5 Steps To Improve Your Quoting Process

5 Steps To Improve Your Quoting Process

5-steps-to-improve-your-quoting-process

If your business is constantly hitting bottlenecks or dead ends when it comes to quoting, it’s time to look at your processes as it will save you daily frustration and hours of wasted time.

In previous posts we spoke about the difference between systems and processes and how to create business systems for a new product launch.

Leads, sales and customers can easily fall through the cracks if we don’t have the right processes and systems in place and your business won’t thrive.

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Business processes don’t happen by accident. It takes practice to get it right and they need constant tweaking. 

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INEFFICIENT BUSINESS PROCESSES WILL CAUSE…

  • Bottlenecks
  • Delays
  • Loss of sales
  • Duplication of work
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Dissatisfied customers and staff, and
  • Potential legal issues.

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“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

~ W. EDWARDS DEMING

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HOW QUOTING IS DONE IN MOST COMPANIES

Let’s say you have a web design, copywriting, photography, virtual assistant or any other services-based company.

You received a request in your inbox from a potential customer who are interested in your services. They want more information and a quote on a specific package.

You need to deal with the request and send out a quote to the customer.

This is an example of what the process flowchart for quoting can look like. Yours can be different as every business operates differently.

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quoting-process-flowchart

OK let’s look at what happened here:

STEP #1 – WEBSITE

A customer browsed your website and a website form has been completed to start the request process.

There a 2 options:

  1. You have a generic “Contact Us” form on your website where you get a name, email, telephone number and a short generic message OR
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  2. You have a form that’s linked to a specific product/service on a specific page with a few additional questions in a drop down box, so you can get the best possible information to prepare a quote with, without having to contact them first.
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STEP #2 – PEOPLE

The enquiry is received via email by yourself or a staff member while you’re busy dealing with other important things. A note is made to deal with it later or it’s simply left in the inbox to come back to it later.

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STEP #3 – POSSIBLE PROBLEMS

  1. The day stays busy and no one deals with the request till the next day or late that night.
  2. If more than 1 person is involved in the process, Person A can assume Person B is dealing with it (or visa versa) and no one deals with it.
  3. Both people involved in the process deal with the request and try to contact the potential customer/ lead.
  4. The request is remembered, but when the potential customer/ lead is called, they are not available so a voicemail is left.

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STEP #4 – POSSIBLE OUTCOMES

  1. The potential customer/ lead has found another supplier by the time you get back to them.
  2. Nothing is done as everyone assumes the other person dealt with it and now a lead and possible sale is lost OR
  3. Both contacts deal with the request and confuse the potential customer/ lead, especially if the message or pricing differs.
  4. Telephone tag is played for several hours or days until you speak to each other OR
  5. You phone and get hold of the potential customer/ lead, you discuss their needs and promise a quote (with or without a timeframe).

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STEP #5 – QUOTE = MONEY IN THE BANK, RIGHT?

  1. A quote is prepared.
  2. The quote is sent to the potential customer/ lead within 1-2 days from the first time the request has been received.
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2 POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

  1. You never hear back from the potential customer/ lead.
  2. The quote is accepted.

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IF YOU DON’T HEAR BACK, 2 THINGS CAN HAPPEN:

  1. Nothing happens – you don’t hear back AND you don’t follow up because you’re too busy or you forget OR
  2. You don’t hear back and you DO follow up.

In the second option, you get another opportunity to answer any questions or objections, make a sale or at the very least you’ll learn why they didn’t accept your quote so you can improve your product or service.

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STEP #6 – OPERATIONS

IF the quote has been accepted, the following will happen:

  1. Create an account or invoice depending on your business model
  2. Check availability for services and timelines for the requested products from your inventory and communicate any issues
  3. Prepare the order
  4. Deliver the order
  5. Issue the final invoice (if applicable)
  6. Follow up on payment if it’s not received within terms stated.

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This is where the process stops for most businesses. Be smart and make more money than your competition.

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5 STEPS TO IMPROVE A YOUR QUOTING PROCESS

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At least this company HAS a process, so that’s a great start!

However, you can clearly see all the inefficiencies in their quoting process like the bottlenecks, delays, potential loss of sales, duplication of work, potential for communications breakdowns and disappointed customers.

So let’s look at how you can improve your quoting process:

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STEP #1 – WEBSITE
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Ensure:

  1. The form is linked to a specific Quotes Page VS a generic form on the Contact Us Page. Get a name, email and telephone number at a bare minimum.
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  2. You get as much specific information about their needs as possible e.g. which products/services they’re interested in, quantity required, by when it’s need it, budget available and anything else relevant to your business.

Give a preliminary estimation from the info they provided, if possible.

