Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

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You Must Listen Closely to Be a Better Car Salesman

When we talk about selling cars for a living we are talking about a competitive field where not all of the participants survive. It's a bit of a dog eat dog environment. The turnover at some car dealerships can be brisk and a couple very common questions among any sales staff is how can I be a better car salesman or how can I sell more cars.

The job of the automobile sales person is a multi-faceted job and in trying to answer the question of how to be a better car salesman there is not a single, all inclusive answer. Like most jobs there are a series of different tasks performed and in order to be successful one must work at and improve all of the different aspects of the job.

Listen to Be a Better Car Salesman

When it comes to being a car salesman one of the most important aspects of the job is being able to effectively communicate with people. There are not any tricks when it comes to dealing with people, but a critical part of dealing with a potential car buyer is to listen closely. Most people believe that in order to be a better car salesman that you need to be a good talker when in fact the truth is that you need to be a good listener.

I am not simply talking about the words that come out of their mouths. You see car buyers do not always tell every detail so to be a better car salesman you need to ask questions and listen closely. It has been said by many successful sales people that if you listen close enough the customer will tell you how to sell them a car.

If you want to be a better car salesman you need to listen to every word that comes from their mouth, but you also need to listen by watching their body language. The car buyer's body language consistors of facial expressions, body movements, attention span and attentiveness. When you present a vehicle to your customer and demonstrate some of the features and the customer is looking at the next feature while you are showing them the current feature the customer is telling you that you are moving too slow or that they are not very interested.

If you were listening closely by watching them and noting that they are not interested in that feature you would move on to something that interests them. However the sales person that was not paying very close attention would drone on about the feature and before too long their customer would become bored. This is a not an example of how to be a better car salesman, but how car buyers get turned off by sales people. That customer is very likely to get bored with the entire process and before long they would ask for the salesman's business card and tell them that they will be back when they have more time.

Then that customer would kindly visit another car dealer and if they are taken care of by a salesman that is listening closely and pays attention to their words and body language they will more than likely buy a car. This is a very common scenario when it comes to the business of selling cars and if you are determined to be a better car salesman you will start to pay attention to everything that your customer says and does and tailor your presentation accordingly.

Ways for University Students to Make Extra Money Online!

Today, college or university students have more opportunities to make money for themselves compared to their parents' generation. I know that some of these students even make so much money that they do not need to complete their studies!

Although students are bogged down with their studies in colleges or universities, they still have more time and energy comparable to working adults.

So instead of partying and wasting money, why not take the opportunity to make some money in your spare time? Sure you can take some part time jobs such as working in fast food restaurant, laundry services, petrol stations, and so on.

But These jobs does not pay you much income and you definitely can not choose your collections or your boss! Imagine working with unreasonable and super demanding boss. Frightening right?

So I suggest that you immediately go to the Internet to make some cash! There are numerous ways for students like you to make money. This is especially if you are young, energetic and full with ideas and creativity!

1. Writing Articles

Do not be surprised by the fact that many of the web owners actually do not write their own content for their sites. They mainly outsourced students to write for them. As young adults today, you have the capability of writing good articles due to your studies in colleges and universities.

Articles do not need to have 100% perfect grammar or with bombastic words and sentences. In fact, the more simple your articles, the better it is! The main thing is for readers to be able to read with ease. But do take note that your sentences do have to make sense and that there are no spelling errors!

If you can not create an article from scratch, you can offer to rewrite articles. They are also many request for this service. Be sure not to just copy and paste from others! (such as when you are submitting your assignments!)

Do explore and research on more content writing. A typical request will require you to write at least 10 different articles on the same subject matter.

In the beginning, you got to offer to write them at a lower price per article. This way, you might have the opportunity to work with them fulltime in the future! (Yes, without even seeing their faces!)

2. Website Design and Creation

If you are interested in computing and graphics designing, you are in luck. There are actually thousands of requests for this service each day. So if you possess some HTML skills, then you are indeed a hot commodity!

Just go to websites such as elance.com or scriptlance.com to register for an account and look for the many jobs posted. I am pretty sure you can find a few that suits you!

Simple websites creation and templates can bring you good money! Be professional in completing your tasks. Do not just submit the same kind of site theme over and over again. Your clients will definitely know to differentiate between a fantastic job and a poor, 'last minute' kind of work!

When you are just starting out, offer to do them at a lower price. After that you can request them to introduce some clients to you. By doing this, when you have graduated, you will have a stable income from your so call 'part time job'

3. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing refers to the act of making a slice of a profit from referring people to buy from merchants. Basically you will get paid per referral or per sales.

If you refer information products or downloadable stuff such as ebooks, ecourses and audios, you can get up to 75% of the sale price. Just imagine if the product is USD97 and you get one sale per day. You will actually get more than USD2000! Pretty good income for a student!

You do not even need to have a website, product and do not have to worry about shipping and handling. All these are completed by the merchant. In affiliate marketing, you only put your energy into a single task. That is to be a middleman.

Just focus of referring the right person to the right seller and you will make money!

Apart from 3 ways above, there are numerous money making ideas online. Others include selling on eBay, advertising in your websites, creating softwares, completing paid surveys, selling domain names, flipping your websites, and others.

The point is that you have so much opportunity to make money online! Just select one idea and focus on it! Once you are good at it, then jumped to the next one!

The good news is that all the above ways have minimal risk. If you really can not do the above, you got nothing much to lose. However, if you really made it, you will definitely believe that making money from the Internet is the way to go!

A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006