This week on #Smallbizchat LIVE, our show featured three guests: The Few Numbers that Make ALL the Difference with Ellen Rohrm @ellenrohr, Building a Business Around Your Lifestyle with Donna Maria Coles Johnson, @donnamaria, and Gaining Leads and Contacts at Networking Events with David Weiss, @EdibleSelfie.
I pulled three of the best questions from each of them to share with you. Every third Wednesday of the month, Smallbizchat LIVE is broadcast on my SmallBizLady Facebook Page, YouTube channel and on Twitter @SmallBizLady.
Ellen Rohr is an owner of ZOOM DRAIN and Sewer Franchising, a Ziglar Certified Legacy trainer and the author un-fussy business books, including Where Did the Money Go? and The Weekend Biz Plan. You can learn more at https://ellenrohr.com/.
SmallBizLady: Financial reports? Who has time? What is the bare minimum I need to do to be a responsible business owner?
Ellen Rohr: Run a simple Balance Sheet and P&L. Weekly is best. You may get by with monthly. Work with your accountant, or your bookkeeper, or another savvy business owner and go line by line down your financial reports. Put a 🙂 next to the numbers that are accurate, and a ? Or a 🙁 next to the numbers that look wrong. Then audit to verify your own numbers. This is time-consuming at first, like cleaning a messy house, but you will never have to clean it up again if you keep it tidy. The Kondo Method of financial cleanup!
SmallBizLady: The P&L makes sense, but the Balance Sheet is confusing. How do I make sense of it?
Ellen Rohr: The words are weird, so here are some definitions. The Balance Sheet is structured like this: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. Assets are what you have, your stuff. Liabilities are what you owe. Equity is what you own. What you have = who lays claim to what you have. Another way to look at it is… what you have – what you owe = what you own. This is good to know! In the game of business, you want more stuff! And you don’t want to owe more than you have. Once you keep score, you can make the score better.
SmallBizLady: What are the numbers I really need to pay attention to?
Ellen Rohr: On the Balance Sheet, start with your Cash Ration.
Donna Maria is an author, blogger, and the host of the popular Indie Business Podcast. Donna Maria started her professional career in a traditional job as an attorney at a Fortune 500 company in her hometown of Washington, DC. After several years of practicing law, she left the legal field to pursue her passion for empowering women to maximize their potential through small business ownership. In the years since, Donna Maria founded the Indie Business Network, a trade organization providing entrepreneurial training, mentoring, and product liability services to American Makers. Donna Maria lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her family. Learn more at https://www.donnamaria.com
SmallBizLady: What is your perfect life like? How do you want to live?
Donna Maria: A lifestyle business is built by prioritizing your personal happiness and lifestyle goals over profits. As a result, you must be self-aware. You must know exactly what you want your life to be like. Do you want to travel the world and work mainly from your laptop? Do you want to be able to stay at home with your children and work from your home office or family room? Do you want to get married and have the business you create with your spouse be your only child? Do you want to build a business that can support a home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or do you want to live on a farm in rural Kansas? Knowing what you want in your life will ensure that you create the perfect lifestyle business for you!
SmallBizLady: How do I set up a lifestyle business that delivers my perfect life?
Donna Maria: The central theme of a lifestyle business is your personal lifestyle happiness, achieved through predictable and recurring income. To produce this, you need a product or service that people need on a predictable and recurring basis. Match this with something you are good at and/or feel passionate about, and you have the perfect lifestyle business!
For example, you are a breastfeeding advocate. A nursing mom may need a breast pump for months to years after her child is born. A business leasing nursing equipment with monthly automated payments is a business idea that features both a predictable and recurring need and a predictable and recurring payment. Another example: a website developer may need ongoing training to keep up with technology and new Wordpress plugins and updates on a predictable and recurring basis. A business providing those things in exchange for a monthly payment matches a predictable and recurring need with predictable and recurring income.
Notice the different lifestyles in these two examples. One requires office space to store equipment, costs to deliver or ship, and clean equipment, and the industry may be regulated because babies are involved. The other can be run from home with little to no regulatory oversight.
SmallBizLady: How do I create a marketing and sales system that leads to consistently recurring revenues?
Donna Maria: Three things:
First, serve, serve, serve. Shift your focus from your buyers being your “customers” to being your members. They are not just clients. They are an extended part of your family. Love them. Take care of them. In the above examples, you might send a birthday card on the baby’s birthday, or collaborate with a local doula or breastfeeding expert to host a monthly virtual breastfeeding/new mom class to teach and encourage your members. In the other example, you could host an annual meetup, conference or retreat where your members come together to share the latest website design tools and strategies. You could also host a members-only Facebook community where developers from all over the world can swap ideas and support each other’s growth and entrepreneurial development.
Second, you must build a community around your brand. Today, it’s easier than ever to do this. Continuing with the above website design example, each time a new plugin is released and you create a training video on it and announce to the world through your blog, newsletter, and social media platforms that you are conducting a training exclusively for your members. In this way, the product naturally becomes the marketing and the marketing naturally becomes the product, and they both showcase the community you serve. Website developers who are not a part of that community will sit up and take notice, and eventually check you out. Community is the new commerce. It’s necessary leverage in your lifestyle business!
Third, position yourself to expand your business by adding multiple income streams. For example, after a few years serving new breastfeeding moms (and especially if you are a mother yourself), you can write a book for new moms and charge a fee to speak at conferences aimed at moms. This leverages your equipment business with your personal expertise and develops valuable collaborative relationships in your sphere of influence. You could host your own mom conference. You could begin selling other things moms need on a recurring basis, packaging them as a bundle with your breastfeeding equipment: diapers, a cloth diaper service, baby personal care products, baby clothing and toys, and more.
David Weiss was born in NYC and has a passion for bringing new products into this world. He enjoys selling face to face as well as at scale. Learn more at www.selff.ee
SmallBizLady: Is the business card dead?
David Weiss: No it is not. It’s a $.001 impression that yes does end up in the trash a lot but it’s usually in people’s drawers for years and years and will come in handy when the time strikes. It depends upon what your average sale is. If it’s a $40 product than it is useless. You’ll give away $500 in cards in 3-4 years and maybe make 1 sale from it. Our company which has a price tag of anywhere from $5,000-$15,000 makes that buy in easy to digest.
SmallBizLady: What is the best way to follow-up with a contact from a networking event?
David Weiss: You give them your phone and ask them to save their email address in your phone. It’s very personal and sets the expectation that you WILL follow up with them. It’s a tacit agreement that if someone gives you their email you’re going to follow up.
SmallBizLady: What is the appropriate time to follow-up after a networking event? And then what if your new contact doesn’t respond?
David Weiss: 3 days after is the sweet spot. Long enough they can digest everything and short enough, so they don’t forget. Never follow up on a Friday you may as well send it to their spam folder. I use Mixmax and will send my follow-ups 3 days after networking events (cocktail party) and 2 weeks after tradeshows. Once the initial goes out, I use sequencing to send another follow up 5 days after (will be the next week at that point) and then one more the week after.
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