Designing My Ideal Home Office

One of the biggest transitions that I’ve had to make since giving my managers and my team more responsibility to run my business is that I’m now working from home the majority of the time.  There’s no space for me to have an office at either of my studios and it’s almost impossible to get anything done that requires concentration with all the music and comings and goings of my employees and clients.  Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing everyone.  But if it means that I have to then start working in the evening because I’ve been hanging out, talking and catching up all day, that’s not really ideal.

When I moved into my new house just over a month ago, I was so excited because I was finally going to have a dedicated room for my office.  And I love this space because it’s at the front of the house, so it gets amazing light.  There’s also a great view.

She's On Her Toes

But … what I have is literally just a room.  No furniture.  No desk.  No lamp.  No file cabinet.  Just some boxes and a bunch of books and papers that are in complete disarray.  What?  A cardboard box isn’t a file cabinet?

I’ve got to get some work done!  Where to start?!  Until I made a list of the things I need to get my office functioning, I was totally lost.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Desk
  2. Office chair
  3. Desk lamp, other lighting
  4. Book shelf or shelves
  5. Cabinet or console for electronics and other storage
  6. Rug
  7. Small couch or upholstered chair
  8. Printer
  9. Office supplies
  10. Pictures, pillows and other decorations
  11. Plants

Already I’m feeling a little better—basically, I just have to get 11 things and I should be good to go.  Or if I just start with a desk and a chair, I’ll know where to go from there to complete the room.  Um … have you been shopping for furniture lately?  There are like a million choices!!  In every price point.  Online.  In store.  Everywhere.

Uh oh.  I’m overwhelmed again.

Remember all those books on the floor?  Fortunately for me, I came across two of my most favorite design books.

Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home that Makes You Happy ($20.30)

I love this book, and have spent a lot of time re-reading it since I bought my house, because it makes design easy.  It teaches you how to find your own style and inspiration, budget, create a floor plan for each room, research, and make a decorating schedule.  Each room in the home is given a chapter.  The pictures are fabulous.  It’s easy to take inspiration from the book and translate into your decorated space.  What more could you want?!

Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home: Discovering Your Personal Style and Creating a Space You’ll Love ($21.75)

This book takes it one step further to help you define your personal style through art, accessories, texture, color and statement pieces.  What I like about this book is that it really helps you put the room together in a personal way—not like you’re trying to recreate a magazine room.

There’s also a magazine you can subscribe to:

Domino Magazine ($47.99, print or $19.99, Kindle)

Domino used to be an incredible monthly magazine, but it went out of publication (and I was so sad).  Then the editors published two books on home design and they brought the print magazine back for 4 issues a year.  The theme of the books and magazine is that everyone can find their own style and create an amazing space—which is exactly what I need help with!

One of the things that the editors of Domino encourage is creating an inspiration board or keeping picture clippings of rooms, furniture, or colors that inspire you to design a room.  I love this because it is incredibly helpful when shopping to take your inspirational pictures with you to stay focused on your style.

But lugging around pictures or magazine clippings can be a little much.  Have you gone to Olioboard (https://olioboard.com)?  It’s a website where you can make design inspiration boards or even design whole rooms or floor plans.  I really liked it because there were pictures of current pieces available for sale—great for when I head out looking for a particular piece of office furniture.  Here’s what I came up with for my home office inspiration board …

Office Inspiration Board

 

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post … I did a little shopping and got a few things to start my ideal home office design.  Can’t wait to show you my new desk, lamp and rug.

Until then, stay on your toes!

 

 

 

I’m Interviewing Someone: What the heck should I ask them?!

The only thing worse than preparing to be interviewed, is preparing to interview someone.  I mean, what the heck are you supposed to ask them?!

Should you try and throw them off with “If you were an animal, what would you be?”  Or test their reasoning skills with something like “How many quarters fit in a school bus?”  It’s tempting to ask some off-the-wall stuff, but what do those kinds of crazy questions really help you understand about the candidate?  When you only have a limited amount of time for an interview, every question counts.  Each question should be prepared in advance to help you better understand if the candidate should be hired or not.

When conducting an interview, there are 3 types of questions that will help you determine if the candidate is the right fit for the job and your business.  First, you want to find out how they think they’ll add value to your business.  Second, you want to understand how they’ll overcome any challenges that come with the position.  And finally, you want to evaluate what types of questions they have for you.

How will you add value to my business?

This seems simple enough, but it’s easy to dance around this topic in an interview.  As an employer, I’m most interested in learning why someone has applied to work for me and why they think they’d be a good fit.  In other words, why should I hire you?  What makes you the best choice?

Typically, I like to ask an open-ended question like this: “Tell me what you know about (insert the business name) and why you would be a good fit to work here.”

Asking an open-ended question gives the candidate plenty of opportunities to show they’ve done their research on your business and understand what makes it unique.  This type of question also allows the candidate to highlight their strengths and any prior experience that is relevant to working for you.

It’s a softball question, yet you’d be surprised—many people simply don’t put in the time to learn about the companies at which they interview—which makes it really easy to separate someone seeking a job from someone who is genuinely interested in working at your business.  If I interview someone who can’t articulate what my business does or how they’d contribute in a positive way, then I will not be hiring them.

Do you get easily discouraged?

