Networking is Your Business Success

“I am really glad we met. I want to do business with you”. How would you like to hear a statement like that? It’s Easy! All you have to do is network. You can take all the great ways there are out there to meet, communicate, and make interactions into transactions but none will be as successful for you as networking. Nothing can every replace that face to face interaction that builds bonds between two people. No other form of contact is so strong to drive your life and your business to the greatest heights.

What is networking you may ask? There are many definitions, but it is simply connecting with people of like interests for the purpose of uncovering opportunities, sharing information and learning of best practices. You cannot do it alone. So it is imperative that one gets out and meets new people that they can get help with for information, contacts and business. You will find all parts of your life are filled with networking starting way back in kindergarten. You learn to talk to other people, learn from them and make connections that allowed you to make differences in your life.

The truism of networking is that when you talk to a person you have just met; you are not only talking to them but their network of hundreds of people too. You have got to be aware of that or you could make a critical mistake. Too often people look at name tags as they are coming up to meet someone. They see the name of the person’s business and they start to make judgments. They think “oh they are a plumber, plumbers aren’t going to be interested in my jewelry business” or they assume “oh I have already met several coaches or makeup retailers or whatever” and then they are already shutting down. They are already deciding that that person isn’t who they want to talk to grow their business. That is such an inaccuracy it almost takes your breath away. What a way to lose the very business you are trying to grow. They could easily have a friend or a sister or co-worker or any number of people that need to know you. But you will never meet them if you have already prejudged who is going to be the right or wrong person to talk to. Another point to consider in this matter is that what they are doing right now may not be what they are always going to do. And there very well may come a time when they too will become your ideal client.

Most people after they have heard the term networking from time to time get a pretty good understanding of what networking is. Some people though get a bit confused if you will on what is you should and should not do. You should be meeting as many people as possible. It is not about trying to see how many business cards you can give out in a certain time period. Yes, there is an exchange of cards that is important but more importantly there should be an exchanging of self. It is a time to start growing a relationship. It is not a time to be looking for a sale. This is hard for people at times. Especially at first when you are trying so hard to get the clients you want and you want to just get them as fast as you can. That is not how networking works.

To be the best networker you can be means you have to know the appropriate way to network. To start off, the very best way to network is to find out how you can be of service. What is it that you can do for the person standing in front of you that can help them grow their business? This is such a wonderful way to approach networking because it allows you to give of yourself and feel even better about yourself than you did before you started to network. Some people struggle with the best way to put this into words. Look into your heart and find what works for you. It may be “how can I be of service to you”. For others something else may work better like “what can I do for you that you haven’t been able to do for yourself”. Only you know your personality and what works best for you. The main thing is be sincere and be of service and see what happens for you.

The next best thing that you can do is to be ‘other focused’. Like being of service you want to see how you can help them. This goes even further than just being of service. When you are other focused you are listening intently to what the other person is saying. You are not waiting your turn or thinking about what you will say next. Your focus is on them and what they are sharing with you. They may help you understand what your client is looking for. They may give you clues to how you can sell to them. They may simply be giving out emotions and information that will help you grow a true relationship with this person. Always look at them and not around to see who else you could start talking to. See only them and what they are telling you. Listen, respond, and care and you will build the best relationships and networks without ever even having to really try.

This kind of falls in with the last paragraph above and that is that you always want to strive to be more interested than interesting. When trying to prove how interesting you are you will often lose the person either physically or mentally as you are talking to them. But when you focus on them and you are more interested in what they are telling you, you will see great strides in the depth and width of your network. When you are interested in someone you will start to understand them and be able to relate to them better. Instead of taking years to form friendships you will find that you can become ‘fast friends’ with them. You will know more about them and be able to understand their needs. This will aid you in helping them, serve them, and you become the person that everyone wants to be around. How would that be for growing your network if you are the one that people like to be near?

