Archive for the ‘Articles by Wes’ Category

Business Start-Up 101

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Americans are starting their own businesses in record numbers. Whether it is for greater income, professional freedom or personal fulfillment, there are some important details for you to consider.

If you build it, will people…?

Several years ago, a friend returned home to Jackson after three years in California.  He started a new company modeled after a very successful west coast business.  His team of 12 employees delivered meals from local restaurants to customers in affluent communities.  After spending thousands of dollars to set-up and run his new business, it failed in just 18 months.  I asked why and this is what he told me.   Affluent people living in large west coast cities are willing to pay for delivery services.  They don’t have the time or patience to deal with traffic and restaurant crowds during the week.  Therefore, the meal delivery business is very lucrative.  However, here in Jackson, people look forward to dining out.  This savvy business man was doomed to failure because there was no market for his services.  How would you like having successful business people give you unbiased feedback on your products, services and markets? That’s what a business incubator does.

 

Running a business vs. owning your job

In the book, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, he tells the story of a hard working, conscientious employee who decides he can run his own business better than the guy he is working for.  He starts his own business, in the same field. He is motivated, trained and talented.  However, within a short time, he realizes there is a big difference between running a business and owning your job.  Do you know the difference between being an entrepreneur, a manager and a technician? Being good at a job isn’t necessarily enough to have a successful business.  Who do you have to help mentor you to greater success? That’s what a good business incubator provides.

Relationships, selling and better mouse traps

It wasn’t until after Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1889 that he was misquoted as saying, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.  Today’s market is different.  If people think you have a better product, they might be willing to listen to you as long as you were referred by someone they know.  Providing excellent value is extremely important.  However, it takes more than a good idea to build a profitable business. If you believe relationships generate revenues, then building relationships and selling your ideas is much better than waiting for someone to knock on your door! Where can you get business development coaching and training?  Venture Incubator helps small businesses succeed.

What is a business incubator?

A business incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections

There are more than 1200 business incubators in the US and 20 in Mississippi.

87% of companies who graduate from a business incubator succeed

The Venture Incubator is the only multi-use business incubator in the Metro Jackson area.  There is space available for new incubator clients.

More information can be found at www.ventureincubator.org

Wes Holsapple is the Executive Director of the Venture Incubator as well as President of the BDS Institute.  He is a contributing author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Masters of Networking.

Wes can be reached at wes@bdsinstitute.com

It’s Who You Know…

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Paul Harvey announced Meridian Mississippi was the hottest place in America that August day. But as a sales and marketing rep attempting to develop new business, it felt like the coldest place in the world!

It was my first year working for Dale Carnegie Training.  My job was to sell local businesses on a $1000 per person, night class.  The price, along with the 14 week class schedule, had created a numbing series of setbacks that day.  People who last week said they would “think about it”, were now screening my calls.  Getting the put off was worse than getting a “NO”.  This was beginning to get depressing.

If only I knew more people. Was it any wonder why strangers wouldn’t enroll in my class?  After all, I was asking for a significant investment of their time and money.  They had no assurance I would be able to deliver that which I was so enthusiastically attempting to sell.

It was time for lunch, but I wasn’t in the mood to eat.  So, I hustled back to the office in hopes that at least one person in town had returned my call. The single message was from Jimmy Kemp, who at the time was the mayor of Meridian.  I had never met the mayor but he had to be a decision maker. I hustled over to his office in hopes of catching him.

Out of breath from taking the stairs two at a time, I found myself in the mayor’s office. If nothing else, I discovered one more way for getting past the gate keeper by showing up after the receptionist had gone to lunch!  The name plate on his desk told me I was in the right office. The bust of Harry Truman with the quote, “The Buck Stops Here!” told me something about the man.

Realizing my presence, he whirled around from where he was standing behind his desk. Wonderful!  I had made a great first impression by interrupting his phone call.  With a scowl on his face, he mouthed the question, “who are you?”  I mouthed back, “Dale Carnegie”. He winked his acknowledgement and held up his finger indicating I should wait.

