Strategy – How To Keep Your Service Business Focused On The Most Productive Business Activities

One of the prevalent problems most service business owners experience is difficulty with focus, loss of focus, and having no focus for their business. Instead, they conduct business from the “putting out fires” position. They aren’t staying focused at all times on the most productive business activities (bringing in clients, increasing revenue, increasing profit). They’re letting other demands pull them away. Often, these demands are not important or even relevant. If you’re having trouble keeping your focus on the right business activities, here are a few ideas for you.

1. Keep it simple.

You don’t have to do four million things at once. Eliminate 95% of the stuff you’re currently doing, and get it down to just a handful of activities. Put everything else “on the back burner” – at least temporarily. You can still do these activities. You don’t have to do them now.

2. Create a written strategy.

Know exactly what you want to accomplish with your business, the tactics to do that, and all the action steps that each tactic requires. Work from this strategy. Put a time-line to this strategy. Follow the time-line, and keep your focus on the top priority activity (as identified by your time-line).

3. Ask yourself at all times, “Is this the most productive business activity I could be doing?”

If not, make some changes. Make this reminder habitual and you’ll discover how much of your business activity is not focused on your most productive activities.

4. Execute your strategy consistently.

Use your written strategy as your business roadmap, making it clear what is next, and where your focus should be. Resist all the sales spiels and time demands, or delay them into future strategic behavior. You can add new things into your strategy at any time. Just make sure that they really are valuable and not distractions to your strategic objectives. It is challenging to stay focused and to resist distractions, but try using as a “filter” the primary objective of your strategy. Ask yourself if any new activities Will truly advance that objective.

5. Be clear in your strategic planning about any information or training you need, and work on getting it before you need it.

One sure way to stop your business momentum is to neglect to educate yourself in advance of the need to know. Figure out what you do not know and where to learn it. Stay ahead of your need to know and you will maintain the momentum of your business.

6. Recognize and reject distractions.

When new ideas or time demands arise, see if they fit the context of your current strategy. Explore whether or not they fit somewhere into your longer-term strategy. Are they simply distractions? Stay clear on this, and be willing to place these new potential activities where they belong in relation to your strategy.

7. Keep your focus on the concept of focus.

Modern life has unlimited potential to distract us with “important” activities that are essentially time wasters. It’s way too easy to get sucked into following the crowd with the “latest greatest” technologies, methods, and ideas. They are so seductive and play on our fear of being “left behind” in a rush to the new. We don’t question whether or not they are effective, fit our personality, or advance our strategy. Instead, we just jump in and follow the herd. Decide you will behave differently, and it will really pay off for your business.

These ideas will help you keep your service business focused on the most productive activities. Stay focused on attracting more clients, and increasing your revenue and profit. Don’t get distracted by off-track activities.

Video Production Business Tip – Restructure Video Production Debt, Improve Monthly Cash

To work on my video production business expenditures, I have already tried to reduce my fixed expenses by negotiating with monthly vendors such as your landlord, Internet service provider, Telephone Company, etc. That’s a lot of money you’ll be able to save just by picking up the phone and asking questions regarding how you can bring your costs down.

After I went through this exercise some time ago, I started to think about how I could bring my monthly expenses down as it relates to my overall business debt. Right now, I pay almost $10,000 dollars a month in business debt that I took on some time ago in order to grow my business with equipment, real-estate and personnel. No, that’s not a typo.

Even though I have since “right-sized” my video business and it is profitable in its current state, I still owe the debt. Currently, the payment plans I’m on will have me out of debt in 3 years. That’s great but I’m no longer happy about having to pay so much money each month and I believe I can get a better interest rate.

My plan: To get a single bank to roll ALL my business debt into one large loan for a term of 5 years at a 6% interest rate. If I’m successful in doing this, I will reduce my overall monthly debt payments by $6,000.

Yes, you read that correctly! Once the loan is finalized, my video business will immediately increase its monthly profit by $6,000. That’s $72,000 extra a year that will be in my pocket instead of the pockets of my lenders. Plus, it will be a single check written each month instead of multiple.

Some of you may be wondering why I’d prefer to stretch my payments over 5 years instead of staying on course to pay it all off in three years. It’s really easy. If I pay $6,000 more per month for another 3 years, I’m losing $72,000 in cash flow each year for 3 years. Sure, I’d be completely out of debt in 3 years, but at the expense of $216,000 that I won’t be able to use to increase my personal net worth.

Plus, as soon as the refinance is complete and my monthly cash flow (or profit) increases by $6,000, the value of my video business will increase by roughly $500,000. And, if the economy continues to make it hard on the video production industry, I’ll have $6,000 less I’ll need to generate in sales each month just to keep our heads above water.

I spent a couple days last week approaching several banks with my offer and I should hear back from them in a few days. Overall, my financials are strong. I have 15 years in the industry and 9+ years running this particular video production business so I don’t think I’ll have any issues getting one of the banks to do the deal. But in today’s economy, nothing is guaranteed so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

So, what does all this mean for you? I suggest that you look at your debt (if you have any) and start crunching some numbers to see if you can refinance the debt with a better interest rate resulting in a lower payment each month. You’ll need the extra cash flow in this down economy and as it starts to turn around, you’ll have extra money to either invest back in your video business or to start building your personal net worth.

