Why Honor and Integrity is Worth More Than Money

March 31, 2011

A friend of mine asked me this week about a business decision I made last year that cost me several thousands of dollars.  I thought I would briefly share what happened and why I feel I made the right choice.  You can decide for yourself what you would have done.

So here’s the scenario last year.  A very wealthy friend of mine asked me to get involved in a business venture of his.  I took a serious look at the business, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me.  I knew we could make a lot of money, but quite frankly the concept bored me to tears.  One of the key compensation components was in building a national sales team and  receiving a generous commission on all their sales.  While this intrigued me, I had to make a decision.  Was I doing this for the money or the love of the business?

You see, I’ve found that if you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it very well.  Forget the money for a second because loving what you do each day is priceless!

Let’s fast-forward a few months.  After I decided not to pursue this opportunity, I referred another friend to it.  Now I did this for the sole reason that I knew she would LOVE this and pursue it will all her heart and I knew she would be a rock star at it.  Soon after I referred her, my friend called me up and told me I should jump in the business and put her on my team.  Even if I didn’t do anything else in the business, I would make a small fortune off of her work.  I politely declined.

For me, this is where HONOR and INTEGRITY come in.

You have to understand my point of view on this.  When I commit to something, I really commit to it and stick with it until it works or fails miserably.  It’s the only way I function.  So if I would have gotten into that business, I would have gone all the way.  For me, I wouldn’t recruit a sales person and then leave them without my leadership.  In my opinion, there’s no honor or integrity in that move.  It’s purely money driven and will bite you in the rear.

In this particular case, I knew I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I left my team out in the cold without my direct guidance and supervision.  Regardless of my abilities, those people would be my responsibility and I would give them 100%.  But that’s where my heart jumped in and said, NO!  I knew I didn’t like the business and would be bored out of my mind very quickly.  That would translate into the business amd my team and I would eventually hate every moment of it.  Which would present another problem for me.  Because of my commitment mindset, I would pour my soul into this business only to hate every minute of it and eventually resent the whole thing, my team and my friend.  My other option was to quit if I hated it and quitting just isn’t an option for me.

So in this case, the honorable thing to do was not to get involved in that business, BUT still refer people who I thought were a great fit for it.  You see, in your heart, you have to figure out who you are and what you are about.  For me, I’m all about helping people achieve their dreams.  I’m not the only person in the world like this, but I’ll tell you what differentiates me from many.  I don’t focus myself on how I will be rewarded for helping others.  That limits my abilities to help people achieve their dreams which is why I was put on this planet.

Honor and Integrity are more important than money for this simple reason…  You can always make more money, but it’s nearly impossible to get back your honor or integrity once you show the world that you are willing to comprise either or both of them for any reason.

Another great reason to focus on honor and integrity over money is the legacy you leave behind.  Most people have no idea the impact they make on their team or their family.  Believe me when I say everyone is watching every move you make.  Especially your children.  So leave the generation after you better off by leading with Honor and Integrity every day in every decision you make.  You will be rewarded properly for doing the right things.  And as you can see from the picture of my little girls below, there are some things that money just can’t buy!

My little girls

Katie and Megan 2010


How to get an extra 3 weeks of work done without killing yourself

March 29, 2011

One of my keys to success in business is getting more done in a day than most do in a week. One of my secret weapons is a 10 minute task list. While this doesn’t sound like a revolutionary idea or have any type of WOW factor to it, you will find out that it is effective.

Here’s what I noticed before I used this method. There are about a dozen or more time wasters that each person has. We are all different, but here’s a list of some of my old ones.

Top Time Wasters List:

Online News, Online Sports, Facebook, Twitter,  Video games, Texting, and a Quick call to family or friends.

Here’s how I tackle this and how you can to. I am always evaluating what I need to get done. From there, I pick out tasks that only take 10 minutes or less to complete. I then keep a list of those tasks handy for times when I only have 10 minutes free. Here’s how it works. Next time I end a meeting early but only have 10 minutes before my next appointment, I break out my list and knock out a 10 minute task. Another big one for me is wrapping up lunch early. If I’m back early and have 20 minutes before my next call, I’ll knock out two tasks from my list.

