Simple Things That Work

Sinking Ship
Can Your Business Change its Course like an Aircraft Carrier?

Sinking Ship“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.” Turkish proverb

Let me tell you a story that a friend of mine, a retired Navy Commander, told me. One night over a couple of libations, I asked him what he did in the Navy, and while he was listing his different jobs, he mentioned that he had piloted an aircraft carrier, the largest sea-going vessel in the world.

Do you wonder just how large it is? A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is 1,000 feet long (approximately 3 times the length of a football field), and as wide as a football field, 100 yards wide. Each one weighs 100,000 tons, which sounds large, until you do the math and realize that it’s tremendously heavy at 200 million pounds of metal floating on the ocean.

The more we talked, the more I asked questions. Seriously, this friend of mine had navigated an aircraft carrier! Finally, this question came to my mind: Just how long does it take to turn an aircraft carrier completely around to head in the opposite direction? Not just a small turn, but a complete 180-degree turn in the opposite direction? Here’s what he told me:

When he was “driving” it, he could make a 1 degree change in the direction of the ship every couple of seconds. That meant that in roughly 3-5 miles, depending on the speed of the ship, the current of the ocean, and the wind, he could completely turn the vessel around in just 3-5 minutes.

Think about that: A 200 million pound ship that can go from one direction, to the total opposite direction, in 3-5 minutes.

So my question is:

Why does it take entrepreneurs so long to change the direction of their business,
when they know they’re going the wrong way?

Seriously, I meet business owners all the time who confide in me and admit that the revenue they’re bringing in from their business is inadequate. They admit to me that their business has changed into something that is unrecognizable from what they dreamed of creating. And finally, they tell me how their business no longer gives them the joy and the thrill of owning it. It’s a burden, or worse, it’s turned into a really bad job.

Shoot, if you wanted a job, you could have stayed in the one you had before you started your business.

Listen to me: You CAN change the course of your business for the better, and you can do it in a short amount of time. Yes, it will take time to get it to where you want it to be, but it all starts with a simple decision: Admitting that you don’t like what’s happening and deciding that you will no longer steer your business in that direction.

Trust me on this: You ARE more nimble than a 200 million pound aircraft carrier. You have a brain to move your business forward, and it only has propellers. But if it can change its course in 5 minutes, don’t you think you should be able to change your course in even less time? I think so.

I’m going to leave you with this quote from Jim Rohn:

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

Don’t wait another day to do it!

33 Days from Today

Just 33 days from today, you could be sitting in my Destination Business BootCamp learning an entirely new way to bring more customers in your door. It took me almost 30 years to learn this 14-step strategy, but it’s all available to you when you make the trek to Longmont, Colorado to be part of one of my classes.

If you’d like to read about what you’ll learn at my Destination BootCamp, just click here.

You are also welcome to call me at any time, if you’d like to learn if my class can help your business. Just call our office line below.

As I said above: Don’t wait another day to do it!

Thanks, Everyone!

Jon

The-Coffee-Stain
The Ultimate Customer Experience, Part 1

To all my blog readers:  My apologies for missing a couple of blogs these last two weeks.  You see, I’ve been speaking all over North America, but I think I have a story to tell you that will make it worth your wait.  Here’s Part 1.  Next week I’ll wrap up with Part 2.

Part 1: Welcome to the Family

One of the conferences I spoke at was in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, for their province’s tourism association.  If you don’t know where Bathurst is, find Portland Maine on a map and move your finger about 500 miles to the northeast. It’s Canada’s one province that is officially bilingual, so my keynote speech was translated into French, while I spoke from the floor of a hockey arena!  Not many professional speakers get to say that.

Another speaker at the conference talked about Creating a Customer Experience.  The day we left Bathurst, I think we experienced the ultimate Customer Experience in two different restaurants, and here’s my story about the first one.

The day after my keynote, as we were leaving town, we stopped for breakfast at a local downtown Bathurst restaurant called the Coffee Stain.

The Coffee Stain

It’s a small restaurant with local photos, maps, Bathurst mementos, and sailing memorabilia on the walls, and a woman was cooking behind the counter at the grill. She told us to take any seat and soon she brought us menus, speaking to us in English.  As she moved to the next table, she spoke French to them.

Soon it’s apparent that the Coffee Stain is less like a restaurant and more like walking into someone’s kitchen, in the middle of a family meal, with different tables being part of the family. The owner, Olga, takes our order at the table. She brings Peg coffee and I ask her to bring me a Coke when she has a chance.  She returns to the grill, but forgets to ask us something, so she shouts it out from behind the grill where she’s cooking.  As people enter the restaurant she greets them by name, speaks to them in the language they understand, and keeps a constant flow of conversation with all the tables while she prepares all the meals.

