teamwork

How to build one of the best sales teams in the world

teamwork

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford

Team building is an ongoing process for large and small businesses alike. The right team can be the difference between success and failure, or scalability and stagnation.

Sales people are empowered entrepreneurs, but they can also build a team around them to support their professional and personal goals — and that approach can help them strategically fast track their next moves. Let’s take a look at how the right approach to team building is just as important to growth as the right working capital.

Great leaders build great teams

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and it sure as heck wasn’t built by one person.

Great leaders are the lifeblood of great teams, but that doesn’t happen by accident. So it helps to understand the ways in which teamwork is literally wired into our brains.

There is a fundamental importance of rewarding your team’s ‘collective success’ versus just the ‘individual performance.’ Psychology Researchers and Neuroleadership experts Jay Van Bavel and Dominic Packer revealed in the Harvard Business Review why focusing on collective success makes all the difference.

“Although leaders are concerned with collective success, most organizations — from sports teams to universities to global companies — still focus on rewarding individual performance. The majority of Fortune 500 companies reward the most productive individuals, not the most effective groups or indispensable group members. We believe that leaders at these organizations are overlooking something fundamental about human nature — our tribalism.”

Buck your traditions

Van Bavel and Packer led their research with an example of a nearly 50-year old Ohio State Buckeyes football tradition — and it’s the reward system behind all those Buckeye stickers on players’ helmets (you know, the ones that look like little hemp leaves — both amusing and beneficial).

Buckeyes

So what’s the story behind this?

In 1968, the Buckeyes coaching staff wanted to reward exceptional plays and encourage their team to keep winning — and so a new tradition began. Individual players were rewarded with Buckeye stickers to place on their helmets — a visible reminder of their success. The system paid off in spades, and the team won the championship that year. They continued a dominating streak in the league, but it wasn’t ever lasting. Over the next few decades, the system was failing and the team was, too.

In 2001, a new head coach flipped the way players earn Buckeyes. Instead of their old system of rewarding a player for scoring a touchdown or other individual victory, every player on the offensive unit would get a sticker if the team scored more than 24 points.

The purpose? The idea of favoring teamwork over individual performance was the real goal. And it paid off almost immediately. The team not only won a national championship the following year, but the Buckeyes have been one of the most successful teams in the country ever since.

Your team members want to fit in

Belonging to a group is a deeply rooted aspect of who we are as individuals. Van Bavel and Packer further explained how managing this mentality is a major role that leaders will play.

“Great leaders are “entrepreneurs of identity.” They embrace our tribal nature and seek to shape the identity of fellow group members,” they elaborate. “Human beings evolved in groups, and most of us still work in groups every day. … This is why sports fans can show up to a stadium and immediately share a common purpose with 100,000 complete strangers.”

That might be the case at a sports stadium, but how about at the workplace? The researchers clarify that it is quite similar.

“When a person starts to identify with a group, it triggers a fundamental shift in their goals. Events and decisions that were once evaluated with reference to oneself (“what’s in it for me?”) are now evaluated in reference to the group (“what does this mean for us?”).”

That shift to a healthy team mentality is one of the most important psychological breakthroughs a company can have.

Does your team feel safe?

What’s more, business leadership expert Chee Tung Leong illuminated the fact that today’s average lifespan of an S&P 500 company has fallen from 67 years to just 15 years.

“The marketplace is much more unforgiving towards companies that take too long to learn their lessons,” Leong explained. Creating a culture of learning at your company is key to success.

As entrepreneurs, we talk a lot in business about the virtues of bold thinking and risk taking, but what Leong uncovered while studying team dynamics at Google, is that you must create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable taking those bold chances.

Chief among these key dynamics was this idea of ‘psychological safety.’ To build the best teams in the world, Leong explains that “team members needed to feel safe enough to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.”

“While self-preserving behavior is natural in the workplace, it can erode the foundation of effective teamwork.” This can damage the culture you are trying to build – where team members can learn from one another. “The safer team members feel with each other, the more likely they are to collaborate, admit mistakes, and take new opportunities.”

Leong advocates building the culture of psychological safety on your own teams through three fundamentals:

  1. Encourage failure
  2. Admit your own mistakes
  3. Hold “anxiety parties”

The latter, while admittedly unconventional, allows team members to openly share things that make them feel vulnerable and anxious, allowing for immediate 360-degree feedback with the team. Leaders can then address issues head-on and avoid wasting time on assumptions about the team’s feelings — instead, focusing on the real problems at hand.

Transform your clients into your teammates

Taking this strategy a step further, as a leader you can encourage your team to look outside the organization. Sales experts Barry Farber and Robert L. Shook argue that one of the most effective yet overlooked sales techniques involves teaming up with customers.