The next key question that comes up is, where do I network? Though the answer is the same as the last two questions, I am going to give some more specifics on this one. But yes, the answer is everywhere! As you know we are always so busy. Too busy to network some may even say. That is exactly what is going to help us network is the fact that we are so busy. So when you go to your dry cleaner, or pick up donuts, or take the kids to games or scouts; those are the people you can start networking with for your business. When you have to go get groceries, go get the car worked on, or go renew your drivers license; there is your audience, your potential client to begin to grow your business. Don’t waste those opportunities. Take them in hand and make the most of them. Beyond that though, you do want to do some formal networking. So what all does that entail you may ask. That means that you are going to go to and then join organizations that are based on people networking with other people and helping each other grow their businesses. Now there are hundreds of different organizations. You are going to have to determine which ones are going to work for you. Some are going to be basically the same for any type of business and some are going to be unique depending on what type of business you do. The ones that will work for any type of business is your local Chamber of Commerce. These are people in your area and they need to know that you exist. And the only way they are going to know that if you join the Chamber of Commerce and then actually go to the meetings and events. This will give you not only the opportunity to let people know about your business but also you can learn about other businesses in the area and see what they are doing to grow their business. There may even be some joint venture opportunities that help you gain recognition and strength in your business. Along with that you want to join groups that are associated with your type of business or even other small business groups. This can be things like eWomen network, networks4computers.com, international association of botanical gardens, etc. No matter what your business is there are going to be networks associated with that and you need to be a part of them. Visit them first. Make sure they are going to be helpful and have great integrity before you join them. The main thing is you have got to be a part of networks to grow your business. And the information you learn and the relationships you build are going to just be phenomenal.

Okay you know the when, who and where. The next steps help you with how to network. This starts with who you are. Now that seems easy enough. My name is… My company is… It does start with those basics. Who you are also has to incorporate your target market. Admittedly some company names allow people to immediately know what you do. “Window Cleaning by Jan”. That one is easy to figure out. Often though our company names don’t exactly tell people what we do and that is okay. But that is also why we must include our target market in who we are. So it would be something like this: “Hi my name is Joe Smith with Doctor Time. I work with doctors who need to find more time in their life”. It is direct, easy to understand, and you immediately understand who this person works with as clients. Basically you are incorporating what you have learned before in knowing what your niche is and then understanding the market that that niche is going to touch.

The next step after the saying who you are is what your uniqueness is. Some people call this the Unique Selling Point (USP) or Unique Selling Proposition. There are lots of people out there doing the same thing you are doing. Though that might not be fun to hear it is the truth. So you have to be able to distinguish yourself from all the others out there. Why of all the people out there selling printing services should they use you? Why of all the goal setting coaches out there should they think you will do a better job? This is not always an easy part to come up with because we were taught not to brag. Well bring out the brag book because you are going to do some bragging today! People need to know why you are special. They want to know what makes you shine brighter than the other stars. So you have to let them know.

You may be thinking but that is where I get stuck. I don’t what makes me unique. This is where you have play some and think some. First off a lot of your key traits are things that have been a part of your life all along and you just accept them as who you are and yet they may be the exact traits that make you unique. I had an experience that really brought this to a head for me. Back in the corporate environment where I work my boss at the time was giving me my review. He was saying that I am so organized and get my work done in such a timely manner. He wanted me to right how I am able to accomplish that. I told him you just do your job. Okay that was not what he wanted from me. But I had to think about it. REALLY think about it. In my mind I was really just doing my job. I began to think about what he was asking. My parents had taught me if something needs to get done you get it done. Procrastination was not allowed. I am an avid list maker to make sure things get in order, prioritize and then get done and off the list. Even though this came very natural to me, I realize not everyone did things this way. So I was able to understand those traits and have something to give me boss that helped him understand how I accomplished what I did. So you really have to take a close look at you. What are you so good at that you don’t even think about? That may be your USP.

Another way of discovering what is unique about you is to remember what you liked doing as a child. The child in all of us wants to come out and play. In the same sort of mode think of things that you like to do that is quirky. One of my neighbors built sort of upside bikes. Okay the wheels were still on the ground but the seat and bars where all set up differently. That was quirky. But he could have taken that quirk in many different directions. He could have taught kids how to make them and then sell them. He could have built them himself and sell to bike shops. The options become very open when you are doing something that you love and that makes you stand out from the crowd. If you still feel unsure ask friends what is unique about you or what is quirky about you. You may be very surprised what comes from that and it make be the exact thing you needed to know to make you stand out above the crowd.

