Failure doesn’t mean you stop trying

October 2, 2011

There’s one horrible trend that I see in a lot of entrepreneurs and it’s simply that they quit very easily.  This is especially true when it comes to marketing, hiring, and their sales process.  Now I know what you are thinking…  Most entrepreneurs you know are the kind of people who never quit.  They never give up and they will fight to the death to make their business succeed.  While that it is true on the surface, this article will dig a little deeper into this epidemic.

This all starts from a recent conversation I had with a lawyer client of mine.  I asked him about what marketing had worked in the past and his answer was, “nothing”.  Seriously???  So I dug deeper and asked how he got his past clients.  The answer, “I did some networking, some post card mailers, and a couple of ads in the paper”.  So as I was scratching my head with confusion, I asked this, “So if nothing worked for you, how did you get those clients?”  His response, “well it worked once, but it hasn’t worked since”.  My response was simple, “so how many times do you think you’ve tried it that it didn’t work?”  The answer was kind of funny [to me, not to him].  His answer, “at least once or twice”.  Wow…  So I guess that’s a good reason to stop trying.

Follow my train of thought here.  You may not remember when you learned to walk, but I’m guessing you tried it more than once and I’m guess you failed several times along the way right?  What if you had just stopped trying to learn to walk the first or second time you fell?  You’d be in a wheelchair right now!  What about this major milestone in every person’s life, learning to successfully use the toilet.  Did you get that right the first time?  What about the second or third time?  Probably not.  It probably took weeks if not months of trying to get it right.  Imagine your life without learning this little skill…  I don’t care how smart you are, how talented in sports you are, or how charismatic you are, if you are 30 and still going in a diaper [because you are lazy and don’t want to learn to do it right] no one is going to hang out with you!  And that’s a fact.

One of the sad facts here is that learning to walk and going potty are probably the last times in your life where you were encouraged to keep trying NO MATTER HOW MANY MISTAKES YOU MADE!  Am I right?  Maybe riding a bike ranks in there with these, but then it stops there.  What if your networking skills stink the first dozen times you try it?  What do you think is going to happen?  Someone is going to come along and give you this pearl of wisdom, “why don’t you try something else?”  And of course that will make sense because networking is hard for many people and your brain goes into protection mode and says, “look, this yahoo said you should try something else.  That sure would make you happy.  Let’s just quit?”

Sometimes we just need to smack ourselves for listening to that little voice in our brain that is trying to hold us back.  It reminds me of the cartoons when I was a kid.  You know, the one where Sylvester the cat has the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.  That voice in your head is the devil saying to take it easy.

Back to my Lawyer client….

So I asked him this, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how good do you think you are at networking, marketing, etc.?”  His answer was a 2.  So I fired back with this, “Do you think if we worked on those skills and got you to a 5 or 6 out of 10 that you would be successful using those strategies to get customers.”  He answered with a resounding, Y-E-S!  So here’s the magic follow-up question, “How long do you suppose that it’s going to take to get from a 2 to a 6?”  He thought about it for a minute and said, “At least 6 months.  Maybe more.  Just depends on how fast I catch on.”  That was a brilliant answer.  You see, you can’t possibly the know the answer.  It depends on many factors like how fast you learn, what learning style works best for you, if you are an intellectual or if you are more hands on, how much knowledge you already have in this area, and your mindset or beliefs around the skill.  Another question I asked was, “if it will take you 6 months to get to a 6 out of 10, how long do you think it will take you to fully MASTER this and be a 10 out of 10?”  He thought for a minute and said, “probably a couple years.”  Again, right on the money…  A couple of studies I’ve read say it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to MASTER something. Which would take you just under 5 years if you practiced 40 hours a week.

I had one final question for my client…  “Are you committed to just 6 months to learn this or however long it takes?”  You see you have to be committed to however long it takes.  In his case, he said he was committed to eventually being a master at it.

Simply knowing what you are getting into at the beginning is an important step in maturity, but also success.  You see if you know going in that there will be mistakes, but that each one is a milestone that gets you one step closer to success, you treat the mistakes much differently.   When inventing the light bulb Ben Franklin made over 1,000 failed attempts.  His famous quote was, “I now know 1,000 ways it won’t work and just need to find one way to make it work.”  Are you willing to fail 1,000 times to get to success?

Let me leave you with this final point.  Each time you try, you INCREASE your percentages that your next attempt WILL WORK!  This not only applies in marketing and that sort of thing, but in prospecting as well.  I tell all my clients that you have to keep making calls, sending emails, and direct mail to your list at a minimum, 20 times.  Anything less and you’ve wasted all your efforts.  Yes, some will take action right away, but most people need you to keep reminding them about your business until they buy.  My famous line is, “I’m going to keep after them until they are a client or they get a restraining order.”  My clients and I always have a chuckle at that, because I would never cross a line that would cause something like that, but the point is real.  I keep after and just don’t give up.  As a result, I need much fewer prospects than the average person because over time I close 6 times as many.

