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14 Posts authored by: Carol Roth

I think of myself as an entrepreneur, not a “woman entrepreneur.” That said, there are things women tend to do as they approach business ownership that often hold them back from being even more successful. 

 

Here are some of my top tips to leave the qualifiers behind so women can become more successful entrepreneurs.

 

1. Remember, Entrepreneurship is a Meritocracy. When you are the boss, you are the boss, and your potential is unlimited. You have every ability to pursue an opportunity in the same manner as anyone else, so don’t psych yourself out and create self-doubt that holds you back. Only you stand in the way of your own success.

 

2.  Think Big. Women tend to take on less risk than men. This, again, is not because of some rigged system as much as women holding themselves back from going really big. Whether it’s concern over disappointing someone or a fear of failure, you need to be able to lean into risk and uncertainty to be successful.

 

It’s also often just as difficult to start and run a small business as it is a big one, so why not really reach for a crazy goal? It’s ok to take calculated, educated risk. If you don’t fail at least part of the time, you aren’t pushing yourself enough.

    

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55497765_s.jpg3.  Delegate, but Don’t Abdicate, Responsibility. Generally speaking, women are often detail oriented. And the strengths of being good at the details also means you can get bogged down in running your business, instead of growing your business. 

 

You need to create systems to teach other people to do tasks that aren’t the best use of your time or the best service to the business. While others may not be as good as you are at a task, if it is good enough for customers to be happy, go with it.

 

4.  Watch Your Language. Women don’t realize how often they portray themselves as non-entities or minimize their value. They apologize where there’s nothing to be sorry for, they draw attention to items that nobody needs to know and they downplay accomplishments. Often, women feel badly about talking about their work and business for fear of coming off self-promotional.

 

Use powerful language, own what you do and don’t offer irrelevant information that detracts from what you are accomplishing. That language informs your attitude, which informs your success. And remember that if you aren’t willing to promote yourself, it’s not likely that anyone else will either. People follow the cues you set for them.

     

     RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

 

5.  Expand Your Network. While it may be comfortable to network with people just like you, it will never get you to the next level. Go outside your comfort zone, approach and mingle with people who are where you want to be and let that inspire you to move up to their level.

 

6.  Set Your Own Goals. Lastly, it’s important to note we all have different definitions of success. For some people, family accomplishments are more important than professional ones and deserve extra focus. There are also some that judge contributions to a team and seeing projects succeed as more important than individual compensation or overall business growth. There are others that frankly don’t want the stress and responsibility that comes with trying to pursue an eight-, nine- or ten-figure business.

 

All of this is ok, as our individual success should be measured by our own goals and objectives. There may always be a differential in the types of businesses each individual pursues and how they approach them. If you are pursuing something based on your own measure of success, that’s not anyone else’s business to judge.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png


Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You have already demonstrated a sense of optimism if you have taken the leap into entrepreneurship. However, as the business roller coaster goes through its peaks and valleys, maintaining a positive attitude and the drive to keep going can be difficult.

 

That’s why it’s great to pause and get some inspiration via wise words from others. I’ve assembled 20 quotes from innovators, athletes and entrepreneurs (including one from me) that can give you a push in that time of need.

 

Consider posting your favorites in plain view as a constant reminder of the leadership, persistence and motivation you need to stay the course and make your business an even bigger success.

 

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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” - Peter Drucker

 

“There's never a wrong time to do the right thing and never a right time to do a wrong thing.” - Lou Holtz

 

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” - Arnold H. Glasgow

 

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Persistence, Success and Failure

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” - Bill Gates

 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don't take” - Wayne Gretzky

 

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford

 

“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” - Tom Kelley

 

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan

 

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” - Dale Carnegie

 

Problem solving

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein

 

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” - Peter Drucker

 

Ambition and Focus

“Jet pilots don’t use rear view mirrors.” - Joel H. Weldon

 

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.” - Ayn Rand

 

“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” - Elvis Presley

 

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi

 

“Entrepreneurs too often make choices based on ROE (Return on Ego) vs. ROI (Return on Investment).  A particular opportunity may make you feel great, but if that opportunity is not supporting your goal, or isn’t the best way to achieve your goal quickly and efficiently, then pursue the opportunity that will.” – Carol Roth

 

      RELATED ARTICLE: Great Entrepreneurs Start Small – Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

 

Competition and Motivation

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” - Theodore Roosevelt

 

“And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.” - Andrew Carnegie

 

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.” - Steve Jobs

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png


Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

It is often said that “money makes the world go ‘round.” This couldn’t be truer for entrepreneurs, who may find that money goes out the door at a more rapid pace than it enters the business.

 

Business owners often need to be entrepreneurial when it comes to operations, including finding ways to get creative with financing. While we always think of money as our only currency, many of us provide expertise, goods and services with substantial value that can be bartered to grow your business.

 

Done correctly, you can use barter-based partnerships (let’s call them “bartnerships”) to take care of some business needs while building great collaborative relationships in the process.

 

However, like anything else, where you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. And, in the case of bartering, that means anything from incurring hefty legal costs to unexpected tax bills.

 

Here’s a roadmap to help you barter and partner better so that it adds to your business.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Vet potential partners

When you go to partner on a barter deal, you want to ensure that your “bartner” has a positive reputation and shares your base business values.

 

One way to do this is to approach associates in your network where you already have a positive relationship. You can also seek recommendations from trusted business associates and advisors. If you expect to barter regularly, consider joining a barter group that verifies or rates participants, or even a barter exchange that intervenes in negotiations.

 

Whether you know your bartner or not, do an online search and check reviews, their social media postings and Better Business Bureau complaints to see if there is any history that could create an issue for the relationship and your business’s reputation.