Every job has its challenges.  During an interview, it’s important to understand how a candidate would overcome these challenges and not get easily discouraged.  The best way for an employer to figure this out is asking the candidate to explain past experiences in which they overcame adversity or demonstrated the ability to meet a challenge head-on.  Questions like:

Tell me about a time when you started working on a project only to be told later that there were major changes.  How did you handle that?

Have you ever found a mistake in something you were working on?  What did you do to fix it?

Tell me about a time where you were confronted with a big obstacle or problem to get something finished.  What happened and how did you deal with that?

Tell me about a time when you were frustrated at work.  What did you do to overcome this?

Candidates should be able to easily articulate past examples from work or life that demonstrate they are capable of being flexible, handling stressful situations, and moving on from past mistakes.  The more detail given, the better.  Everyone has countless examples of overcoming adversity or meeting a challenge.  If the candidate finds it difficult to answer these types of questions, they either aren’t prepared or are afraid to be honest about how they handle problems—not qualities I’d be looking for when building my team.

What questions do you have for me? 

This question might be the most overlooked in an interview, but it is important to give the candidate a chance to get their questions answered.  Or … for you, the employer, to see if the candidate is prepared and has intelligent, thoughtful questions.  If the candidate asks questions directly related to something previously discussed in the interview, then I know they are actively engaged and interested in working for my business.

Having the candidate ask you questions is a great way to figure out if this person is really passionate about working for you, or they simply want a job and a paycheck.  If someone doesn’t have any questions for me at the end of the interview, I know they aren’t serious about working for my business.

Each question in an interview should help you make the decision about whether to hire someone or not.  First, you want to find out how the candidate thinks they’ll add value to your business.  Second, you want to understand how they’ll overcome any challenges that come with the position.  And finally, you want to evaluate what types of questions they have for you.  By asking interview candidates questions in these 3 categories, you should get closer to making that final hiring decision with confidence.

5 Steps Every Employer Should Follow During an Interview

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, hopefully you’ve realized that the core message I’m trying to communicate is that in order to run a successful business, you MUST hire a great team to run it for you.  This means that your team runs the day-to-day operations, freeing you up to think of “what’s next” or any other “big picture” ideas that will lead to more innovation for your clients.  I’m excited to announce that we just had a chance to prove that our hiring process still works … because we just held some interviews to hire one more front desk associate.  And we found a great candidate who will be a good fit for my team and my clients!

In my book, I go into detail about the hiring process that I’ve used to build my amazing team.  In my workbook, you have the opportunity to create your own process specific to your business.  But here are the 5 most important steps every employer should follow when holding an interview …

Hold a Group Interview

Group interviews are great because they save you time and you can see how the candidates react to each other.  Are they too aggressive?  Are they rude?  Did one cut another off to get more talking time in?  Did one just say the same things as the others without coming up with original answers?  All great things to learn as you’re building your Team.  Did I mention, group interview save you time?!

 Have 2 People Conducting the Interview

Having 2 people conducting the interview is really beneficial because one person can do the talking and ask the questions, while the other can take notes and focus on each candidate and their behavior.  I’m sure many of you have interviewed someone and you’re so focused on what the next question is and what’s coming up next that you don’t really listen to the answers the candidate is giving.  Having that second person ensures that you’ll be able to focus on the candidates and what they’re saying and doing—and how that might help or hurt your business.

Rank Your Choices Before the Interview

Staying organized throughout the interview process is key.  And ranking your choices before the interview helps keep the process manageable.  One of the benefits of ranking each candidate on a 1 to 10 scale is that you can compare and contrast your feelings about each candidate to help you make the best hiring decision.  For example, if one candidate enters the group interview with a 1 ranking, but another candidate was more impressive after you meet them in person, you have some good information to review and analyze to make the best hiring decision.  If a candidate enters with a top ranking and is the most impressive, then you can feel pretty confident you’ve found your ideal hire.  Going into an interview with an idea of who would be the best fit and most qualified is important.  Using the interview to confirm your rankings is a great validation.  If you’ve already ranked your choices, you can easily tailor your questions to each candidate so the candidates can either continue to support their high ranking or reveal that they actually aren’t the right fit for your business.  This is a really important step!

Give the Candidate an Out

This might sound mean, but I always have a point in the interview where I say, “If any of this doesn’t sound good, you are welcome to leave.  We totally understand that this might not be the position for you.”

No one has ever left because, of course, my business is amazing and working for me would be your dream come true—ok, just kidding.  But no has one left.  If they did, that would be totally fine.  It would ensure that I was only selecting the best people that WANT TO WORK FOR ME.  Another self-selection point reached.

Follow Up with an Exit Questionnaire

In an interview, the employer has all the power, so it’s important to let the interview candidates have the last word.  Allowing each candidate to complete an exit questionnaire gives them the opportunity to tell you anything they maybe didn’t get across or emphasize during the interview.  In my experience, highly ranked candidates take this last step seriously further expressing their interest in your business and confirming that they are the right fit.  And anyone who isn’t the right fit … will communicate something totally bizarre and give you another reason to not hire them.

Taking the time to incorporate these 5 steps into your next interview process will greatly increase your chances of hiring the right employees for your business.  As I mentioned at the beginning, in order to be a successful business owner, you MUST have your team running your business and completing the day-to-day tasks.  This allows you to focus on “what’s next” and keep your business relevant and exciting for your existing and future clients.

