The Power Of Many Eyes and Ears
I often attend speaker conferences and seminars to gather ideas to grow my business, and I always try to not ‘go-it-alone.’ Not because I don’t like going to these events alone… because I actually do. I’ve always enjoyed being independent, free to come and go as I please, and could very easily travel through life alone. But I’ve learned it’s not such a smart idea in business.
You see, I don’t know enough.
Due to my own personal life-experiences, blind-spots, Prejudices-I-Don’t-Know-I-Have, and many more of my thousands of human limitations, I realise I can only take in so much, see so much, hear so much, and understand so much… at any given time.
And yet we still think we can take it all in… NOW!
How often have you read a book or watched a movie, and after discussing it with someone else who did the same, you caught sight of whole new perspectives that your heart, eye, brain and ears just would never ‘get’ if left to their own devices?
Life has taught me that in trying to be different, expand our business, and extend our support community we’ll travel much further much faster if we have more than just our one set of eyes taking in the landscape. To think otherwise is extremely narcissistic.
If you’re like me, you hate to miss any of the good stuff, and want all that every situation has to offer.
Next time you’re watching a webinar, or reading a business or life book why not invite somebody else to do the same with you? And agree to create a brainstorming alliance during or after.
Or why not take someone else along with you to the next information session or seminar you’ll be attending? Someone who you can trust with your ideas, who will brain-storm and collaborate with you, and perhaps who also thinks and sees the business world differently to you.
I can assure you that by inviting other people to share experiences with you such as books, webinars, information and events that apply to your business, you will:-
- see further with greater clarity
- increase the peripheral vision of your business brain
- hear more and grasp more of the context and content
- understand author/speaker finer points in greater detail
- experience a greater awareness and knowledge of the subject
- generate stronger ideas afterwards
- create greater possibilities for improving your business
By adding in a brainstorming, collaboration, and de-briefing component afterwards you are, in effect, maximising your own thinking.
On the other hand, if you’re completely comfortable in the knowledge that you already know-it-all, have the brightest mind, keenest insight, and couldn’t possibly benefit from anyone else’s input, then this blog probably isn’t for you, and I’m left wondering why you bothered to read it in the first place.
So, are you a lone-ranger? Or are you a collaborative brain-stormer?
I’d love to hear how you maximise information-gathering from your reading. And also, what measures you take to ensure you capitalise on the events you invest time in watching and attending.
PS. Feel free to email me if you’d like to include my eyes and ears in the next event you’re attending, or article or book you’re reading.
Here’s What I Think About Bank Managers. Pt1
What’s Your Bank Manager’s First Name?
I was having a discussion recently with a bank manager I was seated next to at an event. She said she found it odd that the only time people sought her out was when looking for a loan, or when they were in trouble with the bank.
What’s you bank manager’s first name? Have you ever asked your bank manager out for a cup of coffee? If not, why not?
Getting to know your local business banker or bank managers is one of the smartest things people in business can do. Bank managers are a very important cog in the operation and growth of many businesses, and therefore have many eyes that your business can benefit from.
Your business banker or local bank manager can be one of your greatest business assets. Especially when you’re just starting out, because initially you’ll need as many experienced sounding boards, and as much good advice as you can get.
Bank managers and business bankers are often completely under-valued as the true business assets they are.
A good local bank manager or business banker is probably more ‘in-the-know’ with what’s going on within your local business community than anybody. They have their finger well and truly on the pulse in relation to much of what’s happening in your business industry or community.
Your bank manager will bring a wide range of business knowledge, experience, assistance, support, connections and resources to your new or existing business to help it grow – if you ask for their help.
There are very few people as well connected and ‘in-the-loop’ within a business community than a local business banker. And even fewer who are qualifed, and willing, to sit with you and discuss the important issues your business is facing – at no charge.
I truly believe that business bankers and bank managers are the most under-valued business partners in the small business community, and that this could be either the result of never having it suggested, or it’s from having a ‘small business’ mindset. Just look at all the large, successful businesses and you’ll see that their relationships with their banks and lenders are some of their most valued relationships.
