Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


Well 2008 is going, going, gone. It’s been a great year for me personally and professionally. I received my Competent Communicator Award from Toastmasters, made many new friends and acquaintances, began working with some very talented clients, and took my business to a higher level of success.

With 2009 will come tons of new clients, new passive revenue products, new public speaking opportunities, and a host of other wonderful things!

Rev up your positive attitude and see what you can do in 2009!!!

Happy New Year, Suzanne
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Monday, December 29, 2008

Create the Right Business Goals for 2009


Last year at this time I wrote about who you want to be in 2008. This year I would like to touch on goal setting and how to create goals that will help you have a wonderful 2009.

The biggest mistake I see is unrealistic goals. For example, a 2009 revenue goal of $200,000 is a great goal if your revenue was $160,000 in 2008. An increase of 25% is reasonable and realistic if you create the actions and marketing plan to close the gap. If however you did $50,000 in 2008 such a large increase is not likely to happen and is more like wishful thinking.

Action Step for 2009: Set reasonable and attainable goals.

The second mistake I see is making one large revenue goal for the year - one big goal but no smaller goals to get where you want to go. If you want to bring in $200,000 in 2009, you need smaller goals that lead up to the big revenue goal.

Think of your goals like a pyramid. Your revenue goal belongs up at the top of the pyramid. Your smaller goals help you achieve the bigger goal and they support the structure of the pyramid.

Action Step for 2009: Create smaller goals that lead up to your revenue goal

The last mistake I want to touch on is: What held you back from real success in 2008? Be honest with yourself. I am willing to bet that you need to take more risks to attain the success that you really want. Make a goal that will support you in getting real exposure for your business in 2009. Make sure it gets you out of your comfort zone – when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing, and when you’re not growing you won’t easily reach your goals.

Action Step for 2009: Get out of your comfort zone!!!!


Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Financial Advisors and Entrepreneurs

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There Are No Quick Fixes



Lately I’ve had a rash of emails and phone calls from people who are seeking someone to fix their business, real quick. They are looking for a magical remedy or quick fix that will take their business from struggling to success in one month or less.

The truth of the matter is that YOU as a business owner must take responsibility for your own business in this challenging economy. You can hire a coach to help you develop success skills and position your business through effortless marketing, but YOU must do the work itself.

We have all come to expect instant results in this instant gratification world we live in, but the truth is that there are no short cuts. We have drive through Starbucks and drive through McDonalds. There are no drive through “fix ‘er up real quick” solutions. No drive in and come out the other end with a brand new business position and ten new clients. If you have a business that looks just like every other competitor out there, it will take some time to reposition and find out where your ideal clients are hiding. If you have a brand new business, it will take time to refine your strategy and get clients.

What you don’t want to do is hibernate until this moody economy passes by. That is sheer foolishness. Use this time to think deeply about what you want out of life and how your business can support you in living your dreams. Then create a marketing plan that will give you what you want.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Biggest Coaching Myth – Only Beginners Need a Coach


I received a Free Session Form in my email inbox yesterday. There is a Complimentary Coaching Session Form on my website for entrepreneurs and one for Financial Advisors. So I called the person to see when he’d like to set up phone call. Just as review I mentioned that I work with clients a minimum of six months (although most work with me six months to a year) and my fees start at $400 per month. He said “Well I’m not a beginner so I don’t need a constant coach. I’ve been in business for many years.”


There is a misconception out there that only beginning business owners or those that need “help” are the ones hiring coaches. This is simply not true. Very successful experienced people hire coaches to help them reach far higher than they have before. We can all get a little myopic in our own world. With a coach, you have a business partner who can see things you don’t see. You also get someone who will push you out of your comfort zone to achieve things you never would have on your own. Most of my clients are already successful and they have just scratched the surface of their potential. They are earning from several hundred thousand to millions and they know the value of a business partner in their coach.


Read What is Business Coaching? to learn more.


Suzanne Muusers

Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Big Three Auto Makers – Should They Stay or Should They Go?


I believe that the Free Market works. Plain and simple. Anyone heard of the Edsel? The huge 1957 Ford failure? Ford designed and built the Edsel under intense secrecy and based the design on what was popular at the time, never asking focus groups what they wanted.

When you base your entire sales projections on cars people bought in the past, it’s no surprise that you will not have a big winner on your hands. That’s exactly what’s happening now. Times starting changing many years ago, but the big three auto makers continued to base their design and manufacturing on the past. As a result of little demand, the Edsel died. The Free Market killed it.

Another way of looking at the situation is: Do we really need a new car every four to five years or are the big three creating demand for their products through creative financing and advertising in order to push their gas guzzlers out the door?

In a way I pity the big three. They are weighted down by union demands. Did you know that Toyota pays its workers a similar hourly wage as the big three? Only Toyota is free from union limitations on job descriptions. Workers’ are free to transfer from screwing bolts on dashboards to attaching doors and windows, which is not the case elsewhere. The big three have far too much overhead to make a profit, let alone to invest in new, cutting edge design and fuel economy. Let the free market take care of them.

The big lesson for us here is: create products and services that consumers want and need.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Financial Advisors and Entrepreneurs

Monday, November 24, 2008

Out of touch


I got a taste of what it’s like to be without access to the outside world. For the past ten days I haven’t had internet access – a combination of ISP outage and then a router failure. I’m not a big email fan – I don’t check my email more than two to three times a day, but not being able to send email whenever I wanted to was definitely a hassle.

I found out what it’s like to be out of touch with the market. I have a widget on my desktop that shows the DOW, S&P and NASDQ. Markets go up and down and my clients are affected, but - not knowing how the market is doing made me feel like I was in the dark. I don’t think I could ever go back to not having the internet.

Thank goodness for technology!!!

Suzanne

Friday, November 7, 2008

It Pays to Have an Opinion

A pat on the back for me! Due to my comments regarding Suze Orman and fear mongering, and my comments regarding remaining calm during scary times, I received some press in a well known publication. The Wall Street Journal interviewed me for an expose on Suze Orman.

What’s the lesson here? If you have a something to say, someone will listen. If you toe the line and say what everyone else says, you will remain vanilla.

How about you? Do you have an opinion? Do you have something to say? Then for goodness sake, SAY IT! Don’t sugar coat it.

You and your BRAND have to stand out in the market place. Stand out by not being boring.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Financial Advisors and Entrepreneurs

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rebel Marketing Tactics That Work in Today’s Economic Climate



The headline today in the Arizona Republic states “Consumer spending plummets.” The sub stories are “Economy officially contracting, pointing to a recession” and “Car sales going from bad to worse.”

I don’t think the fact that personal consumption fell 3.1% equates to “plummets.” How about you? Now car sales, on the other hand, are pretty bad off, down some 30%. Car dealers are feeling the double whammy of lower SUV sales due to high gas prices and the slowing economy. I know that many consumers enjoy purchasing a new car every 3-5 years, but I prefer to keep my cars eight to ten years.

Could it be that we are just now realizing that what we really need is more priuses and far fewer hummers?

What car manufacturers need to do is to is come out with cars we want to buy that satisfy our needs and desires in the current economic times and then market them in obvious ways.

