Monday, November 26, 2012

Does An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

If it were true that eating an apple a day would keep the Doctor away, would you do it?  If you knew that you would be healthy by just eating an apple each day, would you take up that habit?

Everyone might say "yes" to that.  But very few people would eat 365 apples in a year.  Days would go by and they would forget or they would run out at home.  Excuses would be made.  You might even try to catch up by eating two the next day.

It is all about habits.

I would like to talk about a habit that will pretty much guarantee your success in business over the next 5 years.

The best habit that you could develop is HARD WORK!  If you want to get ahead at work, you are NOT going to do it working 40 hours per week.  The people that get ahead are going to be those that don't wear a watch.  They are not checking to see if 5 PM has come.  They are going to do whatever it takes to accomplish the tasks at hand.  Yes, they are going to be checking emails at home.  They are going to be thinking about projects on the weekends.

But what is NOT hard work at work?

  • Checking your Facebook
  • Doing e-shopping
  • Scanning Pinterest
  • Keeping up on your Fantasy Teams
  • Being up on your Twitter Feed
All of these things are available to us 24 hours a day.  While you are at work, DON'T!  While at work, WORK!  Develop the habit to do these activities at home.  (If you say, you don't have time at home.  I would say, you don't have time at work!)

As a Christian businessman, I am saddened by the lack of work ethic amongst some of my Christian brethren.  I have had many Christians work for me that did not follow this habit of hard work.  They were nice, honest people.  But they didn't make an impression on me because they seemed to try to work as little as possible.  I think the excuse is that they would rather do the Lord's work.  Guess what?  The Lord has you at this job right now.  So do THIS JOB to the best of your ability!  That is the BEST testimony you can have to others.

My dad used to tell me, if young people would devote themselves fully to their work for the first 5 years, they would be set up for life!  The reason this is true is that over those 5 years, you learn that the harder you worked, the more opportunities came your way.  Therefore this habit you developed in the first 5 years becomes a part of you.

***ALERT***  I know what many of you are thinking, John, you are a work-aholic.  Yes, I have been classified that over the years.  But I don't say that you need to forsake your family and friends for work.  I just mean that most people are unbalanced the wrong way.  If they put in a 40 hour week... the company only really gets a 30 hour week from people due to all the distractions.  When at work, work. 

Then also, think of it like this:

Available hours: 24 X 7= 168
Less:
    Sleep:                 8 X 7= 56
    Work:                             55

Time left over for family = 57 HOURS! 

That is 8 hours per day! 

If you work hard and don't have time for family and friends, that is YOUR fault... not your work schedule!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to grow a e-commerce business... from a little guy!

Amazon dominates e-commerce.  Recently they added 400,000 more items to sell industrial supplies!  So how does a little guy like Mirabella Beauty capture a place on the web?

First, there are a few things to know:
Typed in Mirabella in search bar in Google.
  • Make sure you watch your google analytics!  You might be only getting 50 people a month coming to your site.  But with google analytics, you can know who these people are.  You can know how many of them buy.  You can determine how much time they spend on your site.  And it will tell you HOW they got to your site.  There are so much information available it is scary!
  • Make sure your site is utilizing the correct key search terms.  This is called SEO, or search engine optimization.  For example, Mirabella owns its products.  That is, when you type in Colour Luxe, our product is the first thing that comes up on google.  However, when you type in mineral makeup, we don't show up on the first 5 pages.  That means our website needs to maximize this word.  It is a key search term for our category of products.  There are companies that can help you with this for a reasonable price.  It is very important.  If you were a hair salon, you might want "best haircut" or "best salon" to be search terms in your town.  With our SEO, we are the first position you can get when you type in our name.  It wasn't like this when our site went up.  But that is important!  In fact, a strategy to naming your business might be if you can easily be first on web searches.
  • Then there is pay per click, PPC.  Do you see the yellowed box on the top of the search?  You will notice it is from a company called skin-one.com.  They have bought the search term, Mirabella.  So that anytime anyone types that in the browser, there name comes up first.  Depending upon how popular the search term is depends on how expensive it is to buy the term.  For example, we could buy mineral makeup, but it might cost $2 for each person who clicks on it.  Then you would have to determine if it is worth the price based upon your google analytics.  If 1,000 people click on your site, how many buy?  This is called conversion.  If you have a high conversion rate, you might think that price is cheap!  Generally, PPC can be as inexpensive as ten cents to VERY expensive.  
  • This is something I just learned.  We are redesigning our site.  As we did, a consultant looked at our site and gave us some very insightful feedback.  Currently on our site,
    Mirabella's home page
    we have our logo, free shipping, new products, social media tags, and our videos.  The consultant said, those are things that YOU want your clients to see.  These are not things that our CLIENTS want to see.  They come to our site to see our products, obviously.  We have one tiny word under our logo that says "products".  He said all this has to come off and we have to have EVERYTHING on the home page be about what the CLIENT wants, products.  They can FIND all the rest in they are interested.  Huge learning for our new redesign.  
Currently, we feel our website is out-of-date, and it is only 2 years old!  Because we are not confident with our current site, we don't do any PPC (pay per click).  We feel if clients check us out now, they will not stay and buy.

