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5 Fantastic Summer Goals for 2015

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Great way to spend summer, but kind of waste

As noted elsewhere in this blog, goal setting is a huge part of getting good things done. If you set a goal, say the pundits, you are already half way to achieving it. Consider these possible goals to make and achieve in the short term. Possibly you could plan to have the goals well thought through by June 21, and then executed by September 21.

  1. Get a refinance on your home – Here is an article that offers you some recommendations about reasons you may want to refinance as soon as possible. If you should choose to take that idea to the next step, you might want to talk to mortgage broker Bill Rayman in Los Angeles.
  2. Take Spanish Classes – In about eight weeks, one night per week, you can achieve a decent capability in Spanish. Use your new skills for travel, speaking to coworkers, or just to improve you chances in the workforce. Beverly Hills Lingual Institute is the largest school offering Spanish classes in Los Angeles. http://BHLingual.com
  3. Make some major changes in your home, or even start plans to build a custom home – Meet with a general contractor and discuss your dreams regarding your home. If you live in Dallas, you may want to reach out to http://Uniquehomebuild.com. A smaller project that might really change your life, even your health, would be to install a steam bath in your home. Be sure to include a Mystifier Automatic Eucalyptus Oil Injection System in your steam bath. This is the unit used in 5 star hotels, resorts and fitness centers.
  4. Take some acting classes in NYC. Whether you might want to get better at doing YouTube shorts, go for that TV acting career you’ve always dreamed of, or try your hand at commercials, there is a great school in NYC who specializes in acting in front of the cameras. Check out http://actingclassforfilm.com
  5. Get into some serious cycling – Get started in mountain biking on the trails around Mt. Baldy. Buy your Trek Mountain Bike at a great bike shop in Ontario, CA, Bumstead’s Bicycles. Website is http://bumsteadbikes.com. Or maybe you’d like to do some triathlons. Check out one of the top triathlon shops in the US. T3 Cycling and Triathlon, a bike shop near Indianapolis in Carmel, IN. Check out their website at http://T3multisport.com. Or you might visit Buffalo bike shop, Tom’s Pro where you can ride a $20,000 Road Bike from Specialized or Cervelo. http://Tomsprobike.com

Day 4 – What Is Profit? How Do I Do More of That?

 Profit Is Far and Away the Most Important Marketing Secret – Ask Your Wife and Banker

A prospective client calls a while back: “I’m trying to decide whether or not to keep my business open.  My wife is getting tired of supporting my hobby.”

When we discuss the subject of Marketing, most business owners and their employees, managers, and even customers probably think marketing means things like advertising, store layout, packaging, product design, or distribution channels.  Actually, only the very astute think distribution channels.  Nobody counts profit and it’s negative twin, loss, as part of marketing.  But unless we make a profit, all of the good intentions, products, customer service, and promotion is eventually going to result in the doors being shuttered, and no one gets the benefit of all the good things you’ve done.

Have you seen your profit and loss statement lately?  Ever?  Do you know how to read it?  Do you understand how to analyze that P & L and optimize your business based on the information contained in that document?  Have you done regular inventories so that the P & L is accurate enough to provide you good data?  Do you take or spend money off books so that you can’t actually know the true results?

Recently I worked with a service business that was doing almost $500,000 in sales.  The owner was breaking even.  In less than 20 minutes I was able to tell her what needed to be done.  Two years later, after making nothing for her work, she decided to take my direction.  She was paying her manicurists a 60/40 split and paying their health insurance. Industry standard was more like 45/55 and no health insurance. We made the change, explaining to the staff that the store would have to close if we didn’t do so. They all stayed.  The company now yields $6000 a month in profit, and should move to about $9000.  Does your company have a gold mine just waiting to be taken to the bank?  Many, many companies do.

I recently wrote an article for Bicycle Dealer Magazine that laid out how a brick and mortar retailer should be able to take home $100,000 on sales of $800,000 (Email me if you’d like to see a copy of this article.  RandyKirk77@gmail.com).  Most retailers would be astounded by the assertion, and the truth is some retailers should do even better than that.

Profit is loosely defined as gross income less cost of goods and overhead.  Any analysis starts with the cost of goods.  What does it cost you to deliver the product or service to your client.  Is your cost of goods average or better compared to others in your industry?  Should you be buying better?  5% less cost on $500,000 in purchases is $25,000 a year.  Buying better might be worth some time and attention.