I saw a GREAT rebel marketing tactic yesterday driving down Scottsdale Road. A driver had this plastered in huge white letters on the rear window of his Saturn car “Scottsdale Saturn 32 Miles Per Gallon.” Obviously, if it’s great gas mileage you want, you don’t need to buy a hybrid, you can buy a Saturn at a far lower cost.

Sometimes the best marketing tactics are the easiest, in your face, and most obvious. The ones that take you down in the trenches. Take a look at your own marketing. Do you need to use “Rebel Marketing”?

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prosperous Businesses - Peak Concierge Services


The Prosperous Business Series - This is the first in a series of posts about business owners that continue to market and take risks to build their businesses and do so with a smile on their face.


Tell us about your business concept

Our Motto at Peak Concierge Services is: Call the Peak. Call it Done! This motto really tells it all. If you have a closet that needs organized, an event that needs planed, or a car that has to be detailed - call the Peak. We offer a great variety of Personal Assistance and Concierge Services, incl. grocery shopping, errand running, pet and house sitting, complete house management, event planning and co-ordination … the list is endless.

How are you handling the current economic environment?

I am very grounded in understanding that my personal "reality" (what I believe, what I chose to focus on, etc.) has a much greater impact on my business then the overall economic environment. That is not to say we are not affected by it - we just find ways to make it work in our favor. For example: New home builders are really struggling at the moment - so we created a value added proposal for them to differentiate their upscale neighborhood in the market place. Peak Concierge Services has just been approved by another Home Owner Association to offer services directly to the home buyers! This is a direct result of the changed economic environment.

Tell us something about your business philosophy? What makes you different and able to do well in the face of negativity all around us?

We start our day with 5 minutes of noticing and appreciating all the good that we bring to clients and the good that we have in our lives - that really has an impact! Our services are very personal and we earn our clients trust with every visit, every task completed. Our business philosophy is to provide a great experience each and every time we do something for our clients. Here is an example: quite a few of our homeowners have second homes here in the valley - so at the initial visit we place an " Ancient Prayer for the traveler" on their bed - welcoming them to their second home -I cannot tell you how many compliments we have received for this gesture. So our philosophy is to "WOW" our clients and trust that they are telling their friends about us - and this really works.

Tell us one marketing tactic that is working for you in spite of this economy

We think about how we can let clients know about our services in an inexpensive way! We have an internal competition going on: Who can think about more "free" creative ways to get the word out about Peak Concierge Services… and it works. Also using great resources like the book "Get Clients Now" and Networking with successful individuals that share some of the same ideas also helps a lot. Despite what we hear on the news - the sky is still up there and there remains plenty of work that needs to be done!!! Now more than ever we can prove that we help with the positive change in our client's lives!

What advice do you have for those starting a business right now?

Get really clear on why you want to start a business and what value you are offering to your clients. The clearer the vision the easier it will be to find the way there. Then, surround yourself with positive influential individuals, find a mentor, and listen! Believe in yourself and prepare to work hard (with a smile on your face) and off you go!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prosperous Businesses - a new series profiling companies that are doing well despite the economy



According to an October 2nd survey by American Express ® Open Small Business Monitor, 75% of business owners plan to grow their businesses over the next six months!!!

Now that’s great news, but why don’t hear about this in the major media? Could it be that we are focusing far too much on the negative aspects of the financial meltdown?

Another interesting tidbit: 44% of businesses in the service sector have plans to hire over the next six months.

It seems that there is too much focus on market fears and small business failures. To counteract this negativity, I am starting a blog series – Prosperous Businesses - profiling companies that are doing well and even thriving in the current economic environment.

Stay tuned for more…
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, October 17, 2008

Financial Markets – Don’t take actions you may regret later

Many of you want to know why I commented about Suze Orman and Jim Cramer last week so I thought I would explain. After Suze appeared on Larry King and Oprah and made a blanket statement telling investors to sell stocks, the Dow went on a 6 day slide. Coincidence? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Half my clients are entrepreneurial financial advisors. They have been bombarded with calls from their clients over the past two weeks. Typical conversations start with “Suze Orman (or Jim Cramer) told me to sell my stocks.” When celebrities make blanket statements without prefacing them with “You should seek advice from a financial planner prior to taking action on your investment accounts” they risk causing widespread public panic.

The panic and craziness that ensued after 9/11 will stay with me forever. The current market instability is reminiscent of that time, only far worse. I just happened to be on the phones at the Vanguard Group helping 401(k) participants with their accounts during 9/11. I heard conversations all over the call center about participants selling at the bottom of the market, regretting it later, but unable to reverse the trade.

You should always seek advice from a competent financial advisor who understands your risk tolerance, time horizon, and complete financial picture before making a move that could have financial ramifications for the rest of your life.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Don’t Panic! The sky is not falling in on your business!!!


My clients and acquaintances are calling and asking about what they should do with their business during this global economic crisis. Many are scared - we all know that acting on fear is the worst possible thing you could do.


So here is my take on things you can do:


1. Stop listening to IDIOTS like Suze Orman and Jim Cramer!!!! They are fear mongers that live off selling magazines and television shows that spew irresponsible viewpoints. All they care about is getting their mugs on the camera of equally irresponsible news programs on CNN and the like.

2. CALM DOWN! Take a deep breath and don’t let negative emotions get to you.

3. Don’t rush to make any decisions that you may regret later.

4. FOCUS on your business and what you do best.

5. Do NOT stop improving your skills or your marketing. Studies show that those who reduce their marketing activities in times like these have a much harder time coming out of it.

6. DO keep on top of your client and prospect relationships.

7. Take a CONTRARIAN view and tell everyone NOT TO PANIC. Be an example of what is possible if you put your mind to it.

8. FOCUS on the opportunities. While everyone else is running scared, what opportunities can you take advantage of?

Slow and steady wins the race. If you decide the world’s markets are crashing and you jump on the band wagon then you are contributing to the negativity. Six months from now this will just be a memory.

Suzanne Muusers

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Marketing Plans, Target Clients, and Ideal Clients – part 3


Our house is almost built. We put together the foundation (our Target Clients), the walls (our Ideal Clients), and now we are attaching the roof (your Unique Strategic Position) to tie it all together.

Today we will examine how to use your Unique Strategic Position, or your expertise in your marketing plan. A Unique Strategic Position is how you stand out from the crowd. You’ve created a profile of your Ideal Client. You should now know where to find them. You’re getting an idea of their challenges, so now you’re ready to tweak your Unique Strategic Position.

Look for an unmet need in the marketplace and design a marketing tactic around that need. In the financial advisor example in part 1, I said “A great place to market your services would be at the local Home Builders Association.” By networking at events where your Ideal Clients congregate, you will have a much higher close ratio than if you went to your local chamber of commerce, where all types of business owners gather. Targeting your Ideal Client allows you to work and less and close more sales. You work less because you learn all about your Ideal Client’s challenges and you become used to solving the same set of problems.

In this example, you can create a Unique Strategic Position by designing marketing activities that help your Ideal Client. We all have problems or challenges no matter what industry we’re in. What type of special report can you write that helps your Ideal Client solve a problem? How can you position yourself as the expert ready to save the day?

