Franchise Success: It Takes More Than an Investment & Hard Work!

Too often than not, franchisees are of the mindset that they’ve bought into a franchise system and just need to sit back and wait for the business to flow through their doors. Sometimes, it’s ignorance and perception that clouds their thoughts. Thinking that the brand name they invested in should be enough for instant business success at their location. But, most of the time, it’s just plain old arrogance that gets in the way.

It’s the arrogance of having committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a franchise as being the sole reason for success. It’s also the basis of feeling that with this level of financial commitment, the franchisor should be solely responsible for making sure franchisees succeed. Almost demanding a guarantee of success!

Well, it is not the franchisor’s sole responsibility, under any circumstances, for making sure that franchisees succeed. Sure, the franchisor must provide franchisees with a proven system and field-tested tools, that when utilized diligently and effectively, should provide them with the foundation to succeed.

But, it’s just that, a foundation. And, the franchisor should have systems in place to monitor franchisees’ progress, provide additional training and guidance, and further the overall development of the brand which all contributes to solidifying that foundation. But, as detailed and comprehensive as all this sounds, it still is not enough for most franchisees to succeed without their own desire, drive and determination.

And, not just words, but actual action.

Failure or Success?

Years ago, I was working with a franchise group on a complex marketing project. The project was ultimately a success and achieved most of the goals and objectives that were established prior to launch. Most of the franchisees embraced the strategy and were extremely instrumental in executing the plan. However, there were five franchisees that just couldn’t get out of their own way to realize the benefits of the plan, and did not realize positive results as their fellow franchisees had.

As with many of my franchise clients, the franchisor requested that I work with these franchisees, ascertain the root of their problems, and develop an aggressive plan of action to move their businesses forward. You see, the franchisor truly wanted to see their franchisees succeed! By the way, these franchisees represented the bottom of the franchise group in average unit sales. Definitely, that was no coincidence. Well, to make a long story short, the obvious problem in each case pointed back to the franchisees working “in” the business, as opposed to “on” the business. Mix in some procrastination, entitlement attitudes, and of course, total denial, and the recipe for total business failure was complete.

I was able to determine that these franchisees were compensating for their path to failure by being at the business location longer hours, spending more and more time taking care of customers, while spending less and less time on anything else. All claimed to be working harder than they had ever worked before. Was it because they had to cut payroll and do the job themselves? Ironically, that was not the case as I found employees standing around while the franchisee did their jobs.

Often, I witnessed franchisees literally stepping in front of employees to take care of a customer. When I addressed the same with the franchisees, all were actually preparing for failure but didn’t want to be considered the actual cause of failure. All thought that by being seen at the business long hours every day and working non-stop behind the counter, no one would be able to say they didn’t work hard at making the business a success.

Certainly, they wouldn’t be blamed for failure.

Of the five struggling franchisees, all but one was anxious to listen and make firm commitments to improve their situations. The remaining franchisee was thoroughly convinced he would fail and there was nothing he, or anyone else, could do to change the situation.

He placed total blame on the franchisor, claiming they didn’t provide support, and strongly professed that he, himself, did everything humanly possible to succeed.

When I asked what he was referring to, he pointed to the long hours every day. When I asked about marketing efforts, he claimed he shouldn’t have to do anything in that regard and pointed back to the franchisor.

He ranted about how the franchisor should have spent money on his behalf in promoting the business and how he spent over $300K on build-out and equipment and that should have been more than enough to ensure his success. Further, he felt he should be able to open the doors everyday, and if the brand name was strong enough, success would occur in a relative matter of time.

As I indicated, four of the franchisees decided to move forward. Agreeing that failure was not an option, we developed and executed an extremely aggressive, yet cost-effective, plan of action centered around getting outside the business location every day to promote their business wherever and however they could.

They all agreed they should have been doing this all along but always seemed to procrastinate in actually getting the job done. They attributed a big part of their procrastination to a strong sense of entitlement that the franchisor should be doing more because they, the franchisees, were the ones that already made an investment to grow the brand. As such, they had convinced themselves that any possibility of failure would fall firmly on the franchisor’s shoulders. In turn, they buried themselves “in” the business and were awaiting the inevitable.

