Infocusselling’s Blog

June 12, 2008

Bootstrapping is Not about Shoes

Bootstrapping is Not about Shoes

By Jeff Bowe

“I know I really need your help, but we don’t have any money. After I sell some more clients, then I’ll have the money to hire you.” If this isn’t the classic chicken or egg story, I don’t know what is. We hear it all the time, as do all marketing, advertising, and PR firms who call on emerging businesses.

There is probably no gentle way to put it-starting a business the right way comes down to capitalization. Capitalization is a big word for how much cash you put into your business bank account when you opened the door. When a company is underfunded from day one, all other problems are secondary. Starting a company requires cash reserves. Bootstrapping is promoting and developing a business by yourself, without the resources you need, and cash is always a primary resource.

When you look at the high mortality rate in new business, the vast majority of failures are due to not having and not planning for the cash necessary to grow the business. Without that cash, it will be a slow and painful process of growing one sale at a time. The owner or owners will sell as many hours a week as possible, and hopefully bank part of each sale to invest in future growth. If the owners cannot sell, then the second problem in the company right behind undercapitalization is lack of sales knowledge-which can be solved by capitalization. If the owners cannot get clients to beat a path to their door, then some core market analysis needs to be done to be sure that the company is taking the right product to the right target market at the right price-the four p’s of marketing: price, product, place and promotion.

Let’s say it is too late and you are short of cash and short of sales. How do you get out of this cash and sales problem? You simply must get good at selling. Marketing is great and is a part of the growth process and you do have to create buzz in the market so that the market wants to buy. But at the end of the day, if people are not writing you checks, you have a sales problem and not a marketing problem. Sales is getting people to write you a check, today. When you are short of cash, you don’t have time to build strategic alliances and centers of influence and engage in branding campaigns. You need clients.

To get clients, spend your limited time talking with only the best prospects who are most likely to turn into clients. Stay away from long sales cycles and prospects who are unlikely to buy right now because you need cash right now. Owners need to treat a business like a business and be focused on sales and cash until the company can afford to pay the owners a big salary-which will be after it can afford to hire a sales team. Keep all the cash in the business and forget charitable contributions or giving to the community more than you can afford to give-there will be plenty of time for that after sales and net income have stabilized. Plus, stop getting distracted by expanding into new products. Stay focused on your most profitable core business, grow that business every day, put new great ideas that will suck up limited cash on the back burner, and get the core business profitable. Focus means focus-one idea, one business, one success. Then, hire one sales rep, and start the process over again.

We work with emerging businesses without cash and we are the only company in Indianapolis willing to put our money where our mouth is. If cash is an issue in growing your sales team, call us. We can solve that problem.

Jeff Bowe, Principal of ACTUM Group is a sales trainer and sales coach who focuses on helping sales people improve their skills and increase their income, while increasing corporate profit as well. For more information on Jeff, click here Jeff can be contacted at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com or 317-577-3750.

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June 10, 2008

Engagement: CARING

Engagement…The Secret of Productivity: Caring

By Scott Seibert, Sales & Leadership Strategist

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Leadership and the management of your most precious asset, your people.

One of the truisms in business is: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  That is true with customers but that is another article.  It is even more important with your people.  It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 1001, all the rest of what you do during the day won’t have any impact unless your people know that you care about them.

The Gallup Organization states in their Best Practices work: “A productive work environment is one in which people feel safe-safe enough to experiment, to make mistakes, to challenge, to share information, to support each other, and where the employees are prepared to give the manager and the company the benefit of the doubt.  None of this can happen if the individual does not feel cared about.  Relationships are the glue that holds great workplaces together.  You, the manager, set the tone for the kinds of relationships that will be fostered among your team.”  Thus the mere act of showing people that you care about them can mean the difference between profit and loss.  Pretty simple.

What in the world then does “caring” mean?  Gallop states that “The best managers define caring as setting each person up for success.”  Think about this.  In the beginning we only hire people in order that we can spend more time doing the things that make us successful.  We set expectations. From those expectations we develop job descriptions.  We can then develop metrics to determine if that person is achieving what we need them to achieve and then appraise their performance to reward them for that achievement.  What then?

If we do nothing beyond that point we will have someone who will work for us until they tire of the mundane essence of the job.  Patrick Lencioni in his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job calls this Anonymity.  Unless your people understand that you care about them and how they do their job, you can never, let me repeat NEVER, expect them to take on the challenge of making what they do important.  It is because you don’t.  At least it is because you don’t tell them.  If you combine the simple acts of discovering what makes your people want to succeed, and then structuring their job to allow them to do so, you can create a workforce that will force success upon you.

Lencioni writes, “… the simple act of getting to know them” will differentiate you from 99% of their potential employers.  Find out about their families, their problems, their aspirations.  Just ask.  If you do this simple task, your people will open up and let you in.  You will develop trust because of no other reason than you care about them.  The greatest asset an employer can have among his people is trust.  You can not pay for it.  You can not demand it.  You have to earn it.  This is a secret that is very simple.  Try it.  You will be extremely successful if you do it right.

Caring about your people does not mean you have to involve them in your personal life.  You just have to care about theirs.  You make many investments in your business, time, money, etc.  If you make the simple investment of caring about your people, you will get the highest return on any investment you will ever make.

There are some simple tasks that you can follow:

  • Don’t fake it. Gallop teaches that if you don’t care about your people, do not try to persuade them that you do. Either get new people, or get out of management.
  • Tell them. Pick your moments and let them know that you care about their success and that you will work with them to make it happen.
  • Differentiate among your people. NEVER treat all of them the same. Each of us needs to be treated in a certain way to maximize our effectiveness.
  • Always be consistent in that you evaluate them on measurable performance, set each up for success in their function, and you follow through on your commitments.

Like the other aspects of Leadership, these endeavors are not easy, just simple.  It takes a plan and it takes practice to do them right.   If you think you’d like to have some help or guidance, call us.

Scott Seibert is a Sales and Leadership Strategist with ACTUM Group, where he specializes in increasing profit by improving team focus and interaction. For more information on Scott, click here

June 2, 2008

What makes a great trademark (logo)?

by Boundless Design, Jill R. Harding

A logo is a graphic design element that, together with its logotype (a uniquely set and arranged typeface) forms a trademark or brand — brand identity. Typically, a logo’s design is for prompt recognition, inspiring assurance, acclaim, loyalty and implied superiority.

The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand or economic entity. Today there are many corporations, products, services, agencies and other entities using logos — some good, some great and some bad. A great logo is clean, not over designed and often limited to only 2 or 3 colors (that carry through the brand). Day in and day out we are hit with so many varying logos that it becomes nearly impossible for the average human to remember a logo the first time they view it. Repetition plus a clean design helps the logo to stand out from the crowd and hence get noticed.

The term logo is short for logotype, design-speak for a trademark made from a custom-lettered word (logo is actually Greek for word). The term logo caught on with people because it is a catchy word, but what people really mean is a trademark — whether the trademark is a symbol, monogram, emblem or other graphic element. More than likely you are familiar with “Nike” this particular logo is a symbol (sometime paired with typeface) and another example many of you might also be familiar with is “IBM” this particular logo is actually a monogram. We often refer to “Nike” and “IBM” symbol and monogram as a logo but technically speaking these are trademarks and an element of their respective companies overall brand.

Have a bad logo or a good logo but want a great trademark (logo)? — Boundless Design, LLC can help you establish a great trademark (logo) to clearly represent your brand. Rely on our expert graphic designers to do what they do best so you can focus on what you do best.

Boundless Design, LLC / Owner – Jill R. Harding / http://www.jillharding.com / 812.597.4270

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