Category Archives: Growth

Structure IS Success.

Structure IS Success.
By Talmar Anderson

I know your eyes cross when I talk about developing processes with your own company.  When I say “Structure” your organization, you say “it is on my list”.  People! (Imagine me with a bullhorn standing on a desk like a small biz Norma Rae) Please understand, and I want you to lean in to get this, right her and right now, you need to know that building the structure of your organization is REQUIRED for success. You are shooting yourself, your clients, your reputation AND your staff in the foot by NOT prioritizing the time required to create an organizational structure for your business. It does not matter how small or how big your business is at this moment.

Do not get me wrong, if you have read my articles or know anything about Talmar it Up, you know that I 100% believe we can build a business model that is specific to you and your vision. You want less bureaucracy and that is why you started your company. IT CAN BE DONE and your business does not have to look exactly like everyone else’s business model. You will get to have the business life that you want once you have built an organization that is supported and functioning around that dream role.

Have you laid out the foundation for building to success? There are tools that successful companies use within a system specific to their industry that creates a repeatable process. Organizational Structure.

You don’t have time?

Well, then, I am glad you and Richard Branson have competing bank account balances. NOT THAT RICHARD BRANSON would do anything other than invest time, money and energy to ensure that his company has what it needs for success.  In fact, your company and his companies need the same thing…people.

  • You need people that want to work for your company.
  • You need people that understand what their role and responsibilities are within the company.
  • You need people to be able to deliver for clients consistently and in line with brand expectations.
  • You need people to feel that they receive the product or service they expected.
  • You need people to feel valued for their continued patronage and feedback for improvements.

And that is not all of it but it is a great starter list.  People will need to be engaged, valued, instructed, managed, communicated on how to perform successfully- employees and clients. Those people will be your star employees, your most loyal clients and your most avid supporter OR they will go somewhere else and your company will suffer and your business will become more demanding of your time, energy and money!

How do you build an organizational structure? One process at a time. Here are examples of some operational processes that could be used as tools for a profitable and growing company.

  • You need people that want to work for your company.
    • Tools Include:
      • Accessibility and empowerment programs
      • 1-1 meetings with Supervisors
      • A conflict resolution process
  • You need people that understand what their role and responsibilities are within the company.
    • Tools Include:
      • Job Descriptions
      • Project Accountability assignment
      • Staff management
  • You need people to be able to deliver for clients consistently and in line with brand expectations.
    • Tools Include:
      • Quality assurance process for the branding
      • Onboarding and job training
      • Documented repeatable process
      • Performance reviews
  • You need people to feel that they receive the product or service they expected.
    • Tools Include:
      • Sales communications setting the correct expectation
      • Contracts to engage and fulfill successfully
  • You need people to feel valued for their continued patronage and feedback for improvements.
    • Tools Include:
      • Customer engagement
      • Pre- and Post- deliverable feedback requests

You are already on the way to that growth. You have clients, staff coming on board and money coming in. The decision to look at your organization and regularly prioritize what YOUR business needs is the REAL shift to success. Now GO! Grow!

More questions? Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

Scalability. Nothing More but Nothing Less.

Scalability: Nothing More but Nothing Less.

By Talmar Anderson

Scaling a business.  Have you heard this phrase before?  Did you know that the process of scaling a business does NOT have to do with just growing your sales? Certainly, growing sales are a sign of a company that is scaling up, however, the process of a successfully growing company is one that planned for successI know, crazy, right?  We spend so much time worrying and figuring out how we will make it.  We project minimums needed to break even. We start from a place of trying to at least not lose our investments in our company. And sure enough, one of the things that can sink a company is when it all goes right!

This is one of my favorite pieces of planning and strategy. I LOVE it!  This is when we get to plan for everything working out as we intended. We start from imagining that our new marketing push and sales process are all hitting YES! Will we have enough people/ product/ time / resources to deliver on our dream goal of $1,000,000.00 in revenue? Our full strategic plan will seek to understanding what is working and how it is working throughout the whole company and each of its departments so that we can replicate the good. There are a lot of moving pieces to this growth plan for scaling but I want us to focus on one piece.

