There comes a time in every professional’s career when they have turned their business of just a few clients, into something much bigger. If you’re currently there, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then trust me – if you’re good at what you do, you will get there very soon.
In business terms, this is called an “inflection point”, and that’s when you need to start building in efficiencies to your small business to help you grow in painless and scalable ways. There are 4 core elements to your business around which you can easily build efficiencies to help you not just take on more clients, but to continue to serve your clients well.
Each one of these core business pillars is like a body part that needs to be kept in shape. Just like your body, you need to hone the muscles of your business so that as you take on more work, you can manage easily and not have to spend excess energy (or money!) to succeed in scalable ways.
1. Your Clients: Core
The core building block to every business is your client base. Your clients are the most important part of your business – you need to serve them well, and you need more of them to grow.
In order to provide the best training and health services to each client, you need to know who your clients are, how to reach them, what their needs are, and where they came from.
Putting tools in place to create profiles for each customer is crucial. Give yourself a central location to access all your client information at the drop of a hat. That means who they are and how to reach them. Give yourself the ability to jot down notes and reference them while you’re on the go so you know your clients in and out. Quickly access your transaction and communication history with each client, so you know what you’ve advised the client before, when you last saw them, and what payments they have made or owe.
Putting these “client best practices” in place will make all aspects of client dealings incredibly easy. This will also free up tons of time to allow you to take on more clients without sacrificing any quality of your service whatsoever, and without giving you a headache.
2. Your Schedule: Quads and Calves
Your schedule keeps you moving from one spot to the next. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you can move from appointment to appointment.
Set up a system to allow you to efficiently organize your calendar of client sessions, meetings, appointments, etc. A pen and paper won’t cut it! That’s just another item for you to lug around. God forbid you lose it – do you have a back-up of your schedule? I know this sounds silly, but how about if you run out of space on a page to write?
And don’t simply set up a digital or mobile calendar to make your life easier. Use a system where once you input a session into your calendar, your client’s calendar gets notified as well so you both are easily on the same page. The worst situation ever is for you to show up and your client is a no show. Or for you to show up and your client isn’t at all ready because they simply “forgot”.
Use smart calendars to also set up automatic reminders to be sent to your clients…Maybe a day or two before the session to (again) professionally reinforce the fact that there is an appointment upcoming. Your calendar should show you (and your client) the job details and location, as well as give you easy access to your client’s contact info in case you’re late, or something has changed, or any other little update.
And keep all this info in one central calendar location so you don’t have to be opening up different computers or phones, or apps or calendar programs just to get a sense of what your day or week looks like.
3. Your Payments: Cardio
Payments are what keep the engine going!
You want to not only give your clients an incredibly convenient (and pleasant) payment experience, but you also want to give yourself a very simple tracking system to ensure no payment ever slips through the cracks.
Give your client easy options through which they can pay you. Don’t force them to lug around a check book or make sure they went to the bank to withdraw cash. And avoid making the act of asking for payment feel awkward or uncomfortable. Create a simple system allowing your clients to pay you remotely so you don’t have to be physically in front of them to collect, and so they can even pay you ahead of time for any services you offer (reducing your payment risk completely).
Keep a log of these payments close so you can quickly get a glimpse of who owes you what, and how much you’ve made from each customer. You want to make sure you know who your best clients are and ask them to refer you to their friends…maybe even send them a holiday card! At the same time, you want to know what payments are outstanding so you can efficiently and professionally remind clients to pay, never letting a payment slip through the cracks.
4. Your Business Health: Brain 🙂
Exercising this “muscle” drives you to make all the right business decisions.
Instead of flipping through bank statements, or making daily logs of cash payments, leverage technology to know exactly how your business is doing each day, week, or month. Having all your client information, appointments and payments in a central location will allow you to leverage all this data to understand the overall health of your business. This health score gets increasingly difficult to measure as you start to grow as an solo professional, as there becomes so much more information to keep track of. And don’t fall into the trap thinking you have to pay an accountant to tell you how you’re doing!
A major factor in growing a business is also understanding how much to invest for growth. If you know how much income you’re bringing in vs. last month, then maybe spend some of that extra income on marketing or leads or advertising, to bring in more clients.
