Archive for February, 2010

Make your Business Stand Out from the Crowd

February 13, 2010

One of the more common complaints I hear among business owners is how tough the competition is and how it’s getting tougher every day. The reality is that competition will never disappear; however, there are several effective strategies that can reduce the competition’s influence on your business.

In this column, I’ll focus on two of the most fundamental approaches: Defining your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and having a written Guarantee. Unique Value Proposition This is also referred to as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Many use the terms synonymously. Personally, I like the term “value” vs. “selling”, because at the end of the day, the reason your customers buy from you is the overall value you provide, not just what product/service you are selling.

To really define what a UVP is, it’s useful to break down the phrase and define each word: Unique – Refers to the characteristics of your product or service that distinguish you from as many of your competitors as possible. It’s the “what you do” and “how you do it” that clearly differentiates your product/service.

Value – It defines what your customers get for their money or the intrinsic worth of your offering to your customers. It’s also important to note that value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and what we think our customers value may be completely different from what they really value.

Proposition – It’s your factual and truthful proposal to your customer. Being able to qualify and quantify your claims is critical and makes your UVP that much stronger! In sum, your UVP is a distinct offer to your target market in which they get more than they give up (as perceived by them, of course) in relationship to other alternatives, which may include buying nothing at all.

While having a UVP may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many businesses truly don’t have a UVP, or if they do, they clearly don’t communicate it to their target market. If your UVP needs some updating (or if you don’t have one at all), then it’s time to do some market research. You need to know what your customers (and prospective customers) value, why they value it, and what result it achieves for them.

One effective approach is to sit down and talk to ten of your top customers. Ask them why they buy from you and what makes you different from your competition. They will give you your UVP (but in their words) and will likely provide reasons and insights you never knew or expected. Additionally, competitive research can also complement and refine some of the information you receive from your top customers and help you better define your UVP.

Learn from an Olympian

February 13, 2010

The opening ceremonies for the Olympics is today. Top-notch athletes from around the world gathered in Vancouver to participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Lindsay Vonn, an Olympic favorite competing in the alpine ski event, who took home two gold medals in last year’s World Cup, spoke to the Today Show earlier this week. One of the things she said was she had to sacrifice a lot and miss out on a lot of things growing up, including her high school prom, to be able to achieve her goal of being a top-performing athlete and making it to the Olympic games.

Olympic athletes are an excellent example of commitment. They all really want to get to the games. They all really want to go for the gold, and bring that gold medal home. They work every day to achieve their goal one day. There is no break — they are constantly striving and working harder and harder…and all for one goal: to be an Olympic champion.

What are your business goals? What can your business work harder to achieve?

If every entrepreneur, business owner and CEO behaved like an Olympic athlete when it came to achieving goals. they’d have achieved their goals already…and then some.

Business coaching can Help business owners behave like Olympic athletes, and really buckle down to achieve their goals. Need help narrowing down your ultimate business goals? Take this Business Health Check for guidance.

Franchises Can Outlast the Parent

February 2, 2010

Franchises CAN Outlast Their Parent Company What’s the fate of Fat Burger? The idea that some franchises can be left hanging after a parent company experiences financial trouble is a scary thought. But it can happen, and it’s happened a lot more in this economy. Some franchises, like Dial-A-Mattress and Fatburger are left in limbo while their companies decide what they should do. Dial-A-Mattress was sold to the highest bidder, Sleepy’s Mattress, for $25 million, and franchisees are waiting to hear if they’ll be kept or not. Similarly, Fatburger Restaurants of California and Fatburger Restaurants of Nevada, subsidiaries of Fatburger Corp., filed for Chapter 11 in April, and its 90 franchisees are waiting to hear their fate. However, some franchisees are able to pull through. Take Cork and Olive in Tampa, Florida. Franchise owners didn’t even realize they’d filed for Chapter 11 until a laid-off employee of a company-owned store applied for a job at a franchise. However, they’ve managed to stay alive, and all the franchisees meet regularly to discuss how to keep their brand alive and well – without their parent company. It just takes good planning and focus on business fundamentals. This is exactly what ActionCOACH specializes in – helping small businesses be successful, especially when something unplanned happens. Even if a parent company files for Chapter 11, a franchise may be able to remain successful. As Brad Sugars has said, managing business processes and cashflow is key. Also, focusing on what differentiates the business can also be crucial in surviving. ActionCOACH has several franchises all over the country, and just like other small businesses, how they manage their individual businesses is a key factor to their success. All businesses should focus on controlling their operations at all times. Sometimes a downturn gives businesses a “kick in the pants” to Help them realize what they need to do in order to survive – and in all cases, it’s about getting back to the basics.