Soon Lorne, her husband, comes bouncing in. He brings us our food that Olga’s cooked and asks us if we’d like some of his fresh strawberry preserves. You bet, we say, and as he goes to get it.  I remind him that I wanted a Coke.  Lorne yells to Olga, “Were you supposed to get him a Coke?”  Not missing a beat, Olga says, “Yes, but he said when I had time, and I haven’t had time.”  The restaurant bursts into laughter.

We’re now officially adopted into the Coffee Stain conversation. They ask us where we’re from and we tell them Colorado.  Lorne brings us bright red ceramic Coffee Stain cups for us to take back home.  As Olga and he move from behind the counter to the tables, taking orders, delivering food, running the register, and loading up the truck with a delivery, you realize that every chain restaurant you’ve ever eaten in has less personality, humor, and great food than the Coffee Stain.  And right when you think you’ve seen it all, Lorne yells to a customer as he’s headed to the bathroom: “Be careful in there.” The place erupts again.

And I started wishing we weren’t leaving Bathurst right now, so we could come back for the breakfast routine tomorrow.

Before we leave, we snap a photo of Olga and Lorne.

Olga and Lorne
We’re convinced as we walk out that it will be tough to find as warm a restaurant as the Coffee Stain as we work our way back to the United States.

But two days later, we’re surprised again.

Check out this blog next week for Part 2 of the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Thanks,

Jon Schallert

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Winter Weather Marketing Tactics Designed to Lure Customers In

ItsColdOutThere

Some of your businesses have been taking a beating with this awful weather and when bad weather hits, it can cripple sales.

While winter is usually a slower time for consumer spending, January weather flowed right through February, and as I write this, it’s snowing heavily outside this March.  Can this Spring’s outlook be that much better?

Some of you asked that I write about how to overcome a loss of business due to bad weather in this week’s blog.

I will in a second. But let’s first talk about the realities of bad weather:

Bad weather will impact sales immediately, but there can be a corresponding increase in sales when the weather gets better, IF the product is still useable during that later date.  For example, you are a garden center and you have a massive selection of vegetable seeds. Bad weather hits for 2 weeks and delays planting for everyone. But then the weather clears and the customers pour in, intent on still doing their planting.

But this corresponding bump in sales doesn’t always happen. Here’s what happened in Colorado last year: You are a tire retailer and you stock snow tires. In Colorado last year, November, 2012 through February, 2013 were some of the lowest snow months in the state’s history. Do people rush in and buy snow tires in March? Nope. Spring is right around the corner with warmer weather. So many consumers in Colorado last winter didn’t purchase snow tires at all. Those sales were just lost.

We do know that when bad weather hits, the consumer has to decide just how important it is to go outside: Is the need for the product greater than the discomfort and risk of going outside?

Here some examples of products for which I’d risk going outside in a blizzard: Water, propane, firewood, toilet paper, a key ingredient for a recipe that I absolutely have to make, and alcohol.

The bad news for many of you is that you don’t sell any of these product necessities which can be crucial to a person’s survival. (You have also now learned my core priorities).

So how do you lure customers into your business, if you’re not willing to change your product focus to carrying water, propane, firewood, toilet paper, or alcohol?

You must go back to the three core drivers of a consumer’s emotional spending habits. If you’re going to be successful with a weather-abused consumer, you must play off these three core needs:

  1. You must create emotion inside your business! If you’re stuck inside a house for days or weeks on end because of bad weather, people start going a little crazy. The common term for this is cabin fever. So what can you offer a consumer who’s experiencing this malady?  Entertainment! Excitement! Outside fun and stimulation!  You must focus on event-oriented activities in your business that bring people together to have fun, like classes, parties, celebrations, and new product unveilings that are just too exciting to miss.
  2. You must alleviate boredom! Can your business become the oasis of stimulation that makes them say: “Let’s strap on the snowshoes, Honey, and head out to this store!”
  3. You must create urgency! Whatever offer you present to your targeted group of consumers, you must create limited windows of opportunity for them to take advantage of your offer.  Words like “One-time only”, “Get in here today” and “Only available between 2:00 and 6:00 today” will let them know if they miss this limited time offer, they will regret it.

Finally, when bad weather hits (especially if you’re a retail store), your first inclination is to use discount marketing to bribe the customer through your doors.