 

Establish a fair exchange

Even in barter arrangements, the dollar remains the core standard of value. Both parties need to set and agree to a firm dollar value for the goods and services they’re exchanging to create a benchmark of “fairness” for the transaction.

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You want to make sure that the trade has as equal a value as possible. For example, if a web developer wants to barter for legal services, the parties may choose 12 months of website maintenance with a $2,400 value for the creation of three template contracts that also have a $2,400 value.

 

While you may want to get a great deal with a lopsided arrangement benefiting you, that often backfires. You don’t want the other party to do a lousy job or feel like they are being taken advantage of – that can impact the quality of the trade and the relationship. Going for a win-win arrangement is always the best for both parties in the long term.

 

Date before marriage

Successful marriages typically begin with a low-key first date before the parties move in together and ultimately tie their lives together. Keep your first barter with a new partner like a first date – small in scope and low-risk.

 

You need to evaluate how you work with a partner before entering into a business relationship. Even if both parties have good intentions going into the bartnership, like marriages, they don’t always work out as planned. Until it’s very clear you can work effectively with and trust this partner, keep it small. It’s much easier to take on a larger exchange or partnership once you have a few small successes behind you.

 

Put everything in writing

The word “barter” may sound casual, and while a handshake may technically be viewed as a legal contract, it’s tough to prove in a court of law. A barter agreement may be even more complex than a straight cash-based compensation arrangement, so you need to identify all aspects of your agreement in detail and put them on paper.

 

By doing this, you limit misunderstandings before, during and after the barter arrangement. Document every detail thoroughly, from what is to be delivered by which party at what quality level and in what time-frame, as well as any remedies if one party doesn’t follow through.

 

Also, if you create a product or service collaboratively (such as working together to create an email list), specify what happens at the end of your agreement. If the agreement stipulates that your barter partner takes full ownership at the end of the partnership and you can no longer use the email list after a defined period, perhaps you should agree to supply fewer names than your partner.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Which Gig Economy Delivery Service is Right for your Small Business?

 

Know the finish line

Your agreement might last for a week, a month or longer, but it shouldn’t last forever. You absolutely need to set an end date for the arrangement. Even if you enter into an identical arrangement many times in the future, it’s best to create a new contract or at least put together an amendment or extension each time.

 

If your first agreement worked well, creating the next one will be a simple matter. But, if you discovered that some provisions didn’t work as expected, you now have the flexibility to tweak the next version.

 

Communicate early and often

Don’t wait until the final deadline to check in with your partner and find out how things are going or to let them know where you stand on your deliverables. Define key milestones with your partner and check in with each other to ensure you’re both on track and maintaining appropriate quality levels.

 

Naturally, when unexpected issues arise, don’t wait for a milestone date to speak up. A setback on one side can affect the other side. Plus, an informed partner may have a solution to fix the issue.

 

Talk taxes with your accountant

When you trade goods or services that have a cash value, the taxing authorities, of course, want their share. This means that you should discuss tax implications with your accountant before entering a barter agreement.

 

In the U.S., the IRS typically requires you to report barter arrangements on your tax forms. However, if you exchange like goods or services, you both gain and lose valuable assets, so you may not need to pay excessive – or any – additional taxes if you properly track both sides of equal-value exchanges. However, IRS valuation rules can be complex, so that’s why a chat with your accountant is advisable.

 

Using your expertise, goods or services as currency can be a big boost to your business, but plan well so you reap the full benefits and minimize the risks for your business.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

 

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

There are plenty of viable cost-cutting measures and small businesses should take advantage of every one of them.

Why spend thousands on a top-quality cherry wood conference room table when a pine table – not to mention a second-hand model – will look good at a fraction of the price? Unfortunately, cost-cutting does not always make sense and can cost your business more than it saves over time.

 

Here are 6 areas where spending more money can provide economic benefits to your business.

 

1. Employees and contractors

If your core team is comprised solely of entry-level workers, you will save money… until their lack of skills and experience lose customers for your business. Good decision-makers and customer-facing personnel will cost more, but they help your company prosper and grow.

Build your team out of the best employees you can afford and supplement their efforts with skilled contractors. These are the people who can later train less-expensive entry-level employees, who may become top-tier team members over time.

Also, compensating employees well gives them less of an incentive to leave, which saves you money in terms of head hunting, retraining and more.

 

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2. Accounting services

Well-designed, intuitive business accounting software is universally used to save on bookkeeping costs. If you choose your software carefully and learn how to use it, this is a valid cost-saving measure.

But don't count on software to make financial decisions for your company. You need to send the numbers to the best accountant that you can find. Look for someone who reads and interprets numbers like you read the news. A good accountant can instantly spot positive and negative trends in your business — and has the intimacy with federal and local tax codes to help ensure that you take every available tax break, while avoiding potential penalties. They can also help you set up pension and benefit plans and do other work that’s very valuable for you and your business.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

3. Legal support

Your cousin Lenny may be a wonderful personal injury lawyer who took business courses in law school – but he is not a corporate legal expert.

Even an off-the-shelf contract must be carefully reviewed to ensure that it preserves your unique interests. Strong legal counsel in your corner can make a tremendous difference when negotiating deals or disputes, while helping you avoid the stress of a courtroom battle. Perhaps, you can't afford to put a top business lawyer on retainer, but you still need to find someone who has the in-depth understanding of the state and federal laws your business needs. With dedicated legal support, you can save money by getting fair treatment from other parties — and stay out of trouble.

 

4. Software and technology

Low-priced web hosting can save you a great deal of money if you're ready to take a do-it-yourself approach to build your site. But do you know what designs and techniques make your website effective? If you don't understand how to design a site that attracts customers bring in a web developer with a good track record.