For our financial advisor, he could create two marketing tactics.
1. Plan a talk to the Home Builders Association about the different types of retirement plans and the pros and cons of each.
2. Write an article or special report that addresses solutions to their problems


Suzanne Muusers
Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Marketing Plans, Target Clients, and Ideal Clients – part 2


Today I will be investigating how your Ideal Client makes a difference in your marketing plan.

An Ideal Client is your Target Client on Steroids. For instance, I work especially well with financial advisors. My Target Client is an independent male financial advisor aged 30-55 with assets under management from $40M to $200M and can reside in any state since I work via phone.

After interviewing several of my Ideal Clients, I came up with the following profile. My Ideal Client is already successful, but he realizes he could be doing far more than he is doing now. He can easily afford my fees and willingly hires me to help him bring in more assets under management, attract high net worth clients, get more organized, increase his profits and help him take more time off.

He recognizes that while he may be able to do this on his own, if he hires a business partner that doesn’t share in his profits, who pushes him to do more than he would on his own, he is likely to be more accountable and therefore more successful. He’s ready for action, takes FULL responsibility for his success and tells me when I am not pushing him enough. He’s open to new ideas and is willing to do some things that might be viewed as scary by other advisors who are not as successful as he is.

The best part about my financial advisor Ideal Client is that he refers business my way because he is such a big fan (he will refer entrepreneur clients to me, but probably not other financial advisors because he views me as his competitive advantage and doesn’t want other advisors to know he uses a business coach).

Differentiating your Ideal Client from your Target Client helps you create a laser sharp focus of exactly who you want to work with and eliminates those that are not right for you. And it helps you determine where to find your Ideal Client.

So my question for you is “Who is Your Ideal Client?”
Create a profile today of your Ideal Client so you can best figure out where to find them.

Suzanne Muusers
Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Monday, September 29, 2008

Marketing Plans, Target Clients, and Ideal Clients – part 1


Creating a marketing plan for your small business is like building a house. You need a foundation to build upon. You need supporting walls to hold up the structure. You need a roof to cover the building.

Far too many businesses have a throw it at the wall approach to marketing without a thought to strategy of how the whole house fits together. This makes for an ineffective marketing plan.

An effective marketing plan includes two very important elements: a strategy aimed at your Ideal Client using your Unique Strategic Position.

Today I will be explaining a Target Client in order to set the stage for how an Ideal Client is different and crucial in your marketing strategy.
If you’ve done much reading or taken any marketing courses you may have run across two terms related to clients: a Target Client and an Ideal Client. There are profound differences between the two.

A Target Client is a demographical profile of the type of customer you want to target. Clues to who you want to target lie in your current favorite clients. Examine your records to see if there are any patterns. Do you seem to have quite a few clients in a specific industry? Have you developed an idea of what it is they seem to need?

A Target Client Profile includes things like age, gender, profession, income, education, and geographical location. Completing this type of profile helps you establish where you will best find your clients.

How do you approach marketing? Do you decide what to do based upon products and services you already offer? Or do you try to find the holes in the structure of your target client’s abode? Do you look for unmet needs where you could slide in with the perfect solution and save the day?

An example: You are an independent financial advisor. You may find that your typical client is 45 to 60 year old male small business owner in the home building field who is concerned about taxes and having enough saved to fund retirement. He is also monitoring the cost of health insurance for his employees, the cost of managing his workplace 401(k) plan, and finding a buyer for his business when he retires.

A great place to market your services would be at the local Home Builders Association. What kind of short talk could you put together that addresses the concerns of this client?


Next time: Ideal Clients and Your Marketing Plan

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, September 26, 2008

Marketing Your Business Using LinkedIn

If you’re not quite ready to jump into utilizing the complicated and detailed power of the internet to grow your business, LinkedIn is a good place to start.

You know what I mean - you’re not quite ready to go all the way with internet marketing (you know, the ezine sign up box, the monthly ezine, the information products) then starting with LinkedIn might be just right for you.

I remember the first time someone sent me an invitation to join LinkedIn. I had never heard of it before and honestly didn’t think it would be worthwhile to join. But I set up a profile, checked to see if others I knew or did business with had a profile, sent invitations, and pretty soon I had a veritable “who’s who” of contacts and connections to utilize when referring business opportunities for my clients.

For the beginner: Create a profile on LinkedIn. Use your profile to highlight your skills and where you want to go with your business. After attending a networking event, go through the cards you collect and determine who you made a meaningful connection with. Send those folks an email within 24 hours letting them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and letting them know you’ll be sending them an invitation to LinkedIn.

Add your website address to your profile. Make sure you select the “Other” option rather than “my website”. This will allow you to use the actual words that make up your website name rather than the “masked” version they give you. See my profile for examples.

Add a photo. You know the old saying “a picture is worth 1000 words”. By adding a photo you make yourself real to others, not just a name.

After you’ve completed a project, send your clients a request for a recommendation (make sure you did a great job before doing this).

For the advanced: read this article on BNET about How to Get Started With LinkedIn. It has all sorts of advanced options for how to maximize LinkedIn to build your career. One advanced technique that I’m using is to promote my LinkedIn Profile with a LinkedIn button on my blog. If you don’t have a blog you can use this button on your website’s bio page.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Using Toastmasters to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone


I had the privilege of being the Toastmaster last Thursday at Airpark Toastmasters. If you’ve ever attended Toastmasters, you know that it’s a great venue for testing your willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Toastmasters allows participants to improve speaking and leadership skills in a supportive learning environment. I challenge myself weekly by attending Toastmasters and I use this as a way to stay sharp. I also use it as a networking opportunity.

As Toastmaster, you select the Theme of the Day, prepare opening and closing comments, and generally run the meeting. The theme I selected was “Personal Responsibility – Have We Become a Nation of Whiners?”

I believe we determine our own destiny by our attitude. To put it simply, if you are a positive person who takes responsibility for your own actions, you will create the life you deserve. If you are a negative person, who makes negative comments and focuses on what’s wrong with a situation, you will create a destiny of negativity.

The best part of being the Toastmaster is that you get to use the role as a platform for your ideology. And since I lean more to the right than the left, that’s what I did on Thursday.

Personal Responsibility – Have We Become a Nation of Whiners? What do you think?

This is a great country. It’s the best country I’ve lived in and The United States is my third country! Over the years, however, governments, both national and local, businesses and other institutions have made a name for themselves by helping others reduce the need for individual responsibility.

Didn’t save for retirement? No problem. Here’s a government program to help you. Have at it. Can’t take the pressures of providing a living for yourself? No problem. Here’s another program.

Love to eat but don’t like to work out? No problem. Here’s a surgery to take the weight off the easy way.

My philosophy is that "You are responsible for your own life. Being responsible is not a choice. It's a requirement for a strong society."

I want to give you an example.

For four years of my life I earned a paycheck from a business that was not my own. I worked for the largest and most respected mutual fund company in the nation. I loved my job, but I was astonished that most of my coworkers complained constantly about the company.

Health insurance costs went up each year and people complained. Health insurance is not a right it is a benefit. A 401k plan company match is not a right, it is a benefit. Vacation is not a right, it is a benefit.

If you don’t like your job – take responsibility for your own happiness and get a new job.

Don’t want to work for “the man?” Great. Start your own business. But please don’t poison your coworkers with your negativity.

Taking responsibility can transform your life from one of being a victim to having power over your own life. The stronger your attitude of responsibility, the more success you'll have in your life.

