How This Recent College Grad Bootstrapped His Way to 5 Million!

Each year I co-chair the Philadelphia 100 Awards where we recognize the area’s 100 fastest growing companies. Our big gala is coming up in just 9 days

Meet my friend Bryn Davis. His success story shows the power of keeping things simple while thinking big. Read my interview with Bryn and ask yourself:

“What should I stop doing that’s making my business more complicated?” “What’s keeping me from thinking and playing bigger?”

Then, I want you to tell me where are you stuck in accelerating your own business growth. 


How This Recent College Grad Bootstrapped His Way to 5 Million!

Landing a high paying position can difficult in today’s job market, especially when you’re a young college grad like Bryn Davis. Bryn chose instead to pursue the life of an entrepreneur.

He started with a simple idea and a small amount of savings. Just six years after graduating Elizabethtown College as a business administration and marketing major, Bryn landed the distinguished Philadelphia 100® Award. This young entrepreneur is recognized as the area’s 100 fastest growing, privately held companies based on sales growth 3 years in a row.

I congratulated Bryn at a recent CEO breakfast pictured here.  What I love about Bryn’s story is how much it illustrates the opportunities we all have that are right in our own back yard.

Whether you are a middle aged professional struggling with job loss or you’re a recent college grad struggling to just get your first job starting a successful business can happen even on a little bit of capital.

Here’s Bryn’s story on how he did it:

Yoon: What is the business you started? What is Bryn and Dane’s?

Bryn: We are in the restaurant industry and operate as what we call ‘Healthy Fast Food’. We adhere to our trademarked philosophy of ‘LOCAL. LO CAL.’ which completely describes how we approach all of our offerings.

Yoon: How did you get the idea to start a healthy fast food restaurant?

Bryn: I was never a chef or dreamed of becoming a restaurateur. I was just a guy looking for a healthier way to eat. So I started where all healthy food starts on a farm. It was my grandfather’s farm to be exact. That’s where I earned the start-up money for the first Bryn and Dane’s.

Yoon: It sounds like you had a problem yourself that you weren’t able to find a solution for, so you offered that solution to the market.

Bryn: Yes. I used to be 70lbs overweight.  I found that eating healthy was very challenging, especially when you’re out. I didn’t really know what to eat, where to eat and how much.  So, I learned how to make food that wasn’t just good for you, but also just plain good. I began to shed the weight and decided to share healthy fast food with the world. That’s how Bryn and Dane’s was born.

Yoon: Give us a snapshot of your business growth that landed you as a Philly 100 winner? 

Bryn: We are the epitome of a ‘bootstrapping’, ‘start-up’ that had our beginnings fueled by a whole lot of passion and very little capital! I started B&D’s with $12,000 in cash, two credit cards, and a whole lot used equipment. On Day 1

we offered only B&D’s Smoothies and flavored Air-Popped Popcorn. It wasn’t a whole lot on the menu, but we hustled it!

Over time we saved up our money from cash flow, and reinvested by adding in kitchen equipment. After a little over a year, we were able to make wraps, salads, and other menu items that allowed us to put up a sign that said ‘Healthy Fast Food’… the concept we always wanted to be!

We went from doing a couple hundred dollars a day just a few years ago to next year being on pace to do over 5 million in revenue. It’s been an amazing journey and we are just getting started!

Yoon:  What gave you the confidence to go after what many people may view as too risky or unstable?

Bryn:  This is a hard one to answer- as I always felt that not following my dream was far more risky. Although financially it may have been a risk, the risk of regret of not pursuing my passion always felt far greater.

On the same token- the people who had said it was too risky were usually people who had lives that I wouldn’t personally want. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but rather that their judgment and assessment of risk led them to a career that I personally do not want (although it makes them happy). I tended to find support from other entrepreneurs and risk takers, so I focused on that!

Yoon: What were the key factor(s) that attributed to your company’s fast growth?

Bryn: Our social media following is immense. Horsham, PA has a grand total of 14,000 residents. Our Facebook following alone for this region is at just under 30,000 fans! We are able to communicate messages to this base whenever we would like and the response is unreal.

We also treat B&D’s far more like a ‘tech start-up’ than we do as a conventional restaurant. Right now I am sitting in a circle with 5 of our corporate positions, in our commissary, working on things from graphics, to social media outlets, to our new menu launching in 12 days.

Our designer is on the road working on B&D’s Cube we are opening on October 11th. It’s a high pace atmosphere, and we have amazing people that work with us.

Yoon:  What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?

