I recently read Melinda Emerson’s new book, then went back for a second read: Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works.
Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Melinda’s work via her #SmallBizChat (a weekly real-time chat on Twitter) program and have heard her share a lot of her advice “from the trenches” so I’m a bit biased because I’ve seen and heard her help people, including myself. Melinda Emerson’s book gives useful and smart tips any biz owner can benefit from reading.
Chapter 22: Ten Things You Must Never Forget in Business
1. Make sure you know how much profit is in every deal.
2. Customer Service is the key to success in business.
3. ABC “Always Be Closing”
4. Pay Attention to Detail.
5. Nothing beats a professional presentation.
6. Time is the most valuable asset in your business.
7. Get it in writing.
8. Use reference letters as a report card.
9. Manage your client’s first impression.
10. Always fill the pipeline.
These three stuck with me and I find myself getting reminded regularly to stick to the basics. Knowing how much each deal is worth is pretty smart. You’d think we’d all do it.
1. Make sure you know how much profit is in every deal. This may seem like common sense, but it is not! Before you send pricing to any client, it is important to figure out what the job is worth to you. Early on in my business, I had a one-size-fits-all pricing model. When I started analyzing my profits, I was lucky if I made 25 percent gross revenue on any project. I still had to pay all overhead and taxes from that before I pocketed any money. This system got me nowhere fast.
Steve McKee, author of When Growth Stalls, says if you are going to discount your products “do it briefly, credibly, and creatively. Discounting briefly is just that, offering a discount for a short time.”
Reading productivity gurus is helpful, but Melinda’s get-to-the-point style brings it home in this #6 item.
6. Time is the most valuable asset in your business. As an entrepreneur, your time is the most valuable thing that you can give anyone, so treat it as such. Qualify that your prospective client is ready to do business before you agree to meet with them. If the client does not yet have a budget, perhaps they are not ready to buy. Conduct as much pre-work over the phone as possible, and develop a checklist of things you need from the client prior to developing a quote or attending a meeting. If you can, make the meeting in your office, so that you lose less time if he doesn’t show up. Confirm appoints a day in advance. When I schedule an appointment, I always get the cell number of the person with whom I am meeting. If I’m lost or might possibly be late, I can make a courtesy call.