If you’re making less this month than the previous month, understand why – Were you working less? Did certain clients take up too much of your time? Are you waiting on payment?
Help Is Now Here!
Following the above simple steps sounds like a ton of work, but the reality is it’s not. Technology is starting to offer independent and solo professionals (of all industries) valuable tools they need to help them compete, grow, and drive their business to success. The trick is finding the tool that’s right for you, without paying an arm and a leg. But little tips like the above can help you grow your business in incredibly efficient ways to reach that scale you need to succeed.
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Sam Madden Bio:
Sam Madden is the co-founder of PocketSuite, the first mobile business tool for independent professionals and solopreneurs. Sam spent most of his career researching and investing in business technology for small and medium sized businesses. He has since shifted all of his focus to build great technologies like PocketSuite to help eager and independent professionals succeed. You can read more about Sam’s mission on Entrepreneur Magazine.
PocketSuite is a new mobile app for fitness and health professionals helping them run and build a better business. PocketSuite empowers solo professionals with the ability to schedule appointments, invoice customers, collect payment, track income, and communicate with clients…All from a single app. PocketSuite is a free iPhone app to download and can be accessed through Dai Manuel’s referral link.
When I connected with Graham and his partners last week, I was immediately impressed. A solid team of positive, like-minded people chasing a common passion. Graham went on to share with me how their company got started and where they are heading… Lucky for us, I asked Graham to share a few tips he's learned along the way developing the Artists and Athletes brand… enjoy the read!
Be it a service you are looking to offer in the form of personal training to providing a product rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, my message revolves around passion and resiliency. At times it feels very clichéd to preach following your passions and staying resilient in the face of adversity, but that doesn't means it’s any less true. These are two terms tossed around fairly loosely, and more often than not, taking a step back to better understand the root of your passions and drive will greatly benefit you in the long run. These steps ultimately led me to starting Artists & Athletes Clothing Co., a brand focused on catering to the more athletically inclined. Some of what led me here may seem obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things hide in plain sight.
3 Tips to Develop Your Lifestyle Brand
1. Find Your Passion, then Chase it!
When developing a lifestyle brand, you are telling the world that the lifestyle you are cultivating is one worth emulating in one form or another. That’s a beautifully bold statement, and one that will be greatly affected by the level of passion you have towards this lifestyle. For me, I fumbled and stumbled my way into this realization. I found myself with an opportunity in mid-2011 to follow a dream of mine and become a small business owner in the promotional marketing industry. I thought I had made it! I was my boss, running the show, and following what I thought was my passion; being my boss.
Maybe it was naïvety, maybe I was just overly excited at the new-found freedom of running my business, but I came to realize over the following two years that I had no genuine passion for that particular industry, and it was holding me back. I was still very happy to be running my business, but the need to focus on my passions (beyond simply being a business owner) became clearer by the day. This ultimately led me back to what I understand and like the most, athletics (former collegiate swimmer) and clothes.
2. Stay Agile While Developing Your Brand's Strategy
Strategies will come in any number of forms. Finding the method that feels most comfortable to you in expressing your vision is a great way to define your strategy. My strategy came from learning to sew. If I could learn to sew and tailor my own clothes, then I could create a blueprint for moving forward. A merger of my passions for a fit and health lifestyle, and clothes tailored to accommodate said lifestyle. So that’s exactly what I did!
Going from the sewing machine, to having samples produced by a manufacturer, to ultimately launching the brand with a Kickstarter Campaign has taken a lot of work, with plenty of kinks along the way. And that is where agility within your strategy comes to the forefront. That blueprint you developed that is rooted in your passion will allow you to stay focused on your goals when challenges arise.
3. Stay True to YOUR Passion
This all ties back in with the first point of focusing and finding your passion. Once you have found the way to express your vision, always remind yourself of what led you to that point. Remember, you are chasing your passion, your goals. People will find out about what you’re doing and often want to share their two cents (sometimes more fervently than others), and that’s okay. Stay true to yourself and your vision, make adjustments when necessary, and continue down your path and you will achieve great things.
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Graham is a designer and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, CA. With a desire to create high-quality clothes for the athletic body type, he founded Artists & Athletes Clothing Co. in early 2014 to help merge his passions; artistry through design and athletics.