Selling price is another big issue.  Are you discounting too much?  Are you selling too many low margin items and not pushing higher margin items out with each sale.  Are your service employees pulling their weight.  In most cases you should be paying service workers 1/3 of the gross income from their effort.

If the cost of goods is in line, attack the overhead.  Take it line by line and wonder aloud if you could eliminate that cost if it was necessary to save your business from bankruptcy.  A consultant once helped me cut $175,000 in overhead per year. Until he stepped in I felt that all of those items were essential. I later followed his lead and reduced overhead by another $75,000.

So here is the dare for day 4. Go over your budget line by line. Assume that there is a way to cut each one. You may not actually do so, but what would you do if you had to? Call all service providers and find ways to cut cable, phone, internet, gas, electric.

Set aside a fund to be used for buying closeouts or taking advantage of big sales. Don’t be afraid to buy a years supply of a generic item if the discount justifies. You may be able create that fund by selling off old inventory that is just gathering dust at give-away prices. Put the money to work.

Now contemplate how you might add to gross margins on the sell side. Maybe you could pay commissions based on profit? How about having sales spiffs for selling highly profitable items? Consider offering cost-free ways to discount, such as guarantees or low cost ways such as labor.

Monitor your margins monthly. Possibly have a bonus set up if margin goals are met.

Attack profit through increased sales, increased margins, and a tight reign on overhead. And one final thought. Have your bookkeeper produce a profit and loss statement for you within 5 days of the end of the month. In 2015 there is no excuse for any bookkeeper not being able to do that, even if there are small adjustments in the future. Use this quick analysis to make changes in tactics or reevaluate goals and strategies.

If you would like to continue the 40-day challenge, please send me your email to RandyKirk77@gmail.com.  There is no cost or obligation. The rest of the 40 days will be done by email starting with Day one on January 6, 2014.  If you are reading this after January 10, let me know when you send the email, and I will send you the missed days.

 

Day 3 – Tactics Are the Third Leg Along with Goals and Strategies

Goals – StrategiesTactics

If you have arrived at this post without having read the previous two on goal setting and setting a marketing strategy, you might want to go back and read those first.In those posts I made the case that spending time creating goals and strategies for achieving those goals will pay off for your business.  The amazing thing is that the total time needed to do this job well might be a day or two.
,To be sure, some owners or managers never take these steps even though they would tell you that they should.  I suspect the number one reason is that it seems very hard to do.  And it is.  You have to be honest with yourself and make hard choices.  And it is really risky.  You might make a mistake.  It often seems easier to wing it.

Once you have the goals and strategies in place, the tactics or action steps can be put in place.  Entrepreneurs love this step.  When executing tactics, the gut tells them which way to go.  Certainly some are blessed with a great gut.  I’ll put forward the argument that even the merchant with a golden gut will improve his results if he sets clear goal and strategies to go with the tactics.

Many marketers are unclear as to the difference between strategies and tactics.  How about a couple of examples.  The goal is a 20% increase in gross sales dollars.  The strategy is to increase the sales force by 10%, prices by 10% and dollars per year per customer by 15%.  The advertising budget is part of the strategy, and the budget is 3% of the current year’s sales.

Now it is time to add the tactics.  To increase the sales force by 10% we will hire three people and expect one to leave. We believe based on history that two new successful sales people will give us the 10% increase.  We will look for candidates through an online effort with a budget of $10,000 per salesman.  The ideal candidate will have experience in our industry and might even be employed by a competitor.

Almost every owner or manager gets the tactics confused with the goals. They will see the goal as adding a salesman or new products. They will create an ad campaign (which could be either a tactic or a strategy) without considering the goal of the campaign or how the tactic of an ad campaign will further a strategic plan.

You may want even more details in the tactical plan, but hopefully this gives you the basic idea.  Have you used this approach of Goal, Strategy, Tactics in your planning?  How did it work for you?

