Many new business owners look at successful entrepreneurs and envy their million-dollar lifestyles and accomplishments. "If only I knew their secrets," they think. "Why isn't my business as profitable or growing as fast?" The secret is simple: It's not hard work or long hours; it's acting like a CEO, no matter what the size of your enterprise.
CEOs expect a payoff for every venture. Millionaire entrepreneurs focus on the business practices that create the biggest results. When you choose how to invest your time, money and resources, you should ask "What's the payoff?" Once you make that investment, if the return is insufficient, find a way to make that project profitable, or ditch it.
Millionaire entrepreneurs use these six secrets to guarantee an enviable payoff.
1. Everything Is Marketing. The success of a company is based more on the marketing of the product than on the product itself. Everything is marketing, from the way you say "Good morning" to the contacts you make on an airplane to your company name and brand, your wardrobe and vocabulary. Here's how to approach each aspect of your business like a marketing genius.
Treat every opportunity as a marketing opportunity. The waiter at your favorite restaurant might introduce you to a new client. A stranger in the elevator at your bank is a potential referral. You always create where your next client comes from.
Realize that not all marketing opportunities are created equal. Sticking business cards under 30 windshield wipers in a parking lot isn't as effective as speaking to 30 people at a luncheon. Speaking to 30 people at a luncheon isn't as effective as exhibiting at a national convention attended by thousands.
Be your own number-one fan. That means announcing your achievements. This is hard for many people, but if you don't do it, who will? With humility, let people know when your business wins an award, you have an upcoming speaking engagement or you add a new service. Announcing your achievements also lets your clients know they bet on a winner.
Know that your existing clients are your best prospects. It costs much more to get a new client than it does to increase the cash flow from an existing client. The best client is a loyal one.
Never stop marketing, no matter how successful you become. When you get busy, you may be tempted to cut down on marketing, but that's the time to rev it up. It's always time to send out more promotional packages. It's always time to call on new prospects. It's always time to update and optimize your website. Don't wait until you're going hungry to replant the garden.
2. Million-Dollar Ideas Can Come from Anyone. Ninety-five percent of CEOs never ask the $8-an-hour employees for their opinions. Yet, those employees are the ones touching the product and speaking to the customers. Brilliant ideas are generated by the most unlikely employees, and you'll never know what they're thinking if you don't ask.
Tapping into my employees' ideas at Vickie Milazzo Institute helped me grow my $12 million legal nurse consulting firm more than 300 percent over the past five years. We have monthly brainstorming sessions where the entire staff, from the mailroom clerk to the director of finance, offers ideas and opinions on new products, marketing strategies and ways to streamline systems. Everyone works as a team. Back in their departments and offices, they continue to brainstorm with one another and solve problems brought up at the original brainstorms.
If you don't have an employee base yet, collect gray matter wherever you can find it. Someone else has already solved every single problem you will encounter. Don't limit yourself to the experts; you can learn from everyone. Your daughter's soccer coach who's been a successful salesman for 20 years can be a gold mine of sales tips.
Leveraging other people's talents and ideas to accelerate your future success is just plain smart. I've met many entrepreneurs who say, "I want to do this all on my own." When I hear that, I think, "That's crazy. Ride the horse of anybody who has what you need."