This is just one example of when you might want to spend more on technology. Don't count on a student from your local technical school to program a custom system to keep control over inventory. And if you can afford to hire an in-house technical support person, you might avoid wasted downtime while waiting for a technician to fix something on an as-needed basis.

Free software programs can get you started but aren’t robust enough to provide the level of tools that you need to grow your business and analyze data properly.

 

5. Education and training

Do you and your employees have the knowledge needed to keep up with your competitors? It is possible to obtain decent free online training in some cases, but think of the negative results when this type of ready-made training goes awry. Without proper guidance, students can misunderstand pertinent facts and carry misconceptions deep into your business operations.

When your team members need more knowledge than they currently have, do the research needed to get quality training. You might be able to save money later if your properly-trained employees can share their knowledge with future new hires.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLE: LISTENING TO SOCIAL MEDIA CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS

 

6. Disaster planning tools

Nobody gets excited about paying high prices for insurance but just one natural disaster or major theft can quickly change a business' attitude toward this important recovery tool. Bring in a knowledgeable insurance agent who can explain the merits of obtaining the right amount of coverage for your business and whether business interruption and other types of insurance make sense for your company.

Since insurance is only one part of disaster planning, you should also consider purchasing off-site or cloud-based data backups, storing extra inventory at another location and more. Investing in a disaster-planning consultant might be money well-spent to quickly recover after a catastrophe.

 

I will also add cybersecurity planning into this mix, as small businesses are becoming targets more often. Not investing upfront can cost you a lot on the back end.

 

Cutting corners can be an expensive proposition

Finding the best deals can be wise but make sure that you consider long-term costs and the time that you might have to invest to fix problems. Before you spend good money on reduced-quality services or merchandise, gaze into your crystal ball to envision the future results of your decisions. Spending less money upfront can easily lead to bigger losses down the road.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIn 2002, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, essentially because he wanted to colonize Mars, but he didn’t even have affordable rocket power to send some plants to the planet. Late last year, NASA signed a contract with SpaceX, making them one of two companies contracted to take passengers to the International Space Station.

 

Granted, most small businesses don’t have the financial resources to literally reach for the stars in such a grand fashion. But, this doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t think big.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Here is an organized approach that can help your company move toward amazing accomplishments and profits.

 

Develop a lofty long-term vision

You’ll never fly to Mars if you don’t even know that you want to go there, but a vision with a strong sense of purpose can make anything possible. Musk believes that populating a second planet with humans is the only way to prevent the extinction of humanity. On the other hand, you may believe that a previously untried way of implementing the software design process can bring greater efficiency to your company and profound benefits to your clients.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 RULES TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FROM SMALL TO BIG

 

If you can imagine that achieving your vision will put your face on the front cover of every business magazine — and interviews on prominent cable business networks — then don’t worry about the potential costs or even immediate client acceptance. This is your perception of a better future; you’ll address the practicalities soon enough.

 

Create a segmented strategy

It took countless steps for SpaceX to get to today’s space station contract and it has many more steps to go before they begin populating Mars. The chances are that your company cannot fly to your long-term vision in one fell swoop, either.

 

Your job is to break your long-term goals into manageable chunks. Step 1 is to look hard at all possible options. There is probably more than one path toward accomplishing your vision, so take some time to try to predict the pros and cons of each step before writing down the ones that make the most sense. Once completed, your strategy document can double as a road map of the implementation process.

 

52826431_s.jpgAllow for failure

As you start working your plan, recognize all the strategizing in the world cannot prevent surprise glitches. Everyone knows that failures are the best teachers, yet most of us fear failure more than we welcome its valuable lessons.

 

You have to dig down to the underlying reasons, which might turn out to be very minor in nature. Did your new programming strategy fail because someone missed important steps when designing the new process or did a minor typo create the glitch?

 

The point here is that failure seldom signals the need to quit. In many cases, you need to identify the causes for failure, fix them and then applaud the fact that you are one step closer to achieving your vision.

 

Don’t forget that a perceived failure might lead to another big idea. The adhesive used for sticky notes was developed by a failure to create super-strong adhesive for use by the aerospace industry. It took about five years, but someone finally recognized the value of a mild tacky substance that led to must-have products for office workers everywhere.

 

Share your vision

Everyone on your team has different skills and interests, so you never know who might think of something that will take your vision over the top. It is so important for everyone in the company to know where you want your company to be in the near, middle and long-term future. Invite them to share ideas on how to get there.

 

Also, consider discussing your dreams judiciously with individuals outside of your immediate business. Friends and family members can surprise you with solutions that you may never have considered, and professional organization meetings are a great source of ideas.

 

Factor in realism… to a point

Even NASA says that the odds are in favor of a successful SpaceX Mars mission, but getting people there safely is less certain, much less planet colonization. In late 2016, Musk addressed an enthralled audience about the project and its progress, but he clearly indicated a lack of concern about the many serious outstanding issues.

 

For small business owners, most big visions do not come with the potential for fatal outcomes, but any number of major concerns can still factor into the mix. Naturally, you need to identify the risks and consider them in your plans. But, if you want to achieve big goals, you can’t let seemingly unmanageable problems hamper your vision. By keeping your mind open to the impossible, you can often achieve it.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIt would be wonderful to make business decisions based on 100 percent factual criteria, but how often are all facts etched in stone? Life is full of uncertainty.

 

Economic downturns can stop great customers from continuing to pay their bills. New regulations can suddenly prevent you from conducting business exactly as you have before. Some key employees may retire. These are just a few examples of the types of uncertainty that can affect your decision-making process.

 

Entrepreneurs are typically risk-takers by nature, but uncertainty can make or break many companies. Here are 5 ways to handle uncertainty when making business decisions.