Today we are going to talk about the easiest piece to effect profitability in a positive way when scaling growth and creating strategic plans. Create an organizational structure that will profitably allow hiring to execute on delivering and maintaining your quality of deliverables. Huh? In other words, we need to make sure we hire the correct skill level for each task that is required to deliver for your customers. Nothing more but nothing less.

Here is the secret.  Assign work flows to the level of expert required for high quality of results. Moving away from client based staff assignments or project based workflows can seriously take your profitability to a new level. We need to look at “how” the sausage is made!

While reviewing your services and products, understand that strategy, highly technical work or out of the ordinary troubleshooting requires an experienced or specialized staff member.  These areas can be tracked to usually show a limited need.

Regular workflow and customer service can then be assigned to the 3 junior team members.  The decision to have a focused specialist dealing specifically with the troubleshooting may require a company to hire only 1 senior team member.  While more expensive for this piece, we can focus their workflow on the limited need of difficult and experience requiring work. Now we are paying high wages to one employee instead of high wages to four of them “in case” the project or client has a sophisticated need.

Consider this perspective to further convince you that your workflows need to be defined and measured. The expert level required for filing papers is not nothing.  They need to know how to alphabetize, how to stay engaged and pay attention with focus, as well as the patience to take the time to get pages in the folders neatly to allow for ease of accessibility.

Let this junior level position be handled efficiently and professionally by a person that can value these skill sets. This junior level position will cost the company less because the experience and education to gain this skill set is less intensive.  You are no longer paying expert level wages to have your client files organized, accessible and current.

Giving this filing work to a senior level person with advanced or specialized experience can often create a scenario that can cause further complications beyond overpaying for filing services. An expert can be unfocused when not applying their most current expertise and education.  Specialists will be looking over their shoulder toward the next challenge and, distracted, they likely are unable to alphabetize correctly on a consistent and reliable basis.  It is NOT their priority.

In fact, if you look at their job description, I am sure you will not even see “filing” on the list.  It falls under the “and other responsibilities as assigned”.  Meaning it was NOT enough of a priority for you to list it for this position and therefore not enough of a priority for the employee to value the time and focus to file correctly.

File correctly you say?  Yes. Front to back. Ease of reading (no backward pages). Chronological for each section. What about proper file tags? Are the folders large enough?  I highly doubt your senior level expert who has a juicy case on their desk is willing to stop and give the proper focus.

And THAT is where the snow ball starts.  Not assigning the right details correctly allows for the little things to pile up or be mistreated.  This creates stress and potential for mistakes (missing a client communication document that was filed under the wrong year) and can start headaches for you, your clients and your company’s reputation!

It is in the details that great customer service and rock star deliverables are created.  If you are in a growth period and have yet to sit down and organize your company into the roles required for growth AND the skill sets required to complete the different pieces, I’d love to chat with you. I want it all to go right AND I want your company to have smooth sailing into successful growth!

Story of a WORKING strategic plan!

Story of a WORKING strategic plan!
(it has a surprise ending…)

By Talmar Anderson

Today we will look at a part of the Talmar It Up strategic plan in an effort to share possible outcomes in your own strategic plan! Having spoken as a part of many business retreats and conferences, Talmar It Up had created The Takeoff Series in 2016. A limited number of clients learn a focused agenda on specific, yet varied, business topics over 2 days in a small group setting. I had been approached about growing this segment of my firm. Retreats/conferences specifically. Part of the current TIU strategic plan was to research and develop the Takeoff series on a larger scale. Scaling, right? That is my thing!

Many concepts were considered and structures evaluated of how to build a consistent and appealing business education based vacation that delivered all that clients would expect. As part of my plan, several months ago, I scheduled to attend a 3 day conference out of town in an industry adjacent to mine that was being offered by a peer and woman I admire. The benefit of attending for the results offered was doubled because I was going with an eye to observe and consider, from the operational stand point, all the moving parts.