But if I’m interviewing someone, what the heck should I ask them?!  What are the most important interview questions?  I’m so glad you asked …  I’ll discuss how to create a list of interview questions that lead to great hires on Thursday.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Check out my book, She’s On Her Toes here.

Check out the 52-page workbook to create your own hiring process here.

 

If You’re Serious About Your Health … Get a Vitamix!

I’ve been living in blender hell for years.  My basic blender just didn’t blend … anything.  Forget about trying to crush ice, it couldn’t even blend fresh fruit.  So, I dreamed of someday getting a Vitamix.  Life would just be better.

And then the day arrived.  I realized I had an extra $350 and got myself the Vitamix 5300 (certified refurbished), in black with the cookbook.  And life really did get better.

How?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  When you own a powerful blender like the Vitamix, you can easily eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

Since getting my Vitamix, I’ve been able to blend … everything!

Shes On Her Toes Vitamix Smoothie

I’ve been able to consistently eat breakfast, which has always been a problem for me.  I can blend anything (including ice) with ease to make smoothies.  I’ve made soup on a weeknight.  And been able to put pesto and other healthy sauces on just about everything.  But the best thing about my Vitamix is that I can make my own almond milk.

Now, making your own almond milk might seem super time-intensive and only for “those crazy health nuts.”  But it takes about 45 seconds and saves me about $10 a week.  As a bonus, I know I’m not eating any hidden sugars or additives—check your nut milk labels!  Your seemingly “healthy” almond or cashew milk is likely loaded with sugar and other additives and preservatives.

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight (I use the raw, sliced almonds from Trader Joe’s or Costco)

3 cups water (I used filtered water)

And … that’s it!  All you do is put almonds and water in the Vitamix and power it up.  Crank that baby up to 10 for about 45 seconds and … you’ve got yourself some almond milk.  You can pour the almond milk into an air-tight, glass container to store in the fridge for up to 3 days.  You can strain the almond milk through a nut milk bag to make it more like what you’d buy in the store—if you don’t strain, you’ll get the full fiber from the nuts and the consistency might be more grainy.  I don’t usually strain my almond milk–it’s all about your preference.  And yes, you can put homemade almond milk in a Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother to make an amazing latte!

If you haven’t already made the Vitamix part of your daily cooking and eating routine, I highly recommend it!  The ease of use and cleaning of the machine makes it possible to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  And by adding more variety into your meals, let’s face it, cooking is just a lot more fun—who doesn’t want that?!

Did you know that you could actually win a Vitamix by participating in the Pure Health Challenge only at Pure Barre Winston-Salem and Pure Barre Clemmons?  Well, you can!  The Pure Health Challenge is all about consistent Pure Barre classes partnered with a healthy lifestyle for lasting results.  From October 30th to December 31st, we’ll challenge all clients to:

  • Take 4 Pure Barre classes each week
  • Use the Pure Health Meal Plan to make healthy choices (the recipes are amazing!)
  • Have fun and connect with our Pure Barre community

Each week, you’ll receive entries for taking class and attending the Challenge events (grab a calendar at the front desk when you’re at the studio).  The more entries you have the more chances you’ll have to win the grand prize of a Vitamix 5300, black (certified refurbished) blender!  I’m excited about the Pure Health Challenge and will be participating myself—this is a great way to keep on track with my health and fitness goals through the Holiday Season and into the New Year.  Hopefully many of you will join me!

Check out these links to learn more or purchase:

Vitamix 5300 (Certified Refurbished), $359.99

Pro Quality Nut Milk Bag, $8.99

Libbey Glass Milk Bottle with Lid, 33.5 oz., $9.92

If you know someone who would enjoy this post, please share to help grow the She’s On Her Toes community.  And if you haven’t already, please follow She’s On Her Toes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @shesonhertoes.

 

Why You Need to Hire These 3 Personalities to Run Your Membership-Based Business

Not gonna lie, owning a business with a membership-based model is pretty stellar.  Having reliable, predictable revenue coming in each month gives any business owner a lot of confidence when planning a budget, knowing when to reinvest money back into the business, or when it might even be possible to give your hard-working employees a bump in pay.  A business with a membership-based model has a lot of options that a business relying on one-off sales simply does not.

There are, however, some unique considerations when hiring a team to run a membership-based business.  You can’t rely on one type of salesperson to take care of your members or clients.  Since clients may be visiting your business multiple times each week or even every day, it’s important to match your employees’ personalities with those of your vast, diverse group of clients to provide excellent service and keep your clients coming back for more.

Here’s why your membership-based business needs the following 3 personalities:

The Natural

We all know someone who could sell ice to an Eskimo or a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white on a 90-degree day—basically, a sales natural.  When you walk into a business and you are greeted by The Natural, you feel welcome and at home.  Everything is easy.  They’re easy to talk to and you feel comfortable.  So comfortable in fact, that you can’t help but find something to buy.  Whether it’s a product or service, you are excited about your purchase.  Maybe you frequent the business more often or start spending more time there because The Natural is so friendly.  Hell, you might even become friends!