“Outsource your customer. Let the customer solve problems for you,” explains Shook and Farber. “A salesperson’s job is to create a vehicle that lets the customer solve his or her own problems.”

This out-of-the-box thinking can take your sales organization to a new level. “When a customer becomes involved in finding a solution to his problem, he or she takes ownership, which is the foundation of a solid salesperson-customer relationship.”

At the end of the day, a winning teamwork philosophy is one that encourages both parties to work together to solve a mutual problem. The best teams are as unique as you and your company, and making these proven team building concepts parts of your company’s direction will serve everyone well.

hackers and cybersecurity

Are Your Clients Safe from Hackers?

hackers and cybersecurity

When it comes to cyberattacks, the targets are typically the behemoth companies and organizations you read about in the news. But according to IBM, small and mid-sized businesses are the target of 62 per cent of all cyberattacks – which equals about 4,000 attacks per day. The reason? They are an easy target.

Can your company or clients be under attack?

We hear a new story about cyberattacks almost every day. A business gets hacked — allowing sensitive proprietary and customer data to be accessed and compromised. The list of the world’s biggest data breaches is littered with recognizable names, including Anthem, JP Morgan Chase, and Target.

But don’t think for a second that hackers only target large organizations. In fact, small businesses are often just what hackers are looking for. Why? The main reason is that small businesses often have inadequate online security, and with sensitive data housed in the cloud they become an easier victim.

A quick night’s work for a hacker can mean disaster for your business. According to a report by the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack are out of business within six months.

Nobody will protect your business except you

Banks and the government haven’t done much to assist small businesses with hackers and data breaches. The recently introduced MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act in the United States will help small businesses protect their digital assets from cyber threats, but it’s far from a silver bullet. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to start taking data security seriously — proactively and with full accountability.

Now is the time to put together a solid security plan.

Don’t just go with the first solution you find. Instead, take the time to find the approach that fits your business, customers and industry. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. More importantly, don’t leave data security to just the IT staff. Get everyone involved — including your managers and all levels of employees. Train each of them on protection measures and show them how to stay compliant. For example, teaching employees to avoid opening suspicious email attachments can be a safeguard against malware that could easily creep into your network.

If your workforce is highly mobile, you may want to consider the rules around any bring your own device (BYOD) program you may have in place. Security Magazine explains how a BYOD program, whether formally in place or not, could create unintentional risk within the organization — simply based on the lack of awareness of such programs. The publication states that, “17.7 percent of survey respondents who bring their own devices to work claim that their employer’s IT department has no idea about this behavior, and 28.4 percent of IT departments actively ignore BYOD behavior.”

Once you start protecting your company, you must take the next steps to stay safe.

Obtain cybersecurity insurance, create a strong password strategy for your users, and utilize virtual data rooms (VDR). For in-house IT departments and office managers, it’s important to upgrade your tech as well. Start with this list of five tools and services your small businesses can use to protect against cyberattacks.

Taking cybersecurity to the next level

web security and hackers

Want to dig deeper? Consider employing an ethical hacker — a cybersecurity expert who works within your company to locate weaknesses and vulnerabilities by duplicating the intent and actions of hackers.

Also talk to a company that specializes in cybersecurity protection. Many of these businesses will offer free vulnerability assessments to give you an idea of where your weaknesses may lie. They’ll also explain how they can help you manage those threats. If you don’t currently have an in-house IT team, outsourcing the work could be an efficient option.

As if all that wasn’t enough, here’s one more thing to consider. When crafting a data security policy, make sure you’re actually protecting data privacy by including the following nine elements in your policy, as detailed once again by Security Magazine. It’s crucial to consider your policy from all angles – after all, your data can make or break your business.

1 Ensure Data Security Accountability All IT staff, workforce and management must be aware of their responsibilities.
2 Create Policies that Govern Network Services How to handle remote access, IP addresses, routers and network intrusion detection.
3 Scan for Vulnerabilities Have a routine in place for checking your own networks regularly for hacking vulnerabilities.
4  Manage Patches Implement code to eliminate vulnerabilities that can help to protect against threats.
5  Create System Data Security Policies Rules around company servers, firewalls, databases and antivirus software.
6  Have a Response Plan for Incidents If a security breach occurs, have measures for handling the issue along with evaluation and reporting.
7  Educate Staff on Acceptable Use Employees should understand and sign an acceptable use policy, which includes disciplinary action.
8  Monitoring Compliance Regular audits to ensure staff and management are complying with the data security policy.
9  Account Monitoring and Control Designate someone to monitor and control users, and keep track of active and inactive user accounts.