Let me caution you on a few huge discounting mistakes during bad weather:

  • Avoid giving a discount on a core product line that the consumer will buy later when the weather is better.
  • Avoid giving percentages off.  Consumers prefer getting actual dollar amounts on their discounts.  Remember: Dollars off create more spending than percentage discounts!
  • If you’re going to discount, tie the discount to another purchase. “When you buy 3 pairs of socks, you get a $10 discount on 2 packs of underwear.”
  • Avoid discounting products that are “demand products” that the consumer absolutely must have. Bad weather is probably only a temporarily delay to the consumer’s purchase.
  • Avoid discounting products that do not have a large enough profit margin to make you money.
  • Do discount products that have a limited window of use. For example, you’re a grocery store and you know those perishable food products are not going to last. Mark them down and try to recoup some of your investment. Or you have purchased seasonal items that you don’t want to carry over to the next year. Mark them down and move them out.

This cold weather will not be here forever, but until it’s gone, start implementing some of these ideas in your cold weather marketing. Let me know which prove successful to you, or if you have other ideas, send them my way at Info@JonSchallert.com.

Thanks for reading this week, and stay warm out there!

Jon

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Pinterest: Changing How Customers Shop and How Small Businesses Compete for Customers

I conducted a webinar in Destination University (www.DestinationUniversity.com) last month on how to use Pinterest. I decided I better learn what Pinterest was after I was asked multiple times in January what I thought of it, and I had no clue. Back then, I was totally ignorant of Pinterest. Not anymore.

If you’re still not getting what Pinterest is, think of this: In front of me as I type this article on my office wall is a huge bulletin board, filled with magazine articles, photos, 3” x 5” cards with words on them, all pinned to that board. Pinterest is just like that bulletin board, except you are collecting images from the Internet, and grouping them into collections of your choosing. These collections are called “Boards” and when you decide you like a particular image, you “pin” it (again, just like a bulletin board).

If you haven’t played around with Pinterest, my advice is to try it tonight. Right now, you’ll need an invitation to join Pinterest to start dabbling around in it. If you’re in Facebook, just post that you’d like an invitation to Pinterest, and your friends will invite you. You can also sign in using Twitter.

Once you start trying Pinterest, you’ll probably be hooked. You’ll see why consumers are jumping on its bandwagon, and why a whopping 84% are female users. Here’s even more key information about it:

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history, and it is the fifth largest social network and the third most popular. It is also the 16th most visited website, ahead of big names like CNN and the Huffington Post. Started in 2009 by Ben Silvermann of Des Moines, Iowa, the earliest people to start using it were females from the Midwest. The explosion of popularity has happened recently: only tens of thousands knew what Pinterest was in 2011, but 4.9 million site visitors used it in November; 11.7 million in January, 2012; and 17.8 million in February, 2012. According to some analysts, it is the fastest independent website to reach 10 million visitors. Best of all, the average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes a month on the site, which is right behind Tumblr and Facebook’s usage numbers, with an average visit lasting 16 minutes.

Pinterest itself is not a large company. They are based in Palo Alto, California (where Facebook is located), with about 20 employees (they hired half their staff in the last 4 months). Obviously, the growth of their company is causing them to scramble, but like most Internet companies, they aren’t worried about generating a profit, given that they are funded by the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (founded by Marc Andreessen, who co-created Netscape) and Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of Yelp. With the $37 million they raised last year and their estimated current valuation of $200 million, they aren’t going anywhere.

Why is this Pinterest phenomenon important to a small business like yours? Here are my big 6 reasons:

1. Pinterest is all about visuals and scanning the Internet for images that a person likes. Once they find a photo, a cartoon, or an image they like, they can “pin” it and it starts a process where other people who view the image, start spreading it. In the world of the Internet, this spreading is called viral marketing, just like a cold that self-replicates itself in multiple places. Since it’s really a form of online word-of-mouth marketing, it is less time-consuming than friending people on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, and posting your thoughts on a blog. The ease at which someone can engage with Pinterest makes it a social network that is easy to like, with minimal time commitment involved. It also allows people to connect with others that they might not know as friends, but with whom they have similar interests and style preferences.

2. Large companies don’t know exactly what to do with Pinterest. There are no ads on Pinterest, either, so advertising agencies don’t know how to recommend their clients to use it. Consequently, this is a marketing tool that can have a huge competitive advantage for small businesses that get in and play around with this, while big companies stumble trying to figure it out.