Use the information they provided to be better prepared for the call, by having the right product/service info and pricing available when speaking to the potential customer/ lead.

Include any suggestions of other products your business offers that the potential customer/ lead might need. Think about Amazon’s suggestions “You might also like…”. 

Great questions to include in your website form:

“Where did you hear about us?”

“When is a good time for us to call you?” or have an online calendar link where they can book themselves in for a call with you.

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STEP #2 + #3 – PEOPLE + PROBLEMS
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  1. Create an automated email reply to the enquiry form to notify the customer that the enquiry has been received and give them an indication of when they can expect to hear back from you.
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  2. If you are the only person dealing with enquiries, set up your email so that all enquiries go directly to a dedicated folder in your inbox. Plan your day to ensure you check this folder at least 3 times a day and have time to deal with enquiries.
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  3. If there are more than one person dealing with enquiries use a system that can track who dealt with the enquiry and when it happened, to avoid any duplication. Set it up that if one team member cannot reply within a set time, then the enquiry will be passed on to the next available team member who can respond.
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  4. Voicemail – Call but don’t leave messages as they can be can be lost or missed. Instead set a reminder and call back again in 10-20 mins or in the dedicated times you planned for. Never leave it up to a customer to call you back.

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STEP #4 – POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
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  1. They already found another supplier: Improve your business’ response time immediately. Ask them politely to share with you the reason why they chose the other supplier. Use any information to improve your products/ services.
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  2. You got hold of them and speak to them about their needs: Really listen what they need instead of only trying to sell your stuff. Ask for any details that will help you serve them better e.g. their timelines, etc. Have they also considered XYZ and upsell them on any other items your business offers.
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  3. Quote: Get all the details needed to prepare the quote, say by when they can expect the quote and stick to that time.

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STEP #5 – QUOTE = MONEY, RIGHT?
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  1. Quote: Always try and send out the quote before the deadline you promised it by, as this sets the tone for the relationship.
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  2. Follow-up: Always follow up! Contact the potential customer/ lead the day after the quote was sent to confirm it has been received (emails get lost in junk folders). If they have time to talk, ask if they have any questions or need more information on the products/services, pricing or timelines. Then close the sale.
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  3. They aren’t interested: Be brave and ask why not, in a friendly, non-threatening way. What can you do better next time to win their business?
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  4. Regardless of the outcome, ask their permission to add them to your mailing list for future promotions, announcements of new products/ services or events as it can lead to future sales. If they’ve had a pleasant experience with you there is no reason why they should object.

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STEP #6 – OPERATIONS
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  1. Create Account/ Invoice: If you often have to chase payments start invoicing 50% upfront before any further work is done and then 50% before delivery.
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  2. Communicate often. Whether there are problems or not, keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis and let them know how their order or project progresses, what the next step in the process is and manage their expectations. People are far more understanding of delays or mishaps if you’ve been in touch throughout the process.
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  3. Orders: Always try and deliver the order before the promised deadline as it’s bound to wow your customer, lead to more sales + better Word-of-Mouth (WOM) for your business. If you run into problems, see point #2 above.
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  4. AFTER CARE:* Most businesses don’t give their customers a second thought the moment the order has been delivered. This is your most important time to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.
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  5. Add all details to your database and set a follow-up date in the future 2-3 months from now to call them.

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*AFTER-CARE QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Was everything as expected?

// Were they happy with the customer service?

// Any suggestions for improvement?

// How likely are they to recommend you to other?

// Who else do you know that you can refer me to?

// Will it be OK with you if I touch base in 2 months’ time?

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MOST IMPORTANTLY:

// Get their feedback over the phone and use it as a testimonial (with their permission). Record the feedback call and then get it transcribed. Then use the testimonial in your marketing material.

// Always ask for MORE BUSINESS – who else do they know that you can talk to and do they themselves need anything else?

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 YOUR TURN

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Create or refine your quoting process in your business.

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QUESTION:

Do you have a documented quoting process in your business? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills
Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Bad Business Habits (Part 2) Procrastination

Bad Business Habits (Part 2) Procrastination

bad-business-habits-procrastination.

We went into business to be our own boss, earn more money and have the lifestyle we only dreamed about while working for someone else. However, most business owners I speak to complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • always having a fire to fight
  • worrying where the next customer and dollar will come from
  • missing out on events and having very little to no free time.
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I find that it’s our bad business habits that get in the way of having a successful business and another bad habit is procrastination – a slow but lethal business and dream-killer.

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PROCRASTINATION 

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When it comes to bad business habits, not doing anything or consistently choosing to do the wrong tasks, are just as bad as chasing too many rabbits which was also covered in the bad business habits series.

When we procrastinate on the important but non-urgent tasks in our business, it’s normally because we’re afraid.