Please take responsibility for your life. Don’t look to the government, your employer, or your significant other to take care of you.

If you find yourself being particularly comfortable in your safe office, and you realize that you need a challenge, find a Toastmasters club and try it on for size. You’ll find that it will give you a competitive advantage in your industry.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, September 19, 2008

Market your Business: Get out of the Office and out of your Comfort Zone!


As you read this blogpost are you safe, sitting in your comfortable office with your coffee and comforts close by? Have you been “outside” today to market your business? For that matter, have you been out of the office at all this week?

If this is you, you’re not unusual. Our offices are nice, safe environments where we can hibernate, read emails obsessively all day long, and remain comfortable. Comfort does not help you grow your business. It takes real courage to take a business to the next level and I’m pretty certain that not everyone has it in them to get there.

Even though I harp on taking risks, my most successful clients, the ones I’ve worked with for years that have hit the six and seven figure mark, tend to get lazy if I don’t push them to get out there. We are inherently lazy. It’s just human nature.

So my message today is if you don’t have someone like me pushing you and holding you accountable, make an appointment with yourself to get up off the couch and out of the office. Pick a few networking events you’ve never been to before. Get out. You’ll be glad you did.


Suzanne Muusers
ICF-Certified Business and Marketing Coach
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Monday, September 15, 2008

Website Marketing: Use SEO or You’re SOL!


Since I tend to focus on marketing and branding, people often ask me to recommend a web designer who can design a beautiful website.

They are usually entrepreneurs who are ready to move on to their second or third website. They have learned what makes them unique. They have found a target client that they work best with, and now they want a new site to announce their new position to the world.

What most people don’t understand is that you MUST have not only good design, but also search engine optimization. If you don’t have both good design and SEO you are SOL!

There are so many crappy websites out there. They are poorly designed, based off a template, or one those “build it in an evening” sites.
These sites will do NOTHING for your business.

Suzanne’s Golden Rule of The Day “If you want clients who will pay you your highest fees ever, you must hire a professional designer to give you your best look ever.”

In addition to good design you need someone who understands search engine optimization. If you can’t find someone who has a good understanding of SEO, you may have to learn it yourself so that you can guide your designer.

Because if you don’t have BOTH good design and SEO, no one is going to find you online. There. That’s my diatribe for the day!


Suzanne Muusers
Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to Market your Business and Have Fun at the Same Time - With a Pie In The Face!



Watch the video (39 seconds) and you’ll see how much fun we have growing our businesses!

If you have never tried a leads group to market your business, I strongly encourage you to do so. First a definition for you: a leads group is a networking group that allows one member per business category.

That means that if you are a Business Coach (like me) and you join a leads group, another business coach cannot join, thus protecting your interests. Tips or leads are passed in the group that can help you grow your business.

I have been a member of Le Tip North Scottsdale for close to three years and I have really enjoyed the experience. We recently had a membership drive to bring in new members. The prize was the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of the Membership Chair.

Dr. Alan Houfek, one of the winning members gleefully took the opportunity to throw the pie while other members elected to keep the pie or donate the pie to a needy family.

Our membership chair, Steve Radonich, suggested that we have a membership competition where the winner who brought in the most guests who joined our group would have an opportunity to do something we all have wanted to do at do at some point in our lives. Anyone who has ever watched the three stooges has seen them throw a pie in someone’s face. The result of our membership drive is that we brought in 12 guests with 4 joining our group. Don’t you think that’s a fun way to grow and market your business at the same time.

Learn more about LeTip International

Monday, August 25, 2008

Five Steps to Starting a Successful Business



I was recently interviewed by Brad Taft of Working My Way during his Career Success TeleSeminar for Mature Workers about Five Steps to Starting a Successful Business. Here are my comments.

1) Develop a Business Vision

Many businesses begin without a grand vision or end result in mind. This causes the business to meander without focus.
Some of the key questions to ask when you are creating a vision of your business 5-10 years in the future are:
· What will the business be known for? What will make you different in the market place?
· What is your role 5 – 10 years in the future? Will you always be doing the day to day business building tactics or will you be the face of the business? What will you be doing ?
· How many employees will you need and what are their roles? What key support roles do you need?
· What does your office look like? Do you need a warehouse or do you need a cutting edge loft space with wood floors and modern furniture? See in your mind what you need.
· Who are your ideal clients? What specific traits do your ideal clients have?

2) Create a Business Plan

Operating a business without a business plan is like driving a car without a steering wheel.
Some simple benefits to a business plan:
Anticipate challenges - through writing your business plan and the research you will do, you will be able to anticipate problems before they occur.
Think strategically. The act of writing a business plan forces you to think ahead and strategize for the future.
Take focused action. Your marketing plan will help you to create a marketing calendar so that you get out there and grow your business and take action

3) Create a professional brand for your business

One of the most important investments that you can make in your business is hiring a professional designer to create your brand.
The objective of your brand is to stand out from the crowd – you don’t want to look like everyone else. You want to look like a professional business owner.
You’ll need a logo, a business card, a tagline to explain the benefits of working with you, a website – and all this must be professionally designed.

4) Know your target client

One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is to target anyone and everyone. New business owners have a fear that if they target a specific segment that they won’t be able to sell to others. This is not true. You can still sell to whomever you like, but targeting allows you to be more effective in your marketing and advertising.
You will get better results with your marketing plan if you narrow down your target client.

5) Become an expert in your field

Narrow down your expertise, find a niche, and you will have clients lining up on your doorstep.
Three ways to become an expert: three simple words
Are you ready?
Read
Write
Speak

Read as much as you can about your industry and the marketplace. Know who the major players are and why the market is behaving the way it is. Write about your expertise. This will solidify your thoughts. Take what you write and either publish on your own website, or publish in industry publications.


Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Find Your Drive to Succeed – Don’t Rest On Your Laurels!

Today I am going to challenge one of your assumptions.

Did you know that the vast majority of small business owners and entrepreneurs are NOT FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL? Let that sink in for a minute. Most entrepreneurs fail to create a viable, saleable business that will allow them to take time off and live a good life.

Do you know why?

Almost all business owners have some type of success at sometime in their business career, but they fail to follow a consistent pattern in their marketing and business efforts. In other words, they win a nice deal or get to the place where they are making a decent living, and then they COAST.

Or, they get lazy. They don’t want to get out of their comfort zone so they just continue to do what they have always done and they continue to get what they have always gotten: mild success.

Or they refuse to take responsibility for their success.

I want to tell you about a client who told me recently that he wanted to make more progress in our coaching journey. We had been working together for 6 months. His business provides him with low to mid six figures a year in recurring income. But he could do FAR more. His goal was to double that in 5 years.

In working with him, I tried to get him out of his comfort zone.

I said: How do you want to make yourself different from everyone else? He said: I don’t know.

I said: You are very knowledgeable. How can you take this knowledge and make a name for yourself? He said: I don’t know.

I said: You are a great public speaker but you haven’t been out there in a while. How can you use this skill to help your business? He said: I don’t know.

And so it went for six months. I could not get him to get out there!!! So I said “In the years ahead, if you go for one week without feeling butterflies in your stomach, then you are not doing enough to build your business.”

