place.
Get familiar with how businesses in your industry or category are valued. Different industries use different multiples. Some use multiples of profit, some revenues, and others cash flow. Sometimes, your database is the biggest asset you have, although you may be in a business where stock and inventory levels will figure into the equation as well. Knowing what you have to work with, or need to focus on, will give you confidence in putting together a solid informational and sales package for prospective buyers. For more detail on how to value your business, read our previous blog here.

Step 3. Create your sales kit
Buyers will want to access information as part of their own due diligence, and the more information you can provide in a ‘kit’ the better and easier the sales process will be. Include these items:

  • Samples of all of your marketing materials
  • An overview of your financials
  • Contracts for your team
  • Inventory of your assets

At this stage, try to be patient. Around 30% of deals fall through in the due-diligence phase of the process. While all of the prep work can be exhausting, the more work you can put into positioning and ‘packaging’ your business, the quicker and easier the sales process will be, and the more value you’ll get in return.

Contact ActionCOACH today 02 9146 4439 so we can get you on track to sell your business for the best possible value. Or download a copy of the eBook Selling your Business here.

selling-a-business

When to use these 3 deal structures when selling a business

Did you know that not all business sales look the same? Or that there are in fact three distinct selling types you can use when selling a business? ActionCOACH breaks down what they are, how they work and the pros and cons of each, so you can make the best plan and get the best value for your business.

Type 1 – Financial Sale

This means selling to a financial investor who is buying your business solely based on the return it will bring them. This is the most common type of sale, but usually provides the least amount of value to you, the seller. This type of sale is undertaken often with little or no planning, which could be a pro if you absolutely needed to sell the business in a hurry. However, in this case, no plan usually means a low price. For more about how to plan to sell your business, read our previous blog about how to value a business

Type 2 – Emotional Sale

An emotional sale structure will often provide the highest value – which is ideal for you, the seller. This type of sale ignores logic, to some extent, because it is based on the buyer’s emotions and makes them ignore the data that undermines their feelings.

A great example of an emotional sale is someone buying their dream home. They walk into their dream home and fall in love before they’ve walked through every room, and they ignore that it is in a terrible area and has poor resale value! The person selling the house is lucky that this person walked in!

We can apply the same logic to selling a business. For example the buyer’s parents may have shopped there for years, they may have fond childhood memories of the brand, or simply love the feeling they get when using the products. The only problem with an emotional sale is that you have to be lucky for someone to stumble across your business with an established emotional bond. You cannot plan for it, and so it is extremely unpredictable.

Type 3 – Synergy Sale

Often the best kind of sale, a synergy sale typically produces higher value than a purely financial sale.   The reason that a Synergy Sale attracts a higher value is that it involves selling to another business who can make more out of your business than you can and, as a result, values your business at a higher value, with the future in mind. Best of all, a Synergy Sale can be planned for by you, the seller.

For example, a bike parts manufacturer buys a retailer in a similar line of business. The manufacturer then sells the bike parts through the retailer, removing duplicated costs like as admin and finance. So both businesses actually become more profitable as a result of coming together.

As part of your selling plan, brainstorm who your potential buyer could be, and how to best position your company to get the most value for them in their marketplace. What sort of business might be able to get synergy from your business? What can you do to make it optimally attractive to that specific prospective buyer?

Planning on selling a business? Click here for a free one-on-one initial consultation or book in for our 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.

 

valuing-a-business

3 methods that work when valuing a business to sell it

If you’ve built your business up to a stage that you feel it is worth selling, it’s undeniable that you’re no stranger to hard work. This is good news, because the process of preparing a business before you can sell it will be a comparative walk in the park if you follow these 3 steps below. ActionCOACH recommends a sale preparation period of up to 12 months, so even if your heart is set on selling right now, be prepared to take some time getting it right so you can sell your business for its greatest possible value.