He hung up the phone and looked at me with a slight smile. Nervously, I launched into my rehearsed lines. Fifteen seconds into it, he raised his hand indicating he had heard enough!  He asked three questions. 1. “When do your classes start?” 2. “Do you conduct in-house classes?” 3. “Can you meet me at 3 PM tomorrow to discuss the details?”  I answered each question in succession, agreed to the appointment, and then thought it best that I leave.

Then he asked a series of questions that changed my entire outlook on selling! “Have you been over to see Dudley Gilmore at Allied Systems?  Well you should. He inquired about your courses when I saw him at Rotary on Tuesday.  What about Kathy Wright?  She is the human resources director over all the McDonalds around here.  And I’d suggest you meet with Hardy Graham at the Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling plant. He’s a busy guy, but if you will follow me over to the industrial park for a ribbon cutting in 15 minutes, I’ll introduce you.”

In the matter of 3 minutes, I went from no appointments, no prospects and little hope, to having the mayor introduce me to some of the most prominent business people in the community!  But here’s the most important question of all; what were the ingredients that made this extraordinary opportunity happen and how could I recreate this scenario in order to create business? 

Here’s what happened.  Jimmy Kemp had already decided he was interested in our services before I ever showed up.  In fact, at that time, his belief in my services was probably stronger than mine.  He recognized the challenges I was facing as an outsider in a new town.  He also believed in my objective of helping build leaders in his community, therefore, he opened some doors for me.  Many of he people he referred me to bought my services and I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my professional life.  Here they are.

  1. It’s who you know.  Building important relationships is critical to business success.  People believe what others say about you, not what you say to promote yourself.  Take a sincere interest in others and those aspects of life which are important to them. Find common interests.  Ask “open ended questions”; questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no in order to get the conversation started. I.e.”Where are you from?” “How did you get started in your business?” “What are your thoughts on the recent changes in your industry?”  
  2. It’s what you know.  Business development is more about asking the right questions and less about convincing people you have all the answers. Every business competing in the same industry is facing many of the same problems.  If you know what these are, asking “questions of implication” gets their attention, builds your creditability and creates interest in you and your suggestions. For example, “If the new legislation passes regarding proposed safety requirements, how will this impact your cost of doing business? How important is it for you to beat your competition to the punch in making these improvements?  What advantages are there to begin these improvements now instead of waiting for what industry experts are saying is inevitable?”
  3. It’s what you believe.  One of the most frequently asked questions posed to me as a business coach is, “what do I say when they say…?” There are many people in business development who think it’s about technique. It’s less about technique and more about what you believe. The higher you reach up on the ladder of decision makers, more often than not, you will come face to face with many who have the ability to see through technique.  They recognize and are looking for those who believe in themselves, their products and services and their purpose.  What do you believe about your company, your team and your product’s ability to get results for the clients you give your word to?  What do you believe about yourself, your skills and your ability to generate results, consistently?  These are the tough questions we must answer each day.  Yes, you can build belief.
  4. It’s who you are.  When people introduce themselves to others, they typically say their name and profession. No big deal, right?  However, people form opinions based on what you say and how you say it as related to experiences in their past. In processing information, people tend to pigeonhole your response by relating what you say, to something they are familiar with.  For example, since you probably don’t know the positive or negative experiences they have had with others in your profession, it is better to talk about the results you can create for them vs. hoping they have had great experiences with others in your line of work.  Otherwise, you may be creating barriers in your relationship caused by the problems they have had in the past with losers or charlatans! At the very least, they may have become confused based on the inaccurate information they received from your competitors. 

In Biblical times, people identified themselves by their given or first name followed by the person’s father’s Hebrew name. The reputation of the older is bestowed on the younger.  When a child is formally named, it is common practice to explain who the child was named for, why the child was named for that person, and what qualities of that person the parents would like to see perpetuated in the child. This is also a way of honoring the one who has lived his or her life in a way that honors and esteems the family and their name.