The next thing you want to look at is what your benefits are. It is crucial here that you know your benefits well and that you can articulate easily. And just as important is to always be focused on the results the benefits produce and not the how you get there. Sometimes thing they have to state that they have a seven step process or they take you through so many exams or surveys to help get your results. People don’t want to nor will they focus on the benefits if they are put in that way. You want to let them know how what you do is going to solve their painful issues. Tony Robbins talks about how people only do things for two reasons; the pleasure they will get from it or even a stronger motivator is the pain they will avoid. Take what people hate, dread or fear and find a benefit that you create through your business. Examples would be; “No more cold calls EVER!” or “Be Fit in Less Time than It Takes to Drive to McDonalds” or “Fear not, We Will Take Care of That for You”. Create something that is going to stick out and make people go ‘whew, now I don’t have to worry about that’. People want a product or service that is going to make their lives easier, happier and results driven.

The last part of the how to network is letting people know what you need in the next thirty days. Just put it out there and you will be surprised what happens. I was at an event and when we were doing our accelerated networking, one lady was telling us she had just moved into a much bigger office and she needs file cabinets. Now that seemed like a weird request, but four of the next fifteen people that spoke had file cabinets they were willing to give her. Isn’t that great? So we all need things in our lives and not always just clients. So let the group know as you are giving your accelerated network speech (which is usually one minute) what you need than watch and see what happens!

So now you want to take the three of the how to network items; who you are, what is your uniqueness and what are your benefits, and put them in three formats. The first is the ten second response, the second is the elevator speech and the third is the full one minute network speech.

The ten second response is when you are being announced and they can only say your name and what you do. “Hi I am so and such and I give you the courage to take chances and make changes”. Something quick, direct and tells the quick story. You then want to have your elevator speech which gives you just a few more seconds so add your best benefit to that list. And then you have your accelerated network speech which includes all three items. Practice, practice, practice until each format flows easily from you but does not sound like it is memorized.

The last thing you have to do is follow up. That sounds simple, easy to do, and just makes sense right? This is the biggest mistake people make, is that they don’t follow up. All networking is based on relationships you make. So if you meet someone once and then never talk to them again, it is very unlikely you will ever hear from them and then you cannot make a sale.

What should happen immediately or at least by the next day is that you email or call each person you got a card from during a networking meeting. This step is so simple and yet here is an example of how people do not do this vital step. I went to a four day convention recently. I got close to fifty cards. I was out of town for a couple of days so I did not get to do ‘the golden rule’ of immediately follow up. How many people followed up with me… one! Only one! I then got in touch with all the others I had gotten cards from and only one other even admitted that she had meant to follow up. People aren’t doing this essential step. So when you do you really stand out among all the other people they met. It will be you that they will remember. It will be you that they give their business too. I can’t emphasis this enough but if you are serious about your business you will not miss this step.

Another part of follow up is if someone asks you for information or something do not put them off. You will want to answer them quickly so they know that they are important to you and that you are efficient with your business. People have lost business because they did not follow up with a simple question or request. Don’t be one of those people. Answering their questions will put you that much closer to the sale.

And the third follow up is to find out how you did after you have finished your business with a client. First you find out if your client is satisfied. Your client is grateful that you are concerned enough to check on them. They really appreciate it. The good thing about this is if it didn’t go well you can find out immediately and take corrective action. Better that they told you and you get a chance to resolve it then having them tell all their friends about a bad situation. The other good thing is, if they are satisfied, you know it immediately. You feel good because they were happy. And with their permission you can even have a testimonial for your brochures or website. Follow up after the sale also allows you to learn what is working well and what might not be working as well. It helps you grow and change your business so that it gets better and better all the time. Follow up will lead you to huge successes.

Networking can make the difference in how big and how fast your business will grow. It can allow you to quickly express yourself and your business. It gives you the opportunity to start relationships with people that can make all of the difference in the world. Networking is a connecting life force that will make your life dynamic and your business fulfilling. Use these skills and as Zig always says, “I’ll see you at the top!”.