Bryn: Capital, capital, capital! Accessing capital isn’t the issue per se, but rather raising money without giving up equity in the B&D’s brand is a balancing act that takes a tremendous amount of attention.

Yoon:  What is your advice to other entrepreneurs who want to accelerate fast business growth and win the Philadelphia 100® award next year?

Bryn: If they want to ‘win’- I suggest they drop what they are doing and join the B&D’s Team 🙂

Yoon: Ok, how about what are the core disciplines you spend your time doing that makes the greatest impact in running your company and driving your business growth?

Bryn: I spend the majority of my time on, I guess, what you would call brand development. We are fine-tuning our model now so that when we expand more aggressively we are who we want to be as a brand. Right now, that requires constantly bending and conforming to the needs of our market, all while adhering to our principles. So, that balancing act is what I spend most of my time addressing.

Yoon: Bryn, congratulations again on winning the Philly 100 Award. Thank you for sharing your success story with us.

What I love about the Philadelphia 100 Award® is it truly levels the playing field for all industries and companies of all sizes to compete and win. Established middle market companies and small business startups are equally applauded for their exceptional achievement for driving business growth.

Why not come and join us at the Philadelphia 100® Award Gala held on Wednesday, October 16th from 5:30pm-9pm at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet and network with the CEO’s of the top 100, fastest growing companies in the area. Get your tickets at www.Philadelphia100.com

QUESTIONS:

  • What should you stop doing that’s making your business more complicated?
  • What’s keeping you from thinking and playing bigger?”
  • Where are you stuck in accelerating your own business growth.

© Copyright 2016

Share your comments below.

How to Know What Your Prospects REALLY Want

I used to think gift registries were tacky for anything other than weddings. But, after listening to my 3 kids describe how much they struggled to figure out what to get me for my birthday I finally decided to create a list of ideas for them. (Plus, I was piling up a closet full of past gifts I didn’t really know what to do with). This photo was the first item I added to their “useful gift ideas for mom” list. Then I added other ideas I’d enjoy receiving like sunglasses, sunflowers, daisies, silver earrings, scented candles, etc. It turns out having this new list was a big hit with my kids.

It struck me how we struggle with the same thing in our businesses. We can guess what we think our prospects want and risk wasting time and money trying to give them things they didn’t really like. Or, we can simply ask them — “what do you want?”.

So, in this week’s newsletter that is what I’m asking you. I really want to know from YOU — what do you want to read about?

The tips I share in this weekly newsletter is my GIFT to YOU. I want to help you enjoy the business growth I know is possible for you. In order to help me serve you better, please take this quick 2 minute survey. Click the Survey Monkey link below.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MDB2BBG

When you do, I’ll send you an additional GIFT – a Strategic Plan Template for Creating a 6 & 7 Figure Business! Thanks in advance for doing that right now.

© Copyright 2016

What Entrepreneurs Need to know About Reputation Marketing

Guest Author: Bruce Williamson, Wild Goose Media

Do you remember back to when you first started your business? You did it because you loved it and people probably said you’re really good at that. You most likely relied on your early customers, friends, and family to help spread the word about how great you really are at what you do. Today, marketing has changed a lot. Everyone is fighting for a customer’s attention, and the customer knows it. They are much more aware and educated than any other time in history, and it’s not getting easier. Reputation marketing is essential for building a successful business.

Let’s be honest, online or offline, there are only so many ways to market (SEO, PPC, Deal Sites, Local Marketing, Direct Mail, etc.) The truth is, while those things all have their place, none of it will be effective if you have bad reviews or no reviews online.

What’s really happened is a complete flip-flop in online marketing strategy due to the fact that your customers have a say in the matter. Before you would spend money on marketing, then maybe if you had the time you’d work on getting some great reviews from customers. That’s completely the opposite of what today’s marketing is about.

Would you rather create a marketing plan for complete strangers who don’t know you, don’t like you, don’t trust you? Or would you rather create a marketing plan for people that know, trust and like you because they’re all presold on you through referrals?

For the first time online marketing can be just as powerful as referral marketing. Three out of four people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. A recent Nielsen poll showed that 92% trust recommendations from people they know, and 72% of consumer opinions. That’s a staggering fact.

So how do you start building your reputation? Here are 7 simple things you can start doing to build your reputation marketing:

1. Research, set up, and claim local directories

Everyday thousands of customers search local business directories like Google, Bing, Yelp, Yahoo Local and dozens of other sites. The more you are found on, the more likely you are to be found when someone searches for your products and services.