Brad Sugars’ recent posting to his Blog

February 1, 2010

Brad is the founder and Chairman of my company. This is good stuff!!

American Workers in a Rut, But Companies Can Be Coached Out of Layoffs

January 26th, 2010 by Contributor
Laid off workers will likely find temp jobs, not full time work. Laid off workers will likely find temp jobs, not full time work. 

In a recent Business Week cover story, the magazine wrote about the situation many, many Americans are in: they’re temp workers. They’re easy to let go, have no benefits and work several jobs each day just to get by.

Economists forecast the same miserable situation for the next five to 10 years – several independent workers with no health insurance, no retirement benefits, no sick days, no vacation, no severance and no access to unemployment insurance. But even so, the few people interviewed for Business Week’s story who are temporary, contract or freelance workers, call themselves lucky.

You know workers are in bad shape when a low-paying, no-benefits job is considered a really good deal.

This fact – that temps and contract workers don’t cost companies hardly anything in this economy, since there will definitely be someone willing to work for a lower price – is a benefit to companies everywhere, but a detriment to temp/contract/freelance workers. The recession has accelerated trends to the extreme—including offshoring, automation, the decline of labor unions’ influence, new management techniques, and regulatory changes—that already had been eroding workers’ economic standing.

Despite Business Week’s story, some companies have used the recession to their advantage, without furthering the temp workers’ dismal situation. Take Marion Mixers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who decided to have a few business coaching sessions. ActionCOACH Business Coach David Drewelow helped the company take advantage of the recession in a different way. Instead of hiring temp workers after laying off six people from his 40-person company, the company did some restructuring, figuring out, of the existing employees, who was best at what, who fit in at what role and who could multi-task duties. Marion Mixers was busy restructuring because it wasn’t busy (it had a 40 percent slowdown in business from 2008 to 2009), and now that the recession seems to be looking up for businesses, the company is in a great position. In fact, they could even afford to hire more workers.

It’s not always about cutting costs and cutting people; sometimes a company can retain its employees and do other things, like restructure the company, to stay more than afloat during a bad economic time.

How might you coach a business through a recession? More importantly for business owners, how can you make sure your business stays healthy at all times?

Brad Sugars recent posting in his Blog, worth sharing

February 1, 2010

Brad is the founder and Chairman of my company. He has some great things to say here. Please read them. Ed

Something everyone in every industry has to keep in mind as they do business is that there are lots of choices out there. You can have a side of fries or a baked potato. Clothes have evolved from one pair of plain and simple pants to flared jeans, skinny jeans, wide-leg trousers, pleated pants, streamlined pants…the list goes on and on. Even the number of colors of crayons to choose from has gone from eight colors to a plethora of colors, as this chart shows.

Consumers can choose you or one of your competitors. That’s why it’s important to keep ahead of the competition by knowing your industry, having something your competitors can’t offer consumers, and doing your very best in your business, so you are successful.

You have a choice as a business owner: to be a failing business, an okay business, or a successful business, where you’re doing what you love and are happy. And likewise, consumers have a choice of which product to buy and which company to transact with.

Especially in this recession, there’s been even more competition to stay in business. If you’re a business owner struggling to keep a competitive edge, consider hiring a business coach to discover strategies you might not have thought of before. Take our business health check to find out if you should check out a free business coaching session.