It seems like a lot, but it can be done. More importantly, it must be done. When it comes to today’s advanced hackers, organizations must be prepared for when — not if — they will have a data breach. Taking small steps now will ensure you’re not facing bigger problems down the road.

CFO cash flow

7 proven cash flow tactics every CFO needs to know

CFO cash flow

The CCC is your “cash conversion cycle” (or simply referred to as the “cash cycle”) and it tells you how many days it takes for your company to turn your inventory purchases into cash. The shorter the CCC, the more flexible your working capital, and that is every business owner and CFO’s dream.

With a shorter CCC, you’ll be able to pay bills, make payroll, take advantage of supplier discounts, order new product or inventory, and execute on your growth strategy with much more ease.

But to shorten the cash cycle, you need to first find a way of adjusting these three key variables:

  1. DIO: Days Inventory Outstanding.
    • The average # days you turn inventory into sales.
  2. DPO: Days Payable Outstanding
    • The # of days it takes to pay your accounts payable.
  3. DSO: Days Sales Outstanding
    • The # of days it will take to collect on sales after they’ve been made.

Want more details on CCC including DIO, DPO and DSO? Read part 1 now.

To positively impact the three variables and shorten your CCC, you have multiple options:

1. Improve sales times

If your sales team can speed up the time to make deals, you’ll be shortening your DIO – the time it takes to turn your inventory into sales. Sell faster – it’s every company’s goal, but often easier said than done.

2. Enhance supplier relationships

Likewise, improving your supply chain can create efficiencies in your DIO. By developing good relationships with suppliers you can take advantage of just-in-time inventory practices, where your goods arrive only as needed. This may already be a common option for some industries, like manufacturing and perishables, but it is also becoming more popular in retail with the rise in drop shipping, where companies never handle their own inventory – instead, when your customer orders arrive you’ll purchase the inventory from a third party who ships directly to the end customer on your behalf.

3. Better credit and collection process

There’s no doubt that an effective collections department will improve your ability to collect customer invoices on time. Effective collections can help create a more stable and reliable DSO. However, this requires staff training, likely more personnel hours (translating into payroll costs) and leadership’s time to make sure this process is effectively managed.

4. Ask for extended payment terms

Extending your accounts payable will increase your DPO, and help offset the other two factors of your CCC. But this could negatively impact your relationships with suppliers if you extend too much, and breaching the terms could put you at risk of becoming the delinquent account you’re trying to avoid in your own A/R.

5. Reduce your 30/60/90 day payment terms

Fortunately, you’re in control of your accounts receivable terms and can shorten them to receive payment earlier. By reducing your terms, you lower your DSO and speed up your cash cycle.

Unfortunately, many customers request and expect longer terms. Some industries abide by certain time frames to pay, which may not match up with your cash flow needs. And other customers will be delinquent on payment no matter what terms you agree upon. You may risk losing sales to competitors offering better terms.

6. Early pay discounts

These are generally not very effective at reducing your DSO and some customers take the discount even when they pay on normal schedules. Overall, this can lead to lower revenue than expected, which doesn’t amount to a cheap option.

7. Smart & strategic financing

Being strategic with your billing and collections is one of the most accessible ways to improve your cash cycle, and you can use commercial finance solutions to dramatically shorten your DSO. In fact, instead of having a DSO of 30/60/90 or more days, you can have a DSO of one day.

Up Next: Learn how to calculate your cash cycle with this key formula.

cash cycle

ultimate entrepreneur mindset

Do You Have the Ultimate Entrepreneur Mindset?

ultimate entrepreneur mindset

How do your entrepreneurial skills, personality, motivation and drive stack up against your peers? Do you have the qualities of the best in the business?

Check out the highlights from our roundup below. Explore what 15 of the hottest entrepreneurs do every day to keep on schedule. Learn the five must-have skills for every top businessperson. Then see if you’ve adopted the entrepreneur mindset to take full control of your business – or if you’re actually thinking like an employee.

Are you starting your day off right?

From Medium

It’s fascinating to see how some of our favorite entrepreneurs, creatives, and thought leaders spend their time every day. What are their morning routines like? What time do they rise in the morning? When are they most productive? How do they relax? …

Some wake up by 4am; others don’t start the day until closer to 11am. Some exercise every single day; others write or meditate. … What’s clear, is that having a routine of some sort matters. Routines help us get into a flow state that unlocks our ability to be happy and effective every day. While there weren’t any across-the-board consistencies, there were some themes:

  • Get a decent amount of sleep
  • Read things that are interesting to you
  • Try to break a sweat daily
  • Spend time with people you love
  • And when you really need to kick into gear, there’s nothing that a good cup of coffee (or an ice plunge) can’t help with 😉

Read on for a glimpse into the daily routines that successful entrepreneurs, creatives, and thought leaders swear by.

Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator

I try to do the things that I think are important, and be ruthless about not doing things that I don’t think are important. This sounds easy in theory, but requires a lot of discipline in practice. I generally have about three big goals and 20 small to-do items for each day.

Steve Schlafman, VC at RRE Ventures

I’m up every morning at 6am. Hot yoga at 6:30am. Breakfast meeting by 8:30am. Back-to-back meetings from 9am–6pm. I might get 30–60 minutes for email in between. Go to a work-related event or dinner with a founder, executive, friend, etc. Spend time with my wife. Read a book from 10:30–11ish. Bed by 11pm. Rinse and repeat.

Joel Gascoigne, Co-founder & CEO of Buffer

These days, I generally have a lot of quick meetings with different people on my team. I’m mainly focused within product/engineering, customer service, hiring, and then on the higher level. My calendar is open to people on the team, and it generally gets quite booked up. I have quick 20-minute sessions to give advice on a specific challenge. I also have 1:1s with several people on the team, so I usually have one of those each day, too. Other than work, I try to exercise several times a week (either strength training at the gym, running, or doing a bodyweight workout at an outdoor gym).

Read full story & all routines…

The 5 skills of the most successful entrepreneurs

From Influencive

In today’s economy, workers cannot depend on having a stable, full-time job with benefits until they retire. Most people will go through times in their career when they work freelance or are considered an independent contractor. Many of us will also begin our own business at some point. In a gig economy, everyone needs to know how to create their own brand. We are all entrepreneurs. …

Most people who go into business have entrepreneurial figures they admire. … Look at what they do and figure out what works for them. You will notice how many entrepreneurs have similar skills.   Once you notice that, you can apply those skills to your own work.

Concentration

Concentration is an important skill for successful entrepreneurs. For our purposes, concentration has two meanings. The first is your ability to focus. Our digital world is full of distractions. We have all experienced the time suck of the internet. Moreover, we are constantly distracted by our phones and keeping in touch with family, friends and co-workers. …

Leadership

Leadership is a vital trait for entrepreneurs. After all, anyone who wants to succeed in building their own brand and/or business should expect to be in a position of authority and to have other people working for them at some point. That means that you need to be able to lead. … Most people need to work at developing leadership skills. Even people who are natural leaders can benefit from working on improving their leadership skills. …

Organization

Organization is a significant trait of successful entrepreneurs. You need to have your ducks in a row if you want to accomplish everything you need to do in a timely enough manner. Organization is another skill that you might have a natural aptitude for, or it might be something you struggle with. Either way, you should view organization as a skill you can learn and improve upon. …

Read the full story for all five skills…

Do you think like an Employee or an Entrepreneur?

From Eric Tippetts

While every human being is different, we do have certain similarities that can set us apart from other groups of people. One of the primary items that group people together are their mindsets.

Entrepreneurs must have mindsets that are quite different than an employee.

Herein lies a common problem I have recognized with new entrepreneurs… They jump into the entrepreneurial world with an employee mindset.

The Key Mindsets of the Entrepreneur:

  • Entrepreneurs focus on the important things: A large percentage of employees are focused on the job they have to do whether it is important or not. The mindset of the entrepreneur requires them to focus on what is the most important, profit making task.
  • Entrepreneurs do not procrastinate: While an employee may put off a task until tomorrow, the entrepreneur is all about doing it NOW! Procrastination is NOT in the entrepreneur dictionary.
  • Entrepreneurs rely on their “gut”: The entrepreneur has to make split-second decisions on a daily basis.
  • Entrepreneurs own their failures: Many employees tend to find excuses for failures, but successful entrepreneurs have learned the success only comes because of multiple failures. The entrepreneur mindset is to own the failure and not put the blame elsewhere.
  • Entrepreneurs set high, but reachable goals: Personally, I believe every person should set goals, but few do. Successful entrepreneurs understand that each day, week, month and year must be a series of high, but reachable goals.

See the full article & all 17 entrepreneur mindsets…

 

Entrepreneurs also need to have their sales pitch perfected and polished – ready to sell their products and win new customers. Learn how to craft the ultimate 60-second elevator pitch that will capture attention, generate interest and grow your client base.

factoring vs bank loans

Need a Bank Loan? 16 Ways Factoring is Better

factoring vs bank loans

If you own or operate a company, you probably know the challenges of finding business funding. Relationships with banks are important, but sometimes bank loans don’t work out. That’s where alternative financing options like factoring, also known as accounts receivable financing, come in handy.

