Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Top 5 Best Business Books

If you’re a business entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur, chances are that at some point you will pick up a book full of great business advice. Sometimes we learn from our own experiences and mistakes, but it’s also good (and less painful) to look at some of the lessons others can pass on to us because of their experiences.

But where to start? There are lots and lots of books out there, and sometimes it can be hard to decipher which ones are winners and which are duds. Here’s a list and short synopsis of Amazon’s best five business books:

1.     Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins—This book explores the answer to the question of what makes a company achieve enduring greatness. Through five years of studies and comparisons, Collins and his team attempt to define what puts some companies above others.

2.     The One Thing You Need To Know:…About Great Managing, Great Lending, and Sustained Individual Success by Marcus Buckingham—What leads to outstanding achievement? Marcus Buckingham shares with readers invaluable lessons on how to succeed in the three most valuable areas of professional activity: management, lending, and individual success.

3.     The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni—In this instructive leadership fable, Lencioni explores the trials and tribulations of teams—and how to triumph over them.

4.     First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham—Another compelling read by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, this book explores how great managers break all the rules to find talented employees, set up expectations for them, motivate them, and develop them.

5.     Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink—In his newest book, Daniel H. Pink looks deeper into our humanity for what motivates us—and finds that our motivation is dominated by our need for control over our lives, continued learning, creativity, and becoming better people in a better world.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pinching Pennies During Travel

Gone are the good ‘ol days when travelling on a business trip meant travelling first class all the way—at least for smaller businesses.  With the economic pressure on, now more than ever it’s important to get the most out of your money when away from home.

So how can you minimize the amount of money you spend while on a business trip? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.     Drive instead of flying—Look into what the time and price difference would be for driving to your destination rather than flying. If it’s less than five hours away, it might be worth it to conserve money.

2.     Check nearby airports—It might be possible to fly into a nearby airport for much cheaper and then take a shuttle to your destination.

3.     Don’t check your baggage—If you’re only going away for a few days, why spend the extra money on baggage fees? Pack as lightly as possible to fit your belongings in a carry-on sized bag.

4.     Use loyalty points for hotel stays—Depending on how often you travel, you might be able to earn free stays here and there by using a loyalty card at the major hotel you normally stay in. If you’ve got multiple employees travelling, points will build up even faster.

5.     Find a good continental breakfast—Many hotels, especially large hotels, will offer a free continental breakfast. Try to stay in one of these hotels—that way you won’t have to go out for breakfast. If you can’t find one, try bringing along some portable food like cereal, granola, or yogurt.

6.     Spend less on food—Skip the expensive parts of town and eat food from cheaper venues. Or, if you’ve got the option, try cooking your own food. This may not be as tasty as the first-class meal you could get at a fancy restaurant, but it will save you a bundle.

7.     Don’t rent a car—Try to stay in a hotel within walking or biking distance to wherever you’ll need to be. That way, you can walk, bike, or use public transportation to get there.

8.     Peruse Groupon—Check out discount websites like Groupon.com to see if there are any good deals going on before you travel.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Break Away From the Herd

As we start moving into the holidays, this is where the BEST get separated from the rest.
While others ease up using handy excuses like the weather or the approaching holidays to go into cruise mode, winners jump on the pedal and kick into a higher gear.
NOW is when winners break from the herd.
THIS is when the race is won, market share is captured, competition is overrun and massive goals are attained.
It’s time to KICK.

One of the greatest winners in human history was Vince Lombardi.
Vince Lombardi never had a losing season as a head football coach.
He had a remarkable 74% winning percentage through his entire career. And when it really counted (postseason) his winning percentage was an unbelievable 90%.

He won three straight championships in the 1960s and five in seven years. In fact, the greatest prize in the National Football League is to win the Super Bowl and earn the Vince Lombardi trophy.
To get you jacked up about knuckling down and really pushing yourself to finish 2012 strong, I’m going to hand the platform over to Vince.

Below is the transcript from one of his most famous speeches.
Read every word.
Study it.
Own it.
Then go out and DO IT.

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to Win, and to WIN!

“Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up—from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s okay. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.

“Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization—an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win—to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.

“It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there—to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules—but to win.

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.

“I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour—his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear—is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.”

Inspiring, right?
Come on, doesn’t that make you want to go out and crush it in the marketplace?
It does me! Let’s go do it. Let’s go work our heart out for our good cause and together we will lie on the field of battle come December 31—victorious!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Avoid Getting Stressed

We live in fast, ever changing times. Everyone gets stressed at one point or another. But while some seem to manage just fine, others may become completely incapacitated and overloaded. The difference? Knowing how to avoid letting stress build up and eventually overwhelm you.

Strategies for avoiding stress buildup can be as simple as changing your physical environment and habits.

What’s great about it is that it’s probably the same advice you’ve been hearing for years.