Deep down, we know the task will help us get more clients, make more money, set us free or help us to be seen, but:

  • we’re afraid of the consequences of taking the action – fear of failure and fear of success OR
  • we dislike doing the task or find it boring like accounting OR
  • we don’t know how to do the task, so we put it off.
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Whether we stay busy with the wrong things, do too many things at once or do nothing… the results are always the same. We’re left disappointed in ourselves for not reaching our goals, growing our business or starting to live our dream.
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“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” 

~ CHRISTOPHER PARKER

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Bad Business Habits (Part 2) Procrastination

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TRACK YOUR TRIGGERS

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Procrastination can be triggered by any task that scares you on some level e.g.

You may dread:

  • making follow-up calls to potential clients
  • calling a client when a problem arises
  • developing a new product or service
  • preparing quotes
  • doing marketing
  • making sales calls
  • reaching out for help…

So instead of doing the tasks that will grow your business, you do low-level tasks that keep you busy, but also stuck.

Start tracking what triggers your procrastination habits over the next week or month to look for patterns in your behaviour. Once you know this, you can start working on a solution.blog-image-key-ideas1

You can:

  • outsource the task
  • learn the skills needed to perform the task with confidence and ease e.g. enrolling in sales training or engaging a consultant to help you with a specific business area like marketing
  • get accountability to keep you on track – get a buddy or a business coach
  • face the underlying fears that keep you from doing the task e.g work on your mindset to address a fear of failure or success.
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Popular go-to procrastination habits are checking email, scrolling social media or having a meeting.

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KNOW YOUR EXCUSES

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Business owners justify their compulsive checking of email and social media feeds by saying “my customers need me”.

Yes, your customers do need you to…

  • communicate a problem on a project
  • communicate an extended deadline
  • send them the quote you said you’ll send ASAP
  • improve your customer service, and
  • improve your products or services.

Over the next 30 days, identify when and how you tend to procrastinate when you’re trying to do important work. Notice the excuses you use to justify your behaviour to yourself or to others.blog-image-key-ideas1

Remember, by not doing the important work in your business, you hurt your confidence and your business.

  • Note the tasks you struggle to get done
  • Pinpoint your go-to procrastination habits when you face these tasks
  • Come up with a few simple steps to help you overcome the urge to procrastinate
  • Schedule enough time to get the tasks done each day
  • Remove all temptations when you sit down to do the work e.g. turn off all notifications during this time.
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CLARIFYING QUESTIONS – ASK YOURSELF:

  • Which tasks do I regularly avoid doing on a daily/ weekly basis?
  • What is my go-to procrastination habit when I’m faced with a difficult task?
  • What steps will I put in place to curb this bad habit?

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QUESTION:
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What is your Top Tip for overcoming procrastination? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills
Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

3-easy-steps-to-plan-your-business-goals

 

Most small business owners complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • not being able to consistently reach their goals, and
  • constantly worrying where the next money and clients will come from.

This slowly kills the passion they have for their business and leave them doubting their ability to succeed in creating a lifestyle business. A main reason for this is…
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… the GAP between PLANNING our business goals and strategy, and what we DO on a daily basis.

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Recent studies in corporate companies have shown that up to two-thirds of decisions made in annual strategy sessions are never implemented! In my experience, the stats would be very similar for small businesses.

You see it’s easy to sit in a planning session (even only with yourself) and decide on the annual business goals to pursue but it’s 10X harder to execute on those business goals when you’re in the thick of things and:

  • taking customer calls
  • preparing quotes
  • answering emails
  • doing marketing
  • managing a team and many other things on a daily basis.
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We get distracted by every squeaky wheel in our business, instead of sticking to our plan.

So our biggest struggle is to link our yearly business goals and plans to what we do day-by-day and hour-by-hour in our business. Here are 3 easy steps to turn your business goals into successful completions.

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“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.”

~ FARSHAD ASL (The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset Book)

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3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. When it comes to executing our plan we want to make sure that we’re as effective as possible.

This means being laser-focused on working on the right things in our business that will move us forward and make the biggest impact.

3-easy-steps-to-plan-your-business-goals

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THINK QUARTERLY

It’s crucial to know what success looks like for you. Effective business owners know what they want to achieve and then set business goals that will help them achieve their vision while taking the daily action to get there.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and you’re not clear on what you want to achieve… you could lose one kilogram and be successful because you lost weight or you could lose 10 kg and fail if you wanted to lose 20 kg.