My friend, Michael Pink, of Selling Among Wolves fame, knows who he is.  He gets his identity from his Father and Michael is diligent in his efforts to honor and esteem Jesus the Son and God the Father.  I will testify this is true because I have spent much time with Michael. For the better part of a year, we worked shoulder to shoulder.  As a result, I can say with reasonable certainty, the parameters Michael will use in making important decisions.  I’m not saying I can predict every decision Michael will make.  I am saying that I can trust Michael to make his decisions along of the lines of that which will honor his Father. This builds TRUST (To Rest Upon a Sure Thing) in our relationship to the point that I am not only willing, but I am motivated to tell others about him and our Father.

As we all move forward with our lives in an effort to live life to its fullest, I hope these words will be of encouragement and guidance to you.

Referral Secrets

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Referral groups have grown in popularity, especially due to the decline in the economy.  After all, sales and marketing people are chasing fewer dollars.  Referral groups have the potential to be one of your best sources for new business.  This is especially true since trust between vendor and customer is so important these days!  Determining which referral group is best for you is as important as deciding if you should join one.  Below are some points to consider.

Expectations: The source of most people’s dissatisfactions concerning their involvement in referral groups tends to be miscommunications, unclear and unmet expectations.  Of course the opposite of these 3 creates incredible results! I should know. I had more than 3000 members in referral groups during my 8 years as Executive Director of BNI for Mississippi. Expectations regarding referral groups ranged from the member not knowing or abiding by the basic guidelines agreed upon by the group’s leadership to unknowingly allowing unsavory characters to join their group and create mayhem.   Clearly knowing what you want from your investment of time, energy and money in a referral group will generate greater satisfaction and results. If your primary focus for membership in a referral group is to generate more business, in my opinion, there are 3 attributes the referral group members must embrace; leadership, structure and accountability. 

Leadership, structure and accountability: When these 3 attributes are implemented in a referral group in a consistent manner, the ROI for members and the companies they represent will greatly increase.  There must be a small core group of people within the larger group who know how to help everyone have a successful referral group experience.  There are rules, that when adhered to, help everyone succeed.  It’s just the way it is.  The real question about rules is; if there is a successful track record because of the rules, are you willing to abide by the rules to achieve success for yourself?   Another way of looking at this truth is laid out in the booklet, The Common Denominator of Success by E.M. Gray.  It basically says that just like anyone else, successful people don’t always like doing what it takes to reach their goals.  However they hold themselves accountable to do what it takes to succeed anyway because they prefer great results over easy, less productive activities.  Good leadership, solid structure and consistent accountability helps people generate more business from their referral group.

Results: The primary deficiency of most people’s referral group experience is due to an insufficient or underperforming contact sphere. A contact sphere is made up of those professions that have a symbiotic relationship with you and your profession.  That is, they are constantly coming across opportunities for you due to the nature of their business as it relates to you and your business.  An easily recognized example is the relationships between a realtor, mortgage lender, appraiser, home inspector, security alarm systems, etc.  When a customer buys a house, they typically require the services of those in the “real estate” contact sphere.  If the customer trusts the realtor, they may ask them, “Who do you know that can finance my home?” In many cases, several professions receive business from just one home buyer! We see the same model in the medical field.  How do you get into see any specialist?  You must be referred by your general practitioner or family doctor, right?  There are several really good reasons for this, which we will get into in our follow-up article.  Or, you can visit our web site for additional information.

When you have a high performing contact sphere made up of 4-8 seasoned professionals, within a year of meeting together once a week, you can expect to be generating at least 30% of your new business through these relationships. This is especially true if these people have been in their industry and in the same market for 5+ years.