Really successful business owners are DRIVEN to succeed. They don’t rest on their laurels. They do the brave things to build their business.

Make sure that person is YOU.

Suzanne Muusers

http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Networking without follow up is crazy


I run into business owners who do a lot of networking. They list off all the networking events they attend and tell me how often they are out of the office. When I ask what strategy they have in place to follow up on everyone they meet, they stare at me blankly.

Networking is one of the best ways to grow a business and find new clients. If, however, you never follow up with those you made a meaningful connection with, you are wasting your time.
There are several great books that talk about networking follow up strategies. Here are two: Endless Referrals – Bob Burg; Get More Referrals Now - Bill Cates.

My golden rule for networking follow up is: Send a card or email within 24 hours. If you wait longer than 24 hours, you risk not following through. If you wait weeks or months, you risk not being remembered which is the kiss of death in my opinion.

When you send your follow up email or note, ask the prospect if they’d like to get together for coffee. This is a nice, non-threatening way to get to know them better. Be curious about them and their business by asking questions about their background and experience. Use this information to see if there are referral possibilities between you.

Make networking worth it by following up. Networking without follow up is crazy.

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Friday, July 18, 2008

Branding – What makes a brand successful?



I recently met with Ken Peters, owner of Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio, to learn what makes a brand successful. My clients know that I have a passion for good design. When prospects and clients ask me “How do I attract high net-worth clients?” I always tell them to hire a top notch designer and make an investment in their brand. See for yourself what an expert in the design industry has to say.


Click on images to enlarge

What is a good brand composed of?


It’s much more than a logo and a catchy slogan. Brands are composed of consumer touch-points, and the perceptions they create. Every experience a person has with your company, products, or services, communicates a message establishing a perception that defines your Brand. A Brand is as much the perception of beauty in an attractive marketing brochure, as the perceived ease of navigating a user-friendly web site. It’s as much the tangible perception of quality craftsmanship, as the intangible perception of friendly service.


Because we each view life through the lens of our individual experiences, perception can’t be determined, only influenced. Influencing perception is the job of the Brand Identity. A Brand Identity is the visual articulation of the perception you wish your Brand to convey. Graphic Design is the craft used to create the Brand Identity. Marketing disseminates the Brand Identity. Advertising promotes and sells the Brand Identity. Together, they work to create, retain, enhance, sustain, and when necessary, recreate, Brand perception – all in an effort to elicit the desired consumer action.


Why is a professional brand identity so important for business owners?
Brand Identity is what differentiates your business in a cluttered market. It’s how you attract attention, communicate with consumers, establish emotional connections, create desire, and elicit action.


What are the top three mistakes entrepreneurs make when designing their Brand Identity?

1) Not working with professional graphic designers: Accessibility to computers, design software, fonts, etc., has created a proliferation of “off-the-shelf-graphic-gurus”. But, knowing how to use Photoshop doesn’t make someone a designer anymore than knowing how to scramble an egg makes someone a chef. Navigating the complexities and nuances of effective and compelling Identity design requires the acuity of trained, professional practitioners.

2) Cutting corners on quality: Graphic design, printing, photography, illustration, copywriting, materials, and overall consistency in visual tone and message each influence consumer perception. Skimping on these could communicate a lack of quality that will reflect poorly on your Brand. You might save pennies up front, but it’ll cost you in the long run.

3) Not following through: Designing your Identity is the first step, but it doesn’t end there. Building Brand equity takes time. Once your Identity has been launched it must be managed as your business grows and the Brand evolves. Communicating a consistent message, while being flexible enough to adapt to change, keeps your Brand from becoming obsolete. This requires constant attention. Trying to tackle the task yourself is a recipe for failure. Maximize your return on investment in Brand Identity by keeping it in the expert care of design professionals.


Is it more important to design an Identity to communicate an idea or is it more important to design an Identity that is visually eye catching.

Every Brand communicates an idea. The key is creating the right perception through an engaging Identity. That requires smart design. Design isn’t rocket science. It’s persuasion. And, persuasion is an art.


Please give us some tips on how to develop a successful Brand Identity.

1) Understand that working with a professional graphic designer is a capital investment, rather than an expense. Investing in quality up front generates greater dividends in the long run.

2) Work with a designer who excites you. Designing a creative and effective Brand Identity is a highly collaborative process. It not only requires imagination and skill, but also a spirit of enthusiastic give-and-take among people who inspire and challenge each other.

3) Be open to bold ideas, and willing to take risks. Creativity and imagination are still the most effective means of gaining an unfair advantage over your competition.

4) Remember that bad design is often as memorable as good design. You have to decide how you want to be remembered.

Ken Peters is the Owner and Creative Director of Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio, LLC, a Phoenix-based design firm specializing in brand development and corporate image for large and small businesses in all industries. To speak with Ken directly email ken@nocturnaldesign.com. To view samples from Nocturnal’s portfolio, visit http://www.nocturnaldesign.com/

Suzanne Muusers
Prosperity Coaching LLC
Branding Packages

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Mid-Year - Are You Working on Your Goals?

Each New Years I redo my business plan and create my goals for the year. I review my Vision and Mission to see if it’s still relevant, update my strategies, and then create my business goals. I coach my clients to do the same.

About this time of year I review my progress on annual goals. Are you doing the same? Or are you slacking off? Summer is traditionally a time for sending the kids to grandma, taking vacations and generally having a good time. But in doing so, are we neglecting our businesses?

Are YOU working on your goals?

As entrepreneurs we are usually too busy being the technician and working on the day to day chores necessary to run our businesses. There are appointments, networking events, business administration, and the work we do. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. Nevertheless, if we truly want to get ahead, we need to work on the “Big Picture Goals” such as writing that book (join this book writing coaching group if this is one of your goals), creating that e-course, or writing the articles that will position you as an expert.

The subconscious mind knows when we slack off. It allows us to ignore what we really want. Don’t let this happen to you. Find a nice three-hour block of time in your schedule and revise your business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, consider my Two Page Mini Business Plan™. It’s fast, easy and gets results.

What's the best thing about my business plan? It's the Success Book - a Daily Action Planner that keeps the entrepreneur in line with the DAILY TASKS necessary to build a business. We all need a constant reminder that goals can only be achieved if we TAKE ACTION!

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Entrepreneurs Need Vacations Without Email or Voicemail


I just returned from a one-week vacation at the beach with my husband and family. A whole week of lazing on the beach, swimming, body surfing, eating in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and generally having a good time. How many times did I check voicemail and email? I checked email once just to make sure there were no major issues developing without my knowledge.

Many entrepreneurs don’t take enough vacations. They proudly tell me that they’re just too busy to take time off. This always amazes me, I mean, isn’t freedom one of the reasons you started your own business? Those that do take vacations take their smart phones and laptops along with them to let interruptions ruin their serenity.

What has happened to Work Life Balance? Or is it just a myth? Don’t we want to enjoy our lives and live the good life?

Many business owners miss out on living the good life. They reach a point where immersing themselves in the business without taking time off leads to burn out, lack of creativity, and high stress.

We all need to regenerate and recharge our batteries – a vacation without work can do this for us.

Don’t make the excuse that nobody can do your job except you – this just means you don’t want to delegate and give up control.