Graham can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
This post was inspired by the #CIMC2015 conference… be sure to scroll to the bottom and enter yourself in the contest for a chance to win 1 of 2 tickets to next year's conference. Good luck!
Is this YOUR outlook on New Year's Resolutions? WHY?
Another year is coming to a close and you should be asking yourself one question: “Was this year one of my best years yet?”
If you're being honest with yourself and the answer is “No”, then I ask you, “WHY not?”
At the onset of a New Year, many resolve to make changes. Goals, sometimes lofty and completely out of character, are set with no specific road map to achieve them. What's most odd, is the simple act of setting a New Year's Resolution in itself seems futile and empty, statistically speaking, as nearly 92% of people who set a New Year's resolution, never achieve it. Here's the…
Top-10 Most Popular New Year's Resolutions of 2014 (which no one achieves!)
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family
All of these are fantastic goals to strive for but without a plan to achieve them, they're only theory.
After nearly 20 years of coaching people with their health and fitness, I've come to appreciate a process of goal planning. What starts as a dialogue always turns into an exercise in personal introspection starting with the question, “What’s your WHY?”
Furthering that train of thought, what does it mean to break the cycles and habits that keep us from advancing our lives?
All of these are questions we need to ask ourselves daily. Once we find the answers, we can set our sights on our goals and let our passion drive us in achieving them. At that point true personally accountability takes hold and that little piece of our brain will keep pushing us forward no matter what.
…deep down, you already know the path to follow and it’s just a matter of taking that first step and creating the momentum to follow through. I believe in you as do others in your spheres of influence, cut out the naysayers and stick with the positive people who make up your tribe, reach your goals then set new ones and live the life you want.
Setting goals is important, period. Based on the surveys, the categories of New Year's Goals are as follows…
4 Most Common Categories of New Year's Resolutions
Self Improvement or education related resolutions (47%)
Weight related resolutions (38%)
Money related resolutions (34%)
Relationship related resolutions (31%)
This probably all sounds very familiar to you. I know when I look at my life and some of the goals (past New Year's Resolutions) I've set to achieve, have fallen into 1 of these 4 categories.
Last year one of my biggest goals was to take my blogging and social media mentoring to another level. I did this by following 3 steps.
3 Must-follow Steps to reach your goals
Identify the goal, visualize achieving it, write it down, share it, and lastly, revisit the goal weekly.
Reverse engineer your goal – You have a destination, now it's time to course your route backwards identifying any obstacles or road blocks along the way… not to worry, you will have to re-calibrate your internal GPS often, that's just part of the journey – enjoy it!)
Ask for help – accountability is a powerful motivator. Share your goal with family, friends and colleagues. By nature people are awesome and they want to see those closest to them succeed. If you ask, they'll be more than happy to help you in reaching your goal. Try it.
As part of my goal to become a valuable social media mentor/coach, I put together this guide. [Click the image to get yourself a copy]
In adhering to these 3 steps, I identified my goal using the SMART principle. I wanted to reach a new level of professionalism as a blogger and social media mentor. Looking at my past few years in these fields I took stock of what had worked best versus what was not producing, refocusing my efforts on the daily steps I could take to bring me closer to my goal. And I asked for help!
The social media landscape is forever changing and in flux. New faces pop up daily but those who are most committed to the industry, well, they have been here a long time and aren't going anywhere. These were the people I set out to connect with on and offline. I was specific in my ask and of course, based on law of reciprocation, always offered to return a helping hand when needed. It's a beautiful thing and people ARE awesome, kind and into giving back where they can. But unless you ask and give them the opportunity to help you, it might never happen.
One of the people I asked for help has been a big influence for me over the past few years. Bosco Anthony is a well versed Master of social media and always promotes getting to events and constantly learning. Fortunately for me there's a ton of great conferences, like the CIMC conference next Spring, to help me along the way.
All this talk about goals and improving one's situation reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou:
“What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.” ― Maya Angelou
So in closing, what's holding you back from making 2015 the best year yet? If you follow the above steps, I'm confident you'll be one of the 8% that succeed in reaching their New Year's Resolutions.
Enter below for a chance to win a ticket to the CIMC 2015 Conference… it's going to be epic!