And it’s obvious why having The Natural around benefits a membership-based business model.  You can always count on The Natural to win the trust of your clients and make the sale, over and over again.

 The Friend

But not all clients respond to The Natural.  In fact, many prefer the quieter demeanor of The Friend.  You know … someone who is just so nice, you can’t help but want to be around them.  The Friend might not be as out-there or gregarious as The Natural, but hiring The Friend to serve your clients is critical.  The Friend is honest.  The Friend is trustworthy.  The Friend would never push you into making a bad purchase—they’re looking out for you.  And that’s why many of your clients prefer to be helped by The Friend.

Make no mistake, The Friend, can make the sale.  But, The Friend is more concerned with ensuring your clients get genuine help and honesty when contemplating a purchase.

 The Achiever

Every business needs The Achiever—the ringer!  You know, it’s 5:00 PM and unfortunately, you had to make a big return … um, we need to make $600 in the next 2 hours otherwise we don’t make our daily sales goal … or we’re $15,000 shy of our monthly goal and it’s the 30th.  Ah!  Who do you task with saving the day and making it happen—that’s right, The Achiever!

When presented with a seemingly impossible challenge, The Achiever, finds a laser-like focus and gets it done.  The Achiever is highly motivated by challenges, SPIFS, a bonus, or even recognition of being the best.

And I wouldn’t know anything about this motivation, even though when I worked at Victoria’s Secret during the summer in high school, I won every single SPIF just to prove I could do it—including a contest to open the most Victoria’s Secret credit cards.  I opened 25 in one day!  I think the second-place finisher opened 7 over the 2-week contest.  It was a landslide and I won what seemed like a life-supply of underwear.  Turns out it was just enough for 4 years of college, but I won it!  Whoop!

But back to your membership-based business … you’ve gotta hire The Achiever because there will be a time when you need someone to rise to the occasion and save the day, ‘er goal.

Fortunately for me and my membership-based business, I’ve managed to hire several Naturals, Friends and even a few Achievers (besides me).  It’s worth noting that The Natural and The Friend could also turn into The Achiever under the right circumstances—the personalities do have some crossover.

If you own a business with a membership-based model, take a look at all your employees.  Do you have a good mix of the 3 personalities to match your vast, diverse group of clients?  If not, make an effort to incorporate some ways to identify either The Natural, The Friend or The Achiever in your next round of interviews.

I spoke with several members of my team before writing this post and they all easily identified themselves as either The Natural, The Friend or The Achiever.  So, if you’re trying to think through each role in my studios, give it a go and post a comment.  I’d love to hear which personality you are in your own business.  Or if you’re an employee, which of the 3 personalities you most identify as your own.

If you know someone who would enjoy this post, please share to help grow the She’s On Her Toes community.  And if you haven’t already, please follow She’s On Her Toes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @shesonhertoes.

On Thursday, I can’t wait to tell you all about my new Vitamix blender and how it’s literally changed my life.

Until then, stay on your toes!

 

3 Reasons Why the Future of Sales is Female … And Why Your Business Should Care

While women have made inroads towards more influence in management at many major companies, selling is still a male-dominated profession … until now.  With women making most if not all of the major purchasing decisions for both themselves and their families, women are the ones in control of spending.

And women want to buy from other women.  Why?  Because when women make purchasing decisions, they require a high level of trust.  And women trust other women … which means, the future of sales is female.

But, historically women haven’t always achieved top-seller status to out-perform their male co-workers.  Sure, there are many women that excel in selling, but for the most part, the cut-throat environment of traditional sales leaves women feeling unfulfilled and uninspired.  However, as selling evolves into a role of serving or problem-solving, and manipulating a customer gives way towards creating lasting relationships with clients, women are poised to lead the way for 3 reasons …

Women are natural influencers.  Let’s face it, women love to spread the word.  Whether it’s telling everyone about the best place to get a latte, or informing about where customer service was not up to their standards, women want to share these experiences with their friends, family, and … anyone they meet.  We want to help each other out.  We’re all trying to save time and money all while living our best lives and that takes communication and learning from others.  We, as busy women, simply don’t have time to process all of the information thrown at us each day.  If we can get recommendations or help from friends, then that makes it easier for us to decide where to shop or spend our hard-earned money.

What does this mean for your business?  Damn, well you better be f-cking awesome!  Since businesses are built on the support of existing clients and new prospects which include referrals from your raving fans, your business has to be relevant and most important—consistent in how it interacts with customers or clients.

Women listen.  Women are great listeners and listening leads to problem-solving.  We’ve all had the experience of wanting to buy something, and a salesperson not listening to us and trying to get us to buy something else—basically what we don’t want.  So frustrating!  And then you leave having wasted time and you still have to figure out how you’re going to find what you’re looking for in the first place.  Double frustrating!  Is it cocktail time yet?  I mean, because all I want to do is rant about this recent bad experience—so no one else has to go through what I just did—circling back to the natural influencer idea!

Since most purchases seek to solve a problem experienced by the buyer, listening is key to ensuring that your business will continue to grow.  The future of sales is all about creating lasting relationships and we all know the basis of a great relationship relies on trust, respect, and the ability to listen.  If you don’t already have great women employed at your business to listen to your clients and help solve their problems, you better start hiring some now.