If you have plans to grow a strong, profitable business, then your bank manager is one of the first people you should be connecting with. Business growth and bank managers have a long-standing history and connection. Just look at the top-end of town to see if what I’m saying is true.
You never know, it could be the beginning of beautiful relationship that provides insight, connections, intelligence and support as your business grows.
To be continued……..
Here’s What I think About Business Coaches – Navigating the ‘Business Coach’ Maze: A business coach dialogue. Part 1.
Are you confused about how to find a great business coach? Does the world of business coaching ever have you befuddled and confused? Do all business coaches appear to “look the same, sound the same and blog the same” to you? If so, then welcome to the “I’m Confused about Business Coaches Club.” My name is Gaye Crispin, and I’m the current President of this Club.
I’ve been looking at the world of business coaching as an outsider, and I’m seriously questioning everything I see and read.
My goal is to source innovative and original coaches, who are at the forefront of their game, to refer my clients to. If a coach isn’t occupying that space in their industry, how can they help my clients occupy that space in their industry. Sound too simplistic? Why does it? Sound heretical or offensive? That’s a shame, because it’s not.
I’ve recently been on a journey to try to discover what makes for a good business coach, and how to identify them.
This is an important journey for me. If I’m going to recommend any person or service to my clients, friends or associates I need to be 100% confident that the people I’m recommending are up to delivering a superior quality product or service that’s in line with my own.
While trying to identify good business coaches I’ve trawled through possibly hundreds of coaching blogs and posts, and guess what I’ve discovered? Most of them say the same thing, just in slightly different ways.
That was useful in establishing what coaches obviously consider are important points, but too many of these blogs were too similar.
That alarmed me and raised issues in my mind concerning originality of content:-
- Are the similarities simply unoriginal thinking? If I suspect so, then I won’t refer that coach.
- Are many of these blogs and websites simply ‘copy, cut and paste’ from other people’s blogs and manuals? Well, I’m certainly not recommending those.
- Are some of these ‘coaches’ actually students in training, working through similar coaching material? I suspect so.
This type of thing is common in many unregulated industries…but in business coaching too? Unfortunately, it would seem so.
That could mean the coach may only ever be just one step ahead of the client, if we’re lucky. Now that’s a worry! It seemed the more I read, the more I was seeing re-shuffled wording taken from someone’s hard work. But whose?
So how are we, who don’t have the inside running on this unregulated industry, supposed to know how to locate the real McCoys in this high-dollar ‘Sea-of-Sameness?’ I’m still not 100% sure, but a picture is emerging.
With any unregulated industry, and particularly business coaching, where anybody can open shop we need real disclosure:-
- Real disclosure on their business and coaching experience, and
- Real disclusure on their client testimonials and success stories, and especially before paying over enormous coaching fees, or investing any time and/or money based on their leadership or ideas.
We need legitimate successful coaches to lead the way in providing greater transparency in relation to their own results and claims to fame.
We, the consumers, have a right, and a duty to ourselves to investigate the validity of the claims of testimonials made on a website or blog. We need to begin to investigate them thoroughly.
The business coaching industry owes us the truth if it expects any small business to pay multiple thousands of dollars for a brief meeting/weekly phone-call/webinar service… which doesn’t guarantee tangible returns.
I believe this industry needs a regulatory body, and there needs to be consequences for false and misleading advertising.
Currently, the business coaching industry seems to be writing its own rules.
Apparently a good coach charges quite a few hundred dollars an hour, which is fine if they achieve superior results. But we need to remember that’s a highly professional fee, and is as much as a good lawyer charges.
Plus, a good lawyer studied for years, had to qualify in a very heavily regulated field, work their way up the ladder, continue with professional development, and abide by certain scales of fees according to their experience and expertise.
From what I’ve been able to gather, many coaches have just come out of nowhere after failing in a business or two, read a few books, set up a coaching practice, created some testimonials or had their friends write them, and began charging an ‘industry standard’ of a few hundred dollars an hour. And it seems many in the industry know this, are quite happy for this to remain the case, and are quite happy to remain silent about it as well.