One word of caution though. Don’t make any major financial decisions without first consulting your accountant. If you don’t have an accountant, GET ONE! They will save you A LOT of money and headache in the long run.

If and when you decide to approach the banks to refinance your debt, you’ll need to make sure you take the following with you:

  • 2 years business tax returns
  • 2 years personal tax returns
  • Year-to-date profit/loss statements for your business
  • Year-to-date balance sheet
  • List of debts you want to refinance
  • If your video business is an LLC or corporation, Articles of Incorporation or some type of document that proves you have the authority to borrow that much money for your business.

By having all these documents ready on the first visit, they can actually submit your loan while you are sitting in the bank instead of you having to go back to your studio to gather all the paperwork first. Also, you don’t have to take copies of everything for each bank. They’ll make copies of the above documents for you and give your originals back to you.

Good luck out there! The waters are rough right now but if you stay focused, you will find success in your video production business.

Information Products Business – Why Selling Short Reports Should Be the Focus of Your Business

One of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to start their information products business is creating their own information products to sell. The prospect of writing a 90 page ebooks can be really intimidating when you are not an expert in a topic. There is a simple way to get over this fear that very few marketers are taking advantage of, which is a shame. That way is creating short reports. In this article I’ll introduce you to some of the benefits of using short reports as a basis for your information marketing business.

1.You can write a short report in a few hours. This means that slaving over a product for weeks at a time won’t be an issue anymore. How long would it take you to write 7-20 pages? If you have a clear niche and outline to start with, you can easily do it in a few hours or less.

2. The low price point means higher conversions. You can sell a 10 page report for $7 pretty easily. The price is so low that you don’t need a fancy sales letter, and you will have higher conversions because there is such a low bar to entry. Many people will buy these products on impulse because it is such a low financial commitment.

3. The supply of topics is endless. You can break down a large topic into many smaller topics to use as the basis for short reports in your information products business. For example, look in a non fiction book and notice the chapters. Each chapter can be a short report. So you can easily make 20 products out of one book! Similarly, look at a sales letters and notice the bullet points. Each one of those can be a short report. Now, think of all of the books and sales letters our there, not to mention various other sources for topics such as magazines. The topic can be very specific since the product is so short, and this results in expanding the number of potential ideas for products far beyond what you’d have for a more substantial product.

4. When other marketers are having success with their product, you can profit from their success by producing a complementary report on a similar topic. If a market has a successful product on link building techniques for example, you can product a short report on actual places where you can get high PR links. Use your imagination and piggyback on the success of others.

5. You can maximize the lifetime value of a customer. If you give your reports a theme, you can position them so that customers feel compelled to buy each report in your series. So you can have a 5 Minute Guide to Traffic, and a 5 Minute Guide to Product Creation, and a 5 Minute Guide to List Building, for example. In order to not feel as if they are missing part of the series, many customers will automatically buy all of the products in the series. This is a sure fire way to get tons of repeat sales for your information products business.

Match Wholesale General Merchandise Purchases to Your Sales

To get the top deals for any wholesale merchandise you purchase for resale you need to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset. For this you need to have solid knowledge and understanding about certain facts relating to the market, sales vendors, products offerings, and more. In the current market a variety of options are available for those who own a dollar store to source the wholesale general merchandise needed to keep the shelves well-stocked. However there are certain things to consider before going out and blindly buying all kinds of products. Read on for some of the key considerations.

* Know the market and the products your shoppers purchase

In today’s market there it is unwise to purchase huge quantities of products which sell slowly. While you may need to locate suppliers offering partial cases, or possibly split cases of these wholesale general merchandise items with other stores, having 288 of an item which sells at the rate of 3-4 items per month is not a good use of your funds. On the other end of the spectrum, do not allow best sellers to run out.

* Build customer satisfaction by focusing on value

You simply must be careful about the quality or product features of the wholesale general merchandise you purchase. Never assume saving 5ยข on an item is worth the trade when the quantity is reduced by 25%. Even worse, don’t make tradeoffs with reduced quality, quantity or perceived value if your competition stays with the product you no longer carry.

* Know the hot sellers and keep them in-stock

Do not allow the shelves to go bare of the core consumable items which bring shoppers back time and again. These items sell, so always place your replenishment orders in plenty of time to have new stock arriving just as you are close to selling out. As these items arrive be sure to immediately place them onto the sales floor.

* Maximize profit but never building inventory levels

Do not rush to buy huge quantities of any items simply because there are tempting discount offers. You will risk ending up with an unnecessary inventory at your store. It is essential to buy the correct quantity or your inventory management will go out of balance, resulting in stockpiling of unnecessary goods.

* Shop for competitive prices when purchasing replenishment products

Buy items having the best rates. Since wholesale pricing of products varies based on their demand and availability, shop around if you cannot get competitive prices from your normal sources. Always factor in your quantity requirement (Based on products sales levels.) as well.

Thus, be sure to remember the key point to matching the buying of wholesale general merchandise to store sales. Purchase just enough dollar store merchandise to keep the shelves full as well as to ensuring the stock room is in effect empty. Buy only required items and in the right quantity, during seasonal or holiday offers. Never allow your stock room to become filled with products which do not sell.