It’s the same for your business goals e.g. let’s say you want to make an extra $50K this year, there are many ways to reach that goal.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Identify the 1-2 high-impact activities that bring in the most money in your business and that will get you to $50K the quickest

2. Commit to doubling or tripling the amount of time you spend on these 1-2 activities every week

3. Schedule non-negotiable blocks of time in your diary to work on these activities every day.
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EXAMPLE: PRODUCT LAUNCH
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One of Your Annual Business Goals:
Generate an extra $50K from an existing product/ service this year to a new client base.
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Quarterly Business Goals:
You identified one of your high-impact activities as a very profitable and time-efficient online program or physical product or service, and you decide to launch it in 3 months’ time. You estimate you can make an additional $20K from this activity this quarter.
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Example Main Activities: (not a comprehensive list)

// Research the new market to determine viability
// Adjust your marketing material to suit the market
// Create a marketing plan
// Market the product
// Launch the product

Estimate the amount of time needed to complete each activity and the people needed to complete the activities. Work it into the planning and set milestones to track progress along the way.

Use a software like Trello, Asana or any other project management and workflow software to lay out your project and assign activities to team members.
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Example Tasks: (not a comprehensive list)

// Create a survey for the new market, send out the survey + analyse the results
// Update website e.g. create a new landing page + shopping cart item
// Plan out social media posts, etc. etc.

Allocate time every day to work on the most important activities to move the project forward and work towards the set milestones. Schedule weekly progress check-ins with yourself + your team.
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There are many moving parts (activities + sub tasks) that need to be completed to achieve this quarterly goal.

That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused every day and to say No to any other distractions that come your way.

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PLAN WEEKLY
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Once you’re clear on your business goals and identified the 1-2 high-impact activities that will help you reach that goals, it’s time commit to doing these activities ‘no matter what’.

We’re all busy and life throws us curve balls all the time but unless we see these activities as non-negotiable, I can guarantee you that something else will come up to throw you off course, within a week if not days.

And that’s a hallmark of successful and effective people – their ability to be clear about their goals and their unwavering commitment to making it happen ‘no matter what’.

Let’s go back to our weight loss example:
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Would you be more motivated to lose weight in situation A or B?

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A. It would be nice to lose a few kilograms before I going to that wedding next month, or

B. The doctor just told you that unless you lose weight immediately you only have 6 months to live…

Of course your motivation will be higher in situation B, because your life literally depends on it.

And you’ll make time to exercise and eat healthy every day instead of making excuses like, “I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
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Unfortunately we don’t always experience this drastic urgency in our business…

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That’s why it’s sometimes harder for business owners to move from making-a-living into a full lifestyle business.

Because as humans, unless we face a crisis, it can be a real challenge for us to only focus on the important activities while saying No to any other distractions that won’t help us to achieve our goals.

The only way you can ensure it will happen is by planning your weeks and scheduling it in your diary.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Be clear about what needs to get done this week to reach your quarterly business goals e.g. research the new market to determine viability
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2. Open your diary and schedule blocks of 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time every day of the next week to work on these activities e.g.

// create survey questions for the new market (1hr) – Me
// create the actual survey in Typeform or SurveyMonkey (30min) – John
// send out the survey (1hr) – John
>>> who will it be sent to?
>>> do you need to create a list of contacts?
>>> will you use ads to promote the survey?
>>> how + when will it be send?
// analyse the results (2hrs) – Me
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3. Estimate the time each activity will take you to complete. This is a great exercise, as we tend to underestimate how long things take us to do (see example in #2)
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4. Note the people needed to help you complete the tasks and remember to give them access to the project plans and calendars (see example in #2)
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5. Outline your success factors – how will you know if you’ve been successful by the end of the week? e.g.

// Week 1: survey has been created, tested and it’s ready to be send out
// Week 2: 50 people completed the survey successfully
// Week 3: all results have been analysed and a decision to either market the product to a new market or not, is made.
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ACT DAILY

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To act daily on what’s already been decided and planned for, is really the hardest part of everything.

It’s because it’s so easy to be distracted by a hundred little things every day. Studies have shown that on average, we’re interrupted every 3 minutes in the office! 

Between notifications pinging, emails coming in, a team member asking for help, phone calls and social media it’s no wonder that we’re busy all day without much to show for it by the end of a day.

My clients who started planning their weeks, reported feeling much more in control and more organised, but nearly all of them struggled for the first couple of weeks to stick to their blocks of uninterrupted time because of all the distractions.
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“Planning is easy. Execution is hard.”

~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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It takes courage and perseverance to stick to your plan every day.

Most of my clients reviewed and tweaked their plans several times before they found a routine that worked for them. Some started their day with a block of uninterrupted time, while others did a block between 11am-2pm or even later afternoon.