Factoring allows you to leverage your existing and ongoing customer invoices into financing. You’ll work with a factoring partner who will provide you working capital and take over the collections of those accounts receivable in return for a professional services fee.

When a company needs cash flow, factoring can be the quick and reliable solution to keep your business heading in the right direction. Here are the additional bonuses to using factoring that you may have never considered:

1. Get faster funding

If you need to urgently buy supplies, order product, make payroll or repair key equipment, factoring can be easier and quicker to secure than traditional loans – sometimes as quickly as 24 hours after submitting your invoices. Unlike a traditional loan, you don’t need to submit tax returns, detailed financial statements, business plans or your financial projections – saving you a lot of time and hassle. Banks can also take longer to approve your requests, potentially making you wait for fiscal year end or the results of an audit. Instead, your factoring partner will perform an initial underwriting process to approve your application – then you’re all set.

2. Flexibility – Borrow more when needed

The amount your company can borrow will actually grow the more you sell. As your business grows, you’ll need even more cash flow to pay for supplies as you wait for customers to pay their invoices. So factoring gives you the immediate ability to borrow more, and keep the growth going. Compared to traditional banks, you will never outgrow your line of credit, as a big enough factoring company can accommodate all your growth needs.

3. No other assets required

Factoring only requires that you have customer accounts receivable to secure your funding. You don’t need other assets like real estate, equipment or inventory to apply. That means your personal home or property doesn’t have to be offered up as collateral, which may sometimes be the case with traditional bank loans. (If you do have those other assets, you can also qualify for additional funding options like Asset-Based Loans).

4. Cash flow boost when you need it – now or ongoing

Whether you need a longer-term solution or a temporary boost in cash flow, factoring can help you out of a tricky working capital dilemma. Every business will eventually run into the need for more cash on hand – so with factoring, as soon as new orders are invoiced you can have cash released into your business account. This gives you the chance to take advantage of growth opportunities that require more consistent cash flow.

5. Get larger funding than banks

Unlimited funding sounds amazing. With factoring, lending power is dependent upon the size of your accounts receivable – so an abundance of working capital is possible. Banks qualify you based on your business credit strength, whereas your factoring partner looks to your accounts receivable and your customer credit strength. If you’re selling goods or services to financially strong customers and have ongoing invoices, you can get substantially more financing than you’d qualify for with a traditional bank lender.

6. Grow your business the way you want

Instant cash means you can accelerate your growth strategy. Some companies need to hire more sales people to secure new accounts. Others will need additional equipment to manufacture their product. Still others may need working capital for marketing and advertising, office upgrades or new project development. Whatever the need, you’ll have the working capital to execute and grow the business.

Related: How high-growth companies can get unlimited cash flow

7. Take advantage of supplier discounts

Volume discounts, early payment discounts or special supplier offers are attractive options – but only if you have the capital available at that moment in time. Traditional bank loans are often not fast enough to allow you to take advantage of these discounts. But now, you can factor invoices quickly and free up cash flow to jump at the opportunities when they present themselves.

8. Shorten your cash cycle

Waiting for customers to make payment is a burden. With factoring, you can significantly shorten your cash cycle. Instead of waiting 30, 60, 90 or more days for traditional payment terms, you can receive that payment from your factoring partner in as little as 24 hours. By the time your original terms would have come due, you could have now been able to purchase more goods, make more sales and earn higher profits.

9. Free up your time

Searching for funding and traditional bank loans is a time-consuming process. Meetings, business plans and applications take up a lot of your valuable schedule that could be spent on other areas of the business. With factoring, you’ll have to complete the application process, but once approved you can regularly factor your credit eligible invoices and save time while improving cash flow.

10. Lower your overhead costs

Since your factoring partner takes over the management of your invoices, including handling customer payment and collections, your costs in these departments will likely lower. This can help offset any fees and makes factoring an even more attractive solution. You won’t get that service at a traditional bank.

11. Focus on new revenue

You and your team likely already spend a lot of time processing customer invoices and collecting payment – maybe too much time. With those duties removed from your to-do list, you can now work on other tasks that will improve your revenue like sales, marketing and building new client relationships.

12. Faster collections

Prompt and professional collections can be a big bonus when you work with the right factoring partner. With a reputable company handling customer collections, the result can be more timely payments (customers don’t want to risk a poor credit report). Once the customer makes their final payments, you’ll also receive your reserve funds from the factoring partner – so on-time collections are important to everyone.

13. Improved credit checks

Your factoring partner will also be responsible for credit-checking your customers. That gives you the advantage of having valuable intelligence about the credit worthiness of your clients, including new customers you may close. That can help improve the quality of accounts you take on, improve your credit decisions and advance your business’ debt security.