3. Now that Facebook is going to a new timeline configuration (I am doing a webinar on this in Destination University in May also), and Facebook has created a new Pinterest app, there are over 870+ million people who will have access to Pinterest through this linking with Facebook.

4. Pinterest, according to National Public Radio, is one of the top five referrers of web traffic to retailers’ websites. Many of you are retailers, and all of you should have websites. Wouldn’t you like more people to come to your websites? Once there, they can learn about your company, call and find out about certain products, or if you have an e-commerce site, buy directly off of it. Put another way, Pinterest is a powerful mechanism to bring more faces to your business.

5. When you start posting product photos in Pinterest, you’ll notice that you can add a price to the product description, simply by typing the price, preceded by the dollar sign ($). I think (and others concur), that this pricing feature in Pinterest might eventually lead to Pinterest being its own e-commerce site, where people will be able to make purchases directly through Pinterest as an online “shopping cart”. If this happens, those of you who sell products will find this could be a huge boom to your business.

6. Every time an image is uploaded to Pinterest, it can lead directly back to your website. This is critically important because if you have an e-commerce site, or if you’d like to sell more online to people you’ve never met, this linking feature of Pinterest’s could yield huge online traffic referrals to your business.

Hopefully, these 6 reasons are enough to convince you to take this social network seriously.

If this post was interesting to you, think about becoming a member of our Destination University business network. For less than a buck a day, you can stay abreast of the newest, most impactful marketing tools, simply by watching the nearly 100 webinars that are in DU (and more are posted monthly). To learn more about joining Destination University, click here.

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Handling Your Great, Good, and Bad Ideas: A 3-Step Process, Final Step #3

For the last couple of days, I’ve been taking you through the 3-step process of handling your overload of ideas.

Here is the third and final key in this process, and you must remember this most important point:  24 hours is never enough time for a creative thinker like you, with too many ideas.

 

As an owner, you already feel like you work all the time. You don’t, but if you did, it wouldn’t make things much better.  Here’s why:  As you get past the 8 hour mark, up into the 10, then the 12, and finally to the 16-hour mark of working, your productivity drops off, and you start being not so nice.  People respond less well to someone with blood shot eyes who is screaming with too much caffeine in them.  Working too much will also cause your family, your dog, and those who were helping you to quit responding.  And let’s not forget those employees.  They’ll still show up for that paycheck, but have you ever seen unresponsive and uncommitted?  You will.

Think back a few days on my earlier blog post and remember how some of you had another person helping you, making it not just you, but you and someone else?  When you work all the time that person will leave, call you names, and you will be stuck with only you.  Just you and your caffeine, wide awake and alone.  And your situation will not be improved.  It will be just you, and you will still have too many ideas.

So here’s my advice.  In your big pile of ideas that you’ve sifted through, look for ideas that will IMPACT SALES IN A HUGE WAY!

 

This is the key to handling too many ideas!

Sure, this seems logical, but there is power in putting this into practice.

You must learn to identify those great ideas that you can put into place, with your limited amount of time and sanity, which will significantly change your business for the better by increasing sales the most.

These ideas have to be the BIG ones.  They will be the ones that change how you do business.  They are ones that could reinvent your business into a different revenue-generating entity that spins off much more cash and pulls in many more customers.

You must use your good judgment, and look at the remaining ideas, and say: “If I put this into practice, how much will it move our overall sales number?”  And if your answer is “A little” or “Not much”, put those ideas off to the side.

Let’s practice one idea together.  You pick up an idea from your pile.  It says “Hold another Open House”.  Will this really impact your sales and possibly reinvent your business?  You say No?  Yes, you are right.  This is not that BIG idea.

The best ideas will often create a disproportionately large increase in customers or immediate large sales for your business, or move your business forward with such momentum that the new sales might begin resembling an entirely new branch of your company.

Once you find these ideas, you must focus your limited energy, resources, spouse or partner, employees, and remaining team that doesn’t hate you, on these tasks, every day.  In your day-to-day operations of your business, you must find time to implement incremental steps in these move-the-needle, BIG ideas.

Here’s another hint:  You will find that ideas of this magnitude aren’t the ones that most of your peers at the tradeshows you’ve been attending have been repeating.  If your peers really do have BIG ideas like these, they are quietly keeping them to themselves.  I have found that the really BIG ideas won’t be found in your industry, but in an adjacent industry or a totally different industry and you will be able to apply the concept to your industry, where it will be brand new.