You see, I understand very clearly that TIME is the only asset I have that I can’t control. No matter what I do, at the end of the day, that 8 hours is gone! There’s no way to get it back. So I have to make the most of it. On any given day I may knock out 3 to 5 of my 10 minute tasks. That’s a half hour to 50 minutes of solid work completed. That’s huge if you are like me and need every minute of the day to get things done.

Just for the sake of math, lets look closer at the numbers here. Assume you just get 3 tasks done a day. That’s 30 minutes of extra work complete per day or 2.5 hours per week. Here’s the real shocker. That amounts to 125 hours per YEAR of extra work that you could get done. That’s over 3 weeks! That’s a lot of time you don’t want to waste.

So next time you notice you are falling behind or don’t have enough hours in the day, take 10 minutes to create your own 10 minute task list and watch your productivity soar!

Do you have a plan B?

March 23, 2011

Below is a response I gave to an old client of mine.  Let me catch you up on what led to this.  I found them getting into a panic cycle and reaching out to me about every 6 months.  They weren’t ready to commit to getting help for the problems they were having so I gave them this advice that I believe will benefit you as well.

What is it that causes you to panic every couple of months?  Maybe instead of just looking at strategies to improve your situation “NOW”, you may want to consider strategies that would put an end to the panic situations popping up.

Here’s what I’ve found that causes this type of panic for most people…

They find themselves in a cycle of up and down in the business. A bit like a wave coming in with business and then going out with the work. As the waves get bigger, something shifts in the business and they have a harder time focusing on bringing in more sales. Business is up and down and up and down and it’s never stable. This creates times of panic as things are down and so we tend to focus on bringing it back up again. The trick is planning for these times.

Some people will confuse planning for these times with focusing on something bad happening in the business. While they are easily confused, understand that there is a very clear difference. If you know your business runs in cycles, plan for the cycle. Having an action plan for day-to-day operations is critical to your success, but having an action plan for bad times is an absolute must!

Think about pilots for a minute. They plan and plan for a spectacular flight each and every time. But what we don’t realize is that they have hours and hours of constant training on what to do when something goes wrong. In their case, they may only have seconds to adjust course, fix a problem, or communicate countermeasures with their entire team. They don’t have time to waste coming up with a plan or panicking. So have a plan A for day-to-day and more importantly, create a plan B for those rough times that may make you panic. It will change everything in your business to always have a plan B handy if you are willing to implement it.

And here’s a little secret… Some of the most successful business leaders in the world have kept a plan B and even plan C and D in their desk for years. The minute plan A was clearly not the correct course, they whipped out plan B and went to that.

The 3 Biggest Dangers Facing CPA Firms Globally

March 13, 2011

The Situation Globally For CPA’s

I get quite a few inquiries from CPA’s asking about what they can do to grow their practice. My first question to them is always, “Are you already servicing your current clients as best you can?” The response is always a resounding YES! So then I follow that up with this question, “So on average, what are you billing per year per client?” The usual answer is somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 for business clients and somewhere around $200 to $300 for personal tax clients.

What comes next usually shocks the CPA because the next words out of my mouth are, “So what you’re telling me is that you don’t believe in providing the best possible service to your clients. Because if you did, you would be billing between $5,000 and $10,000 per year for your business clients and $500 or more per year on the personal clients.”

Sounds harsh right? Well not really when I break it down for them. You see, I know their business model so well that I can tell by how much they are billing their clients how well they are servicing them. In fact, I believe if you are just doing the basics for your clients and not providing them with everything that they need, you are in fact providing a disservice to them. Which leads me to the 3 Biggest Dangers Facing CPA Firms Globally!