14. Less costs than equity investments – and you keep control

Equity investments and venture capital can be alternatives to traditional bank loans, but they can also demand much higher returns than the costs associated with factoring. In addition, you may be required to give up shares in your company, and that dilutes your ownership stake. It may even shift control of your business to the investors. But with factoring, there is no requirement to give up a stake in your business.

15. Protect against bad debt

In certain circumstances, some factoring companies offer non-recourse factoring, which means the factoring partner will take on the risk if any invoices are left unpaid. This type of factoring offers you additional protection against bad debt – a level of protection can be very important to some companies.

16. Improve your balance sheet

Factoring is not the same as receiving a loan. On your books, a loan would get recorded as a “debit,” which is considered a liability. Instead, with factoring there is no debt incurred. Your factoring partner is purchasing your accounts receivable with cash, and that reduces your balance sheet debt. The result will be a lower debt to equity ration, and that can actually improve your financial position on the books.

 

Factoring can be a highly attractive option for companies at any stage in business. If you’re interested in learning exactly how it can work for your business, get in touch to learn more. We’re always happy to chat.

A Presentation That Pays Off with Future Sales

The success of a presentation begins with its very first sentence. Ask yourself what will be most interesting to your attendees. Is there new research or data within their industry that can help their businesses run more efficiently? Maybe there’s a recent success story that may impact their mindset about a new technology in the marketplace?

Not every presentation needs to be exactly like Steve Jobs would have done it, or in the style of a famous TED Talk, but there are some key points that will captivate your audience and keep their attention — helping you close deals. Follow the tips below to prep for your next presentation and stand out in front of the crowd.

What makes an amazing presentation?

Experts at CustomShow, a sales presentation platform, stress that capturing your audience’s attention with a strong opening will engage their minds, enabling the presenter to effectively convey his entire message. Their advice: “In general it is not a good idea to memorize your entire speech. It is, however, a good idea to memorize the beginning four to 10 sentences. This is critical because it allows you to feel confident and ride the wave of confidence as you continue your presentation.” For additional ideas, view How To Start A Presentation Tips And Tricks – 22 Powerful Strategies on their website.

The mechanics of speaking will in itself make a difference in the effectiveness of your presentation, too. Your voice speaks volumes about your confidence and will reflect, rightly or wrongly, on how you feel about the topic. Therefore, speaking clearly and confidently is important.

4 ways your speaking voice matters

You’ll find many useful tips for prepping your voice at SkillsYouNeed.com. Its primer on Aspects of Effective Speaking provides useful exercises on increasing your comfort in developing a speaking voice, using breath to improve your voice and the four important aspects of voice when making a presentation:

  1. Accents
  2. Finding your voice
  3. The effect of breath on voice and speech
  4. Vocal production

One example of how your voice matters is inflection. For example, when a person asks a question, the last word of the sentence typically goes up in tone at the end. Sometimes when speakers are uncomfortable with a subject or nervous about their situation they fall into a rhythm that ends every sentence on a high note, whether it’s a question or a statement. This leaves an impression of uncertainty. Practice your presentation, record it and listen for proper inflection. Strong statements should finish with a steady or lower tone. Make sure your voice varies appropriately.

Make the content memorable

Equally important, of course, is the content. You have earned a precious opportunity to stand in front of an audience that includes prospective clients. Show them how much you value their time and how you intend to make it pay off. Talk with knowledge about the audience’s industry or needs. Share important trends or information relevant to their needs.

While your talk may include a scripted explanation about your company’s services, make certain the bulk of your presentation offers in-depth information that makes for useful takeaways. When you do so you’ll build trust and that is the first step toward opening the door to business after the presentation.

rollercoaster park

Even Out the Ups and Downs Of Business

rollercoaster park

Economic cycles – up and down – are inevitable, whether they’re national, regional or local. Businesses are cyclical too. One year you’re up; another year you’re down. Hopefully you’ve had a string of good years in between. The causes vary: Technology can make a product or service obsolete; an important client can go out of business; a new, aggressive competitor has moved into your territory.

Regardless of the timing or cause, preparation can mitigate negative effects. Strategic Marketing Consultant Neville Pokroy in his Mastermind Solutions Inc. article offers Six Steps To Overcoming The Economic Roller Coaster. Being proactive runs throughout his recommendations.