After many hours of discussion and debate about vision, passion, drive and determination, all four franchisees decided to take responsibility for their actions and would hold themselves to a high level of accountability, to their business, employees, family, and themselves.

Each was relentless in their quest to turn their businesses around. They spoke to whoever would listen about their products and services. They were tireless in their efforts to discover new groups and organizations that might listen and learn about what their business had to offer.

They were almost to the point of being ruthless in their desire to ask for referrals and recommendations. They were all thinking outside the box, always asking themselves, “What more can be done?” and never accepting a “nothing” answer.

Needless to say, their new attitudes became contagious and before they knew it, everyone seemed to be spreading the word. Nowadays, we would refer to that as a “viral” effect.

The Final Tally

One franchisee sold his business to an individual he met when spreading the word about his business. The new franchisee became a multi-unit operator and eventually sold the business for a significant profit.

Two franchisees took on partners they met in their efforts within the community. All are now multi-unit operators within several franchise systems.

One franchisee continues to operate her business and although happy to have survived, never had the desire to open additional locations.

And, the franchisee, who said he would fail… was absolutely right!

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Poker & Entrepreneurship: Games of Skill?

I recently watched the movie, “Rounders” for what was probably the 100th time I’ve done so. If you’re not aware of the movie, it’s basically about the dark side of underground high-stakes poker. Movies like this also seem to make a correlation to business for me. For instance, the main character, Michael McDermott says, “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?”

That makes me think of the same entrepreneurs that start one business after another, and all succeed. Do you think that’s luck? Hell, no! It’s knowing when to take a calculated risk, understanding the odds, hedging bets when necessary, being patient, exploring opportunities to increase your bankroll and knowing when to take a competitor head-on. It really is a mindset… But we must always remember, you can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. [pause] But you can’t win much either.

What can entrepreneurs learn from playing poker?

Poker can be seen as a leisurely game by most people. It may be looked at as a viable way to relax and unwind after a week of decision making, handling issues, and addressing challenges. Essentially a pause from life. On the flip side, there are individuals earning a living by playing poker, leading an independent lifestyle and building a secure financial future.

Whether a friendly neighborhood poker game or one that takes place down at the local casino, there is no doubt, poker is a game of skill. There’s a lot that can be learned from this all too familiar game.

Below are nine skills from an article I’ve read in Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media. These skills help poker players win at the poker table but also good for individuals to grow professionally, to improve their analytical skills, to help address stressful situations, and ultimately to win, maybe win big, at the game of business.

1. It starts inside your head 

Poker is a mind-sport and so is business. It is all about the moves you make, the strategy you take, and who you decide to play against. Your mental conditioning must be top-notch, and you must be prepared to take on any challenge. Unless your mind is in the right place, your game will suffer.

2. Being process-oriented, not result-oriented

Captain Picard from Star trek said that “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.” You can play a hand of poker perfectly and not come out on top, just like you can do everything right with your company/business and still not hit the goals you were after. But this problem is short-term. It’s all about getting your fundamentals right and if you don’t succeed, try again. In the long run, making the right decisions is what will make you a winner. Reckless decisions might help you rise, but they won’t keep you on top. Sensibility will always conquer luck.

3. Reading your competitors

At the poker table anticipating the affinity of your competitors toward risks will help you decide the best moves to make. Additionally, knowing their strengths and weaknesses will take you a long way and help counter them effectively. Similarly in business, you need to do your due diligence to understand your competition, and only then can you stay one step ahead of them.

4. Factor in every scenario

Poker is unpredictable, and so is business. When making a move, you need to factor in every possible eventuality, most importantly the worst case, and then act accordingly. 

5. Folding your aces

Aces are the best possible hole cards you can get in poker, but as the game goes on, you may realize you don’t have the best hand overall because of the cards that open. Similarly, you might have the best product in the market, but unless conditions are conducive, it might not reach the heights it merits. It’s important to not get disheartened and understand that these things happen.