What's the CIMC (Canadian Internet Marketing Conference)? #CIMC2015
Leave the city behind and come join us in the beautiful mountain town of Squamish, BC for two days of inspirational talks on Internet Marketing. Get inspired and learn from industry leaders within digital marketing. Leave refreshed and full of action points for your business.
Over 22 World-Class speakers, 6 Networking Opportunities, $10,000 Dragon Den style contest, workshops, The Best Agency to Work For in Canada Award Banquet, The Canadian Internet Marketing Awards, parties and much more.
Make sure you attend the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference (CIMC) in 2015.
But, Who Should Attend? Small to Medium sized business owners, marketing directors and consultants, social media managers, web folk, bloggers and anyone who wants to be inspired and educated in the digital marketing in 2015.
I will be blunt. I am “starting a health food business” rather prematurely. In January 2014, I developed The Route 6 Protein Bar, a food with a #FixFood mission. When I started receiving unprompted, rave reviews about my product from friends and co-workers, requests for individual orders and verbal agreements from health food store and gym owners to carry my product “once I was ready to go,” I decided to jump right in.
I mean who doesn't want to make a delicious almond butter fudge flavored protein bar that's raw and organic happen? Am I right?
Start-up Business 101: Self-starting and Self-funding
Self-starting (and self-funding), I started creating a buzz, fulfilling small individual orders (for friends!) and creating a demand before the supply.
My business-to-be thrived off of my passion in this “dubbed by a hashtag” #FixFood mission. I think a lot of you reading this have probably done your part in the #FixFood mission to some extent.
Have you purchased organic food recently? Then you're doing your part in the #FixFood mission.
Have you banned processed food from your diet (at least for the most part, we can't be perfect right)? Then you're doing your part in the #FixFood mission.
Have you shared a #FixFood or #CleanEating image on social media? Then you're doing your part in the #FixFood mission.
My main impetus to fix food comes from knowing not only the physical benefits clean eating has on the body, but its mental benefits. Who else felt a little crazy when toxins, chemicals and sugar were partying in their body? I know I did.
Living a Vision and a Mission
I grew up with an unhealthy relationship with food and I know for a fact that all that processed “nutrition” did a lot of harm to my already susceptible mind. Eating clean was the tangible step I could take in a longer more spiritual journey.
So wonderful! My business has a mission, and I believe in it with all my heart. I know I've got to do it.
But man, guys, starting a health food business is complicated stuff! A lot is required.
There are the FDA guidelines to labeling, barcode buying, packaging, co-packing, health food inspections, commercial kitchen space, websites, sourcing, wholesale prices, tax ID numbers, allergen warning statements, deciding on a business structure, etc. etc. etc.
There's a lot that goes into it before you can truly start, and honestly, that's fine. But what I started realizing was that I couldn't fund this myself, not even on a small-scale as I had hoped.
What do you do when self-funding is not an option?
So I started to wonder…
Is this the right time to start my business?
How am I ever going to raise the money?
Will my business even really make a difference?
And like it loves to do, wondering turns to doubt and doubt turns to fear.
It's only natural.
Any great start up will tell you about a time when they wondered, doubted, and feared. Little do we know, sometimes those wonderings, doubts and fears happened just yesterday! (Even the most successful entrepreneurs will admit it. The truth will surprise you.)
The Grestest Advice I ever got starting my own business
And that's when my greatest advice comes in. It's a quote that I found by Elizabeth Gilbert:
“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your blessings.”
And during these pre-Route 6 Protein Bar days when I can't truly jump in to my business the way I think I'd like, I take it to mean that I must take any chance that I AM given and live it out as fully as possible. I don't have the funds yet to see this business through, but if I'm presented with opportunity, my policy is: participate relentlessly.
So if Dai Manuel says I can talk about The Route 6 Protein Bar on The Moose is Loose, I say YES!
You can help me with the click of a button
Luckily, The Route 6 Protein Bar has become a finalist in Martha Stewart's American Made Contest, and I'll tell ya, I am doing everything I can to participate relentlessly and get as many votes as possible. Then more doors will open and I can continue to participate even more and more relentlessly.
Want to help? The business with the most votes receives start-up capital, so I'd love it if you would. Click the button below to vote.