“If you plan for your next downturn, you ‘ll be in great shape when it comes,” Pokroy says. “In fact, if you’ve already put plans in place, and are executing those plans, you could prevent the next downturn from coming at all.” One aspect of his six steps is a customer-building process called AIDA:

  • Catch their Attention
  • Raise their Interest with reasons your product or service is what they want
  • Create a Desire in them to buy from you
  • Prompt buying Action when they’re ready

The more customers you invest in during good times provides more cushion for your business during downtimes. If there are personnel changes or cutbacks within some accounts, you’ll have a broader base to make up for the loss.

Big Change, Best Path: Successfully Managing Organizational Change with Wisdom, Analytics and Insight, authored by Accenture Strategy’ s Warren Parry and published by Kogan Page, helps organizations navigate complex organizational change using ground-breaking modeling to understand success and failure and to learn from it to become more agile and resilient.

In a whitepaper Turning Change Upside Down, Accenture Strategy addresses the “inherently messy, chaotic process” of change – whether it’s due to a downturn or an organizational evolution. Parry and his colleague Randy Wandmacher encourage “Fitness for Change,” describing it as “a requirement to be in business – not something you pay attention to only when change comes along.”

They write: “Developing this ‘fitness for change’ is similar to athletes training for a competition. Training in the right way – focusing on specific muscle groups for strength and flexibility, for example – will build up their conditioning, enabling them to withstand greater exertion without any drop in performance.”

When you prepare for change in good times and bad, you steady your business to take advantage of growth when it occurs and to strengthen your staff and loyal customers in the face of difficulties.

10 times thinking

Think bigger & grow your business by 10 times

10 times thinking

What would you do differently if you had to grow your business revenue by 10 times?

Would you keep doing the same thing you’re doing now? Would you maintain the same strategy? Do you think 10 times growth could be possible?

Startups thrive on 10 times growth

That’s exactly what was requested of Jason Silver, Growth Lead for Airbnb Canada, when he began his career with the famous startup – as he explained at a recent conference to a packed audience.

Silver was asked to fly to San Francisco to present his growth plans for the coming year to leadership. Being an enthusiastic new team lead, he set a bold vision for the year ahead and laid the strategic groundwork for 10% growth – what would be considered a remarkable achievement for most organizations.

In the boardroom that day, he explained how he and his team would achieve that growth, heads nodding around the room, and he was proud of what they had planned. But at the conclusion of his presentation, one of Airbnb’s most senior leaders questioned Silver.

‘What would you do differently if we asked you to achieve 10 times that growth?’

Silver was stumped. He stopped dead in his tracks and knew that this wasn’t just a question; it was a request.

Reimagining your entire business strategy

On the flight back home, Silver knew 10 times growth could never be achieved through a simple retooling of the existing strategy. He thought to himself, “If this seemingly impossible task was actually possible, what would my plan be?”

He had to scrap everything and start from the ground up.

Back home, he and his team began developing an entirely new plan in short order – this time focusing on an incredible growth trajectory over the same period of time.

His mantra during the ensuing year became one about the very idea of failure. “Failure is the tool I use to figure out if we’re being ambitious enough in the work we’re doing.”

The company’s vision for an aggressive approach to strategy and growth would teach him one of the biggest lessons of his career.

Can 10 times be achieved?

Skeptics would argue this would be an improbable achievement under most circumstances. And they might be right.

In Silver’s case, the team put their strategy into action and worked diligently throughout that year to achieve 10 times growth. And the result? They failed.

But failure was far from a bad thing. Although they didn’t achieve the ultimate goal, they did achieve nine times growth – and that amount to a near 800% improvement over where Silver’s original strategic plan would have put the division in the same timeframe.

By any account, that is a massive victory.

     Related: Using failure as a guidepost: Why growing companies should embrace failure.

Thinking bigger in your organization

The lesson is clear. Any individual, team or entire company can achieve exceptional results well beyond their original goals, but it may require a fresh approach to their strategy. Step outside the comfort zone of your original plans and ask yourself what it would take to achieve 10 times your results.

Silver recommends thinking about the ‘what if’ questions in your own company. What if our market was bigger? What if we developed a completely new product? What if we attracted a sought-after demographic of customers?

By reimagining the possibilities of your company boundaries, you can put down the preconceived roadblocks and find alternate avenues to your strategy. The possibilities are infinite, and brainstorming ideas is one route to uncovering a potentially lucrative new direction.

Can your company achieve 10 times revenue? That is to be determined – the starting point is challenging yourself to come up with a new way of approaching your business that breaks out of the mold.

Are you capable of 10 times thinking? Absolutely.

brexit

Will Brexit Impact Your Business Operations?

brexit

There’s no doubt one of the world’s largest economies has made a splash in the business news lately. How could Great Britain’s exit from the European Union impact our business community in North America?

We look at the highlights from across the media to see what analysts and outlets are saying, and what to watch out for.