Danger #1: My clients only need the basic services

If you truly believe this you are either delusional or you truly don’t know what your clients need. Either way, that’s not good. First you need to understand what services your clients could use and what you can provide. Most CPA Firms that I deal with only provide about 6 or 8 services to their clients when I meet them. 6 to 8 months into our relationship they have over 40 services that they provide to their clients. Now not every client uses every service, but on average most clients will use between 8 and 10 of my clients services versus the traditional 1 to 2 services from the average CPA Firm.

Here’s why my CPA clients are able to provide 8 to 10 services per client. This may sound overly simple, but they understand their clients needs and recommend solutions to their clients on a quarterly basis and do this by literally diagnosing what their needs are and prescribing these services almost like doctor would for a patient. You see, you the CPA are the expert in your field and YOU know what a client needs and WHY they need it. So they need your leadership and expertise to guide them. Instead of thinking about what the service costs to provide, you have to think about what benefits your client will get from the service and what this is worth financially and mentally to them.

Danger #2: My clients can’t afford more than what they are already paying

The first mistake here is believing that your services are just an expense to your clients. You have to understand how your services are an investment into their business. That is if you are servicing them properly. Think of it this way… Your services need to be self funding. What does that mean, you basically need the service to provide enough value to them to pay for itself. In many cases, many times over.

Here’s a quick example. After reviewing a clients P & L, I noticed that they had 5 loans in their business all related to the building but with different banks and different interest rates. I also knew from their balance sheet that they had 70% equity in their building and land. All these loans amounted to just over $12,000 per month. I asked them what their CPA thought of this and they said he had never brought it up. So we sat down together and in the span of an hour found 3 banks willing to consolidate the loans, reduce the rates, and get them under $8,000 per month. They invested $3,600 with me to help guide them through this process and the return to them was $4,000 per month for the next 20 years (the length of the loan). That’s without interest savings. That’s $960,000 over the life of the loan.

So get this, I took it another step with this client and showed them how they could reinvest that $4,000 a month into paying off the debt faster and partly into improvements into the business that would double the business.

So how much was this service worth to them? Well, if you are keeping track $960,000 without even touching the business. It was worth double that when we paid down the debt in half the time and doubled their business.

This is the worst part. After we started this process I asked their accountant if he offered these services. He said, yes. I asked why he never offered them to this client and he said, “They couldn’t afford it.” Needless to say, he isn’t their accountant anymore.

Now not every client has a hidden pot of gold like this, but many could use and would pay for a service that really guided them in their business. You have to ask, “What do each of my clients need?” And then you have to provide them with it.

Danger #3: I don’t have the time to service them

This is usually the first thing CPA’s tell me when I start talking about servicing their clients better. You see most businesses in general don’t appreciate or care for their current client base like they do about new clients. So most businesses (including CPA Firms) are spending 80% of their “Free” time marketing for new clients. What they don’t see is the cost of that. And by the way, what you invest most of your time toward is what you care most about.  Just ask any child how they spell love….  The spell love – T-I-M-E… 

You see it’s as much as 9 times more expensive to get a new client as it is to service your current clients better.

Here’s an example… First, you need to know how much time it takes networking to get a new client. Let’s assume for this example that you are really good at networking and for every 4 hours of networking you can get 1 new client. That’s a pretty good ratio. And lets say that this client bills out at $1,000 per year. That means you are generating $250 per hour in revenues. For the sake of this we won’t get into the actual cost of the networking, your added travel time, etc. Which could add another 2 or more hours to this.

Now, what if you weekly reviewed 5 client files for 5 minutes each and selected services that would greatly benefit their business and gave each one a call (roughly 10 to 15 minutes each) to go over the value of doing this? We know from tons of research studies by the Harvard School of Business that current clients are 80% more likely to add-on additional services than brand new ones who don’t know you are even likely of signing up with you. So let’s say 4 out of 5 say yes to an additional $250 worth of service. That’s $1,000 in services for less than 2 hours of your time. And there’s no drive time, no networking fees, and no lost productivity. That’s $500 in revenues per hour you invest in this method.