 Women aren’t afraid to hustle.  That’s right—women aren’t concerned with putting in extra effort to create value.  We go above and beyond for what we care about … think work presentations, birthdays, special occasions, or even everyday meals and experiences for friends and family.  If it’s important to us, we do our best to ensure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed.  We’re always thinking about how to do more.

Translated into business, extra hustle means extra revenues.  If your business maintains a culture of going above and beyond for your clients, they’ll remain loyal and you’ll be able to forecast continued sales growth.

If you haven’t already started adapting your sales process to accommodate the ever-increasing purchasing power of women, you need to start now—including hiring a great team of women to take care of serving your clients.  Since women want to buy from other women … the future of sales is female and your business must be ready.

Check out my book, She’s On Her Toes, and learn how I created a hiring process to only attract the right candidates for my business.  I also have a 52-page workbook that you can use (even if you don’t read the book) to help you get started creating your own hiring process.  Download the workbook here.

Instead of Selling, Focus on Serving

Selling.  It’s kind of a dirty word.  What do you think of when you hear the word “sell” or you think of men and women who make a living in sales?  Does the image of the stereotypical sleazy salesman come to mind?  Some dude working at the used car lot wearing an unfortunate outfit.  Maybe a mustache.  Pressuring you into making a purchase or perhaps lying (or at least bending the truth) to try and close the sale.  None of us wants to be in that type of terrible sales situation.  We want to feel in control of our purchases and be confident that we spent our money wisely on something of the best value and highest quality.

It seems traditional sales strategies aren’t working because people have so much more information about what they’re buying before the sale is even made.  You can’t really “pull a fast one” or sell a product or service that doesn’t live up to the advertisement or expectation of the shopper.  In some cases, customers might have done such extensive research that they now know more about the product or service than the salesperson.

How much research do you do before making a purchase?  If you’re like me, at the very least, you do a Google search to locate the item you want to purchase and see how much it costs.  But for larger purchases, I’ll conduct a search on Amazon to compare features and prices, check out reviews, or even inquire on Facebook to get recommendations from friends.  That’s a lot of effort to research and no money has even exchanged hands!

But what if selling was approached in a radically different way?

Because here’s the twist … none of us wants to be sold to, but … we all want to buy!

What if instead of using traditional sales methods in business, we instead focused on serving the needs of customers or clients by listening to what their problems are and then solving those problems with the products or services available from our business.  Rather than selling, the focus shifts to serving your customers or clients to create lasting relationships and confidence in your business.  To build a better business, instead of selling, focus on serving.

This summer I was fortunate to attend a conference and hear Sharon Lechter speak.  Sharon co-authored Rich Dad, Poor Dad and writes for the Napoleon Hill Foundation as well as being an entrepreneur herself.  She spoke to us primarily about her book, Think and Grow Rich for Women, which is a more modern version of Napoleon Hill’s 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich. Check out my book reviews at the end of this post!

During her presentation, she discussed the influence of women over making purchasing decisions.  In fact, …

Women account for 47% of all workers in the United States.

90% of women identify themselves as the principle household shopper.

Women make 62% of all car purchases.

1 in 5 home buyers is a single woman in the United States and single women have contributed more than 1/3 of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994.

And women control about 60% of all personal wealth in the United States.  Globally women control 30% of personal wealth—the rate at which women are increasing wealth is outpacing the rate at which men are increasing wealth. 

This brings up the question, if the overwhelming majority of women are the principle shoppers for their household, making the majority of car purchases, and increasingly likely to purchase a home without a man’s stamp of approval or his money, why aren’t more companies changing the way they do business by hiring more women in their salesforce and adopting sales strategies that focus on getting the approval of the female decision-maker?

In her presentation, Sharon also talked about how most sales training was geared towards men.  You know the whole, “if you don’t sell, you suck” philosophy.  While it might be true, it just doesn’t have the same motivational response with women that it does with men.  Hummm … wonder why?!

There are typically 7 steps in the traditional sales process including:

  1. Prospecting for leads
  2. Setting an appointment
  3. Qualifying the prospect
  4. Making a presentation
  5. Addressing the prospect’s objections
  6. Closing the sale
  7. Asking for referrals from the prospect

Unfortunately, this process is too limiting for today’s retail climate because it creates an environment where the salesperson is primarily focused on maintaining control over or even manipulating the buyer’s decision.  The salesperson creates the need and then tries to get the buyer to purchase.  In traditional sales, it is also assumed that all buyers are on the same path to making a final purchasing decision—in today’s marketplace, there is no one path to closing the sale.

The concept of serving, however, involves a completely different process and philosophy to execute—this is a more client-oriented approach that includes extensive discovery and discussion.  When serving clients, the process looks more like this:

  1. Identifying a prospect
  2. Allowing the prospect to experience value
  3. Building rapport and explaining value
  4. Determining whether your product/service is the right solution for the prospect
  5. Offering the prospect the right value for his or her needs
  6. Gaining trust to complete the purchase
  7. Building a lasting client relationship

When a business focuses on serving its clients, there is no control or manipulation of the buyer.  The business and the buyer have to work with each other throughout steps 2-5 to determine if a purchase is made.