6. The pressure is for cookers

When the stakes are high is when you can win the biggest. Not letting the pressure get to you is the name of the game.

7. Bankroll Management is key

If your total bankroll is low, you don’t go play a High-Roller game with a high buy-in. It is important to be financially sensible.  

8. Never chase losses 

When you lose multiple hands in a row, you might be tempted to play just because you want to recover your loss or reputation. This line of thinking will impede judgment and might turn out to be harmful. Make every move at its own merit and never because of earlier results.

9. Most importantly, you must do it responsibly

Being cognizant of your own capabilities is of utmost importance, both in poker and in business. What are the stakes you choose to play at? How much do you invest? How much time do you put into it? One of the most important things to remember is also that an excess of everything is bad, and the minute you feel that the quality of your personal, professional or family life is being affected by your decisions, it is time to take a step back and ask yourself what you should change.

There have been a number of great articles written about poker and entrepreneurship. I’ve listed some of my favorites below:

Poker and Entrepreneurship: How Similar Are They?

What Poker Taught Me About Business

5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Poker

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Thinking about poker and the skills necessary to win – whether in a neighborhood or professional game – has me also thinking about the skills entrepreneurs must develop and hone to succeed in their endeavors. So, my Question of the Week is:

What skills are necessary for today’s entrepreneur to succeed, and at a high level?

I look forward to reading your responses and learning your perspective. In my humble opinion, entrepreneurship will be the mechanism that will propel our country through uncertain times we’re all facing. I do believe it’ll be a massive collaborative effort of entrepreneurs everywhere to ensure our full recovery. Helping and learning from each other is imperative.

Now, I can’t seem to get Kenny Rogers’ song, The Gambler out of my head.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run…

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Do Your Homework BEFORE Buying a Franchise!

The dream of owning your own business is alive and well for most Americans. The only problem is that many people don’t know where to start on the journey to becoming self-sufficient. There are a million different options, but first and foremost each potential entrepreneur must decide if he or she wants to become a franchisee or start a business independently.

Each route has its benefits; therefore, it’s critical to take the time to consider both options before making a decision. What it initially comes down to is asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do you understand every aspect of the business, or do you thrive in one area?

When starting a business from scratch, entrepreneurs should be well versed in every single element of the enterprise. They need to create systems and procedures and test whether these work for that particular business. This process of ironing out the details deters some from choosing to own an independent business but excites and challenges others.

Conversely someone who buys a franchise knows that someone else has already done the “dirty work” and found the most effective systems for that particular business. A franchisee must simply thrive at correctly running the system while adding their own personal management touch. 

2. Are you an expert at making a name for yourself or would you like to be associated with an already strong brand?

When purchasing a franchise, you are also inheriting the reputation of that brand. For example, if you open your own Dunkin’ Donuts shop, you will encounter customers who already recognize the pink and orange logo. Many people will know whether they like the brand and will expect speedy service providing them doughnuts and steaming hot coffee.

On the other hand, those starting a business from scratch have a chance to create a unique brand identity. But consumer trust and awareness don’t come easily; they need to be earned through time, consistency and excellence.

3. Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone or do you appreciate a sense of community?

Owning a business — whether it’s a franchise or not — can be risky. Some people prefer to be self-reliant and want to manage potential problems using past experiences and premonitions as guides. An entrepreneur must solve the issues that arise.

Others prefer enlisting the support and help of others to ensure that their business runs smoothly. A franchisee has many built-in allies, including the franchisor and other franchisees within the system.

The most important factor for success is making sure that problems are identified, and steps are taken in the right direction.

Is Owning a Franchise in Your Future?

For many individuals that explore franchising as the next step in their career, as a way to control their own destiny or as a way to create a family business understanding the process can be quite overwhelming. Below are several articles by franchise experts I shared on my blog in 2018. Still relevant today, I believe it will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing themselves aimlessly tiptoe through a minefield consisting of franchising’s good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself?

Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the past problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies. Read more.

How to Buy a Franchise

Contrary to popular belief, the process of buying a franchise isn’t really difficult-but it is a process. I’ve found, (through working one-on-one with thousands of potential franchise owners) that it’s really important to tackle a major life decision like the purchase of a franchise business-or any type of business, in a very methodical way. (Even if you’re not a methodical person!)

But you need to realize that buying a franchise is a big deal. It could potentially be life changing. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you wanted to just go out and find a new job -or keep the one you have.

With that in mind, kick off your shoes and grab your favorite beverage. In this article, Joel Libava, The Franchise King shows exactly how to buy a franchise. Read more.

Owning a Franchise Business is Good for Your Family

Many entrepreneurs choose to become small-business owners with an exit strategy of turning over the business to their children one day — a strategy that takes on more importance in an era where young people are struggling to find gainful employment. Children who begin working in the family business at a young age will typically start an ascension into management after college, with an eye on purchasing some or all of the family business as their parents head into retirement. Often, the parents will retain a percentage of the business as a revenue stream in retirement, adding an extra level of responsibility for the child as a steward of their parents’ nest egg.

Even if they don’t stay in the family business, studies show that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. Children of entrepreneurial parents have already experienced many of the ebbs and flows of small-business ownership, which helps to mitigate their fears and raise their risk tolerance. Read more

Learning About Franchising

During research for Franchise Bible, 8th Edition, author, Rick Grossman found that the franchise industry had changed in many ways over the years. Technology has had the biggest impact by modifying buying behaviors. Not too many years ago, franchise buyers would find an opportunity in Entrepreneur magazine or by attending a franchise expo in-person. They would then go through the franchisor’s respective step-by-step process to qualify, purchase and launch their franchises. But today, buyers can find a plethora of information online about nearly any franchise they want to learn about. This has leveled the playing field for new innovative companies to compete favorably with the “big boys” in the marketplace. Read more

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Overcoming Fear

As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I wanted to be sure we keep it front and center. As such, I’ve given it some personal thought this morning as I found myself reflecting upon the past few years and where things are today. What should I be doing moving forward? What lessons have I learned? How do I address my own personal fears?

Certainly, the last few years has had many uncertainties which, quite frankly took us on an emotional roller coaster. Mostly, the driving force has been fear. I’ve realized my own fear once I was able to admit being scared. Hey, at my age and the fact I’m not in good shape, I must be realistic. So, I’m working through my fear and in doing so, maybe I can overcome it. As fear is such a strong emotion that easily grips the soul, it will take time and patience to overcome such a grip.

Little by little I look forward to continuing to pry it away as fear is replaced by courage gained from confidence that fear is just a challenge to be conquered. The great thing is that some of the challenges don’t have to be tackled alone. Instead, collaborative efforts aligned with common goals truly exemplify the phrase, ‘strength in numbers’ and it’s that strength that ultimately conquers fear. Easier said than done? Possibly, but the alternative is being overwhelmed by fear and that, I recognize is not living.

Others feel the same and possibly are dealing with it in a bad way. Talking things through can be most helpful but should we initiate a conversation? Resoundingly, YES!

Always be sure to let the special people in your life know you love them and remember; actions often speak louder than words. Be sensitive to the fact they may be going through some difficulties and keeping it all inside. Open, positive communications may provide them just enough confidence to open up and share their thoughts.

Need to talk through your fears, to determine how to tackle challenges you’re facing and, to clear your mind so you can explore possibilities? If so, I’d like to help. Please contact me on LinkedIn or drop me a note at paul@acceler8success.com. Of course, I will keep our conversations private.

When faced with the possibility of failure, what do entrepreneurs do?

No matter how well entrepreneurs plan and regardless of the effort they’ve dedicated to their business and endeavors, they sometimes fall short of their goal with the end-result causing a variety of challenges and problems.