I have found this is one of the primary reasons that our Destination BootCamp works so well.  It’s not just me teaching you, but it’s also what happens when you take smart, dissimilar, dissatisfied business owners, all motivated to change their businesses, and the process that happens when they come together for three days of strategic over-thinking.  They exchange ideas under the 14-step framework of becoming a Destination Business and they begin to hear ideas that they’ve never heard before. And then it clicks.  Light bulb!  And as Einstein said, that’s a Eureka moment in the world of adult learning.  Yea!

Summing up and moving on:  There is only one you, and yes, you are like a snowflake, unique and one-of-a-kind, as your parents said.  Unfortunately, your ideas and mode of operation have become stale and like everyone else in your industry.  Then, there are too few hours in a day, and you have too many ideas.  Working on too many ideas for too many hours and your business begins lacking the focus it needs.

The alternative to doing what you’ve always done is to find BIG ideas that will move your sales needle in a big way.  Break down the BIG idea into smaller steps and plan the steps out month-by-month, week-by-week, on a calendar.  Finally, work the plan with you, your partner, and your employees, and delegate to those who can help.  Oh, yeah, and find mentors that have done this before.

Doing it alone feels right, but it’s not. It feels right to plow forward, work longer, and make it on your own.  This is your inner entrepreneur on a misguided quest to right your course.  Instead, you must step back and rethink your business strategy.

If you have more comments or questions, post them on this blog.  Or, make your way to our Destination BootCamp next month on June 21-23, 2011 (www.DestinationBootCamp.com) and watch the Eureka moments find you.

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For All Owners: Your Presence is Needed

Being able to meet and interact with the owner of an independent business might not seem like a big deal to you, but to many customers, your presence has power.  You physically being in your business, talking to customers, helping them solve their problems, and listening to their issues, is one of the joys that a customer feels when they get to interact with the actual owner of a business.

Let me give you an example of how making yourself visible can have a big impact on your bottom line:

Last year, my wife and I took a trip to California, and went to visit some wineries near Sonoma.  We had never been to any of their wineries before, and we soon learned it’s a pretty big event to tour these places.  People from all over the world come to California to taste and critique their wines.

If you ever go to California’s wine country, the whole wine tasting experience is overwhelming.  We stayed in a little city where there were over 40 wineries within 5 miles of our hotel.  So, upon our arrival, the first thing we did was ask the concierge at the hotel to give us some recommendations on where to go.  Then, armed with our list of recommendations, we were ready to start the next day, checking them off one at a time.

But we soon learned that going to each winery on our narrowed-down list was still a daunting task.  The first day we headed out, we started at the top of the list.  We were at the first winery when it opened at 10:00 a.m.  I don’t know if you’ve ever sampled wine not long after breakfast, but it didn’t take too much time before my taste-buds were numb, my mind was a little loopy, and all the while the winery people are talking about the aroma of chocolate and cherries and spices we were supposed to be tasting in our mouths as we sampled the wine.  I tasted none of this.  By noon, I was ready to head back to the hotel and take a nap.

On the second day, we changed our strategy.  We decided to just hit the wineries that our friends had recommended to us.  One of the wines on our “primo list” was named after two partners who had started the winery (for the sake of not incriminating them, let’s call it the “Michael-Joseph Winery”).

When we arrived at Michael-Joseph’s, the place was a palace.  There was an immaculate garden and a spectacular view of the vineyards from the main tasting area.  We walked in, and were the only ones there.  We were greeted by a nice woman who seated us at a private table.  She started taking us through the different upscale wines created there, and during our tasting, she started telling us the story of how Michael and Joseph had started the winery from scratch.  She told the story of how they had built it up, and the trials and effort they had both gone through.  She then told us how they had won all these wine awards, and finally, how Joseph had purchased Michael’s half of the winery from him, becoming the sole owner.  Her whole story was very inspirational.  You really appreciated the hard work that these owners had gone through to create the wine we were sampling.

Not long after she had told us this story, a guy walks through the tasting room with his dog.  The dog comes over to us, and the woman pouring wine for us makes a comment to the man walking through.  He responds, and walks into an adjacent room with a huge desk.  The dog sat down with us.  The guy looked like he knew his way around the place, so I asked her if this was Joseph, the owner of the winery.  “Yes, that’s him,” she said.  Joseph continued to stroll in and out of the far corner of the room as we continued tasting wine, and the woman and he would talk back and forth, carrying on a dialogue, while we were sitting there.