Don’t make the excuse that you can’t afford to go on vacation because you’d have to pay someone to do your job while you’re gone - this just means you aren’t charging enough for your product or service.

Don’t make the excuse that responding to email and voicemail on vacation is just the way entrepreneurs work – this means you are too scared to create the boundaries you need to enjoy your life.

If you’re ready to take a vacation without interruptions, I’ve devised a list of suggestions to help you live the good life.

Rules of the Road – Take your vacations the restful way

1. Plan your vacation in advance and inform key people as the time draws near.

2. Set realistic expectations with your clients and vendors. Let them know that you are planning a vacation without interruptions so that they don’t expect you to answer their calls or emails while you are gone.

3. Send an “Out of Office” Email blind copy to all your current clients and vendors advising them that you will have limited access to voicemail and email and that you will respond to their questions when you return. Give them a contact in your company who can handle emergency situations, or delegate to a Virtual Assistant.

4. Create an Autoresponder that will automatically notify those who email you that you are out of the office.

5. Create a Voicemail message that advises callers that you are out of the office. Let them know that their message is important, but if it can wait you will talk to them when you return.

6. Leave your blackberry and laptop at home.

7. Create a detailed week by week “how to guide” for employees or virtual assistants on how to handle possible issues should they come up. You can reuse this guide each time you vacation.

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

True Purpose and Career Change



Do you know what you were meant to do with your life? Are you at a crossroad with some difficult decisions to make? Are you searching for more meaning?

We’ve all been there.

In 2003 I wanted desperately to have my own business again after four years working with large sums of money in the financial services industry. My husband was starting a business and was confused as to how to go about it. As I helped him navigate the start up phase of his new Design/Build business, something amazing happened. I realized that I knew quite a bit about business. How to start one. How to market. How to plan. How to be successful. After all, I’d had several of my own businesses since 1985.

About the same time I heard about a fascinating new profession called “Coaching”.

I was surfing the internet on Martin Luther King Day 2004 and the website of a well known coach came up in the search results. He asked “Could you be a coach? Could you make coaching your profession?” and I screemed “YES. YES. YES. THIS IS WHAT I WAS MEANT TO DO. THIS IS MY LIFE’S PURPOSE.”

So I busily set about researching coach training schools, took my training, and the rest is history.

If you are searching for what’s next in your life, I’d like to suggest a workshop that’s being given by three coaches in my network. Maria Busch, Debra Exner, and Ginny Kravitz are holding a free, in person workshop entitled “Now What?” on June 25th, 2008 at the offices of Jobing.com in Phoenix, Arizona. You can read more about the workshop here: Now What? -First Steps to move from thinking about a career change to doing something about it

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Monday, June 9, 2008

Café Carumba – An Example of How to Create a Purple Cow Brand




My husband and I had a great experience at a local Scottsdale restaurant recently that is the perfect example of a business with a great brand. We had breakfast at Café Carumba in old town. Here’s a restaurant that is not afraid to be different. From the ambiance to the local happenings, everything was unique.

I think so often we are afraid to pump up our corporate identity a notch because we are afraid to be criticized. In order for everyone to like us, we have to have a bland, boring, see-it-everyday identity. There’s also the cost factor. Hiring a professional is not cheap. I remember in 1989 when I hired my first graphics person. I paid $1000 for a professional company identity that was definitely not the norm. It was a tough cost to cough up, but that identity served me well for over ten years and helped me land a very prestigious client who would never have hired me with a plain jane boring business card.


What, you ask, makes Café Carumba so different? Here’s a rundown of what impressed me:

Business card: an old sephia colored photo of a bikini-wearing-woman playing a guitar. They obviously used the services of a professional designer with some out-of-the-box thinking. Is this a safe photo image? No way.

Tagline: Spirited Southwest Grill – this has two meanings, spirited as in beverages, and spirited as in personality. I like it.

Most expensive margarita: $9,999.00. How’s this for different?

Events: Cantina Tuesdays, Wine down Wednesdays, daily happy hour, The Margarita Bar Tuesday through Saturday, and several others I can’t remember.

Advertising: tents on the table advertising nightly events with inventive names and enticing food and drink options.

Environment: concrete bar area that is out of the ordinary and artistic; bright colors on the walls; nicely decorated outdoor patio.

When the urge strikes me to grab a bite to eat, I will go to Café Carumba because they have a well designed brand that wraps up their promotions into a unique, purple cow package. There are plenty of restaurants. There are plenty of investment advisors. And there are hoards of business coaches.

The moral of the story is: if you want to stand out from the crowd, create a brand that's not boring. Safe is boring. A good brand is never safe.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Women Seeking Success - Group Coaching



What do women entrepreneurs need to be successful? According to a 2006 study by OPEN from American Express, 43% of women business owners (vs. 32% of men) say the one thing they need to be more successful is money.

You can interpret that several ways. They need more capital to run their business. They need more income to cover overhead. Or they just plain need more sales.

I am a female entrepreneur. I’ve been involved in managing or owning a business since the early eighties (no kidding) and I can see clearly the issues and challenges women face. With my father as my role model, I absorbed the skills necessary to run a successful business. I have to say I learned to take risks. If I had played it safe I wouldn’t be here today. I’d be working a corporate job with hoards of other people. But I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t be earning the kind of income I’ve always dreamed of earning. Having your own business affords women the lifestyle they crave. Work and life balanced together. In some ways that means having it all.

Is it possible to have it all? Can women entrepreneurs have a successful business without sacrificing their personal lives? YES! It can be done, but it is a learning process. It involves creating priorities and working smarter, not harder. It means not doing it on your own, but using your network and your noggin.

So what can women do to be more successful?

TAKE MORE RISKS!! Life is risky – You could be run over by a bus tomorrow. Working a 9-5 job is risky – You could be fired at any time. If you’ve always dreamed of having your own business, just do it! Invest the funds necessary to do it right. Don’t nickel and dime yourself to failure. I’ve seen it too often.

GET A MENTOR – I am lucky to have good old Dad as my mentor. Women need to develop relationships with other women AND with successful male business owners. Let’s face it. Men have been managing businesses far longer than women have – there is something to be learned from their history.

CREATE A SUCCESS PLAN – Write it down and make it real. What is it you really want to accomplish? What strategies will you utilize to get out of the box?

Because we have tunnel vision when it comes to our own businesses, it’s important to have the support of an outside person or group. I have created a group for women business owners where they can get support and brainstorming for their business: Women Seeking Success. There have been FIVE groups thus far. The 6th In Person Group will begin on July 8th 2008 and there are only 3 spots remaining.

This group is all about learning to MAKE MORE MONEY through Effortless Marketing: drawing business to you.

If you know a woman business owner who would like the support of other women entrepreneurs and who would love to learn enough in a six month group that can build and sustain their company for two to three years, please have them check out my group. You can sign up here: In Person Wait List - Women Seeking Success

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Economic Stimulus Package - 5 Ways to Invest the Rebate in Your Business



Uncle Sam has your best interests in mind this year by doling out a sizeable chunk of change to each tax payer to spend on whatever your heart desires. There is some debate as to how helpful the rebate will really be for the economy, but that argument aside, you have the ability to do something REALLY great for your business with the funds.