Relationships: A successful referral relationship is one built on T.R.U.S.T (To Rest Upon A Sure Thing). Trust is the key to successful referral relationships. When the nature of your referral relationships move beyond just that of being transactional in nature, the amount of referrals you receive will multiply. When I say transactional, I am referring to the relationship being based solely on the transaction of business.  For example, if we aren’t discussing business, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. That sounds a little strange since we are talking about business relationships. However, you have probably been on the receiving end of a conversation where the person is reliving a situation where they were literally standing in the middle of a referral for you, but didn’t realize it until it was too late.  The person wasn’t thinking about you when the opportunity appeared.  You weren’t on their radar. Often times, the reason is they weren’t personally and emotionally motivated to be on the lookout for you.  Certainly, you will receive business referrals based solely on business relationships; 30%-50% of new business by referrals is great.  But if you want to grow your business exponentially; 200%-300%, people need to be personally motivated to help you succeed. 

Teaching:  Reflecting back on the previous paragraph, let’s say the person who overlooked the referral opportunity for you was actually personally motivated to help you.  Let’s say the person was your spouse, customer service rep or your referral partner.  If they are motivated to help you succeed, even to the extent of benefitting financially, how could these people overlook important opportunities to refer you? In many cases, they don’t know what a good referral looks like for you. So, whose responsibility is it to teach them?  Is there anyone who is more motivated or capable than you?

The fact is you have the opportunity to teach most everyone you speak with how to generate more referrals for you.  And if you do it right, they will be motivated to do so.  How, you may ask?  When you meet someone for the first time, what do you want to know about each other?  Their name and what they do for a living, right?  When it’s your turn to speak, what you say next will tremendously influence what that person thinks of you and your business!  In processing information, people tend to pigeonhole your response by relating what you say to something they are familiar with.  Since you do not know the positive or negative experiences they have had with others in your profession, it is best to talk about the results you create for your customers vs. assuming they have had great experiences with others in your line of work.  Otherwise, you may be creating barriers in your relationship caused by problems they have had in the past with losers or charlatans! At the very least, they may be confused based on the inaccurate information they received from your competitors.  For example, you may be able to provide replacement of income in times of death or injury while lowering the taxable income of your client.  However, telling a stranger you are an insurance agent may not do your intentions justice in the mind of the prospect and may limit additional conversation.  There are some people that would label this approach as misleading.  However, if you believe you have the ability to help people with your products and services, and you know there are others out there who will take advantage of them, if you are a person of integrity, shouldn’t you talk about the results you can achieve vs. product labels that can be misunderstood?

 

Summary: Referral groups are based on people and the relationships between them.  Relationships are influenced by communications, expectations and performance.  When you manage yourself in a way that creates positive outcomes in these three areas, your referral group experience will be profitable for you.

Next? For additional information on generating more referrals, visit our web site and look for the section entitled, “It’s Who You Know…”

Wes Holsapple is the president of BDS Institute which works with businesses to increase their sales by developing new strategies and skills to capture untapped markets and new customers.  His areas of expertise are in business development through referral generation, sales, and marketing.

Wes served as a Dale Carnegie trainer and area manager in Mississippi for ten years where he worked with more than 5000 clients ranging from small companies to the Fortune 500.

Wes owned and operated BNI of Mississippi for eight years.  BNI, Business Network International, is the world’s largest business referral organization.  Wes worked with more than 3000 local business people, teaching them how to grow their businesses through word-of-mouth marketing.  He is a contributing author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Masters of Networking.

Wes can be reached at www.bdsinstitute.com.

Getting Focused – by Wes Holsapple

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

 

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 ushered in a cold reality to Americans. It was the beginning of a period of depression for many. A few weeks later, my Dad asked how I was doing. I painted a dismal vision mixed with anger and fear. He asked me what I was going to do about it.What could I possibly do that would make a difference? With a look of resolve, he said, “son, the best thing you can do is to get back to doing what you do best; working and living!”  That was good advice then and it is good advice now. Today’s battle is surviving and thriving in the current state of the union, a poor economy. But how do you get back to work when you have lost your job or your business is down considerably?  After owning and building BNI of Mississippi for 8 years, Katrina hit. Nearly half of my clients lost their livelihoods and many lost their homes. After a week of watching the devastating scenes on TV, I remembered the words of my father. The best way you can help out is to get back to doing what you do best; working and living! In the midst of chaos, how do you find your bearings and get headed in the right direction? First, you must know where you are. The 4 Phases cycle is a good starting point.