Your success in reaching your business goals depends on your ability to constantly review what worked and what hasn’t, and to be able to change direction quickly and daily if needed.
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WHAT TO DO NEXTblog-image-key-ideas1

At the end of each day take 5 min to review your day and ask yourself and/or your team:

1. How well did I stick to my plan today?

2. Which distractions kept me from working during my uninterrupted block(s) of time?

3. How can I minimise these distractions tomorrow?

4. How long did the actual tasks take vs. my estimations in the planning?

5. Did everyone involved in the activities performed up to standard? If not, what I can do to improve this?

6. Compared to the success factors for this activity, was I successful today?

Reviewing and tweaking as you move towards your business goals, is like a heat-seeking missile adjusting course while trying to lock in on its target.

The missile doesn’t stop trying until it found its target… and neither should you. Continue to review and tweak until you find a way that works well for you and your team.
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QUESTION:

Which part of sticking to your daily plan do you find most challenging? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Ways To Be More Confident

What would you try or change in your life right now if you felt more confident?
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If you believed more in yourself and in your business, would you:
  • increase your prices or be more selective about the clients you work with?
  • speak at a networking event, make a video or publish an article?
  • expand your team or invest in a mentor?
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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~ ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

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Alicia Menkveld recording videosIt took me about a year to pluck up the courage to record my first video from the first time I had the idea to make videos to engage with my audience.

It took me at least another six months before I actually posted one of those videos on Facebook. I wasn’t confident that they were good enough.

For some people it’s the easiest thing in the world to record and post videos. I break out in cold sweat and look like a deer caught in the headlights.
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And that’s the thing with confidence… it all depends on the activity we do and how often we’ve done that activity in the past.

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It’s different for every person – what’s easy for you, could be completely nerve-wracking for me. I find speaking in front of a live crowd easy, but I had to flex my confidence muscle when I recorded videos on green screen in a studio for the first time.

The videos were for the Business Confidence Academy, a 7-week program for business owners ready to streamline their business so it supports the lifestyle they want to live.
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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Confidence, like any other skill can be learned with practice, and it’s crucial to your success in both life and business.

The more you do something you think you cannot do, the more you build an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. And it gets easier over time to step out of your comfort zone and be more confident.
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3 Ways To Be More Confident
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ASK BETTER QUESTIONS 

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When we face our fears it’s easy to get lost in a vague paralysing fear that we can’t define, instead of being clear about what exactly could go wrong.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” you effectively do an informal risk assessment which forces your mind to come up with realistic scenarios of what could happen when you pursue the opportunity.

By getting a clear picture, we realise that our minds mostly let us chase ghosts that don’t exist, and we discover what’s really holding us back from taking the next step. Now we can plan for success and manage the risks.
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Case In Point: My Videos

I didn’t want to make videos because my monkey mind told me that:

  • I didn’t have anything interesting to say
  • No one will watch my videos
  • I don’t like how I look in videos
  • People will think my videos suck.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I realised that the worst thing that could happen was that no one watched the video or liked it. There’s no risk in that!
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So why wasn’t I making the videos?

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By asking: “What’s so bad about that? I realised that my ego was afraid of being rejected and not liked, and it was afraid that people would laugh at my ‘bad’ video.

The role of the ego is to keep us safe, but that means that new situations with unknown outcomes are perceived as being dangerous. Sometimes situations are dangerous, but 9 times out of 10, there is nothing to fear but a slightly bruised ego.

In my case, none of my fears came true as many people watched and liked my videos, and even made nice comments! And the more videos I made, the more confident I became…

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BE CURIOUS AND LEARN

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Have you ever caught yourself starting something with great enthusiasm but when you hit road blocks, you start to doubt yourself?

It’s easy to get stuck in the Why-cycle:Why is this happening? Why is it so hard? Why always me?“. From there, it’s a short downward spiral to quitting the project and moving on to the next shiny object with renewed enthusiasm.

When you ask why-me-questions it’s an indicator that you find yourself in victim territory where confidence dies a quick death.
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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1

Instead of asking “Why“, rather ask:

  • What’s really going on? What’s the real problem?”
  • “Is there an opportunity for me to learn something from this situation?  
  • “What is the one thing I can do differently to change the situation and get the results I want?”

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This technique replaces our negative thoughts with solution-focused thinking and helps us realise that we are in control and that we can choose what to do next.

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MY VIDEO EXAMPLE:

With the questions above, I’ve identified that there were no detrimental risks involved in making a video and posting it to Facebook, except maybe a bruised ego.

The opportunity was to learn more about my insecurities and to learn a new skill (making videos). I was able to change my results because I chose to face my fears, record the videos and post them.

Asking what-questions put you back in the driver’s seat and boost your confidence because you know you have the ability to figure things out. It’s powerful to know that you can change the outcome of your situation to whatever you desire.

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 PRACTICE UNTIL YOU BECOME IT 

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Fake it till you make it” is one of the biggest confidence myths ever!