Completion of the sale is only possible if the business has done 3 things:

  1. Shown value to the buyer
  2. Determined that there is a fit with both the business and buyer
  3. Trust has been established

The advantage of focusing on serving rather than selling to build a business is that you’re ultimately building long-term, lasting relationships rather than one-off sales that might result in referrals.  By implementing a process of serving, you flip the traditional sales model on its head and instead of creating a need to buy, you are offering a solution that is valued for purchase.

I think you can see how a business built on serving would appeal to a woman consumer—and even a male consumer!  But what’s really interesting is that a process of serving is ideal for the woman salesperson to execute.  If working in an environment focused on serving, women win—whether they’re selling or buying.  On Thursday, I’ll share with you “3 Reasons the Future of Sales Is Female and Why Your Business Should Care.”

Until then, stay on your toes!

In the meantime, check out the links to the books mentioned in this post.

Think and Grow Rich for Women ($12.20):  I really enjoyed hearing Sharon Lechter speak and her book was just as insightful.  When Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937, he included 13 Steps to Success—but at that time all the major business minds and heads of companies were men.  Sharon goes through each of the 13 Steps and applies them to the lives of modern women.  I love her concept of living “one big life” instead of trying to find the elusive “work-life balance” that never quite seems attainable.  A must-read!

Think and Grow Rich ($15.25):  While you might be tempted to skip this book and just read the newer, more women-focused Think and Grow Rich for Women, you’d really miss out.  This is a classic business book that almost every successful business mind has read.  I think it really emphasizes the point that the fundamentals are long-lasting and always the first place to start when looking to build or grow any business—whether it was back in 1937 or at the present in 2017.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad ($7.99): I actually haven’t read this yet—it’s on my list!

10 Things to Avoid When Budgeting for Your Business

Earlier this week, I shared with you the importance of using the last quarter of the year to prepare your business for big things in the new year.  One of my must-do’s as the year comes to a close, is to create a new monthly budget for the next year.  It’s a great exercise to see where you might run into some cash flow issues and also see what you can expect to earn from your business—hypothetically, but hopefully in reality too!

Creating an annual budget is a great time to re-evaluate all of your business spending.  Do you really need to spend money on that product or service going forward?  Can you find a product or service for less and still get great value?  These are all things to ask yourself as you scrutinize your predictable monthly expenses.  But there are a few things that you want to avoid when creating a new budget …

1. Found it for less … careful, don’t just switch right away.

Oh man.  This one is so hard.  Real life instance … I just learned that I can get all my payroll processing done for about 3x less than I’m paying now.  That’s a significant monthly savings and annualized, would save me well over $2,000 next year.

It’s tempting to want to switch and pay less immediately, however, a more appropriate time would be beginning in 2018—an easier transition for me, my employees, and my accountant to manage.

If you find a product or service for less and can easily make the transition, start paying less now.  But, if it would make sense to wait and start at the beginning of the year, wait and save on extra headaches.

2. Being too optimistic … overestimate your costs.

It’s always a little sobering when you take a look at your total spending from the previous year and realize you’ve completely overspent in some categories.  For me, this happens when I look at things like spending on promotional items that we gave away, and costs associated with putting our big events together.

It can be easy to be too optimistic and say, “Well … that event cost so much money, we’ll have to cut back next year.”  But, can you?  If you had to rent equipment to hold the event, will it be less next year?  Maybe ask yourself if you purchased equipment, would that be a better investment and use of your money?  Would you end up saving?

A great example of this for my studios is renting sound equipment for our Pop Up classes.  We were renting equipment from a local company and each time it was costing between $200-$400 depending on the type and amount of speakers needed.  Earlier this summer, we decided to buy the same equipment we were renting for about $450, which paid for itself after 2 events.  A wise use of funds and money that we can save next year as we book more events outside of the studio.

Weltron WAS-TUBE 5 Portable Bluetooth Active Tower Speaker ($455.04)

Samson Airline 77 Headset Wireless System with Fitness Microphone ($299.99)

3. Just forecast the big expenses … lots of small expenses can add up quickly, forecast everything.

 We’re all pressed for time as business owners, but that doesn’t mean you should cut corners on your budget and only forecast your big expenses.  Honestly, that really doesn’t make sense because most of your big expenses are likely fixed—meaning line items like rent, utilities, your salary, insurance, are defined as costs that don’t fluctuate as your sales increase or decrease—they remain fixed and predictable.  As in, you already know what they are!

Variable expenses, however, do fluctuate with an increase or decrease in sales, so you should be careful to factor those changes in your budget.

And lots of small expenses can add up quickly to big numbers.  $250 here, $500 there, eventually that adds up.  It’s important to scrutinize everything to make sure you’re not overspending or paying for subscriptions that you aren’t getting a lot of value from.

4. Reinvest cash right away … whoa, create an emergency fund first.

 You’ve had a great month and finally have some money to pay for a larger expense for your business.  Maybe it’s some new equipment or updating your space with new paint or furniture—before you make a big spend, create an emergency fund to cover your rent and other fixed costs for at least 2-3 months.

You’ll be in a much better position as a business owner if you have some flexibility with your cash.  You never know when an emergency might arise.  Like … clients forgetting to turn the sink off when leaving the bathroom and it flooded.  Twice in 4 days.  Yeah, that really happened to me this year.  For heaven’s sake!  Turn off the faucet before you leave the bathroom!

