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Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Posted by Doogie Levine

Over the next few posts, we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. Your resources can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

To identify your resources, I suggest starting with setting aside 1 hr a week to look at an aspect of your business. Make sure you select a location that is not your place of work or your home. Go to an area, that it will be challenging for someone to interrupt you. Then ask yourself any of the following questions:

  • What is the one thing you need to change or do differently that would make you more successful?
  • What is the one thing I could teach my employees to make them better at the tasks I’ve asked them to do?
  • What is one thing about my business that I need to know more about?
  • What is one thing I could do to bring additional value to my customers/clients?

This process is scalable; as you become comfortable with 1 hr a week, you can add, setting aside an entire day a month. Then, when you get to the Bill Gates level, you can take a whole week-long retreat to just focus on yourself and your business. 

If the lesson of “seeing the obvious” is not clear, it is as simple as setting aside time to identify the problem, plan a new course of action, and go back with energy to make a change.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs; you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new process or system for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ballpoint pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough, there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Looking for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Looking for at least one cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Creating multiple streams of ideas to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work, you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is an excellent way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. 

You can present some great questions to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses. 

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping-off point for how to utilize your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I look forward to offering what advice I can. 

I appreciate you taking the time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please share it with someone you feel could benefit from it and leave a like.


5 Killer Mistakes – Part 2

Posted by Doogie Levine
Removing word with pencil’s eraser, Erasing mistake

In the last post, we covered the first two of the five biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up, and therefore you can quickly lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to plan how you will handle the growth. Although your clients expect excellent customer service and high-quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind-the-scenes operations to get those things done.

Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:

  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset, and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

There is a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill promises you made to your clients.

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish’s needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. Always have a backup plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on anyone fish. Eventually, or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. To stay in the game, you need to diversify. 

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. However, to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, you can do a few things.

These things include:

  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish’s company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. This can generally be measured in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, feel free to call at 412-397-7967.

Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.


5 Killer Mistakes – Part 1

Posted by Doogie Levine

5 big mistakes that will kill a deal are:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle

Any one or a combination of these can not only kill the partnership but can take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each of these; in this lesson, we’ll cover the first two.

Not Meeting Client’s Expectations

You must give your clients exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong. 

A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.

To avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:

  • Think before you speak.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Perfect your process.
  • Pre-format over-deliverables.
  • Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.
  • Define success.

Mishandling a Client Crisis

Crises will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients. You need to react quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.

Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:

  • Take responsibility and apologize, no matter who is at fault.
  • Act swiftly and effectively.
  • Step in and take control of the situation.
  • Never point fingers or place blame.
  • Stay in constant communication with your client.
  • Stay calm throughout the situation.
  • Keep your eye on the ball.

Now that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big fish deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and learn how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis.

If you need help with any of this, don’t wait, email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com. Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistakes you can make in working with big fish clients.


Where is your next big client? Picking a pond is important.

Posted by Doogie Levine

Let’s continue where we left off last week, where we talked about bringing the big-company mindset into your business and your team. Having a big fish mindset will help you overcome the mental obstacles that will keep you from being successful. 

Now that you’ve learned how to overcome that, we’re going to identify who is our ideal big fish. It’s essential to know about the fish you are looking for before you put a plan together. We’re also going to take a moment to talk about the potential “red tape” you may encounter along the way.

It is important to know a few things about your fish. All people and companies have habits, and it essential to be able to identify them. For the sake of this article, we will talk about the most important habits for you to identify. These habits are their purchasing habits, procedures, and company culture.

Purchasing Habits 

  1. Fiscal Budgets: 
    1. It’s essential you know the fish’s fiscal budget, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year. Knowing this information allows you to tailor your plan to approach them just at the right time.
  1. Current Fulfillment Partners
    1. Spend time identifying who they are buying from already. Your goal is to understand why them and not you. 

Procedures

  1. Responsibilities: 
    1. You need to know who has influence over purchasing, who does the actual buying, and who can kill a deal if they want. 
  1. Purchasing structure
    1. Besides knowing who the decision-makers are, it is important to identify the company’s desired sales process. For instance, do they want an RFQ or RFP, an estimate, etc.?
  1. Get on Their List: 
    1. You need to know how to get on their list of people to buy from. Your name needs to be on the list but at the top of it and in as many categories as possible for more interaction. Ask about a procurement program and what you need to do to go through the application process.

Company culture

  1. Lingo: 
    1. You need to learn the company’s unique language and communications methods. These could include report names, buzzwords, and even the nicknames they have for their employees.
  2. Values
    1. Take the time to identify the values at all levels of the company. Not just the ones on the website. Values are essential to understanding motivation is the path to problem-solving.