Got a story of how your persistence paid off in learning something?  Please share it…

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What are KPI’s and why are they important?

May 12, 2011

One of the most important factors in running a business is actually one of the most overlooked areas of business. I know this because I talk to hundreds of business owners every year and I only find about 5% of them that have a clue about KPI’s.

So what are KPI’s?    KPI’s are Key Performance Indicators. These are the specific numbers that tell you what’s going on in your business and enable you to make educated strategic decisions to improve your business.

An example of KPI’s could be: sales, number of calls received, close ratio, amount of sales per product or service, amount of hits on your website, average AR days, etc. These are just some of the KPI’s you should be tracking in your business. Some of these should be tracked daily, some weekly, some monthly, and some quarterly.

Each business needs to customize their KPI’s to fit their business and start by selecting the most important 5 or 6 to start tracking immediately. Over time your list will grow as you learn what numbers you need to know.

So why do you want to pay attention and implement KPI’s? Simple… If you want to learn the fastest and most effortless way to grow your business, you need to master KPI’s.

Here’s a simple example of KPI’s for a Hair Salon.  For this example we will use just two KPI’s:  Average clients serviced per day and average sale per client.

Now those are just 2 KPI’s, but let’s see how this could be helpful to that business….

Let’s assume that the average clients serviced per day is 4 with an average sale of $45.  If this person works 5 days a week we can come up with estimated revenues of $900 per week (4 clients per day times 5 days in a week times $45 average sale per client).  Let’s also assume that these numbers are the same for 10 stylist that you have in your business.  So now the revenues are $9,000 per week ($900 times 10 stylists).

Now to put these KPI’s to work for you, let’s assume you can come up with 1 strategy for each KPI that will increase it by just 10%.  That brings your average clients serviced per day to 4.4 and your average sale to $49.50.  Doesn’t look like much until we multiply it out.  Now our weekly revenues per stylist are 4.4 customers times $49.50 in average sales for a new total of $1,089 per stylist or 10,890 for your whole team of 10.  When you look at it over time it’s even more attractive.  That extra 1,089 per week turns into 56,628 over the course of just 52 weeks (1 year) and over $283K over 5 years.  That’s a lot of money if you ask me.

But here’s the fun part.  If you know your average client visits per day and your average sale, it doesn’t have to stop here.  You could continue to work these numbers and improve them dramatically just by adding a single strategy here and there that will increase both areas.

Another KPI for this type of business is called, “Frequency of Purchase”.  To some people it can be referred to as average number of transactions per year, but I like frequency of purchase.  Think about this for a minute.  If your client visits you once every 8 weeks that winds up being about 6.5 visits per year.  Not bad, but if I know this number I can now work to improve it by implementing simple strategies.  So lets say I can reduce this to visiting me every 7 weeks.  I now go from 6.5 visits per year to 7.4 visits a year.  Again it doesn’t sound like much, but what if you have 1,000 clients like most hair salons?  You’ve just added over 900 visits at about $50 each to your bottom line.  That’s another $45K just by getting clients to come back a little more often.

These are some great practical examples that I actually use for a hair salon client of mine. 

Just remember to start small with a couple of KPI’s and build from there.  I like to start with 5 to 6 KPI’s at first and build up from there.  Just think about the numbers you need to know to manage your business and over time others will show up.  Also, be sure to monitor these weekly.  After all, you don’t want to wait until the end of the month or end of a quarter to spot a trend and make adjustments.  You want to make adjustments quickly so you can maximize your efforts and reduce loss of possible revenues.

If you have questions or want help setting up your KPI’s, just send me an email at michael@michaellejeune.com and I’ll setup a free KPI coaching session for you.  Just act fast because I only have 3 to 4 sessions like this open per week and they will fill up.


Facing the Giants

July 6, 2010

What a great video.  If you have the time, rent the whole video.  It’s a great story.

Most people have no idea what is possible when they only focus on the obstacles in front of them.  When you remove the obstacles, anything is possible.

What a great example of how a coach can push you to accomplish things you didn’t even know were possible.


Top 5 Most Asked Questions About Working With A Business Coach

August 7, 2009

1. How often should I meet with a coach? – The ideal coaching situation is weekly sessions for 8 to 12 months.

2. Why 8 to 12 months? – Let me put it this way, it has taken you years to become the person you are today. A lot of habits and ways of thinking won’t change over night.

3. What will we be working on? – We will focus on whatever your needs are. All coaching plans are customized for our clients. However, we will focus planning, sales, marketing, and customer retention as core pieces of our sessions.