After studying highly successful people for several years, Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers  says that it roughly takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field. Mastery and confidence always go hand-in-hand.

There was a direct statistical relationship between the hours of practice and achievement of the people he studied. Especially when it comes to achieving big dreams like becoming a master pianist, a famous performer, TV presenter, a professional speaker or a successful business owner.

The study found that not even natural talent really played a role. There are no shortcuts or ‘naturals’ in life or business – only people who focus, put in the work, take risks and then ‘get lucky’.
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Maybe she was born with it… no it was NOT Maybelline! It was hard work, focus and not quitting!

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And that’s what I’ve done with videos in the studio.

I wrote scripts and rewrote them several times until I captured the essence of the message I wanted to get across. Then I practiced the scripts. Over and over and over for a few days.

I’ve learned so much from my experience in the studio. I realised that I’ll need to increase my practice time even more before the next video recordings to improve my delivery efficiency and presentation style, and to save money on fewer studio hire hours!

It’s also encouraging to know that even high profile speakers and TV personalities use scripts, and that they too practice a lot. So hopefully after 10,000 hours of practice, I’ll also sound as polished as Oprah in my videos.

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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1
  • Practice until what you want to master, comes as natural as breathing to you
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  • Use your imagination to practice scenarios before an actual event – e.g. an important meeting with a big client which you feel nervous about.
    • Plan the structure of the meeting and what needs to be said
    • See how well the meeting goes; see yourself smiling, feeling confident and listening to their needs
    • See how your solution can help them, and
    • See the signed contract on the table.
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  • Practice your pitch in front of the mirror, with a business partner or a colleague to iron out any kinks and make your vision a reality!
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To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!

~ ALFRED A. MONTAPERT

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QUESTION:

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What do YOU do to feel more confident when you face a new situation? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Business Performance Review

business-performance-review

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On a scale of 1-10*,  how happy are you with consistently reaching your business goals?

*1 = lowest, 10 = highest

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onefivesevennine

 

 

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More importantly, do you know what to change to improve your results by 1-2 points in the next 90 days?

You can choose at any time to do things differently and start hitting your goals for the quarter. You’ll achieve this through doing a business review which will give you clarity, help you with planning and then it’s about taking daily prioritised action.
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A Business Review is super important because it:

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  • Gives You Control + Peace of Mind
    A large percentage of business owners don’t have a clear picture of how well their business performs at any given time. What you don’t know about your business is a blind spot that keeps you from reaching your goals.
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    A business review look at the facts and will show you the level of efficiency the business is performing at and if you need to make any adjustments to reach your goals.
  • Helps You to Work ON Your Business
    We all get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and that’s why you need a chance to lift your head, reconnect with your vision and see the bigger picture. It’s like zooming out on a Google Earth map.
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    Zooming out will give you a helicopter view of where you’re at, if you’re moving in the right direction + how far you have to go. Small tweaks on a consistent basis in all business areas are the key to success.

 

business-strategy-flow-diagram

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The aim of a business review is to perform a health check and take your business’ pulse as it is, right now.

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BUSINESS AUDIT + VISION REVIEW

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The first section of the review is about assessing your current situation, looking at your vision and deciding how you’ll get there.

Questions To Consider:

  • What’s your 3-year business vision?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • What are your 3-5 main main goals for this year?
  • What worked well for you over the last 6 months?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What resources do you need to succeed? (staff, training, systems, equipment, cash flow)
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MARKETS + PRODUCTS REVIEW

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In this part of the review you’ll look at who you serve, what you offer and how profitable your products/ services are. Then you’ll look at how to improve your results over the next quarter.

Your marketing plan will outline your target markets, positioning, customer demographics, message, offering, marketing strategy + tactics.

Over the years, I’ve found very few business owners who have any marketing plan whatsoever and it’s key to your success.

Without a plan, you’re bound to fall prey to the bright shiny object syndrome, waste money on strategies that won’t work for your business and make other marketing mistakes.

  • How effectively are you matching your products/ services to your customer’s needs?
  • How effective is your marketing? (leads coming in + conversion rates)
  • List your best performing products/ services – what percentage of revenue are they responsible for?
  • Can low performing products/ services be improved or phased out?
  • Products/ services costs – direct costs, overheads, brainstorm ideas to lower costs, negotiate better deals with suppliers
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MONEY/ FINANCIAL REVIEW

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If you’re using accounting software like Xero, MYOB, Cashbook Complete or Quickbooks all your financial reports are in one place and it’s easy to print out or view them online. Or contact your bookkeeper for up-to-date information.