Step 1. Gather your business information

ActionCOACH has published a series of blogs on developing systems and procedures for all parts your business. If you already have these procedures in place – great news – you already have much of the material needed to help value your business to sell it. If you need help preparing your business information, ActionCOACH is highly experienced in preparing businesses for sale and valuing businesses. Call us right now to get started, on 02 9146 4439.

The business information you provide must be accurate, because a savvy buyer will always ask to go through them thoroughly.

Business information includes:

  • Financial statements for the last 5 years
  • Details of physical assets
  • Details of other assets
  • Legal documents
  • Registration papers
  • Business profile, procedures and plans
  • Market and competitor comparisons
  • Sales reports and forecasts
  • Business history
  • Business procedures
  • Business and marketing plans
  • Staff, supplier and customer information
  • Employee details
  • Supplier details
  • Customer details

Step 2. Seek professional advice

Professional business advisors like ActionCOACH are experienced in valuing and selling businesses, and they will ensure the process runs smoothly and that the end result is achieving the top price for the business that you’ve worked so hard to build. Another advantage of using a professional is that they have other clients who could be interested in buying your business, which could save you time and money in advertising. Email ActionCOACH by clicking here.

Step 3. Choose one or more valuation methods

There are a range of methods that assist in valuing a business, and a combination of methods can be used. ActionCOACH can help you determine which methods suit your particular business.

  • Look at the current marketplace value of others within your industry and how they are valued (ActionCOACH has access to market data)
  • Calculate the value of your current and non-current assets, including goodwill assets such as procedures, customer relations, company reputation and brand recognition. Depreciation must be factored in to physical asset value. Calculating goodwill assets is complex, and will require an experienced professional such as ActionCOACH.
  • Work out the cost of creating your business from scratch, for example buying stock, training and employing staff, buying or leasing premises, setting up an online presence and obtaining licenses and tools.
  • Be sure to consider what the business could be worth to a particular buyer; that is, include any synergy value they might extract after the purchase.

Make sure you have the right steps in place to accurately value and sell your business. Download your free copy of the eBook selling your Business here or come along to one of our 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminars here.

 

selling your business

Are you planning on selling your business this year?

Selling your business is often an exciting time. It’s a time when you can finally reap the rewards of all your hard work over the years, put your feet up and ease into retirement or a new venture.

But before you put your business on the market and wait for some incredible offers to roll in, ask yourself one question – do you have a business that someone else wants?

Is it actually an asset you can sell? Will you get the price you’re hoping for?

Whether or not you’ll sell your business for the amount you want or deserve mostly comes down to preparation. If you need to sell your business in a hurry, you probably won’t get the value you deserve. It typically takes a solid year of preparation before you should put your business on the market, and if you haven’t done this, chances are you won’t get the best result.

The good news is there are plenty of people out there ready and willing to invest in an established business. If you’ve taken the time to diligently prepare your business for sale, you’ll no doubt spark the interest of more than one investor. Your business will stand out and be more appealing because you’ve got the systems and process in place to make the purchase and handover progression smooth. Investors like to see financial records, projections for the future and detailed procedures, to name just a few. Without these valuable documents prepared in a professional manner, you’ll struggle to receive what the business is worth.

If you want to sell your business but haven’t yet started to prepare it for sale, and are wondering how to go about it, our free e-book summarizes everything you need to know to get ready, showcase your company and receive the highest possible price. For many business owners who have worked hard for many years, selling their business for an excellent price is the ultimate goal. Don’t waste all your efforts building up the business on poor preparation when it comes to selling.

To find out more, download the e-book now – Selling your business.  Or you can register for our 6 Steps to Building a Better Business here.

synergies-in-business

What mind-set do you need to create synergies in business and multiply the size of your business?

Are you waiting for something to change so you can multiply the size of your business? If your business is running well, chances are it’s your mind-set that’s holding you back! Since day one of your business launch, you’ve probably been in the mind-set of ‘manager’, i.e. the day-to-day doer and organiser in your business. And this is fine, until you are ready to experience the synergies in business that allow it to grow exponentially and free you from spending all your time and money on it.

