I recently blogged about why some companies increased sales and were happily forging ahead while others never moved out of the starting gate, or worse, closed their doors in 5 Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business. I was challenged in a recent onsite planning session to share more. As I wrestled with the question, I shared 5 MORE secrets. Whatever your description of happy money, find 5 more secrets below to add to your success bookshelf. Let's start with #6:
#6: Pick the Right Media – and Master It
I regularly hear companies talking about social media, hiring a social media expert, and getting on (fill in the blank) social media. Many entrepreneurs think that hiring an “expert” or creating a Facebook page, getting an Instagram professional, etc. will cure their marketing ills. All media can be great for business, but all media is not great for your business.
I would add that media is not easy, magic, or permanent. There, I said it. It’s on the table so deal with the brutal fact. Determine your answer to your customer persona and how you can get data. Which media appeals to your WHO? Maybe the media is radio, or direct mail, or Snapchat, or blogging. If you think it’s all of them, you’re wrong. Get data on what reaches your audience and develop a plan to master that channel. About two years ago, feedback I received indicated that Twitter (@BarryWPruitt) and Linkedin (linkedin.com/in/barrywpruitt) would help me better communicate with business leaders. Connecting with 10,000+ professionals on Linkedin has been been fruitful, yet 45k+ followers on Twitter has not. Imagine how unproductive the last year would have been if I focused on every type of social media!
As a company, Rhythm Systems put focus on blogging, and you’re reading the result. We have online statistics that prove how this helps us with traffic to landing pages – and from there, we have conversion metrics, etc.
#7: Hire Right – or Go Broke
Each person you hire brings with them unique skills and traits, which will add, or detract, from culture. You have a large investment of resources – time, money, brainpower, and emotions – involved in the hiring process. Create job descriptions and job scorecards (how will the new hire be measured?) to gain clarity on the best employee fit for your team. Make a wrong decision in hiring and you’ll have unnecessary stress for your team and find yourself sidelined from growing the business. Small-minded leaders will skip this step in order to save time today but will pay for it later.
#8: Keep Your Mind on Your Money and Your Money On Your Mind
Hydraulics were a wonderful invention. They allow you to do more with less. Hydraulics help me lift the rear hatch on my SUV. They do a lot of good for us as long as they have air, gas, or fluid. But without, they are worthless. Money is the hydraulic of your company. Without cash, you can have a great business product, service, or team and STILL go broke. A broke business is a bad business. It sucks the life out of the owner through stress and worry, it causes good players with real skills to brush up their resume and look for another job, and ultimately leaves you with poor performers. All this makes it exponentially harder to turn your business around.
- Teach your money to your team. Whatever financial information you’re comfortable sharing should be taught well enough that individuals understand how to make decisions to positively impact the bottom line. EBITDA, cost of sales, financial ratios, revenue per FTE, and others are just words, just concepts until you teach your team what they mean, why they’re important, and how they impact the business. Now you’ve got a team with their mind on your money and your money on their mind.
- Track sales metrics. Specific/meaningful activity like appointments, leads, conversions, margins, # of customers, NPS (Net Promoter Score) for sales/service, and more. Yes, this is basic, but my experience is that somewhere along the business trail entrepreneurs and leaders got off track and allowed the sales team to “wing it.” Additionally, make sure that the customer/prospect relationship belong to your business, not to the sales person. If your top sales rep left next week, would you be able to send in a replacement to pick up the relationship where they left off? Do you have basic contact information and more?
Secret #9: Make Revised Standards the Standard
When only one person knows how to do something in your business, you are held hostage. This is often the result of not following # 7 above (Hire Right). Make it standard that every position is looking for a backup. Even if not in place, the best practice is to place it top of mind for your leadership.
Here is a simple two-step process that I’ve seen work well:
- Document everything into repeatable steps as SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). No training manual? Charge the next new hire to begin the manual from your verbal direction. An easy approach is to take a pad of sticky notes and write one step or function on each. Once complete, you can organize the sticky notes into dependency order or process. Now you can document the result. It’s a recipe and we want the taste or flavor the exactly the same in every location or similar job.
- Teach your team to question every SOP or recipe. But if they determine to make a change, make them pilot or test the approach in a small way, document the results, and then make a final decision. Now they return to step one to capture the new process in the SOP.
#10: Be a Tough-minded Optimist
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a $20b company before they became the focus of large investors. While determining who they wanted to be, while working across 30k+ employees, and merging two different cultures into one company – they chose to make "be a tough-minded optimist" a leadership tenet. In my world, it meant be optimistic while facing the brutal facts. Years later, this same company was purchased by Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. Tough-minded optimism will pay off. In the past, while teaching supervisory and management classes, I would often remind leaders that if they wanted a team to consistently perform at a 4.5 on a 5 point scale that THEY would have to perform above 4.5 since it is rare that team members perform above their leadership.
Along with my previous blog, 5 Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business, you’ve now got 10 books on your leadership mantle. Time is in short supply and a decision delay to come back later just rarely happens. There is no advantage in waiting. Look over the ten secrets, prioritize, and set your most important action steps. As example, consider how you're doing on each secret on a scale of 1-5 and secondly, score the business impact you predict for improvement on that secret. This will help you focus on the top 1-2 things you can do now. Put action steps on your calendar as recurring events until solved. Clear focus, aligned effort, and great results should be the desired outcome - and that's no secret.
Looking for more Annual Planning information to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:
Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Resource Center
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images