 

1. Don’t let uncertainty stop you from moving forward

First and foremost, uncertainty should not put your goals on hold. If you fail to move forward with plans, your business cannot achieve success. A positive attitude helps you break through a stagnating thought process, so you can think clearly and make plans flexible enough to transcend the unknown.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

When uncertainty looms, recognizing silver linings can help. If your go-to supplier shows early signs of unreliability, for example, don’t view the situation as upcoming doom for your company. With the right attitude, shopping for new vendors can be as exciting as a trip to your favorite retailer. You might find a vendor that’s better than the original one — and you’ll sleep better knowing that you have a backup plan in place.

 

2. Pre-plan for all imagined possible outcomes

Even when you can’t precisely predict unknown situations that can throw a wrench into your plans, you probably know what circumstances might pop up in the future.

 

For example, are you a carpenter who wants to add high-end furniture making to your business? News reports pointing to a possible upcoming cherry wood shortage won’t affect your plans if you know that customers would be just as happy with furniture made from beautiful red cedar, instead.

 

This is known as potential problem analysis, a system developed by Kepner Trego about six decades ago. By using this systematic approach to predict what can go wrong, you essentially reduce uncertainty by developing a roadmap for handling anything that might arise.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IN A HEALTHY ECONOMY, TRY THESE TIPS TO RETAIN YOUR BEST EMPLOYEES

 

18982398_s.jpg3. Turn to your professional network

Do you belong to one or more organizations that focus on issues that are important to your business? If not, then you should consider some memberships.

 

Don’t be surprised if meeting topics sometimes specifically address matters that create uncertainty in your industry. And, attending meetings puts you in touch with like-minded individuals who are more than willing to help you work through some of your concerns, just as you are willing to do for them.

 

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to turn to people in your industry for solid suggestions. Trusted relatives and friends in your personal network can be surprisingly on-point when providing business advice — even if your industry happens to be rocket science.

 

4. Learn current trends by monitoring the news

Don’t let your overcrowded schedule serve as an excuse to avoid regularly keeping up with the news. Current events can have a major impact on your business and the more you know, the more you can reduce uncertainty.

 

General or industry news identifies trends and how other companies are handling them. For example, if businesses are resuming spending after an economic downturn, it may be a sign for you to analyze if it’s time to reconsider a stalled buying decision.

 

Keep in mind that this type of news is hardly an edict. Consider whether those companies are similar, versus large enough to handle more risk. And, countless other details specific to your business must drive your decisions. But, at least you will gain some new thoughts.

 

5. Monitor closely

Particularly if you pre-planned as suggested in No. 2 above, you need to keep current on an issue, so that you can identify when to put an alternate plan into action.

 

Uncertainty is not stagnant; it can change over time or disappear altogether. A client that stopped paying its bills might resolve its financial issues, while another might go out of business. In either case, monitoring their circumstances will tell you if you can resolve their bill-pay issues and add them back to your current customer list — or end the relationship and take a tax write-off.

 

If anything’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty.

 

They say that nothing other than death and taxes are certain in life, with change being a possible third certainty. Still, uncertainty does not mean pandemonium. When you learn how to keep control, you can reduce the effects of uncertainty and make the decisions needed to keep your business healthy.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngI constantly have entrepreneurs clamoring for me to give them opinions on their new businesses.  However, this request is always followed by asking me to sign a non-disclosure agreement for fear of their precious new idea getting out.

 

And every time I am asked to sign an NDA, I decline.

 

This is met with the protest follow-up question, “Well, then, how do I protect my idea?”

 

My answer is always the same. “You don’t.  And it doesn’t matter, because your idea is basically worthless.”

 

You heard me right; ideas have little to no value. It’s the execution of the ideas that holds all the value. It’s why Facebook is worth billions of dollars and why myriad other social networks aren’t. It’s why the very same company can be worth nothing or millions at different points of its lifecycle – or under different management.

 

Let me explain further.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

First, with rare exception, your idea already exists in some form. Most ideas are an improvement on or a different spin on an existing idea. Also, regardless of which components of your idea you believe to be “new,” there are probably others that have thought of it, as well. This is a main reason why neither venture capitalists nor I will not sign nondisclosure agreements; very frequently, the same ideas come to light independently at the same time or near the same time.

 

Moreover, the components of your idea that differentiate it, including you, your experience, your network, your intellectual property and other unique things you and your team bring to the table, can’t be replicated. You and your team are what differentiate how you frame a problem and its solution, the technology and other resources you bring to the table and your willingness (or lack thereof) to do anything it takes to make it happen.

 

A standout example of this is Google. When Google started as a mere search engine, the idea to create a search engine was not new. In fact, there were many search engines that preceded Google, including OpenText, Magellan, Infoseek and Snap. What was different was the way that the founders envisioned search, their competencies and ultimately, their code. The idea for Google wasn’t valuable, but the execution of Google was, and remains so today.

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That’s why the execution of a business is all that matters in determining value. It’s why investors bet on the founders behind a business more than anything. Most business plans pivot – some in a small way, some entirely – but investors back people they believe will execute well, regardless of the pivots required along the way.

 

When Starbucks was created, the idea of a coffee shop on every block that charged significantly more for coffee when coffee was widely available wasn’t a great idea. But Howard Schultz’s management and execution of that idea is what made Starbucks change the landscape and our consumer habits.