Our latest blogs discuss the four steps before synergy in business. These are 1) controlling all aspects of the business, 2) finding your niche, 3) leveraging your business services and products, and 4) building a winning team. To read the blogs click here.

Once you’ve worked through these four highly rewarding steps, you are so close to stepping back from your business and becoming the investor or entrepreneur that you envisioned when you started your business. Can you taste that poolside cocktail already? The fifth step is called ‘synergy’. Synergy is about multiplying the size of your business exponentially, unreliant on your (the business owner’s) time and money. To create synergies in business, you can adopt strategies such as mergers/acquisitions, adding new products or services, expanding geographically, franchising or starting a related business.

As your business moves into a state of synergy, so too must your mind-set. You need to grow your thinking from that of a manager and business owner to that of an investor and an entrepreneur. Changing your mind set then not allowing yourself to slip back to the ‘doer’ is critical if you want to maintain synergies in business.

 

What is the mind-set of an investor or entrepreneur?
Investors (people who make money from their money) and entrepreneurs (people who make money from other peoples’ money) have a mind-set that allows them to increasingly escape their two biggest constraints; time and capital. This might be a new and strange position for you to be in, but those who can adapt to the new-mind set will succeed, while those who slip back into the mind-set of the doer or manager will probably not.

If you’ve designed appropriate systems for keeping the business running, trust that you can fully step out of the mind-set of the manager. This requires a shift to longer term thinking and to exploration of ideas that have less certain outcomes than those you encountered in day-to-day business management. Challenge yourself to think only in the long-term and make decisions based on that, instead of what could happen tomorrow or next week.

Adopting the right mind-set to ensure synergies in business requires certain skills, such as a broader understanding of different business models, investment strategies, higher-level financial management and a wider range of businesses and industries. It also requires you to focus on different measures, such as return on capital, enterprise value and portfolio mix. This will require more of your day-to-day attention than the usual Profit and Loss statements or ordinary management metrics. More of your time will be spent working outside your existing business as you start to explore the many and varied options for multiplying it. Embrace it!

From there, the scope for what you can achieve is almost unlimited!

 

What are some examples of great business synergies?

 

Great investors are really good at managing money so it produces more money. Investing your money for maximum returns involves leveraging your assets in clever ways. Leveraging the success of your first business to create a second or third company based on the original business model is an excellent way to achieve this. Similarly, franchising your venture allows you to sell entire businesses thereby growing your business more rapidly; unconstrained by limits on your time or your capital.

If you’re looking for some more advice about how to achieve synergy and multiply your business, you can download your free copy of the eBook Synergy – Run your business like a well-oiled machine here. Or you can register for our 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.

 

synergy-in-business

Synergy in Business – How to run your business like a well-oiled machine

Synergy, by definition, means two or more things interacting to produce an even greater effect. And by synergy in business, we mean the combined effect of the several parts of your business that you’ve been working on, that come together to create greater business success.

Let’s recap our 6 steps to building a better business:

  1. Mastery – moving from chaos to control
  2. Niche – reaching a predictable cash flow
  3. Leverage – creating systems for efficiency
  4. Team – structuring your business for growth
  5. Synergy – multiplying your business
  6. Results – exiting your business

We’ve shared our insights on the first four steps in our previous blogs. To get up to speed, click here.

Step five, synergy, is specifically for business owners who want to take their business to the next level, but still want to keep the business.

How do you know if you’re ready for business synergy?

If you are at a stage in your business where you don’t have to be involved in the day-to-day running of it, you are perfectly positioned to focus on synergy in business, and move yourself from being owner, to investor and ultimately entrepreneur.