These three areas are just the starting point for identifying your “Big Fish.” I encourage you to spend additional time creating an Ideal Client Avatar.

Red Tap Warning

Now that we’ve talked a little about what you need to know about your fish, let’s a quick look at the “red tape.” 

Bureaucracy might as well be a four-letter word with the emotions it stirs in all of us. “Red tape” is a necessary evil, but one you can use to learn from. There are two ways to learn from their system:

  1. Analyze their activity.
  2. Review their correspondence.

Being an outsider looking in can have its advantages too. If you hate dealing with the “red tape,” imagine how their employees feel dealing with it. If they need to crunch some numbers, offer to do it. If they need more info, make sure you are giving it to them in a user-friendly way.

Congrats on creating your Big Fish profile you have taken the next step. As much as fishing is a solitary activity when it comes to business it is important to get help. Engage your team, support network, mentors, and coaches in this process. As always, I am here to help don’t hesitate to ask a question.

The best time to start was yesterday, but today will do just fine. 

About the Author

I am a business coach and consultant specializing in uncovering the root cause of a challenge and offering an unexpected solution. That solution typically results in a substantial increase in profits and the peace of mind to set you free from your business. 

I ask powerful questions to clarify who you are and what you want. I am empathetic, although surgical in approach. I make my clients feel they are the only person I am working with. I have an uncanny way of drawing people out and getting to the heart of the matter.

I am a Pittsburgh native who aspires to free business from the rat race. If I am not working to improve the lives of my clients. Then you will most likely find me on the ice playing hockey, reading, or making plans for the future. 

If I can ever be helpful to my readers, it would be my pleasure to connect and see where I can bring you value. I look forward to continuing to share more great lessons with my growing community. 


Let’s Go Fishing with Dynamite

Posted by Doogie Levine

There are several factors to consider when prepping yourself and your company to approach the largest clients you’ll ever work with.

Today we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business faces and show you which one is the path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three major paths a business can take:

  • Path of least resistance
  • False Success
  • Catch the Big Fish

Path of least resistance

This is the path most business owners chose. They chose it because it allows them to do what they like to do and avoid the discomfort of the things they don’t want to do.

Business owners who chose this path ended up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will find quick success. This path is filled with highly skilled people but who fail to embrace the other parts of running their business.

You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change. If you find yourself avoiding discomfort and not getting anywhere, t is time to choose a new direction.

False Success

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast you are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources in place to adapt. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by small clients and not finding large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales slow.

The business in this category tends to lack the systems and processes required to sustain the energy level to operate. They tend to have high revenue and low profits. They feel great because they have a ton of activity, but the reality is they are living month to month.

Catch the Big Fish

This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customers to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in big clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and employees.
  3. Acquire the expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to make changes as you grow.

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy to find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think. 

Think of all the benefits of aiming at more prominent clients:

  • Inexpensive
  • Highly Profitable
  • Longevity
  • Security

To catch the big fish, you need to believe your company can make a difference with theirs. It’s easy to get into the thought that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you look at how big companies operate, it’s essential to know which ones are the best fit for your company. So how do you know if a company is right for you?

Ask yourself, is this a company that has problems you can solve? Does it scare you to solve their problems? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then I hope you know what to do.

It is essential to note the big companies are relative to your industry and your business. If your current average client is $500 per month, then jumping $2500 per month would be a big fish. The goal with the big fish mindset is to get the best return on the time for money exchange. 

Now once you have determined your big fish, then it is time to create your dynamite strategy for getting them. Here are a few tips that people tend to forget to include in your plan.

  • Whom can I network with to get an introduction to a leader at the company?
  • How are you going to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths?

If you need help catching a big fish, get a free copy of my book, the 8 Steps that Change Your Business Forever, to l help you fine-tune your strategy to create instant results.


Moms are the best Customer Service, Experts

Posted by Doogie Levine

My mother has taught me a lot over the years, but two key lessons that pertain to customer service are consistency and the Rule of 1%. In the last post, I shared my experience with STX and the lack of consistency and systems within their customer service experience. My mother’s lessons will ensure you do not make the same mistakes.

Your customer experience must be predictable and measured. You need to leave your clients, vendors, customers, and staff; feeling heard and cared for. The key to any customer experience is what do you want them to experience. Experience is a set of events and feelings. As you go about creating your customer service systems, keep this in mind. 

Be as my mother; she wanted to do what is best for me but rarely gave into everything I wanted. She listened to what I had to say even when I was wrong, acknowledged my feelings, and redirects me to the path of least resistance. She treated me the same every time, and I found comfort in knowing that. Everyone once in a while, she surprised me with something I never expected.