Business Numbers To Review:

  • Budget
  • Targets vs Actual Revenue generated
  • Costs/ Expenses – keep costs under constant review
  • Profit
  • Cash Flow
  • Borrowing – credit available, loans
  • Growth/ Investments
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BUSINESS OPERATIONS REVIEW

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Operating your business in a short-term reactive way costs you time and money in the longer run and isn’t sustainable when growing the business. A clear strategy will guide you in your overall decision making process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Technology

  • In which areas of your business do you use computerised systems to be more efficient?
    (cloud applications for storage, remote back-ups, to work from anywhere + increase productivity)

 

Processes/ Systems

  • How do you manage repetitive tasks in the business?
  • Is your marketing + sales process documented?

If not, start the documentation process through outsourcing or record the process on your phone and send the audio file to be transcribed.

Continue to add instructions to the document every time you do the task, even if it’s one sentence at a time.

 

People

  • Do you have the right team (management, staff, suppliers, outside consultants) in place to achieve your goals?
  • Do you personally have the skills you need to succeed e.g. leadership, sales, IT, HR?
  • Are you clear on which tasks to delegate and outsource?

 

Productivity

  • Which tasks are most time consuming?
  • Which tasks generate the highest income?
  • What are the lowest income generating (but necessary) tasks in your business?
  • How productive are you (working only on high level activities) vs busy (working on tasks you’re not good at or where you can hire someone at $20 p/h to do the task)?
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Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day;

while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

~ JIM ROHN

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QUESTION:
Which area of your business will you focus on most in the next quarter? Leave your comment below.
#smallbusinesssuccessskills

 

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Steps To Effective Delegation At Work

3-steps-to-effective-delegation-at-work.

If you’re rushing every day to get it all done, falling behind on project deadlines and still have an ever-growing to-do list that keep you busy in the office till after dark…

… then it’s time for the D-word that let most business owners break out in cold sweat… DELEGATION!

The biggest problem I see with most business owners I work with is that we’re capable, resourceful control freaks who can do too many things well enough to get by…

It’s is a deadly combination for anyone trying to master delegation, because we’ll look at a task and think:

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This task will take me at least two to three times as long to explain it properly to someone else, so why not just do it myself? … and I bet the person won’t do nearly as good a job of it as I would!”

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And this type of thinking is exactly why most business owners work longer hours than they ever have in a job and they end up overwhelmed, frustrated, disillusioned and burnt out.

The ‘let me just do it myself’-mindset enslaves you to your business.

Delegation is one of the hardest things to master in your business but it’s also one of the most rewarding and freeing things you can do for yourself and your business, because it will help the business grow + keep you sane.

Mastering the art of delegation will free up your time and give you space to think, plan, implement and actually spend time on money-making activities instead of low level activities that keep you busy spinning your wheels + stuck in the weeds.

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“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
~ JESSICA JACKLEY, CO-FOUNDER OF KIVA

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No one wakes up one morning and start recruiting or outsourcing tasks. Like most things in business, delegation and building a team are processes that take time to develop.

The delegation process involves various decisions, preparation + systems to work effectively before delegating your first task.

In this post, we’ll focus on the preparation needed for effective delegation.

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3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION AT WORK

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TRACK + MEASURE

Do you know how you spend your time each day?

I’m NOT talking about the few things you schedule in your diary…

No, I’m talking about all the unaccounted hours where we’re really busy but can’t say what we’ve been busy with at the end of a day or week. Those hours that seem to slip away unnoticed and unaccounted for…

Unless we are super clear about what we spend our time on every day, we’ll won’t know which tasks can be delegated and who we need on our team of in-house and outsourced staff.

When you track your time, for at least a week but ideally a month, you’ll easily be able to spot your time wasters like a few ‘quick’ website fixes or ‘quickly’ designing graphics in Canva.

Perhaps for you it’s ‘quickly’ fixing your IT issues, doing all the marketing yourself or spending hours to find the ‘right’ image for your social media post?alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

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PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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Start today – track + document:

  • Every single task you do in your business for a few weeks including ‘quick’ fixes, meetings, training, planning, client work, etc.
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  • The time it takes you to complete each task from travel time, lunch time (or lack thereof), how long meetings + calls took, etc.
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  • Via paper, with an Excel spreadsheet or using a free online tool like Toggl. I explained the tracking exercise in detail, here.

Tracking how you spend your time will help you realize how effective you are in your business and whether the bulk of your time is spent on money-making activities or low-level, routine activities that could be automated or delegated.

Assuming you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a revenue of about $100K per year, an hour of your time is worth at least $48 p/h.

Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $48p/h?

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If you’re spending a huge amount of hours searching for images, going to and fro to set up meeting times or returning phone calls and fix IT issues, it’s a sign that elimination, automation or delegation is needed in your business.

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KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Which tasks/ activities can I completely eliminate from my schedule?