What are some of the methods to achieve business synergy:

  • Mergers and acquisitions – buying or teaming up with a complementary business and joining forces to grow faster.
  • Adding substantial new products and/or service lines. These will usually complement the products and services you already have, but they can be a completely new range.
  • Geographical expansion – selling interstate or internationally and having offices located in these areas. Expansion allows you to reach a larger base of target customers and therefore increases your revenue.
  • Franchising – creating a business model that can be replicated and sold to franchisees. You retain control of the core business elements but do not need to be involved in the everyday running of the franchised stores.
  • Starting a new complementary or related business that fits in with what you currently do. You have an advantage of already knowing the market and what does and doesn’t work, and knowing the needs and wants of your customer base.

Your first challenge as you move from business manager to owner and investor, is to try to maintain your new role, rather than working in the business day to day. To help you achieve this, use your systems that keep the business running without you, and keep your long-term goals top of mind.

To achieve synergy in business, you’ll need skills such as a broad understanding of various business models, investment strategies, higher-level financial management and a wider range of businesses and industries. You will also need to focus on measures such as return on capital, enterprise value and portfolio mix. Most of your time will be spent working outside your existing business as you start to explore the many and varied options for multiplying it – i.e. creating synergy!

The two unavoidable constraints on all business owners and managers are capital and time. However once you become a true business owner and your existing business operates without you on a day-to-day basis, you’ll have more time available, and your income is no longer limited by your time. As you move toward becoming an investor (i.e. making money from your money), the former limitation can be virtually removed. As you become an entrepreneur (i.e. someone who makes money from other people’s money), you can largely escape the second limitation as well.

At this point of business synergy, your scope for success and what you can achieve is almost unlimited!

If you’re looking for some advice about how to multiply your business…

Click here for a free one-on-one initial consultation 

Or

Register here for our free 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar.

define-marketing-metrics

How to Test & Measure your Sales & Marketing Plan using Marketing Metrics

So you’ve developed your sales and marketing plan, you’ve started implementing it, and 2016 is racing ahead. But how do you really know whether your plan is working or if you should revise or change it before time gets away? The only way to know is to actually test and measure your sales and marketing plan.

Believe it or not, testing and measuring is NOT new to you – you’ve probably been doing it your whole business life. At its most basic, the ‘trial and error’ method will have given you a catalogue of useful learnings over the months or years. The next step is to make decisions based on that information and adapt your sales and marketing plan for a successful business moving forward.

So, what marketing metrics should you use?

As well as objectives, budget, competitor market overview and SWOT, your sales and marketing plan should include the following FIVE marketing metrics, to make testing and measuring easier:

Metric 1: Direct feedback

You must start asking people where or how they found you. It’s difficult to judge how a particular advertisement is going based on sales alone. From working with thousands of business owners we can tell you that almost everyone will be happy to give you this info. Record this data, it could be a great indicator of what’s working or what in your sales and marketing plan you need to change.

Metric 2: Acquisition Costs

We discussed in a recent ActionCOACH blog the cost of acquiring new customers. The acquisition cost must, at minimum, be less than the lifetime value of the client – that way you know you will make a profit from them and that your marketing budget is sustainable. If it’s not, you will need to revise how you acquire new business in your sales and marketing plan.  Better still, if your Acquisition Cost is less than what you make out of a customer in the first transaction, then you have yourself an unlimited marketing budget!

Metric 3: The 5 Ways

To maximise your chance of increasing each of them, you must track each of the 5 ways: How many new leads did you generate last week/month/quarter?  What percentage of them did you convert to a customer?  On average, how many times did each of your customers buy from you and what did they spend each time?  And what was your net profit margin?  Just starting to measure each of these will often get them moving in the right direction!

Metric 4: Lifetime Value

Closely related to Leads, the lifetime value of a client can be measured against the cost of generating the lead for this client, to work out whether this particular client is sustainable and also whether the methods used to generate them are worth keeping in your sales and marketing plan.