Phew! Hats off to the event planners of the world. Those conferences are, well, a lot! The conference I attended was amazing. Well-staffed with top notch and accessible people at every level throughout the entire event. The site chosen worked to allow for community building and attendee privacy. The speakers and presenters truly came from a place of education and were open to interact with the attendees consistently. The company that offered the conference was prepared and professional. There were no lines or long waits for any of the transitional moments of the entire group. This was a beautiful orchestra in motion.

And in that experience I saw that it could be done. Scaling this was a real opportunity for my company. I could surround myself with the right people to get this done for my clients and business.

And then in THAT moment I did the secret to success and happiness check. Do you know what I am talking about? A huge part of strategic planning is considering what could be, planning out what it would take to deliver…truly deliver the plan to your audience, and then ask yourself “Do I really want to do this?”

Do you want to commit your company’s time to offer this regularly? Do you want to commit X% of your company’s money and resources to making this happen? When you think of the work involved…do you get excited for the challenge or tired from the energy it will require? Heck, will it be any fun delivering for your clients in this way?

As I participated and enjoyed the benefits of the wonderful event, I looked at the host and thought, she is brilliant at this. I also knew that I was not interested in growing the Takeoff series into the bigger offering. I apply for myself the same insight I use for others. Because I could, doesn’t me I have to do it.

I will, of course, still speak at conferences and retreats, however Talmar It Up will continue to only offer the limited retreats series.The scaling of the event would require several days of general help to the clients. Beneficial yes but I know that my one on one connection of delivering specifically for each client’s business model needs is my true happy dance inciting work. Both for me and for them.

Strategically, that is not me playing small. My podcast allows me to influence more and more people throughout the globe. Conferences I attend as a speaker allow me to reach hundreds. However, the time and energy to plan, organize and manage those kind of events will take me too far from how I like to deliver in my work.

And so the strategic plan worked! By working the steps of my own strategic plan I can confidently let go of the time, money and resources I was allocating for that expansion. I will review my strategy to see if this leaves a hole or where Talmar It Up can further diversify and grow. It was not a failure or wasted resources to spend money, time and research efforts on something Talmar It Up will not move forward upon at this time. I know where I don’t want to take Talmar It Up and that in itself creates focus. Can’t wait to see what the future is bringing now that I let go of that goal to create new space! Now GO! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!
By Talmar Anderson

Understanding what needs and results your market will be moved to purchase can be a changing target.  Specific review and checking in with your customers and prospects is always a great step as a focused effort ( at LEAST annually). Technology changes accessibility to solutions, economic swings can inspire more or less spending and innovation can change an entire industry.  (VHS anyone? I still say “tape” to digitally record anything!) If you have been following the Talmar It Up blog or worked with me in any way, I hope you have heard me say, “Sell what your audience wants to buy instead of what YOU want to sell”.  The idea is that some business owners will be convinced that a product or service is what their target market really wants or needs. “Really. They need this.”  During these conversations, I love to get it straight from the “horse’s” mouth.  There are a few ways to do this…let’s check it out.

Surveys and polls are a great a way to reach out and create a separate conversation opportunity outside of the in the moment service or purchase. Maybe you have a system that delivers the survey to the clients at the end of the engagement or perhaps you just want to do a focused assessment of a general concept.  How is one solution working for the market?

Even if you regularly collect this data, a big picture overview with an eye to the next 12 months can be hugely beneficial.  These efforts can start internally but may need to include research for a larger market not just your clients. However, don’t let this stop you. At least start with your current contacts, prospects and clients to gather data.

During these surveys pick 3-5 questions that are targeted at a certain product or service satisfaction level.  If you try to capture too much at once, your few willing participants will get interrupted, frustrated or lose interest and you will receive far fewer responses. Look at interaction on the value or benefits your company’s solutions offer to current client pain points.  If your company offers more than one solution, you can ask them to rank their preferred product or solution. Regardless of how you structure your surveys remember this is just a sampling of the views of a few within your market. Certainly, there is value here but it is a limited perspective.