2. Get more customer reviews.

Consumers will read an average of 10 reviews before making a decision and research shows that customers do not trust a company that has less than 10 five star reviews. Therefore, your company needs a strategy to quickly get more online reviews to show up on your directory listings. One way is to create professionally designed review post cards, business cards, or a written email campaign to collect customer reviews.

3. Diffuse any bad or poor ratings.

Each poor review not only is publically read by your potential customers, but it also brings down your reputation score on local directory sites. Many local directories such as City Search and Insider Pages aggregate reviews from other sites. Therefore both good and bad reviews can spread to other sites very quickly. The way you can diffuse the poor reviews is to get more 5 star reviews to bring your reputation score up and push the bad reviews off the first page of your listing.

4. Set up a private review page.

No matter what strategy a company uses to collect reviews; your company does not have control over the fact that customers may post bad reviews. Your business is only one customer a way from getting a poor reputation online. The solution, develop a private review page to collect reviews from customers. Create a process that gets bad reviews filtered out and sent to your company’s manager. Create a process to post 5 Star reviews online on important local business directory sites.

5. Monitor Your Reputation

This one is a little tougher. There’s plenty of different software that can monitor your social engagement, brand and company name, these technologies, like Google Alerts, cannot monitor your reputation. When people leave reviews on a directory site like Yelp, often they many not mention your name because they’re already on your business listing. Therefore, with dozens of review sites that are out there, there is no way for even the most sophisticated social or branding software to know if bad reviews are being posted and no way to follow up to get the bad reviews eliminated.

The Solution:

A. Create a process that daily monitors, tracks, and reviews your online review sites.

B. Setup protocols to review all your sites and notify a point person in your business to respond to good and bad reviews.

6. Market Your Reputation

Companies that get reviews from their customers cannot post those reviews online because local directories like Yelp, Google, Bing, and dozens of other have proprietary filters and algorithms to delete reviews that are posted from the same computer IP network. Therefore, if you post those reviews from inside your business, Google will delete them and flag your Google account as spam because there’s no way to tell if yours is real or made up.

Google in so many words discourages bribing your customers for leaving good reviews. So make sure you give great service, and then ask for a review. You can create a testimonial form to collect their info and review, and be sure to include asking for permission to post on their behalf. Once you have that, feel free to post them on your social sites and website.

7. Create a 5 star culture.

One of the most important things you need to do with your reputation marketing strategy is create a reputation marketing culture inside your business. So here’s the question. You expect your staff to give first-class service to every single one of your customers, right? Well, what’s your plan to inspire your staff to give first-class service to those customers and get raving reviews? Have a plan in place to train your staff how to execute on your reputation marketing goals.

If you’re not sure what’s being said about your business online you can find out right now at www.FreeOnlineReputationReport.com (A $197 value)

ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR: Bruce Williamson, Reputation Marketing Expert and CEO of Wild Goose Media, based in Telford, PA. Bruce advises businesses and individuals on how to leverage what you already have to build relationships, deliver value, create a 5 star reputation and tell your story online.  He’s also a lover of great coffee, Chipotle, hockey, his wife, 5 sons, and a little princess due any day now. (but not necessarily in that order!) You can reach him at: bruce@wildgoosemedia.com

© Copyright 2016

Boost Your Profits! 7 Key Places Small Business Owners Need to Measure to Boost Profits – (Part 2)

And now for Part 2 of Boost Your Profits! 7 Key Places Small Business Owners Need to Measure to Boost Profits

#1. Measure your closing ratio and average order.

Boost your closing ratio and you will boost your profits. Closing ratio should be measured in relation to the number of people who came in the door to sample your product or service or in relation to the number of estimates you delivered to prospective customers. Both numbers are vital in making your forecast calculations. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#2. Measure net profits in each of your product or service offerings.

As a business you’re not just selling only one thing. You might sell one core service, but you offer it is many different ways and at different price points.  But, many small business owners look at their revenues in one lump as the annual total. Instead, what you should do is run separate P & L’s (profit and loss statements) for each of your offerings.

If your company sells 4 main services you should know how they rank in terms of margins, not just in terms of the total sales volume they equaled together.  You want to understand what your total net profits are as a diversified portfolio that represents all your program, product or service offerings. It’s harder to boost profits in broad strokes. Get specific on each service you offer. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#3. Measure your cash flow statement weekly.

It is important that you know the financial snapshot of your business on a weekly basis, particularly if cash flow is already uncomfortably tight. That means you need to have a reliable bookkeeper who can stay on top of invoicing, bills and reports. Your bookkeeper also needs to be readily accessible, so you can get your information in a timely manner. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#4. Measure your staff productivity.