How to Apply for a Small Business Loan

Before lenders will grant a small business loan, they want to be sure that the loan will be repaid. Every loan is a risk, but banks and brokers want to take as little risk as possible. They look for businesses that show promise, and they award loans to businesses that have solid personal and business backgrounds and are committed to the success of their businesses.

What are the first things the lender will look at? The following are the five basic items that all lenders look at before they will approve your business loan:

1. Credit history One of the primary factors lenders look at is the condition of your personal and business credit. This is generally reflected in your credit score that is obtained from the three credit reporting agencies. Your personal credit score is associated with your Social Security number, but business credit reports are tied to your tax ID number. Before you even start shopping for a loan, request a copy of your credit report from all three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review it carefully and correct any mistakes before you start the application process.

2. Your investment Business loan applicants should have a reasonable amount of their own money invested in their business. Lenders want to know that you will be motivated to work hard to make your business a success. When they see that you have invested a substantial amount of your own money in your venture, they will assume that you will work hard to make it a success. The amount of your required investment may vary, but it should be at least 20% of the amount you need for the business venture.

3. Working capital Working capital consists of your current assets minus your current liabilities. Working capital can also be thought of as cash on hand or what is available to pay current debts and keep your business running. A lack of adequate working capital increases the risk that your business will fail and makes lenders much less likely to approve your loan.

4. Ability to repay Banks want to see two sources of repayment: cash flow from your business and a secondary source which is typically collateral. Lenders will look at your past and projected financial statements. They will want to see your personal financial statements, personal tax returns for the past two-three years, business financial statements for the past three years or for three projected years, and accounts receivables and payable aging. If your business has consistently made a profit or you can reasonably project a profit, you are more likely to get approved. If your business has not been consistently profitable, you can increase your chances of getting a loan by including detailed information of new opportunities, new contracts, or other information showing that your company’s future will be profitable.

Most lenders require collateral to secure the loan. Collateral is required for all SBA loans. Collateral can be business assets and personal assets. If you plan to purchase equipment and other assets with borrowed funds, these assets will be used as collateral for the loan. Lenders will also require you to personally guarantee the loan.

5. Experience and character Lenders will expect you to have experience in the type of business that you plan to run. If you do not have that experience, lenders will expect you to hire people who have experience. Even if you do not have experience in this type of business, you should at least be able to show experience in other businesses and managerial experience.

What documents will lenders require? In order to expedite the process, the following four documents should be available for the lender to review:

1. Business plan A business plan is particularly important for new businesses, as they lack a track record for lenders to review. Your plan should convey all important facts about your business in a concise manner. A professional business plan will be at least 20 pages long, plus financial projections. The business plan will include:

Balance sheets, Profit and loss statements, and Cash flow projections

from the last three years or for three years’ projections.

Accounts receivable and payables aging

breaking your receivables and payables into 30, 60, and 90-day categories.

Market data showing demand for your type of business

Research on competitors including their customer base and price points

2. Loan request This can be included with the business plan and should detail the amount of money requested, how the loan funds will be used, the type of loan, the amount of working capital you have, the collateral that will secure the loan, the personal guarantees of the loan, and how the loan will be repaid.

3. Personal financial statements You will need to provide personal financial statements for anyone who owns 20 percent or more of the business. The financial statements must include a complete schedule of assets, debts with balances due, payment schedules, maturity dates, and collateral used to secure other loans.

4. Other documents Lenders may also require articles of incorporation, taxpayer ID number, legal descriptions of real property, leases, equipment inventories with serial numbers, proof of insurance for collateralized items, and letters of intent showing that commercial accounts intend to do business with you.

What is the loan process? Some lenders like to prequalify potential borrowers to determine how much they can afford. This also gives you and your lender an opportunity to see which loan program would be most appropriate for your needs. After the lender gathers basic information and your application is received, a loan officer or processor will review your credit reports, the amount of available collateral, and your income.

The loan officer will determine if any additional documentation is required. If you are purchasing real estate, you may also need to submit preliminary environmental reports, area maps, title reports, property appraisals, and lease summaries. Next, your commercial loan package is submitted to the decision makers — either a loan committee or underwriter. During the underwriting process, you may need to furnish additional documentation.