For further clarification, let’s take another fictional case study based on a real client. I have a bike shop near Indianapolis who is profitable at current levels, but not enough to pay off old loans and pay himself fairly. He needs to increase profits by at least 20% in order to pay himself an amount equal to what he could make working for someone else, and have an amount left over to pay off loans.  His goal is just that: increase sales by 20%.
Strategically, he has several options:
  • Increase sales while maintaining margins
  • Increase margins
  • Decrease overhead

He decides to keep sales even, but increase margins by 1% and decrease overhead by 3.3%, which will improve profits by the needed 20%.  (e.g. Current sales of $1m is creating a gross profit of $400k. His overhead is $300k, leaving $100k to pay himself. If he increases margins by 1%, that will create an additional $10,000 in profit. If he decreases overhead by 3.3%, that will create another profit increase of $10k, giving him his 20% increase and allowing him to pay down debt by $20,000.)

Now what are possible tactics:

  • Cut personnel hours to reduce payroll
  • Close one day per week to reduce all costs except rent
  • Review each line item on the overhead and try cutting a little here and there
  • Work very hard on the buy side to reduce cost of goods sold
  • Give incentives to sale force for increasing high margin sales and reducing discounting on bikes

How are you doing so far on the dare? Have you set goals? Have you established strategies designed to achieve the goals? If not, consider taking today off from the normal schedule. Go to a quiet place and seriously lay out a plan based on these first three days of the marketing makeover. Figure it might take 4 – 8 hours. You might even want to come back with your basic concepts and run them past your spouse and top management. Get their input and make them feel like part of the decision.

Take a minute to comment below. Was this process helpful?  Why aren’t you going to accept the dare?

 

The Root of Reaching Any Goal is Desire

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Give me about 15 minutes to look over your daily schedule and your finances, and I will be able to tell what you really care about. Moreover, if you want to reach success in any endeavor, it will almost certainly require an increase in the time and treasure you devote to that project. The more substantial the goal, the larger allocation of both will be needed.

During the beginning years of the 2008 recession, I met with many successful professionals who were struggling to pay their bills and hold onto a lifetime of building their financial worth. Their services were useful but not necessary when their typical client was also worried about paying their mortgage. None of them had had to do much of anything to bring in clients for over 20 years. They were looking to my marketing company to help them get the phone to ring.

They were also  looking for a magic bullet to accomplish this. When I suggested that they might have to go back to networking, doing seminars, or giving special pricing to stimulate new business, I was politely told those thing were not going to happen. Surely there was a solution that wouldn’t take that much “hard work.”

I replied that the other option would be to spend substantial funds on advertising and promotion. This suggestion didn’t get much traction either.

Over and over I found these highly trained and experienced professionals no longer had the necessary desire to stay on a successful path during a difficult time.

But why pick on these poor therapists, chiropractors, and lawyers. The same can be said for the vast majority of students at any level, employees, volunteers, and new business owners.

Why do students get B’s instead of A’s? Parental involvement or expectations? Teachers? Neighborhood? Ethnicity? Native intelligence? Teaching methodology? Sure! But I would maintain that most of those elements are going to underlie the desire to succeed in a particular class, subject, or generally. The more desire engendered by a good teacher, an interesting curriculum, an involved parent, a great learning environment, the more likely the student is to spend time and effort towards the goal of a high grade.

Can’t you review your own history in school and see the way these influences impacted your own desire. Now, can you also recall times when your desire trumped any negative influence in a specific classroom, a subject, or even the entire process? Moreover I can personally attest to having about as perfect a set of circumstances for achievement in school possible, and I had the perfect amount of desire to achieve a 3.0 in high school, undergrad, and grad school. I could have easily worked hard enough for a substantially higher GPA.

What is your current goal? Rate your desire to reach that goal on a scale of 1 to 100. If it less than 110, why? Are you going to be satisfied with only achieving a B or C in that endeavor? In other words, if you have set a realistic goal to run an 11 second 100 yard dash or hit $500,000 in sales, will you be happy with a 14 second 100 or $400,000 in sales?

How do you increase desire? That would be a completely different post. One quick answer is to make a decision to give 110%.  In future posts we will be creating the basics for setting and reaching goals. In 2015, we will flesh those out with more detail, offer many case studies, review others work on the subject, and possibly invite guest bloggers to provide additional insight.

How do you maintain desire? We will address this subject, too. Sometimes you will need help from a personal trainer. Other times you can rely on accountability partners. Some folks have the natural ability to motivate themselves, even on the most difficult days. There will be many posts on staying on course.