4. How much is this going to cost? – Look at it like this, what is it going to cost you not to do it? Our average client invests between $1,000 and $3,500 per month with us. For that, our average client earn a 432% Return On Investment. Some clients have seen as much as a 5,000% ROI. The best part is that we teach you skills that you can apply for life. The ROI should be endless. One last point, if you have a degree, how much did you pay for it? And what is it returning for you? Our coaching is directly applied back to your business each week. No wait for a return on this investment.

5. So how do I get started? – Simple. Just call us today (636-577-5005) and schedule a FREE Session. In that free session, we will review your business, sales, marketing, and your goals. We will then brainstorm some ideas and if it makes sense, we will get you started that day with some strategies to start working on.

One last thing, you won’t be alone anymore. We will be right there for you to help you every step of the way.


6 Things Your Should Know About Having a Business Coach

August 6, 2009

1. You will make less mistakes – A business coach is someone who has successfully started and maintained their own business as well as worked with dozens or even hundreds of business owners. So they have seen or experienced first hand the most common mistakes in business. Learning these mistakes on your own is often expensive, but more importantly, it takes time to learn that you are doing it wrong and it takes time to recover. Skip all that waste of time and money and learn from an expert.

2. Make more PROFITS! – Business coaches are trained on every aspect of your business. They are professionals a teaching business owners how to make a business work and how to get more profits out of it. Business coaches can help you with Sales, Marketing, Business Planning, and much more. All things that will lead to more money for you.

3. Accountability – One of the biggest reasons business owners need a coach is accountability. As a business owner, there is rarely anyone holding you accountable each week to force you to grow your business. As a coaching client, we will work with you on what your goals and dreams are for your business and then push you to achieve them.

4. Someone to Listen to you – It’s often pretty lonely being a business owner. One of our biggest benefits is being there to listen to what’s going on in your business and your life and to just be a support system for you.

5. Focus on the Big Picture – As a coach, it’s my job to keep your eyes on the prize. Our coaching programs get you clear on your future and make sure you stay on track by always knowing where you are headed.

6. We Tell It Like it is – In business, you need someone on your team who isn’t afraid to be upfront and candid with you about your business, your plans, your strategies, your employees, and even your behavior. A coach will do just that. We won’t pull any punches, but we will work with you to find answers that will make your life better.


9 Stages of Selling

July 29, 2009

Most people that I talk to think they know how to sell.  But most people I talk to only have 1 or 2 of the basic 9 steps down.  This is why their closing percentage is 10 or 20%.  If you want to get your closing percentage to 50 or even 75%, here is an outline that will help you sell more deals and make more money.

1.  Make a Friend – Selling is all about relationships.

2.  Find common ground – People need to like you and it works best if they have something in common with you.

3.  Ask intelligent questions – Remember that you just need to have a conversation with people and that you want to learn about them.  The best way to do that is to ask questions.

4.  Dig deep – Don’t stop at surface level questions.  If someone tells you where they want to go on vacation, ask them “How long they have wanted to go there?”  Or  “What they plan to do while they are there?”  Really get an understanding of what that is important to them.

5.  Listen – Not much needs to be said here.  2 ears, 1 mouth, use proportionately….   You learn a lot about someone when you let them talk.

6.  Help them Visualize – Selling works best when people can visualize themselves using your product or service or reaping the benefits of them.

7.  Get a commitment – Nothing worse than having a great meeting with a prospect and then leaving them hanging.  You need to get a commitment for the next order, for next Tuesday, or a check/credit card today.  TIP:  Not doing this wastes the first 6 steps.

8.  Make them want to buy – I really hate selling.  I love helping people buy stuff, and people love to buy.  This is important because it will not only increase your sales it will bring you more repeat business and referrals.  It also eliminates buyers remorse.

9.  Ask for the money– This may be the toughest step for most sales people.  Many people just won’t ask for the money.  I’m not telling you to get crazy about this or act like a telemarketer (no offense to telemarketers), but at some point in the sales process, you have to say, “is this going on your credit card or are you paying with a check today?”  Doing this step alone will double your conversion rate.


What Have You Written Today?

July 15, 2009

No matter what industry you are in, it makes sense to write something each day.  You have some bit of unique knowledge about your industry or the way you perform that makes you special.  Writing it down and posting in a blog or some other place where people can read it, makes you more special.

A major benefit to writing is building credibility and getting your name out there.  And always remember that you don’t have to be a professional writer.  Just write the way you speak and be sure to spell check your writing.

It’s always good to put some links back to your website if you post on an external site like a blog, facebook, or some other site.

You have something to share so be sure and write it or type it before the thoughts are gone!