A poll is a quick and focused way to lead your market to respond to one specific question. This single question with multiple choice answers allow you to lead and limit choices.  As we know, there is usually one person who will choose ‘None of the Above” because they feel the choices do not perfectly fit their way of thinking.  You can consider allowing “Other” as a choice with a write in field.  Some innovative and clever ideas can come in this way but it can dilute the focus if you are trying to understand how your offering fits with your thought out alternatives in the pol question.

If you are choosing this time to understand what your market wants from you…I would also consider talking to their wallets! Let’s do a 3-6 month review of YOUR company.

If you are trying to decide where to focus your next marketing effort or which product service to be promoting, make sure to go back to your numbers.  What has ACTUALLY resulted in revenue for your company? Is anything trending up?  This can be enlightening and get you ahead of either a growing need.  Take the time to understand why these customers purchased because you have readily available access. What you have sold over the last few months IS what your market wanted.

Asking you clients, prospects and target market what they need and want to buy is a regular part of any business looking to have longevity.  Very few companies sell exactly the same item, exactly the same way 5, 10 or 20 years down the line.  Certainly, more than a few companies that have kept the nose to the grind stone and just kept pounding out the products have been run out of business.

By asking we can gain insight, inspiration and validation for our company and its services. This can also uncover a new opportunity or segment of your target market to access. Growth, my friends, is often on the other side of an ask. The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners LOVE a good question! Now GO! Grow.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

Time for a Big Push!

Time for a Big Push!
By Talmar Anderson

How is business?  Are you looking at your goals? If you are like most business owners, end of the year is when you start to consider how you will finish your fiscal year.  While you can start planning for the new year, don’t be so quick to call this year done! Have you broken down each specific goal item to see where you can create a push?   Not just the big money goal.  Let’s look at your history. Here are three areas you can look at to find some cash flow and prospect opportunities to smash your goals!

  • Is one service or product more popular with your market at this time of year?
    • If you have been in business for a few years you can look back to understand what specific product or service is in demand this time of year. Spend focused energy there with the prospects that need/want your offering. Consider a new marketing outreach to educate others of the reason for the current demand and how they could benefit too.
  • Is one service / product trending up in your business right now?
    • Let’s look at the last 3-6 months and consider blowing up that trend even more! Look to see what piece initiated that upward tick.  Was it one specific product / service benefit that you newly highlighted?  Was it new pricing?  Maybe a new referral source? You could create a promotion to ramp that trend even higher.  Maybe some educational marketing on the benefits of buying your service or product?
  • Have a piece of your offerings that needs a shot in the arm?
    • If you are missing your goals in one specific area, now is the time to refocus resources. Can you pull a small bite out of the product /service and offer it at a special price for a limited time?  It could be a “try this” offering that can easily lead into the full engagement.  Setting limits on time is especially critical if this is structured as a loss leader to a larger sale. SPECIAL NOTE: Develop a strong and consistent follow up process for the upsell into the full product.

This is where all that work you have been doing all year can quickly pay off.  All the tracking, measuring and data recording you have built into your company.  This structure allows for agile actions and specific decisions that can save your company from “throwing money after bad”.

Last thought. If you are going to put these specific pushes for more business in place, don’t forget to plan for success! Make sure you consider how you will fulfill each new order and track what “Sold out” could be very specifically. This will protect your reputation, quality of deliverables and sanity!…It is NOT too late to effect change.  This is a great moment to look at your goals and metrics to take action.  Now GO! Grow!

 

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

The Difference is in the Listen

The Difference is in the Listen
By Talmar Anderson

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last week at a speaking event with a group of amazing business professionals.  They enjoyed themselves too though I suspect you would be surprised if I told you the topic was “Sales Strategies”. Don’t be! Sales can be fun and exciting. Remember, all the planning and operational structure can’t deliver profits without selling to your clients. If business owners have a common spot they can get tripped up on, it is in their sales process. Ohhhhhh…you heard me.  Your company will significantly benefit if you can develop an actual process in how you sell your products and services. Good sales process is all built around “the listen”.