Because I know that in business as in anything else, we each have a mission that's greater than us.
We entrepreneurs, we movers and shakers, we creators and makers (including all of you reading right now) are merely the vehicles in making missions happen. So if I'm wondering, or doubting or fearing, I remember it's not about me. It's about what a protein bar I created can do for the #FixFood mission and ultimately, people. So I put emotion aside and simply take action. I simply participate.
Bottom line: when it comes to anything in life, hold onto this quote.
Training for a triathlon? Participate relentlessly.
Working with client today who look to you to for guidance with her fitness goals? Participate relentlessly.
Getting up to face the day? Don't just live through it: Participate relentlessly.
How will you participate today?
Katelyn Collins, Creator of The Route 6 Protein Bar
Katelyn Collins is the creator of The Route 6 Protein Bar, a bar committed to doing its part in the #FixFood mission by providing the general public with a product that supports optimal health. In its quest to swapping out “broken food” for “fixed food,” Route 6 will always be unprocessed, unrefined, and will consist only of raw, organic ingredients.
Stay in touch with Katelyn and Route 6 here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their website.
Canadians love to donate to charities. In fact, according to a survey commissioned by Visa Canada, 71 per cent of Canadians donated money to charity last year, but over half (56 per cent*) wish they could have given more. The survey went on to state that almost 1-in-4 (24 per cent) say they’d give more if they had a more convenient way to donate.
Filled up my gas tank, paid with my Visa and made a donation to United Way… that was easy!
My wife, Christie and I definitely fall into the latter group of Canadians. So when I learned the Visa payWave It Forward program was partnering with a Canadian retailers to support local Canadian charities, I was all over it. Right now between August 19th and September 1st, all purchases made with the Visa payWave service at any Esso station, Visa Canada will donate a dollar directly to United Way. How cool is that? Let's face it, I needed gas for my car. I was going to buy the gas anyway, but now I get the “feel good” benefit of knowing that a portion of the purchase is going to a charity that needs it. It might only be a small part of the overall purchase that ends up in United Way's hands, but if Canadians all across Canada participated by filling up one tank of gas over the next 2 weeks, the amount would be awesome!
Moment of Truth
Before yesterday I had never heard of the Visa payWave feature. Have you ever heard or used this service before? I have a Scotiabank Visa and on the card there's 4 little waves on the right hand side and I thought it was just part of the graphical design on my credit card but it actually means that my card is equipped with this cool feature. I literally walked into the gas station, waved my card over the pin pad and voilà, payment was processed. Doesn't get much more convenient than ‘wave and go'! (well unless it was a free gas day?)
Seriously, I had no idea that those 4 little lines meant anything other than a nice graphical touch…
How to participate
Canadians can join the Visa payWave It Forward movement where for a limited time $1 will be donated by Visa Canada to specific charities when using Visa payWave at the following participating retailers:
Esso (in-store) between August 19th to September 1st donations will go to United Way
Marshalls between August 19th and September 15th, donations will go to Kids Help Phone
Enter for a chance to win a $50 pre-paid Visa gift card
Attention Canadian readers, here's your chance to enter for a chance to win a $50 pre-paid gift card and on top of that if you win, you can select one of the participating charities that Visa Canada will make an additional $50 donation to 1 of the 4 participating charities.. Win 50, give 50 – love it!
Visa payWave card-based and mobile-based transactions employ EMV chip technology, which uses advanced cryptographic security to generate a code that changes for every contactless transaction, helping prevent counterfeit fraud from stolen account data. When a customer uses a Visa payWave terminal, the card or mobile device and the terminal exchange security information and the transaction is completed, all in less than one-third of a second. The cardholder does not need to insert or swipe a card or let it out of their possession, keeping the transaction quick and secure. Visa employs a layered approach to its fraud prevention efforts, including Zero Liability, which protects card holders against fraud if a stolen Visa card is used to purchase goods in person, online, by mail or by phone.
“Just so you know, I have been compensated to share my ideas on this topic. Sometimes it is in the form of products, or services or even money… But here’s the thing; I won’t share anything with you that I don’t fully support. It doesn’t matter what it is, or how much they are willing to give me, if I don’t believe in it, It won’t be on my site. Seriously. You’ll just have to trust me on this.”~ Moose