  1. EXCITED: New opportunities and positive expectations describe our outlook.
  2. QUESTIONING: Things are not going as planned and challenges are overwhelming!
  3. BLAMING: Focus is on the symptoms of the problems, not the causes. Therefore, we blame what we can’t control instead of taking responsibility for what we can control.
  4. LOOKING:We all need to win. Many look for ways to change their external circumstances instead of embracing personal growth and working through the challenges.

Without realizing it, people go through this cycle in various areas of their lives on a weekly and daily basis.  We wonder why our emotions and results are up and down. We long for consistency but we can’t figure out where to start! So what must happen for us to spend more time in the EXCITED phase?

  1. Set and achieve short term goals in writing.  Accomplishment encourages us.
  2. Build important working relationships. Becoming equally yoked with others who are worthy, generates greater results and fulfillment.
  3. Demonstrate your competencies. Rise to the occasion, be your best and be recognized for your talents, ability to get results. 
  4. Be proactive. Start now, even though you are hesitant. Fear kills inspiration and motivation.

Courage is not the lack of fear. Courage takes action in the face of fear.

Identify which phase you are in. Meditate on the four action steps above. Begin building momentum to reach and stay more in the excited phase by writing out ways you can implement these action steps. Share your thoughts and convictions with a trusted advisor. The new year is upon us. Discipline your mind, body and emotions to serve the wholesome vision and passions that reside within you and are waiting for you to beckon.

 

A responsible person does what he or she can until his or her destiny is

revealed. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 ushered in a cold reality to Americans. It was the beginning of a period of depression for many. A few weeks later, my Dad asked how I was doing. I painted a dismal vision mixed with anger and fear. He asked me what I was going to do about it.What could I possibly do that would make a difference? With a look of resolve, he said, “son, the best thing you can do is to get back to doing what you do best; working and living!”  That was good advice then and it is good advice now. Today’s battle is surviving and thriving in the current state of the union, a poor economy. But how do you get back to work when you have lost your job or your business is down considerably?

 

After owning and building BNI of Mississippi for 8 years, Katrina hit. Nearly half of my clients lost their livelihoods and many lost their homes. After a week of watching the devastating scenes on TV, I remembered the words of my father. The best way you can help out is to get back to doing what you do best; working and living!

 

In the midst of chaos, how do you find your bearings and get headed in the right direction? First, you must know where you are. The 4 Phases cycle is a

good starting point. 

  1. EXCITED: New opportunities and positive expectations describe our outlook.
  2. QUESTIONING: Things are not going as planned and challenges are overwhelming!
  3. BLAMING: Focus is on the symptoms of the problems, not the causes. Therefore, we blame what we can’t control instead of taking responsibility for what we can control.
  4. LOOKING:We all need to win. Many look for ways to change their external circumstances instead of embracing personal growth and working through the challenges.

Without realizing it, people go through this cycle in various areas of their lives on a weekly and daily basis.  We wonder why our emotions and results are up and down. We long for consistency but we can’t figure out where to start! So what must happen for us to spend more time in the EXCITED phase?

  1. Set and achieve short term goals in writing. Accomplishment encourages us.
  2. Build important working relationships. Becoming equally yoked with others who are worthy, generates greater results and fulfillment.
  3. Demonstrate your competencies. Rise to the occasion, be your best and be recognized for your talents, ability to get results.
  4.  Be proactive. Start now, even though you are hesitant. Fear kills inspiration and motivation.

Courage is not the lack of fear. Courage takes action in the face of fear.

Identify which phase you are in. Meditate on the four action steps above. Begin building momentum to reach and stay more in the excited phase by writing out ways you can implement these action steps. Share your thoughts and convictions with a trusted advisor. The new year is upon us. Discipline your mind, body and emotions to serve the wholesome vision and passions that reside within you and are waiting for you to beckon.

 

A responsible person does what he or she can until his or her destiny is

revealed.