If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience. The key to any great customer service experience is consistency. 

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Limiting customer service options and. 

It is easy to give customers what they want. However, this can cause us to drift from our vision of how we want our customers to feel. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition. 

Make sure the techniques you chose do not feel like a burden. To be honest, your goals are to address the customers feeling and before their problems. 

Start by fine-tuning your current systems before you can add anything to the mix. 

  • Think about how I want them to feel, and am I currently getting them to feel that way. 
  • What action am my staff or I taking to get them to feel that way?

There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system. 

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to consist of the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

To get the best results to think about how you empower your staff to make decisions. If they have to go through a supervisor or you before they can approve a refund or replacement, what is the point? Your system needs to have the least number of steps possiable. Remember, your customer is already in a higher state of agitation, and your first job is to lower the feeling.

Good coaching is the key.

When creating excellent training, you need to remember it is not about the outcomes. It is about teaching your staff how to shift the emotional state of customers to create an optimal resolution for both them and the company. It is about the tools they have at their disposal and how information needs to be shifted through your organization. 

The final piece to consider is your process for continually enhancing your staff skills. Your goal is to train them to be confident that they are the empowered expert who can solve your client’s issues.

Small steps lead to great results.

You may be looking at what currently doing and saying, “shit, I have a lot of work to do.” That is okay let the Rule of 1% be your guide to implementing the change in your business.

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency perfected, or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a massive increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at once, or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!

While rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers, and consistency is the key to how you provide it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly, and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons if you need help feel free to contact me I would be happy to chat. https://ideasactionsuccess.com/contact/

In upcoming posts, we’re going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.


Customer Service Secrets

Posted by Doogie Levine
Shhh… I Have a Secret
You can create a great customer service system for your business in 3 easy steps.

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and quickly get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something, or trying to communicate through a language barrier. 

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience, they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, your clients will tell everyone they know! 

There are three secrets to good customer service; the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for your business’s future, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business, including customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  • Understand Your Road Blocks
    • It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop. No matter what medium you chose, make sure you understand all of the steps your asking your client to do. Then make sure you can make them as easy as possible.
  • Your Experience Needs to be Like Talking with Mom
    • Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm, and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  • A Penny Wise a Dollar Foolish
    • Change your mindset and ask yourself, “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers. It is always essential to think about customer lifetime value when dealing with complaints, refunds, replacements, etc. Think a penny today is a dollar tomorrow.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to consider a few things when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff. 
  • Empower your staff to make decisions at the moment.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Set a time to review and improve your customer experience regularly.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

Now that you know what you want, you can start thinking about meeting those wants and creating a positive customer service experience. If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources, and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define your company’s wants and needs in relation to customer service.


5 Quick Tips for a Kick A$$ Internship

Posted by Doogie Levine

Internships are no longer a tool for massive companies to get grunt work out of college kids. It is a significantly underutilized option for small businesses to develop high-quality talent. Entrepreneurs tend to be overworked and stretched thin. Many of them have dreams of growing their business by adding digital marketing, business outreach, sales teams, or taking a real vacation. However, most feel they lack the funds to invest in their business. 

Here comes the power of an internship. The internship provides you the opportunity to get high-quality inexperienced talent at a low to no cost. It also is a fantastic tool for building relationships with major educational institutions.

Take a minute and review the graph to understand the cost and benefits of adding this program. It is always essential to understand what your committing to before you get started.

Cost and benefits of creating a small business internship program. Header photo for article.

I have created several internship programs, from short 4-week middle school programs to multi-year professional programs. Here are my tips for creating an effective program for both you and the participant.

Set aside time

It is pivotal before you get started creating a program, you first organize your schedule. Most internships require a reasonable amount of time upfront to get up and running. Then minimal time to maintain the progress.

Here is a rough time breakdown to run an effective small business internship program.

  • 3-5 hours for initial planning
  • 4 hours for onboarding 
  • 1 hour a day for the first two weeks 
    • Specifically for skills training and internship planning
  • 15 min a day for daily check-in
  • 1 hr every two weeks for the remainder of the internship 
    • Continued skills development
    • Performance review

Start with the talent.

Now that you have a rough idea of the time commitment, my next tip is to start by finding great talent. Most people will tell you to start by having a problem in mind and then find the person to solve it. 

However, when it comes to internships, most of the people you talk to will not have extensive experience or knowledge. It is best to look for two things talent and attitude. The rest you can teach them or even better they will learn themselves. Hire fast and let them have some control of the scope of their work.

Define the scope

When starting a program, make sure you keep the project somewhat vague. Once you have great talent, engage them in identifying the work that will benefit the organization. How do you do this?