After the underwriting process, you will receive a letter of intent or term sheet. A letter of intent or term sheet is a formal document intended to put all parties (the lender and your company) on the same page. The letter of intent will include the names of all parties, amount of financing, type of collateral, and other key terms. After all underwriting conditions are satisfied, the final loan package is resubmitted to the loan committee for final approval.

At this point, the lender will issue a final full loan commitment. If your loan is approved, you will receive closing documents and they may be handled by a title company. The title company will record deeds and mortgages, order title insurance, coordinate the exchange of funds, and arrange for you to sign the loan documents. At the closing, the lender funds the loan with a cashier’s check, draft, or electronic wire transfer.

Being prepared and organized can save time and help your loan get approved. Be prepared to have all required information ready to submit if your lender requests it.

Jo Ann Joy, Esq., MBA, CEO
The future of your business starts here!

You may contact Jo Ann by phone at (602) 663-7007, by fax at (602) 324-7582, by email at [email protected] Business Solutions.net, and by mail at 2313 East Ocotillo Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016. I have many published articles, and I will send any article to you free of charge. Most consultations are free.

Top Ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers All Small Business Owners Need To Have to Succeed

The statistics on small businesses going broke in the first 12 months of operation are nothing short of obscene and seriously scary. In Australia and other western countries such as the United States 70% of all small businesses fail within the first 12 months of operation but let me tell you from experience, surviving after that 12 months is no less harrowing.

After 10 years of running four small businesses and creating them from scratch I can tell you with some authority, that I did not do this on my own. In fact, I reckon I have made every mistake in the book on how not to run a small business, but yet I have still survived. The secret to staying in business is all down to being able to talk to my ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers.

My ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers are there as my support team in helping me make the right decisions. See often when we make a decision in small business, it might be right at the time but down the track it can do you a lot of harm. Having your small business mastermind advisers on call, you can simply call them and ask them the consequences of the choices you are about to make.

For example, having the right business structure and putting your business assets in the right structure will play a major roll in the success of your business when you decide to exit the business. Se e most people who go into business only ever think of the business as a job they do not look at it from the perspective of how they will exit the business when they have built it into an enterprise.

Those ten small business mastermind advisers will help you to ensure that you have met your obligations and that there are no hidden issues that might come up in the future for your business. For example, we recently chose to sell off our car cleaning business as my wife wanted to pursue something different. Because of the way I had structured some of the trademarks in my company that related to hers, when we went and sold the business it created a number of headaches in the sale process. Essentially we had to shift ownership of those trademarks to her company prior to the sale which created a number of financial costs that we have had to endure even though my company never made any money. This issue arose simply because in the early days, I did not have my 10 Small Business Mastermind Advisers to tell me how my choices would impact on me in the future.

Adviser 1: Accountant

In business today, with the complexities of superannuation, sales tax or GST, income tax and all the other taxes out there an accountant is a must. As a small business owner you need to find an accountant that is a small business specialist and is proactive in working with you.

What I have found is that some accountants will only do what you ask them to do and will not step in and give you advice if you do not ask. You want an accountant that if they see you are doing something wrong then they will tell you without you asking.

The other thing you will need to ensure is that you hire an accountant that outlines where all of their hours are going. It is very easy for you with accountants and solicitors to end up with 5 or 6 figure bills.

Adviser 2: Solicitor

The solicitor is another important Small Business Mastermind adviser. Just like the accountant you need to make sure that the solicitor is a small business specialist. The role of the solicitor is to help you with all legal issues like what structure suits what you want to achieve, do your forms and policies meet your legal obligations, like your privacy policy, recruitment policy etc.

They can also help you protect your assets and in particular your intellectual property like trademarks, copyright etc. Often small business owners do not do the basics of trademarking their business name and logos to stop other business predators using their identities.

Adviser 3: Marketing and Advertising Expert

A Marketing and Advertising Expert is a must in today’s market place. I have found that with the various media types, people in the industry can get better deals than if you dealt with the media owners. For example, recently I chose a new advertising specialist to join my small business mastermind advisers because their company was able to negotiate lower television advert placements, than what I could dealing directly with the station.

