Category Archives: Growth

Hand with missing jigsaw puzzle piece. Word RIGHT, covering  the text WRONG. Business concept image for completing the final puzzle piece.

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.

43h

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

what-time-is-it

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

164h

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.

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phone notebook and glasses

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

Phone and notebook

Are You Plugging the Dam or Building a Foundation?

Growth Strategy
By Talmar Anderson

One of my favorite client “aha’s” is when I can help create a real opportunity for finding scaleable, qualified and culture fitting help for business owners.  If you have worked with Talmar It Up, you know that while the answer is delivered quickly so is the reality check of making a strategic plan to develop success in hiring. What?….you thought hiring was all about ….”My hair is on fire!  We must find anyone to get this off my plate RIGHT NOW!’  Certainly most business owners spend their time this way. It is their….ahem, “hiring strategy”. ***sad trombone**

Because I know you are spending all that time and money to grow your business through your marketing and sales efforts…I challenge you to spend a chunk of your time on a hiring strategy. What if we could ensure potential team members

  • Will be able to understand your industry, process and your customers,
  • “Want” to be a part of a team like you are building,
  • Hold matching values to your company’s core values and
  • Can contribute to your company’s growth?

By making a plan to be in front of these potential team members BEFORE we have a need, we can position our company for some seriously successful business growth!

Think about how much less stress you would have if you already had a few names in your rolodex (yes…I am that old. The rest of you Google it!) that you had already vetted? Knowing them to be able, knowledgeable, a good personality and culture match leaves only the conversation if they want to be a part of your team (availability and money). Soooo much easier and maybe even exciting now! Can that new team member drive a dramatic shift or change in your operations?

How do we make sure we can be in the know? One of my favorite ways is to build on the concept your brand strategist and marketing peeps are probably already giving to you! Drive your positioning as a thought leader or expert in your industry by offering a facilitated place for you and good possible matches to get to know each other.  Host regular Meet Ups for those skill sets that your company will need in the future.  Build and facilitate a Group on LinkedIn for professionals in areas into which you want to expand. There are many communities and networking opportunities out there where you can even just consistently participate to get to know potential candidates. But start doing it NOW!

When you meet people consider what they do, not as competitive but, as possible future enhancement for your own firm.  Maybe they have a skill for something you will want to offer through your company in the future. You can get to know them. Ask question about the specific market place. Look at their work or talk with clients.  This can all be done without a specific job or assignment on the table today.  This getting to know them and their work over the next 3 months can help when your business has a rapid expansion need 9 months from now.

The benefits for this type of invested time are exponential.  You can

  • be relevant in your industry,
  • be out and hearing from others how the market place is reacting to their businesses and
  • be creating your own personal back book of who YOU would LOVE to have on your company’s team.

Doesn’t this sound infinitely better than the last minute rush to read through a mass of resumes or referrals which is only the starting point of vetting a team member for your company?

It is your job as the business owner to be looking ahead and not just stuck reacting to each leak in the dam in the moment. If you are not making the time for these kind of actions to build the foundation of your for the future of your company…I wonder what could possibly be different in the future for your company? No forward look. No change.

Tell me where you can be in front of possible independent contractors, vendors or employees? I’d love to know! Email me at TAnderson@TalmarItUp.com

Now GO! Grow!

 

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How Long

How Long Does It Take?

How Long Does It Take?
By Talmar Anderson

A growing company has needs.  You need process. Then you need to write it down to create repeatable procedures.  I know you have heard it before. These are key steps allowing us to hire and have others help grow your company. Today I want to ask you how long does it take to produce each of your services? What about each of your products?  How much time goes into the design much less the manufacturing? How long does it take to just write your proposals? Yes!  It is time to talk about time tracking. Stay with me because this is the secret sauce to successful businesses!

This is not about capturing the details for billing your clients (though we can talk about how this directly determines your true profitability HERE).  I often hear “Oh I don’t bill my clients that way” as an excuse to skip this step. However, as a business owner you need to understand where the bulk of the time is specifically spent within your company to deliver services and products. It is within these details that you can understand how best to create space for high demand or growth periods of your company.

For many small companies, outsourced independent contractors are used to start filling in when demand grows.  I both support and recommend this for most companies as they can be ultra-responsive to client needs and take their time to understand their growth.  Is it consistent?  Is the company going to continue trending up?  What could you be doing to help grow the company faster if you were not completing the deliverables?  As your company’s growth is proven to be the norm then this is when my clients and I sit down to really look at the future of the organizational structure.  If scaling and growth is part of your plan then bringing “employees” into the fold will be a next step.

Why employees?

  • Consistency of quality
  • Availability of labor – IC’s can take on other work and this could leave your clients hanging.
  • Control over brand and reputation.  – them representing you by how they dress, how they answer the phone; how they structure their signature…all influences perception on the size and strength of your growing company!
  • Legacy – building a company that employs people is rewarding on many levels

By only considering invoices from independent contracts for dollar value as a cost of goods expense type, it will be that much harder when you are ready to bring those roles in house.  Getting the time tracking under control for forecasting and strategic planning is taking charge of your business! The more you can understand how long it takes for each task the more success and easier it will be when you are ready to hire.

We need to understand HOW the sausage is made to be sure that we structure our business correctly.  Begin by determining how each service or product is developed then list out each of the separate tasks involved.  Assign time to each project and task. Then over time we begin capturing the length of time it takes to complete each task.  As you start to document these details we will be developing a history.  Depending upon your need and the industry this could take two weeks to two years.  There are a lot of time tracking softwares (i.e., Toggl) out there. Heck, even your project management software wants you to do this and likely has time tracking capabilities. The key is to start capturing the details NOW.

If you are a business plan writer, you may think that your best course of action is to hire writers to help you compose the documents for your clients.  Most business owners would go this route and may eventually experience some help.  This may create a little space for a new client or two.

However, if you start breaking out tasks specifically you may find that researching each client’s industry details and trends can take twice as long.  In this case, your historical data can steer you to hire a researcher and creating double the freedom and space for further growth and development! Understanding how exactly your company works will set you down the path of hiring for the correct positions to allow for less stress, efficiency of focus and, say it with me everyone, profitability.

It is through this type of process that you move from throwing darts with your eyes closed to making strong decisions about the future of your own company.

Now GO! Grow!

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