How much do you get? Provided you paid taxes and filed a tax return for 2007, you may be eligible for up to $600 per taxpayer, $1200 per couple, and $300 per each dependent child.

Entrepreneurs can be a lazy bunch. They are known for working day in and day out on the technical aspects of the business, and not looking at the big picture. They can ignore the long term plans for business growth just to keep up with the daily grind. They can ignore the need for knowledge growth and can lose sight of the need to delegate. They can also let themselves off the hook for doing those key actions that really grow the business.

Here are some ways you can get the most out of the rebate:

1. Hire a Virtual Assistant – What tasks are you doing day in and day out that are really not your cup of tea? Consider your hourly rate versus the administrative tasks you are performing. If your rate is $100 per hour and you spend five hours per week on bookkeeping, then you are spending $2000 per month on tasks that can be delegated for far less.

2. Rebrand your business – Is your brand exciting? Do you stand out from the crowd? If not, consider hiring a professional design company to rebrand your business. The easiest way to attract the best paying clients is to present a professional business image.

3. Invest in Your Business Skills - Take a workshop – What skill do you need to upgrade? Look around for workshops and seminars to help you improve skills you need to grow yourself and your business.

4. Invest in YOU – Are you happy with your life? Are you stuck in “all work and no play”? What could you do to improve your personal life? You could take a Life Planning Workshop, invest in a counselor to work out some old issues still plaguing you, or take a mini vacation.

5. Hire a Business Coach – Remember when you where involved with sports in school? The coach didn’t let you get away with slacking. Having a business coach to help you brainstorm ways to bring in new business will help you grow your business because you’ll be accountable to someone and they won’t let you off the hook if you’re not doing what you say you’ll do. Go to the International Coach Federation, click on “Find a Coach”, and enter the key terms for the type of coach that would be most helpful to you.

Whatever you do, don’t fritter away this tidy sum of money. If you chose to invest in your business it will pay off big time!

Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye Marketing – Ten Tips to spread the word about your events

Ever had a party where no one showed up? You spent time decorating. You had the food catered from this nice little hole-in-the-wall up the street. You got all dressed up and when the door bell didn’t ring you were crushed.

This is much like an event a client had recently that was poorly attended. He spent time putting together and getting approval for a presentation for his financial advisor practice. He rented a conference room in an upscale boutique hotel and had scrumptious food brought in by an executive chef. He set up a PowerPoint presentation and waited.

What happened? He spent more time planning the event than promoting it. What could he have done to spread the word so that his event came off with a bang?

There are many ways you can promote your events so that they are well attended. The methods you employ will depend upon how ritzy you want your event to be and the goal for the event. Do you want new clients or just exposure?

1. Send invitations to your clients six weeks in advance and ask for a RSVP. Word your invitations to include a free invitation for your client’s best friend.

2. Have your staff follow up the mailed invitation with a phone invitation. Your response rate will be much higher if you touch your clients through mail and phone.

3. Attend networking events and announce the details of your event.

4. Send a blurb about your event to your local newspaper at least 3 weeks in advance. Your local newspaper has business and lifestyle event calendars that will list your event free of charge.

5. Use the services of online Press Release Distribution websites. Some are free and some charge an annual fee: http://www.prweb.com/ http://www.prnewswire.com/ http://www.marketwire.com/

6. Send a Press Release to your local newspaper, both before AND after your event. Use a professional or someone with experience to write the release. You want to make sure it’s newsworthy.

7. Announce the event on the home page of your website and include a link to the page on online calendars.

8. Use online event listing services such as the Business Journal in your city http://www.bizjournals.com/. This can be a GREAT way to drive traffic to your website and give you excellent exposure.

9. Utilize Yahoo’s service http://upcoming.yahoo.com/ to post an event in your city. Also use http://www.yelp.com to broadcast your event - allows comments from attendees.

10. Give Event Brite a go if you want to send email invitations and monitor the status of your RSVP’s: http://www.eventbrite.com/

Use these tips to pack the room and get the word out about your event. Spend time promoting your event and make it a success!

Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors
Scottsdale Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Friday, May 2, 2008

6 Simple Steps to Organize your Business Finances so that you can Sleep Soundly at Night


Here's a great article I wrote to help a start up client get her business finances organized.

Loose papers, receipts, notes, credit card bills, financial statements, tax returns – these are the byproducts of owning a business. They take up space on your desk and in your mind and every time you look at the litter you feel disorganized.
Before I created a system to organize my business paperwork in the manner I’ll soon explain, I felt disjointed, out of whack, and like I never got anything done. I’d walk into my office and want to turn right around and walk out.

Is there a better way to organize your business finances? You bet. Follow the steps below to create a simple, yet functional way to organize your business and live a more carefree life.

Step 1 – Get a Binder - Purchase a three-ring binder based on the volume of paperwork you produce annually. A 1.5” or 2” binder would be adequate for most businesses. You will use one binder for each year you are in business, so that every detail pertaining to your business that year is in one place for easy retrieval. In the viewing window type a cover that shows the name of your business and the year.

Step 2 – Get a Three Hole Punch – Purchase a three-hole punch. This is to hole punch all larger receipts, documents and financial statements and have them fit neatly into your binder.

Step 3 - Get a Zipper Compartment – Purchase a plastic zipper compartment from an office supply store to hold small receipts.

Step 4 – Purchase Accounting Software – Get yourself accounting software so that you can track your finances. Professional business owners track their profits and losses using the right tools and analyze their financials regularly. I recommend QuickBooks, but there are others such as Peachtree, Microsoft Office Small Business, and Simply Accounting. Try to begin tracking sales and expenses from the beginning of your business or the beginning of the year.

Step 5 – THE SYSTEM: Arrange paperwork in your binder according to month. Keep all receipts, credit card statements and bank statements (make sure to reconcile these monthly), and sales tax reports (if you sell products). At the end of each month, run a Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet (collectively known as Financial Statements). The Financial Statements become the separator for each month. File small receipts that can’t be hole-punched in the zipper compartment at the back of your binder.

Step 6 – CLOSE IT OUT – At the end of each year, reconcile your accounts, print your annual Financial Statements, and close out your year. Put the binder away and start a new one for the New Year. Give your accountant or CPA a copy of your QuickBooks file to prepare your income tax return.

Tips:
Only handle receipts one time. Review them. Record them in your software program. File them in your binder.
Use one credit card for business and one for personal expenses. This way you can maintain separate business and personal expenses. If you ever need to carry a balance, you can easily determine the tax-deductible interest.
Consult with your accountant or CPA regarding what is and is not tax deductible.
Make an appointment with yourself one to two hours a week to do your business finance organization. When you have room in your budget, hire someone to come in and do it for you.

The system above is one way to organize your business finances. If you would like to go beyond this system and organize your business for financial success, you may want to consider writing a Business Plan. I have created a plan that incorporates Goal Setting, and heavy Branding and Marketing with My Success Book - a built-in Daily Action Planner to encourage accountability and results. Find it here: The Two Page Mini Business Plan™.

©Copyright 2008- Suzanne Muusers - All Rights Reserved

About the author
Suzanne Muusers is a Business Coach and Business Expert based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a credentialed member of the International Coach Federation and has owned or managed a business every year since 1981. She is the creator of The Two Page Mini Business Plan™, The Six Step Guide to Creating a Business Plan That's Short, Easy, and Gets Results! Visit her site: http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – Women are Natural Leaders!