Let’s start with diet and exercise habits. How much junk food, caffeine, and alcohol you consume can have a huge effect on stress levels. Though it may seem like it saves you time and stress to make a run to your local fast-food joint for dinner then go home and watch TV for three hours before bed, it doesn’t necessarily do so.

Taking the time to prepare (or purchase) healthy meals, skipping out on your eighth cup of coffee, getting more rest, choosing not to over-consume alcohol or cigarettes, and exercising regularly all help your body stay healthy and happy. Translation: less stress on your body equals less stress on your mind.

One thing that always increases stress levels is feeling unprepared and therefore overwhelmed by obligations. The best solution for this is to find a way to manage your time better. Your day should be a balance between work and play, and should always include time for you to relax in whatever way is best for you.

It is absolutely ok to say no sometimes. Don’t take on more obligations if you know you are nearing your limit. Learn to recognize what stress feels like, when it starts to build up, and how to avoid it. Only then can you take control of your environment and your sanity along with it.

What happens if you do get overwhelmed? Simple. Establish some coping methods, such as a personal journal, a support system, or even physical therapies (such as massage, aromatherapy, or yoga). Don’t be afraid to come to terms with your stress, but don’t forget to look at the big picture either.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What makes a good leader in business?

Here at Magnetic Consulting Group, we often ask, what sets some business leaders above others? It’s all about the attitude. Having a successful business is one thing, but being a successful leader of a business is an entirely different entity.

And surprise, it’s all about the power of positivity. Well, mostly. Primarily, you have to exude confidence and passion for what you’re doing. Place value in the company and stand behind it. Believe in your success and in the company’s success.

Set an example for both your employees and your clients by being open, honest, and working hard. This will help to cultivate a trusting relationship and will encourage a positive and productive work atmosphere.

Your core values should be obvious and unwavering, but remember that everything else needs to remain somewhat flexible. There will be times when employees are unhappy, or when you make mistakes. Learn to listen to criticism and admit your mistakes, and you will gain respect as a leader. Failure is not something to be afraid of; rather it is an opportunity for future improvement.

No matter how successful you get, remember not to let your head get too big to hold up. There will always be new things that you can learn, and it’s important to remember that great ideas can come from anywhere. You’ve got to stay grounded enough to take those ideas in.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone at times, either. The biggest success stories always involve thinking outside the box. If you want to be truly innovative, you won’t always be comfortable. But remember: sometimes the greatest rewards involve the greatest risks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to achieve sales success?

With society’s generally negative view of salespeople, how can you be successful? If they shut the door on you or hang up thirty seconds into your pitch, there was never a chance, was there? Actually, yes, there was.

Here at Magnetic Consulting Group, we specialize in overcoming objections.  And we know that  in sales, the first few minutes are the most crucial. Too many people make the mistake of automatically going into their pitch and overwhelming the customer (who may, or may not need the service offered). But the most successful sales representatives do things a little differently.

Don’t overwhelm the customer at the get-go. Take time to introduce yourself and use questions to find out more about them—what they like, want, or need. Offer the opportunity to learn more about your product only after you’ve determined they might be interested.

It shouldn’t be about the sale. It should be about the customer and their needs. Talk to them like an acquaintance or friend—not like a salesperson. Read their body language. Are they in a hurry? Would it be better to talk another time? It’s your job to find out.

While rambling on and on might keep them in your company for longer, it definitely won’t convince them to purchase your product. It’s best to choose a few key points and stick to them. The goal is not to talk the whole time about you and your product—it’s to talk about the customer and their needs.

Lastly, assess the barriers to moving forward. Ask the customer about anything that might be standing in the way of them continuing to the next logical step. It’s important that you bridge this gap, because only after you’ve done so can you take the final step—inviting them to take action.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Essential Parts of a Business Plan

Suggestions on running a business from Magnetic Consulting Group

Business success often relies on having a strong business plan. This plan outlines up to five years ahead of time and helps ensure that your business will stay on track to reach revenue goals.

Of course, creating a good plan takes some time and dedication. Since a business plan outlines the intended track a company will follow for the next several years, it will need to be as detailed as possible. Below is a list of categories to cover when writing a business plan:

1.     Executive Summary—explains the basic goals and profile of your company
2.     Market Analysis—includes research conducted on your business industry and the current market
3.     Company Description—what you do, what makes you different from others, and what markets you serve
4.     Structure—lays out the best organization and management for your company
5.     Marketing & Sales—shows how you will successfully market your business and what sales strategies you will employ
6.     Services & Products—outlines what you offer to the prospective customer and how it potentially benefits them
7.     Funding—determines how you will fund your business, including investors or alternative sources
8.     Projected Finances—backs up funding requests made by providing relevant details on your expected financial situation
9.     Appendix—stores important information and documents not included elsewhere in your business plan, such as permits, license, resumes, leases, etc.

Taking the time to perfect your business plan can majorly impact your business; it could be the difference between success and failure, between owning a business and just working for one.