// How can I automate routine tasks?

// What can I delegate?

That’s the order: Eliminate, Automate + only then do we Delegate.

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DOCUMENT IT

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We certainly hope for the best, but what happens if the bus hits you on your way to work?

  • Can a team member or any other person walk in + run your business?
  • Are your business processes recorded?
  • Are your business systems clear + easy enough for someone else to follow?

If you answered No to the above questions, it’s time to get things out of your head and onto paper before you can even begin to think about delegation.

Remember, not even the most capable or highest qualified consultant/ employee in the world can read your mind or be expected to do a good job without access to the right information!

That includes clear objectives, super clear instructions, recorded processes + the responsibilities and timelines for each task.

Most business owners are quick to complain about incompetent staff, and yes sometimes we get a bad egg, but in my experience a lack of clear instructions + a lack of systems and/or processes account for up to 80% of project misunderstandings and work that business owners feel are ‘not up to standard’.

Yes it will take a few months to set everything up + train people to do the tasks correctly, but the reward is your freedom… to grow the business, to take a holiday or to spend more time with your partner, your kids or causes close to your heart.

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EFFECTIVE DELEGATION IS ABOUT:
  • being clear about the task + what the end result looks like for you
  • documenting the way you want the task done and specifying the templates or tools to be used to do the task
  • effectively communicating your expectations + giving clear instructions to the person who will do the task
  • being available to help where it’s needed and to make time to review the work + give feedback.

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PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • If you come across an undocumented process in your business, start today!
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  • Open a Word document, name it + write down the first few steps of the process
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  • Schedule a deadline to complete the document if it’s only you in the business OR flesh out the details every time you do the task until it’s complete
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  • If you have a team, nominate the person responsible for completing the document + set a deadline
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  • As the business owner or manager, schedule a date in your diary to review + tweak the document.

For a detailed blog post about creating business systems, click here.

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 PEOPLE + TECHNOLOGY

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Now that we know what to delegate and we’ve put processes + systems in place to assist the delegation process, we can finally look at who we need on our team + what technology we can use to manage our projects better and streamline our communication with the people involved.

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PEOPLE

Your people needs will largely depend on your  business needs, the stage your business is in + the longer term vision you have for the business.

When tracking your tasks you possibly noticed several hours wasted on trying to fix a website problem or creating a graphic for your social media. Perhaps you noticed that you never get time to do any marketing or planning.

If the time waster you noticed is something that cannot be eliminated or automated, it’s time for delegation.

You can:

  • hire an employee
  • outsource work to an independent contractor like a consultant or virtual assistant
  • or you can use a combination of both options for different types of work.

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I like to use different experts for specific things in my business e.g. Facebook Ads or Bookkeeping, and I want to be location independent, so I only use independent contractors in my business.

I always outsource to my weaknesses or dislikes:

  • I don’t like bookkeeping, so I outsource it
  • I’m not great at doing my taxes, so I have an accountant
  • I can spend hours wondering what to post on social media, so I outsource it
  • I cannot design logos, so I get a graphic designer
  • I dislike cleaning but love a clean organized home, so I get a cleaning company to do it for me.

If you’re not sure, remember to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $XXp/h?” (whatever you earn per hour). If the answer is No, it’s time to delegate.

Although none of the people I mentioned above work exclusively for me, I still refer to them as ‘my team’ because they know my business, perform tasks the way I do it in my business and add tremendous value to me and my business.

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TECHNOLOGY

Technology will greatly simplify the delegation process and help to streamline communication between team members.

These days, technology can be used for nearly everything from file sharing, online appointment scheduling, project management and online training platforms to bookkeeping, invoicing and databases or CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems).

Technology will assure that each team member, whether in-house or remotely, has access to the same information in real time.

Here’s only a handful of example options of online software:

  • Accounting Software like Xero / MYOB
  • File Sharing like Dropbox / Google Drive
  • Appointment Scheduling like Acuity Scheduling / Appoint.ly / 10to8.com
  • Project Management like Asana
  • CRMs like Insightly / Capsule CRM / Zoho / Infusionsoft

Technology will drastically improve clear, consistent communication, effective delegation + help you build a team culture of collaboration and open sharing of information, even if team members are in different locations.

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alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • Analyze the time + task tracking exercise to see in which areas of your business you need delegation right now
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  • Work out if you need in-house staff or independent contractors
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  • Get clear on the tasks to delegate or outsource that will deliver the highest ROI (return on investment) in the next 3 months
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  • Choose the technology options that are right for your business to help you manage your tasks + teams effectively.

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QUESTION:

Which three tasks will you delegate first if you had someone ready to take them over right now? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

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P: 0425 177 897
E: alicia[at]aliciamenkveld.com

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