Listening is when sales turns away from the pushing and coercive talking that feels like constant noise and reminds of us of slick, pushy car buying experiences. That “yuck” that people carry in their head when they even hear the word sell. It comes from the sales person that was so busy trying to get their point across that they forgot to check in with the prospect’s needs…much less if they had a pulse. So when you look at your sales process make sure you highlight the listen. The listen is often the portion of your sales process that is the qualifying.

When you qualify you want to hear what problem they have right now.  This requires you to stop talking about how awesome your company is within your industry.  You have to stop talking about how the price is amazing or for a limited time. You have to stop trying to sell your product or service. Just shhhhhhh. You want to listen for words and challenges that you KNOW can benefit from your company’s solution.

If you can talk less and listen more, you will more easily identify a qualified prospect.  The one that has a problem right now.  The one that is ready to buy your solution. The prospect that can truly benefit from what your company sells. And IF you have taken the time to listen, you won’t have to cram in all the details you know about your company.  You will know exactly which details are important to this prospect.  You will understand what the pain point is for the prospect and why they are talking to you about it today. Now you can simply offer your company’s solutions by highlighting how it can HELP their specific situation.

The difference is in the listen.  If we let the prospect tell us their problems and what they want for a solution, then we can help.  If we met every lead and potential person with a barrage of words that may or may not be pertinent to their situation NOW, we are far more likely to offend, be drowned out by their thoughts of escaping our pitch or frustrate ourselves with another “no” because we weren’t even talking to the right target market.

So when you are designing your sales process (not to be confused with your marketing…give me a call if you want to discuss this specific pain point!), please make sure that qualifying is a first piece to closing your sales. Starting your process this way will grow your closing ratio and build a client base that sees you as a solution more than a collector.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list? Join so that you know about articles and events to find inspiration, learn more or get insights!

What to Do BEFORE your Hire, Part 3

What to Do BEFORE your Hire, Part 3
By Talmar Anderson

Today we discuss the last piece in this 3 part series addressing some of the actions you can take BEFORE you spend your dollars on employment ads, block out time to review resumes and weed out the unqualified people that would rather work in a cave than in a culture like the one you have built in your company. Over the last month we discussed:

  • Creating the transitional work list – and helping you play catch up HERE
  • Considering where they fit and who they talk with operationally HERE

This third piece, on actions you can do before you even start the employment ad, can keep a business owner stalled in the hiring process especially if this will be a newly created or defined role. “Where I am getting the initial cash outlay to bring this position on?” Don’t get stalledI say take action.

Hopefully you are hiring because your deliverables are trending up and growth is knocking on your door.  But sometimes the next leap in your business growth is a position that may not be 100% billable or billable at all!  From Assistants to Project Managers to operational point people, investing in the structural staff to allow your organization the space and process required for real growth is pushed out because the ROI (return on investment) is not a direct cash payout on the income line.

What can you do to help ease the increase in your payroll? Start a new sales effort. I know it seems crazy to suggest MORE work but action creates the opportunity for cash to flow and more clients to come in your business’ door.  So roll out a strategic marketing campaign to get a new push of cash rolling in over the next 90 days. Can you incentive additional work that pulls in deposits, partial payments or even pre-orders? Focus on either your highest profit margin products and services or deliverables that will be specific to the new employees work load. This can give your payroll a real chance to be covered more quickly. Not to mention that with that added work you will best be able to enjoy the benefit of an extra pair of hands meeting those deadlines more easily than ever before.

The key is to start this sales push WHILE planning your hiring needs.  Make a plan. Develop your hiring process.  This is an operational need that will be used throughout your whole career.  There is a reason that everyone can relate to all the HR horror stories.  We have all been there.

Regardless of your industry.

Regardless of your specialty.

Regardless of whether you run a brick and mortar operation or a professional services firm.

Even if you are an ecommerce or technology solution company.

If you are committed to growing your business then you are committing to the hiring process. Growth is the same for all business.  Growth = More people.

Now GO! Grow!

 

P.S. Make sure you are on the list to be first to know about Hiring resources for your business as they become available and I’ll send you a FREE Test you can use to see if you need to hire an employee or can work with Independent Contractors! Click HERE