Ok, if your response to this final step is “I don’t have any staff” then let me be blunt by saying doing everything in your business yourself is the slowest way to boost profits.  If you’re a solopreneur and you don’t want the payroll expenses of hiring your first employee, start by outsourcing to a virtual assistant even 5-10 hours a week.

Whether you choose to hire employees or part time freelancers (contractors) have a system that measures their productivity. This is for you to be able to get a quick snapshot where you can see:

  • how long it takes them to complete certain types of tasks
  • the outcome result they accomplish and
  • the value those results bring to boosting your profits.

You could have someone at $20 an hour who takes 20 hours to complete a task or you could have someone else who is paid $40 an hour who can deliver the project in two hours. By measuring staff productivity you will find that cheaper doesn’t always mean cost-effective.

In closing, if measuring these 7 areas in your business is new to you, it’s not as hard to do as you think. It’s like anything else. The more you do something the easier it becomes. Then, these success habits become as automatic and subconscious as breathing. But, nothing will change if you don’t start taking action.

ACTION STEP:  Set yourself up for success by scheduling a meeting with yourself in your calendar RIGHT NOW for you to work “on your business” instead of just “in your business.” Start by scheduling a 30 min meeting once a week and mark it “review 7 measurements”.

QUESTION: What is the one biggest block that keeps you from measuring in your business? Please share your comments and questions below.

© Copyright 2016

Boost Your Profits! 7 Key Places Small Business Owners Need to Measure to Boost Profits – (Part 1)

Simple Steps to Boost Your Profits!

Is your business growing every year?  Not just in sales revenue, but more importantly is your business ahead right now than you were this time last year in net profits?

Whether your goal is to increase your total net profits by $10,000 or by $10 million, you need to isolate individual values that collectively contribute to that end goal. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

My own business has grown both revenues and net profits every year for 7 years in a row. There are the seven key places I measure in my business that gives me laser direction for what I need to do to continue to help more entrepreneurs while at the same time, boost profits.

Whether you are a small business owner or a solopreneur you can start measuring these same 7 areas in your own business to help you boost profits:

#1. Measure your time.

How you spend your time makes a significant impact on how much you can boost your profits. Instead of asking at the end of each year, “where did all the profits go?” start a habit of asking at the end of each day, “where did all my time go?” We all know the old adage time is money. Time is the first place I ask clients to measure and evaluate. I often help my clients design what their PDR forms should look like (personal daily report) based on their specific duties and function. On the PDR form, or even on just a notepad, jot what you accomplished and how long it took you to complete each task. Once you accumulate a 2- to 3-week snapshot you can then begin to identify not only your efficiency and productivity, but also your effectiveness.

Your effectiveness is what = the VALUE of your time.  So, what is your time worth?

While efficiency is important, you can be efficient at all the wrong things. You won’t really be aware if you are not measuring and getting an audit of your time.  Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#2. Measure your marketing results.

Another way to boost profits is to look for ways to stop bleeding profits.  If you are not measuring your marketing results you may not realize how much you’re wasting in profits from marketing that is not getting great results.

First, do you log in every prospective call?

  • how did they hear about your company?
  • what product or service they were interested in?
  • what grabbed their attention and interest in calling you as opposed to calling your competitors?
  • what is their contact info?
  • if they found you online, what keyword phrase did they search?

While this may sound like basic business practice it is one of the most common areas I see being skipped even be many established businesses. You can’t determine what would be a more effective approach to your marketing if you aren’t measuring how your current and past approaches have worked.  Marketing mistakes bleed resources, and the biggest mistake is when it’s done arbitrarily. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#3. Measure your conversion efficiency.

If we want to boost profits, naturally, we need to boost sales. While sometimes sales might happen from a one step process, the average sale goes through a 7 step process. You want to the end result — to boost profits. You will boost more profits if you boost conversion in the 7 steps in your sales cycle.

  • Are you measuring how well each step in your process in converting?

Examples:

  • For the catering industry they need to convert inquiry calls to an appointment to sample their food.
  • The health club industry needs to convert the first call into a compelling reason to come visit now.
  • Service industries whose calls are mainly from price collectors can still create a compelling incentive to get the prospective customer to sample their company whether it is in the form of a valuable newsletter or educational video.

The sample stage is an important phase in your sales cycle. You don’t want to simply react to the year end profit number without examining how each phase in your sales process is actually performing. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

QUESTION: What is the one biggest block that keeps you from measuring in your business? Please share your comments and questions below.

