1. How did you become interested in focusing your work on small business owners?
My favorite part of working with business owners is their courage to be active in their own thoughts. They are willing to express ideas and will take the risk of moving those ideas forward.
My focus has always been on prosperity in action, and business is a natural fit for those ideas. I built a business model that supports the rapid and sustainable growth of business, and it can be applied to all businesses. The Prosperity Based Business Model is the business model that all of my clients use. We focus on three parts of the business: efficiency, economy, and environment.
2. What does it mean to you for a business to invest in its customers?
Investing in the customer is about taking the experience of customer as your primary and foundational investment and reason for being in business.
Companies can invest in things that may not "look like" they create revenue, but they actually do. I did a walk-through with a restaurant the other day, and the sidewalks were dirty, the sign was bent, and the food looked like it was tossed on a plate. We reviewed what the customer would like to see in their establishment, and it made the entire business planning efforts change. The business owner invested in better care of their customers. They power-washed the sidewalk and every part of the establishment, upgraded the bathrooms, added lighting and swag, chose bright-colored fresh foods, created options for smaller portions, and added a huge happy hour. Now the customer can feel great about stopping by for a clean experience and healthy food at a low price. This is a very different approach than the outdated fried menu they had been serving.
3. How can a business invest in creativity?
Pick a creativity budget. Investing in new ideas costs money and time. Budgets give financial direction and help everyone tune into the opportunities that are possible to invest in. I have seen budgets build a monthly breakfast meeting with a mountain of art supplies and a topic, annual business tour parties that brought the staff to new places for inspiration, and budgets used for group improvisational lessons.
Give permission to look at the WOW of services that are being delivered and received. Taking a real look at how to improve everyday situations to be spectacular will really pay off. I have seen a retail store add giftwrapping to every purchase, house cleaners leave behind hand-wrapped caramels that they made on an antique dish, and staff office meeting transform by adding floral bouquets for each staff member to take home.
Turn in the open sign: Open yourself and your team to accepting ideas that may not match the rest of your business. Adding in ideas that stretch thinking will also stretch the perception of how your business will fit into new market areas. Google was once a new invention.
4. Tell us about some of the unique partnerships you have seen clients forge with unconventional businesses.
These are by far my favorite part of opening your thinking. I have seen a coffee shop partner with an urban farmer to grow crops ON the coffee shop and create an additional revenue stream through a market opportunity to sell produce real time out of the existing coffee space. They try to have something fresh every day in either vegetables or flowers. The shop smells wonderful.
I have seen simple and effective geographical pairings, like a tax office that specialized in artists which chose a location right next to an artist boutique shop.
My last project paired a luxury hand-crafted ice cream company with a remodeling company, and they added an ice-cream party to clients after they finished remodeling their kitchens or decks. They had the common investment in handcrafted quality. I am still waiting for an opportunity to pair knitters and sewers with the exotic pet industry. I see so much creative energy that could be generated into real innovative products to appeal to an already artistic crowd.
5. If you could give just three pieces of advice to a person wanting to grow their business what would you say?
Invest in your own ideas. Ideas need attention through research and development. Commit to doing the work of the necessary financially planning for those ideas to come to fruit. Planning creative time is a prerequisite to growth because it is so hard to draw five or ten hours out of already packed schedules.
Integrate new capital resources. Not all capital is cash. There are actually ten different types of capital that we invest. Sometimes the reason a product becomes popular is about emotional or social capital.
Step out and invite in new energy. Getting top-notch advice will allow profit margins to grow faster. Just the action of exploring with someone new will give life to the business. There is so much great talent out there, and consultants are waiting to serve. Don't let your attachment to the cost of hiring a consultant constrain your thinking. Coaching as an investment usually pays out at a rate of $4 to every $1 invested.