 

Another way to illustrate the non-value of ideas are the companies that have had different fates under different management.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 STEPS TO FINDING A BUSINESS MENTOR

 

If you know anything about mixed martial arts, you are probably familiar with the Ultimate Fighting Championship or “UFC” league. It was created by Semaphore Entertainment Group in 1993. As I explain in my book, The Entrepreneur Equation, it almost went bankrupt. Years later, two casino moguls, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, along with Dana White, bought out the struggling business. Less than a decade later, the UFC was valued at approximately $1 billion. In July of 2016, the business was sold to WME-IMG for approximately $4 billion.

 

So, one company based on a single idea was once worth nothing and later worth $1 billion and then $4 billion. This variability is because the idea for a mixed martial arts league was worth nothing. It was the execution that created the value.

Since I brought up my book, you may ask why I decided to copyright it if ideas have no value. The answer is straightforward: I didn't protect the idea of the book; I protected the final work product.

Here’s the differentiation. My idea was to write a book around the framework of evaluating the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship. Had I done nothing with it, it would have no value. Only after writing the 80,000-plus words and then revising, editing and packaging it into a final product did I seek protection.

 

So, get over holding onto your ideas and get out there and do something with them. When you have put the time, effort and money into generating something of value, you can protect that, but don’t let your fear of sharing ideas hold you back.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngThere may be no better source of finding out what will help you grow your business than your existing customers. Those who do business with you have a keen understanding of what works and what maybe doesn’t work so well.

 

Here are seven things you should ask your customers about immediately. Even though many will give you feedback without anything in return, you can use the opportunity to thank them by providing a discount, special offer or other small token of appreciation.

 

You can use a simple email form, website form or survey software to gather your information. Just make sure you review the results and act on the feedback afterwards!

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

1. Why do you shop or work with us?

You may think you know what your competitive advantages are and why your customers and clients choose your company over competitors, but perhaps they know a strength you are not emphasizing or they may highlight an employee you may not realize is a gem. Give them a blank to put in their answer and also have them choose key adjectives from a list that fits their “why” – such as convenience, customer service, high quality products, etc.

 

2. What do we do well?

This is another way of asking about strengths, but it also makes sure you double down on the reasons why your customers choose you.

 

3. What do you wish that we did differently or better?

This one is self-explanatory but extremely important. This will help identify deficiencies in your staff, operations and product/service offerings. It will not only ensure that you know where to focus to keep your existing customers, but it can provide ideas on what else you can do to make those customers buy more often.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR CONSUMER IS CHANGING AGAIN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING TO GEN Z

 

25524437_s.jpg4. What are your favorite products and services?

While you can look at your sales reports to figure out what products and services are most popular, this question helps you identify if there are certain products/services that are cornerstones to your business. This may include ones that aren’t bought as frequently, but are critical keep your customers happy, as well as products/services that could be expanded or highlighted to gain more business.

 

 

5. What products and services do you wish we had?

By asking existing customers what else they want to buy from you, you have a built-in focus group. Keep track and alert those customers when you do add those products/services to your offering to target those who you know already desire that product/service.

 

 

6. How likely is it that you would recommend our company or brand to a friend or colleague?

This is a question that is asked on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best) and makes up something called the Net Promoter Score. It’s a simplistic but widely-accepted method for determining customer loyalty. Per the Net Promoter Network, those who are 9s or 10s are loyal enthusiasts who will refer others. 7s or 8s are satisfied but not enthusiastic and are vulnerable to competitive offers; and 0s up through 6s are unhappy and can damage your brand via negative word of mouth. This gives you an opportunity to double down with your best customers and step it up with those who are vulnerable, including assuaging those who are not happy.

 

7. Will you recommend us/refer us/give us a testimonial?

Finally, having a concrete referral program or testimonial program allows you to specifically ask your customers to help get you more business. If you don’t ask, someone else will!

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngAsk most small business owners about who they think are their most trusted advisors and you may hear about their lawyer or accountant. However, one of the most valuable resources for any small business owner is a business banker.

 

Forging a strong relationship with a banker can be a huge benefit for entrepreneurs. Yet, not enough business owners do that early enough. Moreover, many don’t take full advantage of the relationship.

 

Here are four ways you will get more from building a relationship with a small business banker.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

1.     Go early

Many business owners wait to establish a relationship until they need debt capital, but this is a mistake. Creating a relationship with a business banker early will help your business before you have those capital needs.

 

First, your banker can provide introductions to key advisors, vendors or even potential customers that can help your business.

Second, your banker can get to know you and your business needs in your early stages so by the time you need them, you have already built a personal relationship.

 

Third, as most businesses need to have been in business for a couple of years and have revenue and key financial metrics to qualify for a small business loan, you may still have other capital needs. Your small business banker can point you in the direction of local equity sources or other potential early-stage sources of capital.

 

If you aren’t sure what other kinds of assistance your business banker can provide, just ask the question. You will find that your banker will likely become one of your most helpful and trusted advisors.

 

2.     Get your information organized

When you are ready to discuss your business’s financial picture with a business banker, be prepared. There is nothing more horrifying to a banker than a business owner that pulls out a shoebox full of papers that haven’t been organized. You need to have a business plan, historical financial statements (such as an income statement and balance sheet) and depending on the size of your business, personal information if you need to personally secure the loan.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE MAGIC OF CREATING MULTIPLE PROFIT CENTERS

 

Take the time to prepare so that you make the right impression when you finally are ready for a line of credit or other bank product. If you need more guidance on what to prepare, your business banker can provide you with a checklist, but make sure to do the work ahead of time.

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3.     Have a plan

As noted in the previous tip, you will need to have a business plan. I always say that if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Businesses that prepare business plans are statistically more successful than those that do not, so make sure that you take the time to prepare a thorough plan – and update the plan as your business changes.

 

Your business banker can help you make key strategic decisions by letting you know if having too much customer concentration, working in certain industries or other decisions could impact your business success and ability to attract capital.