But it’s we, the consumers, who pay the price for any incompetence, and also for this conspiracy of silence, because we are none the wiser of the real quality of a particular coach till after we’ve paid. Surely this alone needs addressing. With so many small businesses struggling, and failing, I’m hoping there’s no correlation between that and the sea of green coaches I’m hearing about. I know from my own business and experience that my clients who have coaches are just as troubled as the ones without coaches, or they wouldn’t have called us.
Then there are the so-called ‘testimonials.’
Testimonials are traded like cattle everyday of the week. Don’t rely on them! Whenever we see testimonials for a coaching service that don’t provide contact details, these need to be seriously drilled down into and questioned before doing business.
If no satisfactory answer is forthcoming, these testimonials should be dismissed as fabrication, rubbish, and the coaching service dismissed as questionable.
Coaches, please name names and businesses.
How often do we see and hear coaches telling us how well their clients are doing? Sorry coaches, I want proof. I want to see the history: the before and after. A lawyer can’t falsely claim to have won a case they lost, and remain lawyer. A financial advisor has to ensure everything they advise is supportable.
Business coaches are actually in the business of influencing people . If there is an incompetent coach influencing business decisions, and even controlling business owners thinking, currently it doesn’t look like they can be held accountable or responsible if the business goes belly up. This seems wrong, and is another reason why I think the industry needs a thorough overhaul.
Any coach who is advising, guiding, influencing (call it what you like) people in business should have to measure up to some agreed minimum standard. And there needs to be consequences. One ‘cowboy’ can do a heck of a lot of damage in a short period of time. I repeat, I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t a correlation between the sea of coaches out there and number of businesses in serious trouble. Poor coaching is a serious cash-flow drain on any business, but would be a killer for an already struggling business.
The coaching industry really appears to have no rules to abide by other the ones they agree on amongst themselves.
We need to be aware of that, and demand that when coaches offer testimonials as evidence of their expertise, which is usually all they have to offer, that they can back up these success stories with legitimate bottom-line, actual results.
We have a right to insist on seeing the business figures of their clients, signed off by the accountant, if a coach is using such client success stories in their marketing materials (or face-to-face) to try to win our business.
Mr or Mrs Coach, I need to know that the results you are telling me you achieved are true, and that they came about as a direct result of your coaching. I want to see something concrete before I hand over $1,000, $10,000 or $25,000 a year to you. This is not too much to ask.
I would happily recommend any coach who was able to support his or her claim of their coaching being directly responsible for doubling a small businesses bottom line in a year. Hey, I’d probably even engage the coach myself.
But you don’t always get what you pay for – and especially in business coaching.
I know this because of some of my clients horror stories with business coaches… which is why I embarked on this journey in the first place.
I heard one horror story where a young graphic designer, whose business was obviously failing, bought a coaching franchise for around $25K, hung out her shingle and began selling her coaching services. A woman I know engaged her services based on how impressed she was with the information on the parent company’s website.
The monthly coaching fee was $2,000 a month, and she was locked into a 12 month contract.
This coach missed their first appointment and didn’t call to re-schedule. There was no 7 day cooling-off period in the contract so the client couldn’t get out of the contract. Another appointment was set and the ‘coach’ missed this appointment too. That wasted 2 weeks of the client’s first month into the contract.
I suggested she take her complaint to the top, which she did.
In trying to explain away and excuse this young coaches unprofessional conduct the area manager of the franchisees explained that this girl was new to coaching: had no experience: had been a graphic designer: was young, etc etc. This is appalling. Why didn’t they tell the client this in the first place?
This franchisor’s policies are appalling, irresponsibly signing up ‘just anyone’ who has $25K to spend and a franchise, and not subjecting them to serious, qualified training.
There are many more horror stories I could share but I won’t. What I will say is this, I’m determined to understand how this industry operates, and how to identify a good coach.
If you’ve been searching for a good business coach, and my words resonate with you, I’d love to hear from you.