The beauty of this is that you could replace the 4 hours of networking with this method and significantly increase your business. And if you look hard enough you can find several other 1 hour slots per DAY that you could invest in this method. Where as networking can usually only be done once or twice a week due to availability. And you can’t control when people call you on your ads. BUT you CAN CONTROL how often you call your current clients. So my advice is to block out an hour a day to this method and between April 15th and December 15th block out 2 to 4 hours a day doing this.

The numbers don’t lie!

So let’s look real quick at a small accounting firm and what this would do for them. This firm has 750 individual tax clients at an average of $300 per year and 200 business clients at $1,500 per year in services. Now we come in and systematically and professionally show them how to increase individual tax clients to $400 per year and the business clients to an AVERAGE of $5,000 per year. That would generate an additional $75,000 in revenues for the individual tax clients. You would have to add 250 new tax clients to generate that kind of return.

Let’s look at the business clients now. These numbers would generate an additional $700,000 in revenues for the business. It would take adding over 460 new business clients at your old rate to produce this!

Here’s the best part!

When you serve them better, your clients will stay longer and refer you more business. This gets into the lifetime value of the client and drastically explodes your business. Exciting stuff that I just don’t have the time to discuss here.

One more thing before I sign off…

Because most CPA firms only operate at 20 to 40% capacity outside of tax season, they have PLENTY of TIME to service these clients for all of those additional services. So that means the MARGINS are MUCH greater on these additional services. That translates into more money in your pocket as an owner and the ability to pay your people more and get and keep the very BEST people. It gives any CPA the makings of an unstoppable business in any economic climate.

What’s the true value of coaching and consulting?

March 11, 2011

For some, this is a complicated question.  Do you put a value on coaching based on what you are paying each month, the market price for the services, or even what you can afford?  I say none of those.  For me, I practice what I preach and have a coach.  So when I look at the value I look at the following areas first.

What are the strategies worth?

This is a big deal.  Maybe one of the most important factors.  The reason I say this is because even if you are a great strategist you may not be able to come up with the strategies that your coach can.  The other factor here is being able to optimize strategies you are already thinking of.  A coach can help you do this to get 10 times the impact from your strategies.  What’s that worth?  Simply put, A LOT!

The other scenario here is when you have tried everything and nothing is really working like you want.  Your coach will have half a dozen proven strategies you can try right away.  A great coach will be able to help you monetize those and see which ones will give you the greatest impact right away.  And a Master coach will not only monetize these with you, but also pick strategies for you that cost nothing to implement.  This is the masters distinction and allows you to profit right away from the strategies and the coaching relationship.

Case Study 1 – No cost Strategies

An example of this is a recent client in the manufacturing business that sells 500 units per month at $90 per unit.  We went through the numbers and a few questions about the market and determined that he could easily raise the price right away to $95 per unit.  That’s an increase of $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year and we haven’t even gotten started yet.  They expect they can raise the price another $10 to $20 by offering the clients a better service with an additional guarantee and a few other benefits.  But this strategy didn’t cost him a dime to implement.  That’s the beauty of it.  This client unfortunately never thought of this simple strategy because he is so consumed by hunting for new clients that he never considered optimizing his current clients.

What is it worth in the time and money you save?

To know this you have to understand what you time and money are even worth.  For example, I have many clients with MBA’s and other various degrees.  On average they have paid somewhere in the range of $100,000+ for these degrees and spent 4 to 8 years getting them.  All the while earning pennies at their job or a fraction of what they could in a small business.  So while they were taking years to educate themselves, they weren’t earning their full potential income.  This income is lost forever.  A great coach will actually give you a Doctorate level on the job education in business in just 6 to 12 months AND you will be earning more money while you learn.  In fact, in our business we focus on self funding any of our programs so that by month 3 or faster, we have paid for our self for the whole year and beyond.  Wouldn’t it be great is universities took that approach?  One last thing to note is that Master Coaches have anywhere from 10 to 20 years of high level experience running and growing businesses.  So this means they have seen almost every scenario.  If you are like most people, you don’t have 3 or 4 years much less 10 or 20 to master the art of strategically growing a business.