Fortunately, we have some flexibility to pay for unexpected events like this.  And you should too.  Do yourself a huge favor and create an emergency fund.

5. Stay with your book keeper or accountant because they are cheap … your financial professionals should keep pace with your growing business.

 Maybe this seems like a contradiction to the first point.  I mean, isn’t a budget supposed to reflect spending the least amount on all products and services for your business?  No way!  There is a time to save and a time to spend for good service and expert advice.

If you’ve had the same team of financial professionals since your business opened, now is an excellent time to review those relationships.  If your business has grown significantly, you might benefit from hiring a better book keeper, accountant, and financial advisor.  Set up some interviews and see what’s out there.

Last year, I totally overhauled my team of financial professionals and I am extremely happy with my decision to do so.  I have a new accountant who costs more than my previous one, but he actually saved me about $6,000 by reviewing and amending 2 years of my previous returns.  And I actually found a better book keeper for less—hot damn!  That’s like tastes great and less filling.

In a nutshell, your team of financial professionals needs to be keeping pace with your business.  If you elected to hire the least expensive back when you were starting out, it might be time to re-evaluate those relationships and hire someone who can actually add value to your business now that it’s bigger or more profitable.

6. Spend $0 on education … courses can have great value to your business growth.

 Serious entrepreneurs have a budget for furthering their education.  I’ve invested more in continuing my business learning last year, but I could do a lot better next year.  My challenge—and I challenge you to do the same—is to create a monthly budget to purchase books, courses, or attend seminars that will help you grow your business.

I was fortunate enough to attend 2 business seminars this year where I left feeling re-energized to improve my business.  And I’ve recently been accepted to Leadership Winston-Salem 2018, which will help me network with other local business leaders.

Bottom line—you need to invest in yourself and your business leadership education.  Even if it’s $50 or $100 each month, set aside those funds and learn.

Not sure where to start?  Check out this post where I give you my top business book reading list.      

7. Keep your marketing on auto-pilot … be ruthless and cut marketing that didn’t work.

 It’s so easy to just set it and forget it with marketing.  You might do the same ad over and over again.  Or keep advertising in the same ways because … well, they seem to be working.  Really?!  Have you been tracking your advertising and marketing campaigns to KNOW if that money is being spent wisely and bringing you in new business leads?

Since there are still a few months left in the year, this is a great time to be ruthless and actually track where your new leads are coming from.  It’s as easy as keeping a tally of where new clients heard about your business.  If you spent money advertising in a local magazine and no one is mentioning that advertisement, then … maybe it’s not working and you should use those marketing dollars elsewhere.

Remember, you are never obligated to keep purchasing advertising because you’ve always done it.  Marketing and advertising dollars need to have a quantified return on investment (ROI).  If any of your advertising is coming up 0, it’s time for a change.

8. Pay the government early … if you’re disciplined, keep your cash!

 Warning: this tip isn’t for everyone!  But … if you’re disciplined, keep reading.

Why pay the government early?  Why give them an interest-free loan?  If you are disciplined, keep your cash for taxes in a separate savings account to be paid out when your accountant determines your final tax liability for the year.  News flash, getting a refund simply means you’ve overpaid the government and could have used that money for something else.

9. Remain anonymous to your bank … get a small business banker who can help you secure a line of credit.

 If you don’t have a dedicated small business banker at your bank, look into getting one.  When you have an existing relationship with a banker, things can be a lot easier for you and your business because you don’t have to stand in line with everyone else, you can simply pick up the phone or send off an email and get answers and great customer service.  My banker, Tracy, at BB&T is amazing and she’s saved me so much time I can’t even quantify it.  Really!

This goes along with #4.  After you’ve created an emergency fund, it’s time to look at securing a business line of credit.  The best time to ask the bank for money is when you don’t need it.  Even securing a small line of credit—like $5,000 or $10,000—can give you piece of mind if something happens and you need fast access to cash.

This year, I established a line of credit for my business and it literally took an hour of my time.  I can keep it undrawn for emergencies.  I can use it to invest in my business.  I can use it to invest in another business.  Or I could refinance debt if needed.  Establishing credit and using it wisely is really important.  Go look into it!

10. Finish and forget it … keep evaluating your budget as the year progresses.

 Creating a monthly budget is hard work, so you might be inclined to forget about it and not look at the document for a while.  That would be a huge disservice to your business!

Now that you have a forecasted monthly budget, use it as a tool.  Evaluate your forecasting each month.

Do you need to adjust for higher prices on products or services going forward?

Are you spending less than you thought and could reallocate some of those funds elsewhere?

If you totally busted your budget, why?

What happened that you could better plan for next month or next year?

Your budget is a working document.  It’s a plan or a blueprint to help you out.  Keep refining it and use it to be better prepared next time.  And if you made a mistake budgeting, don’t beat yourself up.  Learn from it, do better next time, and move on.

Taking the time to create a forecasted monthly budget is a huge advantage to your business as you start the new year.  Invest some time now into creating a working document that will be a good tool to predict your cash flow and profitability.  Avoiding the 10 items discussed will help you build a better budget and hopefully help you prepare for more opportunities for business growth.