If you are a good business coach, and can help me understand how to identify and qualify a good business coach, I’d love you to leave a comment and share that information with us.
Next week I’m uploading a dialogue I had a couple of weeks ago with a few coaches. It was a very interesting conversation that touched on a few of these points, so I hope you’ll stay tuned.
12 Essential Tips For A Strong Cash Flow
‘Happiness Is A Positive Cash Flow’ isn’t just a funny bumper sticker, it’s a deadly serious business fact. Just talk with any business owner whose business is dying, and who’s on his way out the back door, and see how unhappy he is. Every day of the week for the past 3 years I’ve been heavily involved in helping people in this situation, so I know little about it.
If you want to avoid major, unnecessary cash flow dramas in your business it’s vital to take out the time to look at your current cash flow policies, and ensure that your accounts receivable system isn’t from the bronze age. It is YOUR MONEY after all!
If your business will be, or already is, running accounts and issuing invoices these 12 tips are an indispensable check-list for the health of your accounts receivable system.
12 Ways To Set Up A Powerful Accounts Receivable Policy
1. Put strong Terms and Conditions of Trade in place. These need to be clearly stated on all your quotes, credit application forms, agreements or contracts prior to commencing work or supplying goods.
2. Conduct a credit check on your potential new client before providing them with goods or services. You must understand who it is you’re extending credit to so you can set terms appropriate to that risk.
3. Keep informed of the credit worthiness of your existing client before extending more credit. Just because they passed a credit check 3 months ago doesn’t necessarily mean they are still a good financial risk.
4. Request business references, and actually contact them.
5. Be sure your Terms and Conditions allow you to pass on ALL debt recovery costs to your client.
6. Be sure your Terms and Conditions incorporate serious consequences for late payment, including things like penalty interest at 2.5% per month.
7. Send out your invoices the same day goods are shipped, not a week or two later.
8. Follow up on late payers promptly with phone calls and letters. Don’t waste time in endless discussions with late payers. If the money isn’t received when promised, have a collection agency in place to take the matter over for you so you can get back to business.
9. Empower your bookkeeper to chase your accounts by having a robust Terms Of Trade in place. This way your bookkeeper can refer the client to particular clauses that will be invoked if payment is not made.
10. Don’t continue to supply goods or provide services if bills remain unpaid, or if periodic payment arrangements aren’t being adhered to.
11. Bank cheques received immediately….. and don’t delay!
12. Negotiate with your bank to obtain funds availability of 0 to 2 days on cheques deposited. Don’t accept the general rule for the public from the bank that availability of cheque deposits is 1 to 5 days. Speak with your bank manager and enquire about its “availability schedule.” Insist on receiving fast availability of two days or less.
Don’t be an unsecured, interest-free, line of credit to your clients or customers any more!
Take control of your cash-flow by contacting your accountant or a credit management service and asking for a free invoice and quoting ‘check-up.’ Even your bank manager can help you there. I find many business owners don’t recognise what a great asset and resource their bank manager can be to their business. Whatever you do in relation to overdue accounts – don’t do nothing.
If you’re from Australia and would like some help you can contact me by leaving a message in the box below. I can put you in touch with someone in your city or state who can help you.
Remember, if you take care of your business, your business will take care of you.
Copyright Gaye Crispin 2011
Gaye Crispin is a sales and marketing trainer, artist and writer. By the time Gaye was 25 years old she already owned 3 businesses, including a restaurant and a Solace Window Tinting Franchise.
In 1988 Gaye established a large telemarketing organization in Sydney, which was the first of its kind to market residential investment property to interstate investors over the phone. Her system was so successful and cost-effective that it quickly became the standard throughout the industry, and is still in use today.
She has successfully designed and implemented sales and marketing systems for motor vehicle accessories, art, skin care, health food, advertising, insolvency services, credit management systems, seminars and investment products.
Gaye has a debt collection and credit management agency, and is also the founder of Women On Top Business Planning, a group of individually successful business women who are passionate about helping business owners write powerful business or action plans for their business.