Arizona Historical Museum April 27, 2008

I was privileged to attend a talk given by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, and Justice O’Connor’s son Scott at the Arizona Historical Museum regarding the O’Connor House Project – a community effort to move Justice O’Connor’s historical adobe home to Papago Park. The event was well attended by the Association of Women Lawyers, Soroptimists, and Rotary and their guests.

For information about making a tax-deductible gift to the O'Connor House, click here: http://www.oconnorhouse.org/

I was riveted to my seat while listening to the Justice and her stories of the early days of being a female lawyer. Out of college in 1952, Justice O’Connor couldn’t get a job as a lawyer. She interviewed at several law firms and was told that they would NEVER hire a woman lawyer. She finally talked a California county supervisor into hiring her. She shared an office with the receptionist and worked for free initially.

She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was reelected to two two-year terms. She often invited members of the Arizona Senate to her home for parties and get-togethers because as she said she wanted to leave partisan politics at the Senate and have people develop deeper relationships. She mentioned that forging relationships across party lines in order to do the necessary work is a very important quality to have in politics. I can’t agree more.

Justice O’Connor talked about the time she received a call from Washington to inform her that she was being considered as a candidate for the Supreme Court. She went to Washington to meet Ronald Reagan. She never considered that she may win the nomination. Ronald Reagan called her to say he would be announcing her nomination the following day and she was speechless.

What struck me most about Justice O’Connor was her disposition. What an intelligent, authentic, honorable person she is. A natural leader as many women have proven they can be!

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Friday, April 18, 2008

Get Yourself a WOW Business Card – Please don’t bore us at networking events!

You’ve all heard me drone on and on about how important it is to have a professionally designed business card. Well today I’m at it again. I just came back from a lunch networking event where I walked away with 15 business cards.

Since I’m a professional brand and business card consultant, I decided to try an exercise when I returned to my office. I decided to sort the 15 business cards into A, B, & C piles just to see how they stacked up in terms of professionalism. What ended up with was absolutely no cards in the A pile. Two cards in the B pile. Thirteen cards in the C pile.

The two cards in the B pile both have a professionally designed logo, good use of color, and all the standard info. What they didn’t have that could have moved them to the A pile was a benefit-driven tagline and a call to action.

BLAH
All the cards in the C pile ranged from just barely adequate to plain boring. One was printed with only one color. Dull. One was completely unflattering for a flower store. Hello? If you are selling something that appeals to the eyes, like flowers, create a FABULOUS visual card with a four color photo of a beautiful flower and juicy copy. Invite people to your flower store with an offer of some sort.

EFFORTLESS MARKETING
Why is it that business owners are resistant to spending money on their number-one most-utilized marketing material? Don’t they realize that having a FABULOUS business card is the cornerstone to Effortless Marketing?

If you’re ready to take the plunge and spend some money where it will give you the most benefit, please take my Business Card Quiz. What I want for you is a kick-butt business card. One that causes prospects to say: “Wow! This is a really cool business card.”

THE NEW YOU
It just might be time for you to reinvent yourself through your business card.

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona
http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/

Monday, April 7, 2008

5 Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone knows they need one. Everyone plans on writing one, eventually. But not everyone does it. Why? Because it’s so easy to put off and it’s such a chore.

I’m talking about writing a business plan. Many business owners put more effort into planning their vacations than they put into planning their businesses. This is a shame because an entrepreneur with a business plan is much more likely to succeed than one without a plan.

With just a little effort, you can plan the business of your dreams complete with desired level of income, time off, and emotional satisfaction. The key is the business plan. Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes we tend to make with business plans and what you can do to overcome them.

Mistake #1 - Putting it off
It’s easy to hang up an “Open for Business” shingle and then dive right into the busy-ness of day to day operations of your business. Things are going well and you think “Someday I’ll get around to writing that business plan” or “I don’t need that business plan after all”, or even “Who says you need a business plan to be successful?” Years later when you want to buy a building or expand operations you find out that the bank or investors want a plan, but you don’t have one.
Don’t put it off. Having a business plan helps you to solidify your future, anticipate problems, and plan for success. If you’re always running on adrenaline, putting out fires, and playing catch up, you probably need a business plan. So just do it. Block time on your schedule two to three hours a week and just get it done.

Mistake #2 - Not a big enough vision
Think BIG when creating your long term vision. This is your opportunity to design a business that far exceeds your current situation. I’ve seen far too many boring, limited, and going-no-where visions. Think in terms of the ideal and put yourself in the future. What would you most like to be doing in your business? The grunt work? The annoying stuff you’re doing now? Of course not. You are the face of your business. Your job is to meet the clients, close the big deals, and rake in the dough.
What kind of revenue do you want in your business? Think BIG again. And don’t say 20% better than now. What are the possibilities five to ten years from now?

Mistake #3 - Weak goals
A business plan without detailed goals is like a ship without a rudder. The business becomes directionless without a purpose. You, as the business owner must have goals for every facet of your business. What I often see is a 5 year revenue goal, but no monthly and yearly goals to lead up to the finale. I see very few business plans with client goals, professional goals, and personal goals. How many new clients do you want each month? What are the revenue goals for your products or services? What information products do you want to produce in the future? Having goals in life is what drives successful people. What are your goals?

Mistake #4 - Not focusing on Marketing and Branding
It’s really easy to get into statistics, theory, and hyperbole in a business plan. I say “Show me the money!” What are you going to do to bring in the dough? Any business plan worth the paper it’s printed on should have a significant marketing and branding section. Take a look at your vision and decide what marketing actions you need to take to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in five to ten years.
If you want to stand out in the crowded marketplace, you’ll also need to create a strong brand and continue working on it going forward. Invest in yourself and get a professionally designed corporate identity complete with tagline, website, four-color business cards, and the like. No one wants to do business with someone who doesn’t look professional. So get rid of the dull boring business image and kick it up a notch.

Mistake #5 – Not working the plan
Why do you write a business plan if you are going to put it away in a drawer somewhere? You need to keep the plan visible. You need to review the plan on a weekly basis. You need to be asking yourself “What now?” at least weekly. You need to make sure you are getting results. No matter how brilliant the plan, you must take action to get results. You do this by reviewing your plan, checking the marketing activities for results, and asking “What bigger projects do I need to tackle to get closer to the big Vision?” Then you ask yourself if the direction needs to change. If so, it’s time to re-write your plan.

Traditional thirty-page business plans are not always useful for entrepreneurs. They can be overly technical and may not provide the accountability needed. I have created a business plan system for entrepreneurs and independent professionals that may fit the bill: The Two Page Mini Business Plan™. This system incorporates Goal Setting, and heavy Branding and Marketing with My Success Book - a built-in Daily Action Planner to encourage accountability and results. This may be just the system you need to get where you want to go.

©Copyright 2008- Suzanne Muusers - All Rights Reserved

About the author
Suzanne Muusers is a Business Coach and Business Expert based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a credentialed member of the International Coach Federation and has owned or managed a business every year since 1981. She is the creator of The Two Page Mini Business Plan™, The Six Step Guide to Creating a Business Plan That's Short, Easy, and Gets Results! Visit her site: http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/