Tell them your desired outcome, for instance, if you would like them to take on your marketing. Then simply say that you would like to see a 10% increase in inbound leads. Then they can figure out how to achieve this goal, and you can coach them to this desired goal. 

Find the right partner.

Go to your local high school, junior college, college, technical school, or university and offer an internship for the semester by connecting with the student affairs office and at least one professor in a field similar to your business. Set up a meeting and discuss the possibilities.

For example, every business needs additional administrative help, so offer an internship to a student majoring in business administration. The schools LOVE it when a company provides internships since they act as a value-add to their educational offerings by providing their students with real-world experience. Make sure you negotiate that the school will give the student credit. On the flip side, if you find the right student, they can do all of this for you.

Prepare to mentor, be patient. 

Have a plan to mentor and develop the missing skills of your interns. Once you have created the space for them to successfully make sure you provide them access to the coaching/skill development to achieve your desired outcome. 

I strongly suggest taking a scientific approach to coaching. What I mean is be prepared for your interns to fail. Use their failure as a chance to improve your process. Remember, an internship is a low risk and high potential reward. The only way to get those results is to create a process around failure. 

Measure Your Results

The final tip is to make sure you measure your results. I strongly suggest committing to running your internship at least three times before you scrap it. Each time you run, make sure you measure it against the previous results and against what your business was like before having the program. Make adjustments and improvements with each iteration.

Here are few categories to consider when evaluating your program:

  • Revenue/profit
  • Where you spend your time
  • Problem solved vs. created
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Intern satisfaction 
  • Your happiness

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and feel free to share your top internship tips. For more additional business improvement strategies, get your free copy of my book here

I am actively seeking business case studies for my next book; if you would like to be featured, please email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com to set up a time chat. 


Business 2.0: Replace Yourself

Posted by Doogie Levine

Prototyping is not just for building robots. It should be an integral part of every entrepreneur’s plans. It should be every business owner’s goal to have their business run without them needing to make a decision. 

This is why it is imperative to think of your business as a franchise prototype. This business development method allows you to remove your emotional attachment from your business’s tasks and focus on your desired outcome.

The seven specific areas you need to consider in your business development prototype process:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These seven areas are the step-by-step process through which you convert your existing business into a perfectly organized model for thousands more, just like. In this lesson, we are going to cover the first three steps. Get your pen and paper ready to start creating your prototype.

Primary Aim

Your primary aim is the answers to all the questions. It is not just the target but the arrow, the bow, the water bottle on your hip, and the reason you got out of bed. Simply put, it is the purpose that is bigger than your business.

It’s essential in business development to set goals and see a vision for the future. This needs to go beyond the business, and you need to think about what you want out of life. How would you answer the following questions: 

  • What do you dream about?
  •  How do you see your success unfolding? 
  • Who do you wish to be?
  • What is your ideal lifestyle?

Knowing and understanding your aim will give you the momentum to get started and the stamina to see it through. Take a minute to write them down and tape them to your desk for a constant reminder of what you’re aiming for.

Ask yourself every day, how am I meeting my primary aim?

Strategic Objectives

Once you have the picture of how you want your life to be and realize it is more than fancy cars, big houses, and that it is a state of feeling. Then it is time to set strategic objectives. These are essential in taking your business from surviving to thriving. All of these objectives should offer solutions for how to get to your primary aim. There are many things you can use to set strategic goals, but here is a couple of the most popular:

  1. Money: Setting monetary goals is a great, simple way to see how you are doing at any point in the game. It’s easy to measure and easy to find adjustments to help meet this goal.
  2. Worthy Opportunities: These are emotionally driven goals. This is how you measure lives impacted; client served, positive reviews, in essence, you speak to your customer’s psychographics needs and, to a further extent yourself.
  3. Through or Throughput: This is your automation goal of removing yourself from the day-to-day equation. We will measure this by hours worked, emails answered, or any way you wish. The critical piece is that these goals get you to business Nirvanaha when your business work for you and you don’t have to work for your business.

The key to setting standards and goals is not to limit yourself or stress yourself out. You need to find some quantifiable things you can use to measure your progress toward your primary aim. These are just three suggestions, but make sure no matter what standards you set, you are paying attention to the details, as these are one of the biggest keys to your success.

Organizational Strategy

The strength of your organizational structure can make or break your business, so it’s essential to take the time to put together a solid framework for your business to grow from. Generally, a company is organized around the roles and responsibilities that need to be taken care of daily. And the personalities that need to fulfill those roles. 

No matter what roles and responsibilities you’ve defined for your employees, you must always keep your primary aim separate from your company’s primary aim or mission statement. Once you’ve identified the primary aim for your company, it will be easy to set up a position structure that will work.