Your marketing and advertising expert should have some experience in your industry and be able to show real statistics of adverts and marketing campaigns that actually achieved results. More so, they should also have a mantra of test and measure to ensure that your campaigns are giving you value for money and more so, are making you a profit.

Adviser 4: Bookkeeper

Some accountants have their own bookkeepers, but I have found that quite often they are more expensive than bookkeepers not tied into an accountant. Further to this you should always check to make sure the bookkeeper is certified. In some countries, including Australia, bookkeepers can be certified through the National Bookkeepers association or the CPA.

Your bookkeeper must be prepared to work with your accountant and if they have questions you must give them permission to speak with your accountant and more so, you need to make sure that they document all communications with your accountant.

Remember one thing, it does not matter whether your Bookkeeper or your accountant makes a mistake, ultimately, you as the business owner are responsible for your books. If they get it wrong, it will be on your head, so always make sure that you understand what they are doing.

Adviser 5: IT Person

Everybody hates computers and I am a 20 year veteran of the industry and I still hate them. Having a good IT person is essential. Most businesses today are now totally reliant on their IT Technology and if your technology goes down, the question you need to ask is, “could your business still operate?” If the answer is no, then you need to hire an IT person who will be there in an emergency.

When choosing an IT Person or company make sure they are qualified in the technology you are using. For example, if you are using Microsoft Windows technology in your office, then your IT Person should have at the very least the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician qualification.

Adviser 6: Website and Search Engine Expert

If your business is not on the web and you are not selling products to the global market then you are making your life incredibly difficult and you are missing out on lots of opportunities. The internet is a fantastic tool for doing business but be warned there are lots of crooks out there, especially in the search engine optimization industry.

Before choosing a web builder and search engine expert ask to speak with some of their existing clients or talk to other business associates and find out who they use. I will say you should expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000 per month for this service depending on your business and what sort of income you want to derive from the internet.

Adviser 7: Business Coach

Business Coaches, are like website and search engine experts, there are a lot of snakes out there who have no real small business experience. Before choosing a Business Coach ask them if they have ever owned a small business or if they had been a principle small business manager.

If you have been in small business for a while, then it will be very obvious to you as to which business coaches have owned businesses before going into business coaching. Their approach will tend to be more practical then something out of a book. Once again before choosing a business coach, talk to your business colleagues and see if they can recommend someone.

Adviser 8: Financial Planner

Managing your money is a major issue and most accountants will not give you Financial Planning Advice. A good financial planner will be able to help you where to put your business money, to get good growth but also to be easily accessible.

You should also have a good financial planner for your personal 401k or superannuation policy but also if you are managing an employer superannuation program. Most small business owners forget to build their own 401k or superannuation policy as they are building their business and when they get to selling their business they find they do not have enough to live on once they retire because once the business debts are paid off, nothing is left.

Adviser 9: Business Banker

Finding the right bank and right business banker is essential to succeeding in business. You definitely need to build a constructive relationship with your business banker as they will be your life line in a dire cashflow situation or if you need money for a deal you just could not let go by.

Business Bankers can also help you with other issues like leasing and hire purchase accounts, but also other facilities like merchant facilities, sales tax bank accounts etc.

Adviser 10: Insurance Broker

I learned the hard way on how important an insurance broker is to your business. The previous insurance company I dealt with did not advise me that none of the glass in my building was covered if I was broken into. I have extensive insurance, but because Glass was an optional extra, the previous insurance company did not tell me this and when we were broken into, even though I pay over $5,000 per year in insurance, I still had a $4,000 bill for all the glass damaged during a break and enter.

This particular experience really drove home, how a good insurance broker, whilst upfront might cost you more, in the future will save you more.

Just like any employee when you are putting together your Small Business Mastermind Advisers you need to interview each adviser and ensure that you are able to work with them. Further to this, to get the best advice from your Small Business Mastermind Advisers you must be 100% honest and open with them, even when things are looking dire. If you are not totally honest, then they cannot give you the advice that will help you get out of trouble.