Metric 5: In & outbound marketing methods

Whether you are pushing your message outbound to a wide audience, or making yourself more visible online to attract inbound customers to your business, you can test and measure both to determine how to change them in your plan. Inbound marketing is proving to be a more and more successful form of marketing as the population gets inundated with more marketing messages each day, so look at the cost of these activities closely.

There are many CRMs, databases  and other tracking tools out there that will help you to keep track of these metrics.  One way or the other, every time a prospect or customer interacts with your business, whether a sale is made or not, this must be recorded. If there is a large slice of the budget going to an activity which your CRM tells you has made no sales, it’s time to address and revise!

If you would like to design a sales and marketing plan that you can test and measure to make this your most successful year yet, book in for a FREE 90min coaching session and you will walk away with ideas and tools to put these into place. BOOK HERE or Register for the 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.

5 Fast and Free Ways to Increase Profit

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc

For any business owner wanting to make more money, the first place to look for improvement should be Net Profit Margin.  The strategies that directly impact net profit margin provide some of the easiest and quickest profit improvement opportunities.

 

Of the 70-odd primary strategies for improving your Net Profit Margin, these are the five that I’ve seen used most often and for most businesses.  They all have the benefit of incurring no significant cost to implement and they work almost immediately:

 

  1. Sell higher margin products and services.  Do you know the profitability of every product or service that you sell?  Are you focussing your marketing and sales on those that make you the most money?
  2. Optimize your Cash flow.  Are you tracking your average days receivable?  Days payable?  Implement 3 strategies to accelerate how quickly you receive money and 3 strategies to extend how long you can (legitimately…don’t pay late if you want your suppliers to support you!) hold your money.
  3. Audit your costs.  Work through your P & L line-by-line and keep asking, “how will we reduce this cost by 10%”.  Then set a budget and do it!
  4. Increase Gross Margin.  There are many ways to do this…negotiate hard with suppliers, stop discounting, raise prices…and remember, once you pass your Breakeven Point, almost all additional Gross Profit drops straight through to Net Profit!
  5. Sack C’s and D’s.  Do you have a list of the clients who cause you most of your headaches?  They haggle, complain, buy your cheapest products, request changes, ask for refunds?  They’re your C’s and D’s; they generate very little profit but take up a lot of time and cost.  Sack them!  Use that time and effort to go out and get more A’s and B’s!

 

Map out a plan and these can all be implemented in a matter of days or weeks….then enjoy the results!

Five great strategies for improving your Net Profit Margin

For any business owner wanting to make more money, the first place to look for improvement should be Net Profit Margin. The strategies that directly impact net profit margin provide some of the easiest and quickest profit improvement opportunities.

 

Of the 70-odd primary strategies for improving your Net Profit Margin, these are the five that I’ve seen used most often and for most businesses. They all have the benefit of incurring no significant cost to implement and they work almost immediately:

 

1. Sell higher margin products and services. Do you know the profitability of every product or service that you sell? Are you focussing your marketing and sales on those that make you the most money?

 

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc

2. Optimize your Cash flow. Are you tracking your average days receivable? Days payable? Implement 3 strategies to accelerate how quickly you receive money and 3 strategies to extend how long you can hold your money (legitimately…don’t pay late if you want your suppliers to support you!).

 

3. Audit your costs. Work through your P & L line-by-line and keep asking, “how will we reduce this cost by 10%”. Then set a budget and do it.

 

4. Increase Gross Margin. There are many ways to do this…negotiate hard with suppliers, stop discounting, raise prices…and remember, once you pass your Breakeven Point, almost all additional Gross Profit drops straight through to Net Profit!

 

5. Sack C’s and D’s. Do you have a list of the clients who cause you most of your headaches? They haggle, complain, buy your cheapest products, request changes, ask for refunds? They’re your C’s and D’s; they generate very little profit but take up a lot of time and cost. Sack them! Use that time and effort to go out and get more A’s and B’s.

 

Map out a plan and these can all be implemented in a matter of days or weeks….then enjoy the results!