Don’t forget to put together position contracts. Your employees should sign a statement of their roles and responsibilities. This helps keep them clear for you, the employee, and other employees/vendors or other individuals.

Question & Actions 

You’re probably going, wow, I have a lot to do. Well, you do but let’s create some action steps to get you started.

  1. Answer the big question: What is my primary aim? This is more complex than just answer the question, but what you need to do is create your first draft. Take a stab at it, write it down, and test it for the next few weeks.
  2. What are my strategic objectives? Create one goal in each category and start tracking it. Set aside time each week to review and see how you’re meeting that goal.
  3. How can I automate or replace one job I do? Set a goal to automate, delete, or replace one task that you currently do. Then give yourself a timeframe to do it. Then repeat until your business is running itself. 

You can see how these areas all work together to build a solid structure to build your business. If you need help defining any of these areas, don’t hesitate to contact us. Look out for the next four steps in a later blog.


Do You Have Enough PD in your life?

Posted by Doogie Levine

Do you want to make more money? 

If I were to stop you on the street and ask you if you want to make more money? You would probably say ” Hell Ya I do !”

If I were then to ask you what is the best investment to make more money? What would you say, probably something like; real estate, stocks, crypto, etc.

If your business owner, it might be marketing, advertising, new salespeople, a new product or service.

What if I told you were wrong that, indeed, the best way to make more money is to invest in yourself. You probably be dismissive and say like ya, of course, but. But what, do you actually do it. I mean really, do you set aside the time and money to prioritize your personal development.

I bet you don’t; you will spend thousands on any of the above improvements with the promise of 2x returns. However, it is well documented from the greatest minds of our time and history, such as Oprah, Barack Obama, Warran Buffet, Bill Gates, Lori Greiner, Da Vinci, Aristotle, and more. That the only way to get 10x ROI is investing in ourselves. 

“Income seldom exceeds personal development.” Jim Rohn

With all of these great people, you would think it would be an easy argument for making personal development a priority.

Then why is it so difficult for us to make development a priority? The main culprit is the short-term mindset. It is the fear that if I don’t make another sale today, I am going to go hungry. For some, this may be true, but have you ever acknowledged that it was your short-term outlook that got you there in the first place.

“Personal development is a major time-saver. The better you become, the less time it takes you to achieve your goals.” ―Brian Tracy

I want to help; here are my top tips to start thinking long-term and to start making personal development a part of your life, business, and career.

Add Yourself to the Priority List

Start by setting aside time. You’re probably saying, how am I supposed to set aside anytime when I already feel like I don’t have enough time. What is the top priority in your life?  I bet it is your family, your dog, a significant other, a child, clients.

Do you make time for them? For most people, the answer is an overwhelming yes. Then why are you not on that list? One of my favorite things is when you listen to the safety brief on an airplane, and they say put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. They say this because the most effective way to help someone is when you’re as prepared as possible.

A quick tip: on a sheet of paper, write down the names of your top priorities. Then at the top of this list, add your name. Then keep that list in a place you can see it every day and ask yourself, “How am I making time for my top priority today?

Share what you want to accomplish.

Now that you understand your importance let’s talk about creating time. Most people will tell it is as simple as going on to your calendar and blocking off an hour or two. They’re right; however, they’re also wrong. They leave out the number one thing, which is communication.

Stop rolling your eyes because I used the buzzword communication. The number one reason people fail is that they fail to articulate the emotional importance of dedicating time. To their most important stakeholders (The other top priorities). 

A quick tip: Before you embark on this mission of getting control of your time. Share your mission with the people who be impacted. Tell your significant other, colleague, boss, kids, parents, friends, and clients that you will not be available except for true emergencies. You simply explain that you are taking the time to become the best spouse, parent, manager, employee, problem solver that you can be. If they don’t believe you then show them.

Set a Strategy 

Great you have set yourself as the priority; you set aside time and communicated what you wish to accomplish to those important to you. Now it is time to make a plan. Take your first few session to identify the area of your life that you want to focus on. Do not try to work in all the areas of your life at the same time.

Since I work with business owners, my suggestion will be geared toward them. The business owners I work with are looking to grow their businesses. They usually struggle with work-life balance, having control of their day, and developing trust with their employees. 

To address these issues, here the top 5 areas for them to focus on at the beginning.

  1. Personal Habits, such as time management, take the time to identify how you spend every day and how you want to spend your time. Then chose one area to improve and do it.
  2. Educate Yourself; workout your mental muscles, read a book, newsletter, etc. or even better write about your industry.
  3. Exercise; will lower stress and provide you a place to develop great ideas.
  4. Visioning; spend time thinking about where you want to see your business in 5, 10, 15 years and identify what you need to change personally to get there. Also, you think about changes in your industry.
  5. Reaffirming you’re why, take the time to remember why you started your business in the first place and celebrate the achievements you have had, and think about how to thank those that got you to where you are.