Now, maybe it’s just my fascination with how entrepreneurs become successful, or maybe it was a case of being a little star-struck because I’ve never met someone whose name is on a bottle, but I started thinking how cool it was that this guy is the one who built this whole thing from the ground up, and how cool it was that he’s right here, walking around with his dog, and about the time I’m thinking it would be pretty neat to talk to him, he disappears.

Just gone.  And he doesn’t come back.  And soon, we’re done with the wine.

When we left the winery and we were both driving in the car, when I turned and said, “Wouldn’t it have been cool if the owner had just come over and said something to us?”

And right then, we both realized that if this owner had taken just a minute or two to say hello, and take the time to introduce himself to us, the whole winery experience we were having would have been so much more memorable.  It could have only been a moment, but we would have probably bought a whole lot more wine, and we certainly would have talked about the experience of meeting Joseph, the winery owner, to all of our friends.

Now, relate this to your business:  If you build your Destination business correctly, there will be two aspects of it that will become famous:  Your business and you.  Yes, I know some of you are uncomfortable being in the spotlight, but I’d suggest you get over this stage fright because when you build a successful Destination Business, the curtain on your stage will inevitably rise.

There is a fine line between being the celebrity-owner and saying hello to customers, and spending all your time gabbing with them, and getting nothing else done.  It’s a balancing act, but rehearsing your brief interaction helps:  “Hello, nice to see you, thank you for coming in, oh, yes, we are glad you read about us in that magazine, and again, thank you for coming in, it’s a pleasure to meet you, here’s my card, and now, I have a meeting to go to, goodbye.”

Get comfortable being the Expert in your business and using your “celebrity” status to your advantage.  Most of the time, it won’t take much to have a big impact on your customers.

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What’s Your Calendar Say?

Today is the 54th day of 2011. There are 311 more days to go before 2012.  I know this because every morning, I look at the calendar on my wall, and in tiny numbers, it tells me that information.

That’s just one benefit of a calendar like this.  The bigger benefit is that my calendar shows me how I’m going to grow my business in 2011.

What did your calendar tell you today?

Funny question, right?  But look on your wall, or on your computer, and do you have a physical calendar that details the step-by-step plan you’ve created to grow your business in 2011?

You probably don’t have one.  Most of my clients don’t have one when they begin working with me.  But I’m going to suggest you get one.  Get a big 2 foot by 3 foot horizontal 2011 Yearly Planner calendars that has all 12 months visible, that you can write on with a dry erase marker.  Put it on the wall where you see it every day.

When you first put it up, it will be uncluttered and blank.  Your future will never look so uncomplicated as when you put up your new calendar.  But after day 1, this calendar holds the promise of a brighter future.

Why is this calendar discussion important?  You can use your 2011 calendar like I do, as the physical representation of the twelve month revenue strategy you will be implementing.

I can see on the calendar my plan and my progress of achieving superior results in 2011 over 2010.  Best of all, on December 31, 2011, after a full year, if I am not satisfied with my company’s 2011 end-of-the-year revenue numbers, I don’t have to look any further than that calendar to see what I did, the order and frequency I did it, and decide what to change for the future.

You might be thinking:  “Wait a second, Jon.  What about the economy?  That’s going to impact my numbers in 2011!”

The reality is that you cannot blame the economy if you start now with a plan.  If you write a year-end sales decrease in 2011, or you write a lesser increase than you hoped for, your plan will be the reason.

For most owners, though, they have no proactive plan.  Where most owners dwell is in the day-to-day, adding-it-up-as-you-go, let’s-see-if-we’re-ahead-or-behind, reactive record-keeping mode.  That’s not an entrepreneurial plan; that’s a bean counter function that your accountant can do!

Your job as the owner is to create the vision and the plan that drives the totals you want!

Think back on last year:  If in 2010, you went day by day, waiting and hoping that the economy would turn around, shame on you!  Hoping the economy will get better is not a plan!  Hope itself feels good, but as one wise man once said:  “Hope is not a strategy.”

Onto 2011:  My empty calendar, already 54 days into the year, is ready for more of my future plan.  Your calendar is ready, too!  You can deviate from what didn’t work in the past, and set out a course for the year with new tactics that you didn’t try before.  Your goal should be that at the 365th day of 2011, you don’t look back on your past 365 days with regret, but with satisfaction that you learned from 2010 and didn’t repeat those mistakes in 2011.

Let me say it again:  If you are not happy with your year-end sales numbers this year, don’t blame the economy.  Blame the plan you created while in this economy.

Today, go buy that calendar.  Then check back on this blog tomorrow, as I give you Step 2 to grow your sales in 2011.