 

Make sure the plan you bring to your banker has been updated and accurately reflects the current reality and projected state of your business.

 

4.     Negotiate!

One thing that many business owners don’t know is they have room to negotiate when it comes time to getting loans from their business banker. You can talk to your banker to set the amount of your borrowing, as well as interest rates, length of the loan and the basis on which interest will be calculated. Don’t be afraid of doing some wheeling and dealing to come up with the best terms for you and your business.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngWith unemployment holding steady and workforce participation rates historically low, retaining employees is top of mind for businesses of all sizes but particularly for small business owners.

 

Economic confidence ranks among the highest levels recorded in the last five years for small businesses. In fact, according to the Spring 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report released today, a majority of entrepreneurs (52 percent) are confident that the national economy will improve over the next 12 months – up a staggering 21 percentage points from just six months ago (31 percent in fall 2016).

 

This increase in optimism, however, has yet to translate into positive movement on revenue expectations. This may explain why small business owners’ plans to hire have dipped, according to the Small Business Owner Report. Only 18 percent of small business owners plan to hire in the year ahead, down 7 percentage points from the fall 2016 report.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Instead, this spring, more entrepreneurs say they are focused on retaining existing employees (73 percent). So, given this backdrop, how can your business make sure that you are retaining your best employees?  Here are some of my best tips:

 

Get buy-in on your mission.

Having something that the team is working for together, other than just their paycheck, makes employees feel more important and fulfilled. Make sure that you have communicated what your mission is and have gotten buy-in from your employees, so they know the big picture and feel good about doing the work.

 

Listen to them.

In almost every survey about what is important to employees, having their ideas, feedback and perspective heard ranks higher than compensation. When you welcome and act on employee ideas and suggestions, your employees become partners who recognize their value to the company as they work alongside you to realize shared goals.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO REPLACE YOURSELF AS CEO OF YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

 

Make sure to listen to their feedback and acknowledge them as well – the value of these soft incentives is highly underrated and easy for small business owners to embrace.

 

71473407_s.jpgMake them heroes.

A job well done deserves praise and your employees never mind being called to your office to receive kudos. But, when employees receive your commendations at a company meeting or in front of a customer who benefited from their hard work, they clearly see their true value. Naturally, public praise helps inspire all employees but it also lets your customers recognize how the depth of your products and services helps them get the attention and consideration they deserve.

 

Give them flexibility.

These days, flexibility is almost priceless to employees in terms of a benefit, while not costing you dollars out of pocket. Flexibility could range from working remotely – including from home, working non-standard business hours (I have one employee who prefers to start the workday at noon and work into the evening), having a “get work done but not keeping track of hours” schedule and more.

 

If you can be flexible, you can add a lot of value to employees who won’t be able to find that valuable benefit elsewhere.

 

Give them new opportunities.

While big businesses need to put their employees in specific boxes and keep them there to get their allotted portion of the job done, small business owners have more flexibility to let their team members wear more hats. Employees can feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment if you allow them to be more involved in different stages of a project or the business overall. As their abilities grow from new experiences, their investment in the company’s interests will grow, as well.

 

Also, make sure to promote from within. When a key position opens up in your company, always look first to the members of the team that work hard for you every day. Granted, some positions may require very specific educational requirements not available in your organization, such as a degree in accounting.  But remember your staff already has a solid foundation and a deeper understanding of your company culture and how things work. You can’t teach loyalty and dedication, and these traits grow more when you reward staff with advancement.

 

Give a bonus for overall performance.

While it is important to reward individuals for their own accomplishments, don’t forget to keep them focused on the team and the big picture. If the company does well, allow them to participate in that success. This can be a cash bonus or even an outing to see a local sports team play. Having them incented on an individual and company level creates even more loyalty to your business and its efforts.

As a small business, your team is a critical part of your success, so make sure to implement these tips –  along with regularly checking in with your employees to make sure that they are happy so they stay and grow with you.

 

Click here to read the spring 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report report.

 

 


 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngAs a deal maker with a couple of billion dollars of completed deals, and at least hundreds of millions worth of deals that fell apart for some reason, I know firsthand that deals are a big business.

 

Given that business growth is often via new customers and that finding new customers is a big component of that, turning to your network can be a great source of small introductions and big deals.

 

If you want to enhance getting such referrals, or perhaps if you have a strong network to be monetized, you may want to formalize giving or getting finder’s fees. However, the structuring of finder’s fees is both an art and a science. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your referrals and finder fee initiatives more successful.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

What is the opportunity?

 

I am usually happy to pay a finder’s fee if it’s a business that I would not have been able to get to on my own and the nature of the finder’s relationship adds significant value to my business. I also request finder’s fees in the opposite capacity.

 

However, not every lead is worthy of a finder’s fee. If there isn’t a substantial pre-existing relationship with the lead (i.e., you don’t have a strong or long-term relationship) or if the introduction is more of a lukewarm lead (i.e., a non-exclusive introduction or one that the party being introduced has to compete substantially for over lengthy periods of time), then asking for a fee may not be appropriate. I also often don’t ask for a fee if the value of the customer or deal isn’t that substantial in size.

 

Also, if the person you are referring to or who gave you a particular lead is a contact that you trade leads with on a regular basis or someone who has brought business to you in the past, you may decide to forgo fees and instead just engage in doing your best to send each other business on a go-forward basis.

 

You further need to consider whether the person who is providing the lead is a finder or deal maker as a part of their businesses. If they regularly get compensated for being a finder or deal maker, this sets up more of a case to compensate that someone who does not usually get compensated in such capacity.