Don’t go at this alone.

You have begun to implement your strategy, and your feeling good. The first three days felt great. You read a chapter of a remarkable book, exercised for the first time in months, and even wrote a thank you letter to a loyal staff member. Then day 4 or 5 go by and things start to feel hard; you struggle with staying committed. You’re enjoying the changes you have made but you struggling to put out all the fires from your day.

Don’t fret; this is where my last suggestion comes into play. Get an accountability partner or coach. This is someone who can help you navigate these new challenges and keep you committed to the change you want to make.

 Remember, it is not about the short term. It is about the long-term effects. It is a marathon; it is a hell of a lot easier to train when you what someone in your corner. 

Well, there you have it, the quickest way to your 10x returns is through a long path of personal development. Remember, the first step in controlling your business is managing yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a business owner or friend who can benefit from it. Thanks for reading.

P.S. Want help growing your business visit www.ideasactionsuccess.com or connect with me on Linkedin; I am always happy to chat.


Eisenhower didn’t just win WW2; he also won the to-do list!

Posted by Doogie Levine

I continue to meet business owner after business owner, professional after professional, with the same common thread. They felt distracted continuously and stressed. Their caught in the rate race of putting out fires and never feel like they have the time to focus on their goals.

I bet you have said this before. 

“Let me send one more email, and I will do (INSERT UNPLEASANT TASK HERE) later. Three hours later, it is too late. I’ll deal with it tomorrow”; sounds familiar.

If this has happened to you, keep reading. 

Why do you thinking you struggle?

  • Is it a lack of clear goals? 
  • No sense of direction. 
  • Overwhelmed by the share size of your to-do list.

Yes, it might be those things, but it is more than likely your lack of ability to understand and set priorities. The four main areas that most likely make up your to-do list are Tactics, Strategies, Mission, and Distractions.

  • Tactics the short to medium goals & task that allow executing strategies
  • Strategies the long term goals & systems that allow achieving a Mission.
  • Distractions are all the items you should say no to or avoid.
  • Mission the ideal state that you get from achieving all of your tactics and strategies and avoiding distractions.

Today, I want to give you one tool to prioritize your tactics and strategies and avoid distractions to achieve your mission. Let me introduce you to the Eisenhower Matrix.

Eisenhower Matrix 

The Eisenhower Matrix was a tool created by non-other then Dwight Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States of America. He made this method while serving as the supreme allied commander. Every day he was tasked with figuring out how to prioritize the efforts of the Allies.

As you can imagine, it was a gargantuan challenge. The tool President Eisenhower created allowed him to measure all his tasks by their urgency and importance. Take a look at the example below and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What quadrant do I spend most of my time in?
  • How much of my time is spent in that quadrant?

Suppose you’re like most people, you said quadrant 1, followed by 3. You said something like 60 to 80% of your time is spent in those quadrants. Does that not feel like a lot? This is how most of us spend our time between a hyper state of stress and a hyper state of distraction. 

Ideally, you want to spend the majority of your day in quadrant 2. In this quadrant, most of your day will be spent working on projects and tasks that will have long-term benefits to yourself, your job, or your business. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment without the stress of rushing to meet a deadline. It is in this state that we achieve growth. I want to propose a challenge to help you gain control of your workday.

Here it is a 7-day challenge to deploy the Eisenhower Matrix in your life. You will create a time journal.

Time Journal

TimeActivityQuadrant 
9AM-11AMTeam Meeting3
11AM-1PMDaily Lead Reports1
1PM-2PmStrategy Meeting2
3PM-5PMEmails, Instagram, Tick Tok 4

Total Hours:_______

Total Hours per quadrant  1_____ 2_____3_____4_____

Using this tool, I want you to track the amount of time you spend in each quadrant per day over seven days. To be honest, if you do this for just one day, you will be blown away by how you spend your time or maybe not. At least it will force you to hold yourself accountable for your actions.

At the end of the seven days, go back, review the amount of time and the list of activities you did in each area. From here, you can choose how to reduce the time spent in quadrants 1,3 & 4. Increase your time in quadrant 2.

Quick tips for improving your time use to spend more time in quadrant 2.

For quadrant 1:

  • Communicate with your team or support group about what is on your plate. They may be able to help.
  • Delegate 
  • Schedule management tasks (these aren’t really fires but feel like they are) like
    • Checking Email.
    • Fulfilling Orders.
    • Data Entry.
    • Lead Calls (Do it before 10 am).