Our web developers used a platform called Magento.  This platform is easy to develop sites on, but it also gives the company lots of flexibility!  Magento has a free version for small companies.  It makes it easy to make changes yourself to your site, even if your not a programmer.

I wish you luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Planning or Die!

It is that time of year for business people.  You should have 10 months of your year's financial statements.  Therefore you have a pretty good idea of how this year is going to fare.

You should be asking yourself questions like:

  • How did we do compared to last year?
  • How did we do compared to budget?
  • How did we do compared to our industry?
  • How did we do compared to the best in my industry?
  • What am I going to do differently in 2013?
  • What do I have to do more of in 2013?
These first 4 questions are similar.  First, you always want to compare to last year.  There might be some things you did differently in either year, but if you are not making progress against last year, you should take a look at how you are doing the 2 most important activities in business; selling to new clients and selling more to existing clients.  Being in business over time can feel methodical, stagnant.  But if you have a great process for getting new clients and selling more to existing clients, looking back to last year should always be a positive!

For the second question, I mentioned the budget word!  So sorry, I know it is not our favorite.  But I want to convince you of its benefits!  Having a budget is a great way to empower your people.  Have each person assigned to the part that they control.  Have them give you a goal for how much they want to sell or how much they expect to spend or both.  Accumulate all these into your companies budget.  Then you will have an idea prior to the year beginning how much you will make the following year if you follow the plan.

At first, this usually ends up to be not a very good exercise because people don't predict well.  But if you keep at it over a couple of years, this can be very valuable to your business.  I have to give you the big responsibility though!  If you don't give the people feedback on a monthly basis on how they are doing compared to budget, they won't learn.

The third question is sometimes hard to ascertain in some small businesses.  So I recommend being a part of your industry association or a buying group.  These organizations have this information for your industry.  It is a good guide.

But I don't like to compare myself to an industry number, because this involves HUGE companies.  I am a small company.  I had BETTER do better than the big companies.  They have market share, our company doesn't have market share.  So there is no reason if we have a good plan with good people and a good product that we cannot have huge growth year after year.  So I like to compare myself to another company that is on the move!  These comparisons are harder to do, but inspiring.  This company just opened this large chain.  This company introduced a new line.  For me, I like to watch great competitors closely.  I don't want to copy them, I want to be inspired by all their innovations.

After I do all these comparisons with my business, then I need to look more deeply into my company.  If I am not growing like I would like, I have to improve my companies ability to attract new customers or I have to figure out better ways to sell my existing clients more products.

All of those ideas are about sales.  I should be looking just as hard at the costs of my business.  Where can I spend my money more wisely?

And the final question I ask is what is working that I should repeat!  And perhaps repeat more often!

So I take all this information, and I develop my plan for 2013.  Then from that plan and my people's feedback I develop my budget!

Fail to plan... plan to fail!