Ultimately, it can adversely affect financial position, reputation, relationships, team spirit and much more. It can also start to spiral into personal life and affect family, health and overall well-being.

Such situations are often perpetuated by denial by placing one own’s head in the sand. Well, as we’re able to visualize our head deep in the sand, we quickly realize our most vulnerable ass-et is sticking out in plain view.

Some will laugh. Others will point and snicker, definitely telling others. And a few will take advantage of the situation and current position of vulnerability.

Sadly, we put ourselves in that position. Not because we swung and missed. Not because we didn’t see the forest for the trees. And not because we just flat-out saw something that wasn’t there.

Instead, it’s because we didn’t keep our head high, accept the situation, learn from it and move on, and with laser-focus. That is exactly what entrepreneurs do when faced with failure.

Certainly, we must do all we can to persevere. It has me thinking about a quote. One of many I keep in my memory bank… “Never give up and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” – Marta

When faced with failure, or the possibility of failure, we should be diligent in reviewing our goals. Often, it’s the Why behind those goals that can give the push needed to move forward, to climb out of the hole, so to speak. However, we must be clear in our minds that what we may be wishing for is one thing, and it’s good to wish because doing so digs deep into our hearts and soul. Remember wishing for that shining new red bike as a kid?

Well, there’s a huge difference between goals and wishes but they’re often confused as the same. Why? Because the desired end results appear to be the same and especially if they’re articulated with what appears to be passion. However, the difference comes down to action. Wishes are nothing but talk with no definitive action plan. Goals are real, but only with a definitive action plan. Dennis Waitley states it best, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.

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Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying, “The No. 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.”

So, think for yourself. Keep driving towards your goals knowing you will fail at times along the way – and you will fail because if you don’t, you’re not working hard enough at perfecting your ideas. And, keep hustling and grinding each and every day, avoiding negative distractions as you remain laser-focused on the road to success.

May is also Military Appreciation Month

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“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag” ― Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Adapting to Change; a Moving Target

One key to success in a business owner’s life is to learn from mistakes. Although the mistakes may not have been intentional, they’re real, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, even when lessons are learned, the negative results attained by poor choices and ill-fated decisions sometimes take a long time from which to completely recover. These issues often have to be worked through, driven by a firm commitment to reverse course. Sure, it’d be so much easier if a quick change in direction allowed for full recovery but it’s typically not that simple.

So, as business owners find themselves moving in the wrong direction, it’s essential to implement a strategy to get back on course and then stay on track until full recovery is achieved. To that end, it’s essential business owners hold themselves accountable while accepting personal responsibility. Doing so increases the possibility, if not the probability of success.

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Change is the New Normal

How are business owners currently handling change? How will they handle it moving forward? In the past, leaders predicted threats and planned responses with a risk-management strategy. Today, however, the nature of risk itself is different… It’s right upon us!

The changes business owners are implementing today to survive will continue to be necessary as their recovery from the pandemic continues and again as they’re facing the uncertainty and effects of inflation. Most likely, changes, and adapting to the changes will be key to their future success as customers and clients will become accustomed to the changes and will expect them to continue – even if it means the business owners must implement the changes alongside what was previously considered standard operations. It’ll be another moving target.

For example, think about the pandemic-driven focus on take-out & delivery in the restaurant industry. Customers are expecting this to continue long after standard operations have resumed. Actually, this focus has helped businesses to recover faster, and in many cases, it has improved business as processes were perfected and improvements were made along the way, as opposed to efforts being considered a temporary solution for the times. Will it remain as such? Possibly. However, the moving target will be the implementation of necessary improvements to keep pace in technology and customer communications.

Despite being in a continuing survival mode, business owners must be thinking about the next steps, the next phase of recovery lest they fall short and lose the war despite winning battles along the way. In a world of seemingly constant change, non-adaptive behavior will be a killer problem. 

Weekly Review May 8-14

By now you’re most likely aware that Sundays at Acceler8Success Cafe is the time for looking back over the past week. It’s a time for review as with so much going on at Acceler8Success Cafe I know it’s easy to miss a newsletter or two. Possibly my Question of the Week slipped by without you noticing, or an announcement I may have made just seemingly got lost amongst the busy news feed.