 

Planning for Big Things in 2018

It’s hard to imagine bigger things happening in 2018 than what have already happened in the last few weeks

I bought a house and moved.

Celebrated 5 years of being in business at Pure Barre Winston-Salem and 3 years of being in business at Pure Barre Clemmons.

Had my first book signing for She’s On Her Toes.

And spoke to several hundred women about my best hiring practices outlined in my book.

But … the beginning of the last quarter of the year signals that it’s time to plan for big things for my businesses in 2018.  That’s right, it’s that magical time of year when I start to do the following:

  1. Set monthly sales goals
  2. Plan marketing events to drive traffic and create leads
  3. Evaluate all spending and create next year’s budget
  4. Set management and leadership goals
  5. Develop my next book idea

The first step … getting organized.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the best tools that I have in my business owner organization arsenal is my Day Designer Planner.  I decided on the Mint Lizard design for 2018, but it was a tough choice stacked up against, Black Spotty (which I had this year), Black Stripe (which I had last year) and White Marble.

I love The Day Designer.  You can get a version of it at Target, but if you’re serious about keeping your schedule, goals and “to-dos” organized, you’ll want to spring for the Flagship Edition ($59).  If you amortize that across the year, that’s less than $5.00/month to keep your schedule together—totally worth it, if you’re as busy as I am!

But it’s the layout of the planner that is what I like best about it.  Each day gets its own page starting at 5:00 AM and finishing up at 9:00 PM—perfect for me because sometimes I have to teach an early class.  The appointments are on the left and the “to dos” are on the right, so your whole day is right there on one page.  There is also a spot to prioritize your top three “to dos” which is always helpful when you have lots to accomplish in limited time.

Another great thing about The Day Designer, is the free printable pages that allow you to either try out The Day Designer format and/or work on specific planning opportunities.  If you’ve never used The Day Designer, I’d start with the Free Daily Planning Page and How to Design Your Week pages and see if you like them.  For the more advanced, check out Fall Bucket List, Packing Checklist, Brain Dump, and Books to Read.

Check out the free printable pages here. 

Ok … but back to planning big.  Each week, I’ll create a list of all the steps I’ll take to complete each of these 5 tasks to start business off strong in 2018.  The first 3 are all kind of interrelated, so I’ll tackle them together.  First, I’ll schedule some time to develop our monthly sales goals based on historical information and what I think will happen in the future.  I’ll be working on that this week to set myself up for creating our marketing and event calendar either next week or the week after.  It’s all about doing one thing at a time to get all this work complete.  With a little planning and time management, it shouldn’t be too difficult—which is why it’s important to take the time for your business planning for next year … NOW.

If I’m being honest, I’ll probably save #4 for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I usually have some time to think when I’m driving home to see my family and setting management and leadership goals is definitely a “thinking in the car” activity.  I get some of my best ideas driving!

Leaving … #5.  I had the opportunity to hear an amazing speaker at a conference in Vancouver, Sharon Lechter.  Sharon co-authored Rich Dad, Poor Dad and writes for the Napoleon Hill Institute as well as being an entrepreneur herself.  During her presentation, she discussed how influential women are at making purchasing decisions.  She also talked about how most sales training was geared towards men.  You know the whole, “if you don’t sell, you suck” philosophy.  While it might be true, it just doesn’t have the same motivational response with women that it does with men. Hummm…wonder why?!

Anyways, Sharon’s message was that as women in business, we either sell or we serve.  As in taking the time to understand our clients and serve them to the best that we can.  I’m working on developing a whole customer service training for my team around this philosophy and I thought … wouldn’t this make a great topic for my next book?!

I still have to develop the topic further, but I think it’s so interesting to ponder the sales paradox and how women can actually overcome it.  What is the sales paradox you might ask?  Well, it’s simply this …

No one wants to be sold, yet we all want to buy.

But we don’t want to buy just any old thing.  We want to make purchases that are meaningful and make us feel good about parting with that money.  With each purchase, we aren’t just acquiring stuff or receiving a service.  We’re expressing confidence that we’re using our money to support a great business or that we really value the item we’re taking home.

And because clients are increasingly savoy about what research they’re doing before parting with their money, businesses will have to adapt and shift their sales training to one that emphasizes better serving their clients—it’s all about serving and earning the repeat business of your client base.

And who better to lead the way?  Women of course!  The future of sales is female because women naturally want to help each other out and provide whatever service they can to their friends and community to do so.

I mean, take a look at your social media feed.  How many of the posts are about places people have eaten and had a great time, or products they’ve been using and want to share because they are life-changing or helpful life hacks?  We don’t have to tell the world about our favorite things, but we do … because if it helps someone out, that’s pretty great.  So yeah … I’ll be refining this topic and getting to work writing book #2.  Good times!

Well, I have a lot of work to get done.  So, I’ll leave you with this … what can you do to improve your business next year?  Take some time in the last quarter to set your goals for 2018 and create a budget.  When you have a direction mapped out for your business, you might just make it all happen!  Crazy!

I know I’ve been a little delinquent in my posting, but I’m feeling inspired and refreshed from my break.  On Thursday, look out for 10 Things to Avoid When Budgeting for Your Business.  I think you’ll get some great ideas about how to use your time in the last quarter to set yourself up for good things next year.

Until then, stay on your toes!