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.

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.

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.”

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

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/

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Your Domain Name Versus Your Business Name – What’s an Entrepreneur To Do?

Most of us know that an URL means a Unique Record Locator. A Domain Name is the same thing – it identifies your website and can serve as a branding tool as well.

But did you know that once you pick a domain name, go to all the trouble of researching and writing your content, and uploading your site, that you would be wise to stick with that name? (see referenced article below).

Your Business Name on the other hand is usually written in stone. Once established it doesn’t change. But should it? As you change, learn, and grow, the original focus of your business may change. If so, you may need to change your business name.

Let’s say you started your business as Ted Jones Financial Advisors in 1998. You were focused on basic financial services at the time, but now you’ve earned several credentials and are more of a wealth manager. (WARNING: This is a trick question) Do you change your name to Ted Jones Wealth Management?

Think long-term. Do you have an Exit Strategy? If not, now is a good time to start thinking about one. The typical bright young upstart financial advisor will be reluctant to buy your firm if your personal name is on it. Now would be a good time to create a business name that implies a “team approach”, not a “star advisor approach”. This would also be a great practice management strategy (ask me why).

Before you make the business name decision, it would be wise to do some research utilizing the following points.

Your business name should:
1. Be easy to say and remember – two to three words is optimal
2. Say what you do.
3. Imply your unique niche
4. Create a strong brand
5. Create a strong trademark

Your Doman name should:
1. Be easy to remember
2. Utilize dot com rather than dot net or dot biz
3. Contain one to two industry key words

For a detailed discussion on how to select a domain name, see an article I wrote: What's in a Name? Domain Names Do's and Don'ts for High SEO

I hope this helps to solve the Business Name versus Domain Name puzzle. Being that I made some missteps in my choice of business domain name (see above article), I feel qualified to suggest alternatives.

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