1. “How bad will Brexit get? Here’s what top economists are saying.”

From: Vox World

“On June 23, British voters decided to vote “Leave” anyway. And now they’re left to grapple with the consequences — including any economic turmoil that may follow.

“So how bad would severing ties with the EU be? On the day after the vote, markets plunged sharply around the world, suggesting serious economic risks were on the horizon. But economists have differing views on just what Brexit would mean — and exactly how dire it could get. Here’s a running roundup from around the web.”

Key takeaway: Brexit is a crisis in Britain, but there is no sure sign this is a crisis for North American business…yet. The key thing to remember is that if you’re dealing with British businesses, EU businesses that rely heavily on Britain, or if your clients are doing just that, then you should keep a close eye on what’s happening. For most businesses dealing primarily with other North American companies, Brexit may not have an immediate impact other than stirring the already-mirky waters of the psychology of business economics.

2. “‘Brexit’ in America: A Warning Shot Against Globalization”

From: The New York Times

“For all the shock and awe on Wall Street and financial markets around the globe on Friday, the imminent danger to the underlying American economy is relatively small. What’s far more worrisome is whether Britain’s decision represents an end to the economic integration and opening markets that have helped propel sales at companies like Eastman over the last few decades. …

““In the near term, you’re seeing markets being roiled, and feedback effects for the Federal Reserve,” Mr. Hubbard said. But for now, at least in the United States, “I don’t think it’s going to raise recession probabilities.” …

“When it comes to commerce, Britain is not even among the United States’ top five trading partners — it’s currently the seventh largest…”

Key takeaway: This lackadaisical stance seems to make us feel like Brexit will have little-to-no impact on American business, unless you’re like the Eastman company mentioned and have operations in both the U.S. and Britain. Instead, they cite opportunities for trade and partnerships elsewhere, potentially exposed because of the changes in the world markets. Perhaps your business can take a look across other borders for new opportunity knocking.

3. “Brexit jitters claim a Canadian IPO”

From: Globe and Mail

“The market turmoil that erupted in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has claimed a prominent Canadian casualty: MCAP Corp.’s initial public offering.

“The mortgage lender filed for a $275-million IPO in May, and institutional and retail orders soon started flowing, according to people familiar with the offering. A few days before Britain’s referendum, things came to a halt. On Wednesday, the deal was pulled altogether.”

Key takeaway: Although Brexit wasn’t the direct cause of failure, the market’s insecurity with what would amount from Brexit turmoil was enough to massively impact this business. But keep in mind, this was a huge enterprise with a muli-million dollar IPO at stake, so it’s not as relatable to most SMBs. Keep an eye on the papers for these types of stories, as enterprise analysts can give you early warning signals of what’s to come in the market.

4. “Impacts on Small Businesses And Startups In The U.S.”

From: Fast Company

“Small business owners, along with multinational companies, must understand that hundreds of laws, rules, and agreements governing everything from trade and immigration to agricultural subsidies will be rewritten, and that will impact contractual agreements,” Wojcik says. …

“Now that Brexit has happened, Todd believes slow growth here in the U.S. is likely to continue. “Paradoxically, even with all the economic and political uncertainty, if a tech entrepreneur has a good idea, it could continue to be a great time to go out and try to raise capital,” Todd contends. …

“”The strongest of small businesses know how to withstand turbulence, adapting quickly to changing environments,” Holoubek says. “When your service or product helps larger corporations do the same, times of great uncertainty become a win-win.””

Key takeaway: Although there are certain risks starting a cross-border business, this may be a great time to find valuable investment at lower rates. And if you’re a small business supporting a larger enterprise, you could have just stumbled into the sweet spot as SMBs can generally weather these storms very well, and that means more money in your pockets.

5. “After the Brexit Vote: The impact on US & Soviet relations”

From: Richmond Times

“As the U.S. heads into an election campaign, Washington’s influence on events in Europe and elsewhere is ebbing. President Obama went to Ottawa two weeks ago to confer with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts about coping with Brexit’s impact on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These leaders foresee growing opposition to free trade during the U.S. election campaign and beyond. Continued close relations on trade and commerce are important U.S. interests, but the overriding U.S. priority is the strength and cohesiveness of NATO. It was responsible for forging peace and prosperity in Europe for nearly 70 years and eventually bringing former Soviet satellites under its defense umbrella. If the EU begins to unravel under the stress of nationalist pressures, NATO’s defense shield will remain a vital U.S. interest in Europe.”

Key takeaway: Economics, politics and Russian relationships. We’ve seen over and over in reality and the movies. You better believe these discussions will be all over every news outlet, late night comedy talk show and blog, so keep watching for impacts on your business.