 

Additionally, if it’s a relationship where they won’t accept a finder’s fee or it’s not appropriate, consider sending a small token of your appreciation when you receive payment from your new client or customer, such as a gift card, as a way to acknowledge and appreciate the referral.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS PARTNER

 

What is your role?

 

The reality is that a deal usually has many steps, ranging from identifying many leads to contacting them to putting together materials to structuring and negotiating a deal. A typical “finder’s fee” means you hand-off the lead and you are done, so you are only providing partial value to the process. That being said, there are instances where it makes sense to check-in and see if you can provide some minor value or assistance.

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The bigger your role and the more value you add should be reflected on both sides.

 

Put it in writing

 

Being very clear about agreements upfront almost always serves both parties well. You can keep it simple, but be clear on role (if it’s just an introduction or if there is more work being done), whether the introduction covers one specific project or all projects over a period of time and how fees are calculated.

 

Calculating the finder’s fee

 

The question I get asked more than any is “what’s an appropriate finder’s fee?” My answer: “it depends.”

 

While the value of leads in many industries can span widely, there are benchmarks from 5-35% and higher. For a customer-based introduction, I typically do 10-20% of the net revenue (revenue minus any direct costs) that the provider receives if I am not involved at all or just minimally with some upfront strategy. Sometimes, I ask for a bit less if I have a strong pre-existing relationship, as well.

 

If it is a deal-based finder fee, I would typically ask for 10-20% of the fees an investment banker would charge for the transaction. So, if they charged a 5% fee, my fee would be 10-20% of that.

 

There are many that suggest using the “Lehman formula” as a benchmark. In my opinion, that formula is meant to determine the payment schedules for M&A business advisors for significant transactions and is not appropriate for a finder’s fee. You would only, as noted above, get a fraction of that for being the finder. As a side note, I also think that it’s generally a good idea to proceed with caution with anything named after a company that is no longer in business!

 

In addition to the percentage charged, you need to figure out what to base it off of and for what time period. For a customer-fee, as noted above, I based it off of the net revenue they receive, usually over just a couple of years, as it’s very cumbersome to keep track of that indefinitely, and while being a finder has value, it’s not invaluable, so to speak.

 

The bottom line is that both parties need to feel comfortable that the fee reflects the value of the referring person’s brand and is an appropriate amount for the receiving person to spend for what is, in effect, a sales lead.

 

So, whether you want to be paid as a finder or use them to grow your own business, be clear and thoughtful with the above advice for guidance – and remember there’s never a wrong time to be helpful to someone else.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth] is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

From the day that you first decided to start a small business, you have been the lifeblood behind every activity. You've done it all – making every decision and watching over every operation. But, what happens next?

 

Whether you want (and need) a vacation, fall ill, want to retire or maybe just find someone to take the business to the next level, you want to know that the business will be safe and prosper. You need to have confidence in someone else who can take on the mantle.

Carol Roth Headshot.png

Trusting someone else to take over for you is a necessity, even if it's one of the toughest aspects of small business ownership.

Here are six things you can do to make sure that everything gets done to your satisfaction when you can't be there.

1. Identify likely candidates

Do you have a second in command who is always there to lend you a hand in a pinch? That person may be the logical person to take the reins, but don't ignore some candidates that are less-obvious choices.

You might be impressed by less-visible employees who consistently make suggestions on efficiency and cost savings. Others may be going to night school on their own dime to learn business management. You might notice that team members turn to one person within their ranks for leadership. So, while one person who is gunning for the job may be the perfect choice, cast a wider net to make sure that you find the right new you.

Also, look outside the business to others who have been in similar industries, have strong management styles and share common values with you and your business.

Related article: 8 Different Types of Small Business Management Styles – What’s Yours?

2. Learn what you know

Don't expect to jump immediately into the training process. You've been doing the job for a long time, so chances are you take the details of your job for granted and may forget to mention them to a CEO-in-training.

Do you have a list of people to notify when you issue a new policy? If you change the color of a product that you purchase from your primary vendor, do you have to make sure that backup vendors can also accommodate the change in a pinch? Do you know of a small glitch in the production process that affects the delivery date you promise to customers?

There's a reason why they say the devil's in the details. Make sure that you know every one of them before you try to teach anyone to step into your shoes.

3. Do some hand-offs – and coach

You're no different than every small business owner who has an overabundance of work. Wouldn't it be nice to go home at 5 pm once in a while? You can accomplish this by handing off some of your responsibilities to the candidates you selected.

Whether you hand over bookkeeping tasks, managing human resource issues or even making more decisions, don't expect speed or perfection at the outset. In fact, don't expect to get home by 5pm right away either. Since you must initially take on the role of trainer, you absolutely need to resist the temptation to say "I can do it more quickly myself."

Be prepared to teach, supervise and answer countless questions. But, your efforts will help you gain more free time eventually — while identifying which candidates have the skills and aptitude as leaders.

Click here to learn more from our small business expert Carol Roth

4. Be a true mentor

Step-by-step training alone does not create head honchos. Your protégé needs confidence that can only be created through a full mentor relationship. You need to establish a friendship that encourages honest two-way communication.

Your candidate must be comfortable to readily express concerns about anything, including taking the top leadership role. You need to start the conversation to get the ball rolling. Telling your mentee stories about your own experiences making difficult decisions or handling tough customers is better than just asking if there are any questions or concerns.

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Also, communicate to other staff about why you have confidence in this person and why you believe that even if their style is different, they will be an ideal person to lead the company’s continued success.

5. Go away

You can't predict someone's abilities until you test them. While you probably shouldn't plan a six-month world tour right away, all of your mentoring efforts have certainly earned you a week on a beach sipping daiquiris. Don't be overly available for questions. If you can't leave your devices at home, at least leave them in your hotel room. Your protégé needs the opportunity to exercise decision-making muscles.