Please help us help others by telling your story in the comments or giving us some of your solutions. Do you agree that success is firmly rooted in desire, or do you believe there is some other aspect of life that is a more critical component?

 

Choose joy

Set goals to save money to take a vacation and learn a new instrument
Set goals to save money to take a vacation and learn a new instrument

Your state of mind is a choice

Have you had enough negative input for one decade?  Tired of hearing about squabbles in Washington, tensions in the Mideast, and the economics of fear?  Here are seven guaranteed ways that you can choose happiness in 2014.

1.  Take a 40 day FAST from the news.  Don’t read newspapers, listen to news radio, or watch the news on TV.  Tell those around you that you don’t even want to discuss it.  Within 3 days, your spirits will be lifted.  Trust me on this one

2.  Stop procrastinating about stupid little stuff.  Make a quick list of the top 10 things that bug you in your life that will take less than an hour or so to fix.  Then do it them.  I once allowed my garage to look like something on a reality TV show for 9 months.  It only took 3 hours to make it perfect.  I was stoked.

3.  Deal with the most toxic person in your life.  Some one person is probably responsible for most of the grief you deal with.  Set a boundary with them.  If they can’t handle the boundary, limit or eliminate contact.  Just thinking about this one made you feel better.

4.  Set some small makable goals for the year.  Vacation, savings, date nights, learn or improve a skill or talent, special projects with the kids, charitable giving, community service, make a difference.

5.  Forgive someone who you are really ticked at.  The problem could be a recent issue or a really old one.  You don’t even need to tell them you forgave them.  Just do it.  75% of emotional illness is due to failure to forgive.  If you do this one, and none of the others, it will be the biggest gain for 2014.

6.  Begin each day with a daily devotional or inspirational reading.  Then exercise.  Even 10 or 20 minutes.  I’ve never met anyone who does this who doesn’t feel huge benefits.

7.  Intend to be happy.  Make a choice to be happy.  Cherish each moment.  Resist every temptation to be negative, or upset, or grasping, or intolerant.  Take every opportunity to be loving, giving, and blessing others with your kindness.

Do you have some you’d like to add?  Or, are there any above that you dispute or need more details about?  Use the comment section.

Also, please note that there is a follow up post on

Goal Achievement tips

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Seven Success Secrets That Will Help You Keep Any Goal You Set

I have been setting goals for as long as I can remember.   I have also watched others have various levels of success with their goals and resolutions.  Here are the seven things that help me achieve a high degree of success.  Maybe some will help you.

1.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no – in other words, your word should be your bond, not just with others, but, by all means, with yourself.  The secret to not breaking your word is to not give it out willy nilly.  So only make resolutions that you seriously intend to keep.  This will create a pattern of success that will allow you to set new resolutions in the future.

2.  Keep your eye on the prize.  If the resolution requires doing something you’d rather not (like eating less or exercising more), there will be days, or weeks, or every day, when you struggle with doing what you’ve planned to do.  Visualize the result your hoping for … in detail.  Even imagine the praise you might receive or the trophy you might win.

3.  Reward yourself often for achieving small victories.  Dark chocolate is a great reward.  It has been proven to be good for you.  Only allow yourself the indulgence on those days or weeks when you have done what you planned to do.

4.  Share with others in the effort.  If you have others to socialize with while running or going to the gym, or just other folks to keep you accountable, you chances of staying on course rise dramatically.  Choose your accountability or discipline partners carefully.  The wrong one can drag you down.  For me – I will lose 15 pounds in 75 days by cutting carbs and working out 20 minutes a day.

5.  Keep some kind of record that provides you with a check box or way to line through the various levels of accomplishment.  It helps to stay motivated when there is a score that is being kept.  You might even compete with your partner, but keep it fun.

6.  Tell the world about your resolution.  The more folks who know you’ve made a pledge to accomplish some goal, the harder it will be to back away when the going gets tough.  Keep a few friends apprised of your progress; specifically, those you know will encourage you.

7.  Assuming there is a time associated with the goal, tell yourself this on the hardest days:  “I can do anything for two months (or fill in the blank with the time left).”  This isn’t a lie.  Humans are quite capable of strenuous or noxious tasks if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Do you have other methods of upping the odds that you will succeed in accomplishing the goals you’ve set. Let others know about them in the comments.