Case Study 2 – Time

A couple of years ago a client came to us and said this:  “I’m 50 years old and just starting my own B2B Services Business.  I don’t have a degree and have never done this before.  To add to this, I don’t have 5 years to learn how to do this because I can’t stand the idea of wasting 5 or more years of my life just learning what to do and then beginning the business at 55 years old.  I want to retire while I’m young enough to enjoy myself.”

This is a common feeling among people of any age, but I certainly understood his perspective.  To make a long story short here, we took an active role determining the vision and strategic direction for this company.  In just 90 days he had 3 major clients and within the first year 20 accounts that all together more than doubled what he was earning in his previous job.  His profits quadrupled in year 2 and he is on his way to doubling again in year 3.  We have also reset his mindset that business is only about working all the time and not enjoying life now.  This is a major distinction and has given him the freedom to take 6 weeks of vacation a year while making more money than he could imagine.

What’s it worth to YOU to accelerate your dreams?

What is the accountability and guidance worth?

For many people, this area is the reason they come to us.  Most people left to themselves do not ever see their full potential.  Just think about the last time you had a great idea at work or home and kept it to yourself…  It may have taken weeks, months, or even years to take action on this idea and get something done.  That’s of course if you bothered to do anything about it.  Because many don’t.  Now think about a time where you shared an idea with a co-worker or supervisor or even a spouse and worked on a timeline, a to-do list, etc.  What were the results?  If you are completely honest about it, you know that because you had someone watching over you, you got it done.  Even if you procrastinated a bit, you pulled through on your deadlines and made it happen.

Unfortunately in most companies, the owner doesn’t have anyone holding them accountable or have anyone to answer to.  So they turn to people like me to get in their business and in their face each week to make sure things get done.  A factor here at play as well is that lost opportunity is lost forever.  You can’t recapture lost revenues from sales you didn’t make.  If we could go back in time and implement winning strategies earlier in our life, we would all be rich, but until you get a time machine, this just isn’t an option.

How about the guidance?  So next time you are thinking of implementing a strategy but don’t know where to start, how are you going to move forward?  What about not knowing if you should even pursue an idea or which one to pursue first?  This is a big deal for most people.  No knowing for sure what to do or HOW to do something is paralyzing.  And business is hard enough without being paralyzed.

So what’s this kind of service worth?

Think about this for a minute…  If every time you give me $1 I can turn it into $5 or even $10 for you, how often would you do that?  If you are honest, probably all day long.

Lets take it to another level.

What if you gave me $1 and I turned it into a money tree that generated $5 a month for the rest of the time you owned that business?  Now that’s exciting!  That $1 investment could be a bringing you $60 per year for the life of the business.  That’s HUGE!

Lets take it to an even greater level…

Suppose you see the writing on the wall and realize that while a $1 investment is great you want even more.  But that means a little more time with me and a bigger investment.  But again, you KNOW the return.  So you invest $10 with me expecting to get 5 for every 1 you invest.  Your return is now $50 per month or $600 per year.  It’s a massive increase and the beauty is that it was self funded by the strategies we implemented.  The real beauty is that is never stops there.  You see your investment will compound itself by using multiple strategies to get an even better business.  This means that at some point you are not getting $5 for every $1 you put in.  You may be getting 6, 8, 10, or even more!

So what’s the Value of coaching?

I put it simply as this.  What’s the GAP between where you are and where you want to be?  That’s the value of coaching and consulting.

Here’s a quick example.  Let’s say you have a $400,000 company but want to take it to $4,000,000 over the next 3 years.  The GAP here is $3.6 Million.  So as long as I can get you these results in the time frame you are looking for, the coaching and consulting is WORTH $3.6 Million to you.  How much are you willing to pay to get that?  Oh, and by the way, that will continue for the life of the business.  It will even grow at a substantial rate.