For Quadrant 3:

  • Delegate 
  • Watch the time investment.
  • Do them last.
  • Add to a long term list.
  • Tell your colleague sorry I just don’t have time.
  • Put on do not disturb. 

For Quadrant 4:

  • Say “NO”
  • Suppose media/social media is essential to you; set times to check it throughout the day. Limit the length of those checks.
  • When a colleague comes over to chat, it is okay to say, “I can’t chat right now.”

Let me know the results. Click here for more Free Expert Advice. Thank you for reading my blog; it means a lot to me that you took the time. Please share this blog with your colleagues and friends who can benefit from better business practices.


The Ten Idea Daily Practice

Posted by Doogie Levine

You have made a great choice by choosing to read this blog.

Before I jump in and share my ten groundbreaking ideas, I want to share a little insight into what I do and the practice that allows me to work out my idea muscle. I am a business coach and consultant who focuses on finding tangible solutions for small business owners. 

To do this, I use my superpower of taking complex multi-step concepts, such as lead generation and conversion, and translate them into a step by step process that small business owners can implement to make drastic improvements in their business. 

The Ten Idea Daily Practice

Every day, I write ten ideas on improving the world, a product, a service, a company, etc. I was inspired by James Altucher, whose part of his daily practice is to do the same. The power behind this daily practice is it trains your problem solving and opportunity finding mental muscles. Doing this exercise every day makes it easier to face the adversity and stress of being a business owner. It trains you to be agile and open-minded, which turns problems and challenges into opportunities and advantages. Try it for 30 days; you will not regret it.

I encourage everyone to take the time to write ten ideas a day. Here are my rules:

  1. Commit to writing ten ideas in 30min or less. As you get better, you might add more answers or do it in less time. 
  2. The ideas have to be practical, actionable, and something that a person can accomplish in one lifetime.
  3. Each idea must be based on a specific prompt, usually from something that inspired/intrigued me from the day before.
  4. The idea must be short, a few words to a sentence-long answer.
  5. Commit to taking at least one idea a week and putting it into action.

Today, I thought the best way to put my ideas into action would be to share my thoughts with you. Hopefully, they find the person with the skills and passion for making them a reality. If you like an idea, please use it and make this change in the world. If you’re struggling with a challenge in your business or life, please feel free to reach out. 

Today’s Results form my Idea Exercise

Now onto the prompt, What products should be biodegradable but are not currently?

(Disclaimer if some of these do exist, then someone needs to figure out how to make them mainstream and widely accepted.)

My ideas:

  1. Print advertisements/direct mailers
  2. Crayola markers 
  3. Shampoo and body wash containers
  4. Dental floss 
  5. Single-use beverage containers such as coke or water bottles
  6. Tooth Brushes 
  7. Surgical masks (the ones people drop on the ground)
  8. Baby diapers 
  9. Food Packaging 
  10. Trash bags 

If you have more ideas on products that should be biodegradable but aren’t, leave them in the comments below or share this blog with a friend that you think can turn these ideas into actions.

Suppose you want help flexing your idea muscle to grow your business.  Feel free to download my free e-book, The 8 Steps that Change Your Business Forever.  In the book, I cover 8 strategies that can have a 200% ROI on your business. Please feel free to leave a comment below, and I thank you for taking the time to read my blog.


Direct Response or Bust!

Posted by Doogie Levine

Direct response marketing is a marketing that demands an immediate response from your potential customers. This type of marketing answers questions, presents your branding, products, and the reason you do what you do. It is the most powerful tool to lead your clients to your organizational WHY

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

Customers love this, as they are offered the opportunity to respond, whether that be in the way of signing up for a newsletter, posting a comment on your site or blog, or purchasing a product from you. 

You have experienced direct response marketing every day. But do you know what it looks like? Well, it comes in many forms, including:

Some of the advantages of direct marketing are:

  • A great way to use free time during lulls in business
  • A productive way to communicate and empower you to create more relationships
  • Great way to up-and cross-sell to current customers.
  • A low-cost way to rustle up a new business
  • Used as leverage to turn small sales into large sales
  • Supplement your current marketing program
  • The cost-effective way to reach target markets
  • Offers measurable results
  • Reach outside your local area for new business
  • Increase the effectiveness of your sales force

These are all great things that can come from just taking a few simple steps to putting together a direct response marketing plan and executing it. 

“I honestly don’t think you’ll ever find a safer, lower-risk, higher-profit method of increasing your business or profession than direct-response marketing.” Jay AbrahamDirect response marketing is one of the best ways to launch your business on a large scale and reach out to everyone in your target market, whether they are in your local area or not. Our GUIDED TOUR can help you put together a great direct response marketing plan and get you on your way to heightened success.


Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Posted by Doogie Levine

Let recap last week’s blog, where we discussed the first three areas for maximizing your resources. For reference, they were:

  • Recognize the obvious, give yourself the space to see the apparent areas of waste.
  • Unconventional breakthroughs create a culture and method for maximizing new and creative ideas between you and your team.
  • Face the facts, start by analyzing your current systems and start by making a 1% change.

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul, and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness, and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients, not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high-quality products/services. 

I challenge you to fill these affirmations daily or at least weekly the answer the following questions:

  • I started my business to solve this (insert the problem you solve)__________ for (insert the person or people solve the proble for)  ______________.
  • I started this business to have my customers and clients feel (insert how you want your prospect to feel after purchasing/working with you) _____________. 

Completing this short exercise will help you to be able to frame your purpose quickly and efficiently for yourself to keep you focused. Once focused, you can get back to the basics and solve the problems your business is facing.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the easiest ways to instantly increase your profit is by cutting costs. Most people panic here and think I can’t afford to cut expenses. I am barely making it work as it is. Most of us, over the life of our business, accumulate costs that we forget about it. They can be $5 for this subscription or looking at your credit card processor. 

By taking the time monthly to review your expense, you can significantly reduce your cost. It is also a great way to start noticing the spending trends of both you and your staff. Along with this, make sure you set aside time to review your annual expenses.

  • Phone & Internet
  • Product Licenses
  • Payment process
  • Banking Fees
  • Insurance
  • Rent 
  • inventory suppliers

These are just a few of the areas to consider reviewing but taking the time to look at making small changes in any of these areas can mean $10,000 or more in additional profit for your business. Of course, taking steps to make changes should never be done without a team. Make sure your key staff and accountant are a part of these conversations. If you’re fortunate to have a business coach make, I would include them as well.

Good luck and start cutting costs.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. The only way you can do this is through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

This wraps up this post. However, if you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our Finacial Training & E-Learning Market Place to access a wealth of resources and tools.


Keep Up the Momentum

Posted by Doogie Levine

Negotiation is more than a transaction. In this article, we will explore how to develop a mutual alliance in your big fish relationship. Developing this relationship allows you to turn a singular transaction into multiple transactions, introductions, opportunities, and more.

One of the most critical aspects of this is to keep your cheerleader cheering. This refers to the ally you created in the company and who needs to stay loyal to you for you to continue a profitable partnership with your fish. You can keep your champion going by offering or doing a number of things to show appreciation. Some of these things are:

  • Use their preferred media. It is essential to contact your clients/ customers the way they are most comfortable. 
  • Contacting the person your champions supervisor to share your experience
  • Introduce them to complementary products or services that can enhance their experience
  • Be patient and create a timeline for following up. The goal is to be present but not overbearing/desperate.
  • Invite them to participate in your company function or opportunity. It is a great tool to build investment in your company.

These are just a few ideas and tactics for maintaining relationships. Your goal is to create value outside of the singular transaction. In all cases, you want to become their go-to problem solver.

Now that you have some ideas of how to build solid relationships, you need to seek out people to build these relationships with. These alliances will help you get bigger clients that stay with you forever. You can often get in the door by offering them something in exchange for something they need:

  1. Solutions: provide them with a product or service that solves their immediate problem. 
  2. Information: provides them with access to new people, markets, and knowledge to achieve their goals.
  3. Improved environment: give them tools to make the workplace the best it can be. Find ways to bring joy into people’s lives.

These are all great ways to feed your alliance. You need to go into a relationship considering the things a big fish can offer you besides money. These can include:

  • The opportunity for your business to expand
  • The opportunity to learn from the experience and find ways to grow
  • The opportunity to improve your processes, systems and other means of doing business

This article was a quick guide on keeping your alliance strong. Please note there so much more you can do. The most important takeaway is, your relationship should have transactions but not be transactional. You must avoid the favor for you, a favor for me mentality. 

If you need help developing your alliance strategy, please feel free to contact us. We would love to help you.

About the Author

I am a business coach and consultant specializing in uncovering the root cause of a challenge and offering an unexpected solution. That solution typically results in a substantial increase in profits and the peace of mind to set you free from your business.

I ask powerful questions to clarify who you are and what you want. I am empathetic, although surgical in approach. I make my clients feel they are the only person I am working with. I have an uncanny way of drawing people out and getting to the heart of the matter.

I am a Pittsburgh native who aspires to free business from the rat race. If I am not working to improve the lives of my clients. Then you will most likely find me on the ice playing hockey, reading, or making plans for the future.

If I can ever be helpful to my readers, it would be my pleasure to connect and see where I can bring you value. I look forward to continuing to share more great lessons with my growing community.