© Copyright 2016

The Power of Heart Centered Entrepreneurs

Many people believe their role as an entrepreneur should primarily be driven by sales and profits. While your business does need to turn a profit to sustain itself as a business focusing solely on sales is a sure recipe for struggle. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t just all about the numbers and what’s in it for them  – they’re servants as well. They’re known as heart centered entrepreneurs.

By approaching your work with a servant heart, you can fuel even greater success. You can create real value with your business because the only way you succeed is through helping others succeed.

Here are 5 ways to tap into the power of being a heart-centered entrepreneur:

#1. Make a difference.  Motives matter. Motives reflect where our heart is. We all know that dogs can sense fear. How much more can people sense motives of pure selfish gain?  While I’m all about the importance of personal goal setting to help you hit your sale targets, when we’re talking to our audience we need to switch from thinking about our goals and think about making a difference to help them achieve their goals.

Do you have a difference-making mission?  Take a look at which mission statement reflects a heart-centered entrepreneur:

  • •   Our mission is to become famous for being the #1 business coach  in the country.   Versus:
  • •  Our mission is to change the lives of 1 million entrepreneurs to help them create businesses that give them greater freedom and fulfillment.

Ask yourself, what is the specific difference you want to make?
Are you running a purpose driven business?

#2. Empathize with your audience.  Your audience is your target market. When you are talking to prospects, whether in person or through a blog post, video or speech, you have to push aside trying to “sell” yourself or your services.  As a heart centered entrepreneur push aside thinking about how much you’re trying to win the sale. Instead:

  • •  Take a few minutes to really connect with the pain your audience struggles with.
  • •  Know what their burning desires are.
  • •  What makes them tick?
  • •  What keeps them up at night?
  • •  What stresses them out?
  • •  What challenges are they dealing with on a day-to-day basis?

#3.  Stop selling. Start serving. Do you see your audience as prospects you need to “sell” to or do you see them as people you want to serve?  As a heart centered entrepreneur is everything you say or do serving you more or does it serve them more? What’s the subconscious inner dialogue that runs through your mind?

  • •  “I want you to buy this, so I can make more money?” or
  • •  “I want to help you stop struggling with _____ so you can enjoy more _____?”

#4. Check your attitude. A true servant heart is someone who is humble. You can only truly serve from a place of humility. Arrogance and pride stifles success.

  • •  Think of someone of influence you admire for their humility.
  • •  Think of a seemingly “successful” person who is also arrogant and prideful.

Write down what it is these two different influential people say or do that projects humility or arrogance.

#5. Be a blessing.
You can be a blessing to people beyond just the business services you provide. As a heart centered entrepreneur you can be a blessing just by a warm smile, a sincere inquiry about how they are doing, active listening when they speak, gestures of thoughtfulness beyond what you normally do anyway as a business service.

Recently, a friend and colleague of mine, named Alan, pointed out an area that I could be a blessing – one that I was actually withholding.  (Ok, I’m still a work in progress!)

He wanted to interview me about my LinkedIn coaching program, so he asked me what led me to decide to create a specific training program around using LinkedIn to attract clients.

I told him my story of how I stumbled upon LinkedIn. I sold my last business to focus on being at home full time with my 3 young children. Luck would have it shortly after I sold my business my husband lost his job. Overnight, we went from both of us working to neither of us working.

That was a period of a lot of stress, worry and anxiety for me. I found myself in an unfamiliar territory, which brought with it the fear of the unknown. In addition to fear and worry, I also had some doubt. I wanted to start another business, but I knew I would have zero marketing budget and with 3 little ones at home I had very little time.

Since I always started with a sizeable start up capital for marketing at my past businesses it made me doubt it was even possible to start a new business with no marketing budget.

After much thought and prayer I decided to find a way, since the alternative (get a job and work for someone else) felt far more suffocating.

During my quest, the one thing I found I could market myself with no money and very little time was on LinkedIn.

What’s interesting to me about the story I just shared is that I’ve never actually shared this part of the story before. I’ve been asked this same question before, but I realized this time I revealed more to the story with Alan because he was my friend first and my colleague second.

(Hmmm, maybe I should treat everyone as friends first …)

Alan then went on to tell me what a tremendous blessing my story was not only to him, but to his audience as well.  The lesson Alan taught me that day was discovering that simply sharing my past pain and challenges and how I got through it was by itself a way I could be a blessing to more people.

Thanks for that lesson Alan!

We all experience trials, setbacks, failures and challenges. So, what’s your story of pain?

QUESTION: How can you turn your adversity into blessing others?
(please share your comments below)

© Copyright 2016