If you are bringing in an outside candidate, consider moving to an executive chairperson role so you still have some say, but the day-to-day rests firmly in the other person’s camp.

6. Don't expect a clone of yourself

The objective of replacing yourself is to ensure that your company will continue to thrive without you at the helm for a week, months or forever. Your replacement's role is to get the job done — not to get the job done your way. Every person has individual ways of reaching specific goals. If you prepare them properly, don't be surprised if you learn a few new tricks from them along the way.

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

I am in a fortunate position to receive a lot of requests – both from people I know and those I have never met – to “be their mentor.” While I am always flattered that someone wants to learn from me, the cold ask is not a method I advocate for finding the mentorship you need.

 

Instead, follow these five steps:

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1.     Know what you are looking for and when

 

Finding mentors is not supposed to be like collecting baseball cards. You don’t just go after every high-profile business person you meet. Instead, think about what kind of information, connections and assistance will be helpful for you right now. This will likely change during the course of your business – a great mentor for when you are starting out will likely be different than the one when you are thriving. So, be really clear on what you need to help you find the best fit.

 

2.     Shoot low

 

Yes, everyone would love Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson and Warren Buffett as a mentor. But not only are they not likely the best fit for what you need, they are really busy and most likely have no connection to you.

 

Look to people in your network that have the relevant information you are seeking. You might find it is a peer who has walked that path before, or an immediate boss that’s most likely to add value to your professional development. 

 

3.     Keep it informal

 

True long-term mentoring comes out of growing a long-term relationship. So keep your sights on someone you know or have met. Then, instead of asking someone to “be your mentor,” which sounds very formal and possibly like a big obligation, make a more reasonable ask: “Do you have time to answer a few questions or grab coffee?”

 

Most people advocate dating before you get married. The same goes for mentors. As the relationship grows, it may resemble a mentor-mentee relationship, or you might just get a few valuable nuggets and move on.

 

4.     Check in and update

 

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Don’t expect someone who “mentors” you to chase you down. If someone provides you great information, connections or advice, keep them posted on your progress from time to time as you advance. Then, if it seems appropriate, you can seek additional counsel.

 

5.     Seek five-minute mentors

 

I personally have never had a permanent mentor that has guided or shaped my career. Rather, I have learned from a series of individuals of whom I asked questions or made connections along the way.

 

Don’t pressure yourself to just find that mythical one person who will take you under their wing and make you a billionaire. That’s on you. However, there are plenty of daily learning opportunities from people who have been successful (and have failed). Take the initiative to identify those learnings and build upon them.

 

About Carol Roth: Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

One of my favorite things to watch on TV, after sports, are food-related competition shows like those on the Food Network. Even though I don’t cook (unless you count the microwave), I love to watch the endless parade of amazing chefs and scrumptious food.

 

Surprisingly, I have found a lot of business takeaways from this engaging programming.  Here are a few important business lessons you can learn and apply in your own small business.

 

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Do One Thing Well: In virtually every Food Network competition, one competitor tries to show-off by preparing a food item “multiple ways.” Whether the main ingredient is steak, fish, chicken, shrimp or even apples, when I hear the contestant say they are going to serve it two or three ways, I cringe.  By spreading your focus amongst multiple dishes, none gets your full attention.  And in every single case, while one of the preparations turns out well, the others are a miss.  Had the contestant just focused efforts on one preparation, they would have helped, not hindered, their chances to win.

 

You can take that lesson and apply it directly to your business. Trying to do too many things means you are doing none well and quality will suffer.  So resist the temptation to add new products and services or to have each employee wear too many hats.  Instead, focus on one blow-away effort.  This proves a winning formula – on TV and in the business world – every time.

 

You Can Lose a Battle and Win a War: It’s an emotional challenge to be an entrepreneur.  You have days when you lose clients or potential clients, find out a potential investor is backing out, have an employee quit or some other struggle that makes your business endeavors seem futile.  But perseverance is critical to entrepreneurship and you see that clearly when watching food competitions.

 

In many shows, a contestant will fall down on a particular challenge yet still end up the overall winner. Stumbling in an early challenge of “Next Food Network Star” may not earn you the advantage you seek in the next round, but doing well enough puts you back in contention to be named the overall winner.

 

Click here to read more articles like this one.

 

Also, chefs that have appeared on these competition shows but didn’t win often come back as revered judges on future programs. The element of having been there and done that gives the chef credibility and notoriety they can leverage, even if they weren’t the winner.

 

Losing a battle doesn’t mean that you can’t win the war.  You need to get back up and try again because staying in the game is one of the main ingredients for success (pun entirely intended).

 

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Being Prepared Allows for Improvisation: A large percentage of the Food Network Shows, from Chopped to Cutthroat Kitchen, involved twists thrown into the mix to make the challenge more difficult for the participants and simultaneously, more exciting for the viewer watch. Those who are able to maintain grace under pressure and innovate in the face of adversity are the competitors that come away as winners.

 

The same thing applies for entrepreneurs. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

 

However, no matter how well prepared you are, there will be surprises along the way.  New products will take longer to develop than you expect. You will miss budgets or have a cash-flow issue. Your marketing promotion won’t produce the intended results or perhaps it will work too well and you struggle meeting demand. Regardless, you need to be calm in the face of chaos and learn to improvise.

 

If you prepare for what you can control, it’s easier to improvise when things inevitably go awry. And when they go haywire, don’t focus on the problems, focus on the potential solutions: fall back on your strengths and don’t fall to pieces.

 

As the food competition programs show, the ones who can’t stand the heat fail in the kitchen.

 

About Carol Roth: Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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