To reiterate, just like an experience at your local cafe, I really want Acceler8Success Cafe to be conveniently located when you desire or need to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and catch up on some reading. My goal is for Acceler8Success Cafe to be your virtual cafe. A place where you may frequently visit to enjoy a few minutes to yourself. I’d like the experience to be memorable by providing learning opportunities, by presenting a different perspective & insight, by spurring thought & reflection, by encouraging interaction, and by spotlighting topics that, frankly, may not be as front and center as they should or need to be.

I’m excited that Acceler8Success Cafe is open for business seven days a week. For the benefit of current & aspiring entrepreneurs, this daily newsletter will be delivered each morning. As a way to jumpstart the week ahead, I’m delivering a weekly review each Sunday morning listing the articles you might have missed during the previous week. My goal is to provide an opportunity to begin the new week with information and ideas that possibly could accelerate your success.

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The Ability to Sell is a Cornerstone to Entrepreneurial Success It’s essential to have developed a great idea, product or service, and business model, but without perfecting the ability to articulate the vision, communicate it well, and close the deal, the company or concept goes nowhere.

Proper Preparation (and Diligence): Essential Steps to Closing Deals Whether selling a product or service, or as is the case of an entrepreneur pitching his or her ideas, it’s vital to be ready, really ready to make an effective presentation.

Questions are Key to Closing Sales Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on. Look for tell-tale signs – hot buttons. How? By asking the right questions, the right way!

Question of the Week: How important is it for an entrepreneur to be proficient in presenting and selling?

When the Sale is in Jeopardy, but Failure is not an Option! You’ve learned in the 11th hour; an important prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. What would you do?

There is No “I” in Sales Nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be? Together… with or in proximity to another person or people; so as to touch or combine; in combination, collectively; into companionship or close association; so as to be united or in agreement; at the same time; without interruption; continuously.

A major announcement in the world of franchise and small business finance!

Benetrends, the International Franchise Association’s preferred vendor for ROBS business funding and the trusted leader in franchise and small business funding for over 40 years, has acquired DCV Franchise Group.

“The acquisition of DCV Franchise Group enhances our access to lenders and greatly expands our lending footprint in the industry,” stated Rocco Fiorentino, CEO of Benetrends.

Read the press release HERE.

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If you’re interested in submitting an article for Acceler8Success Cafe, please let me know. Articles must be about entrepreneurship, franchising, small business ownership or anything related to these general topics. Please reach out to me here on LinkedIn or via email to paul@acceler8success.com. Thank you!

On the lighter side…

A young MBA was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work? “Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button. “Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

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A month and a half left in the second quarter. It’s hard to believe. It’s time to shift into high gear and take things to another level or two!

Have a great week ahead. Make it happen. Make it count!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be?

This past week, I read two interesting social media posts that I found myself thinking about quite often. Although each post was shared by different individuals, I believe the two posts really sync well together, almost like two stories shared to make one point. This morning, I find myself pondering over them once again and thought I would share the same in this morning’s newsletter instead of what I had prepared for today. As always, I look forward to learning your thoughts, so please do share.

Together – with or in proximity to another person or people… “together they climbed the dark stairs”; so as to touch or combine… “she held her hands together as if she were praying”; in combination, collectively… “taken together, these measures would significantly improve people’s chances of surviving a tornado”; into companionship or close association… “the experience has brought us together”; so as to be united or in agreement… “he won the confidence of the government and the rebels, but could not bring the two sides together”; at the same time… “they both spoke together”; without interruption; continuously… “she sits for hours together in the lotus position”

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I remember my father, when he pulled nails out of anything, he would straighten them to be reused. My mother would press little scraps of soap together to create a “new” bar. Any kind of food or drink container that made its way into the house was pressed into service for some other purpose. Clothes and toys got handed down to younger cousins. Shoes and small appliances were repaired, not replaced. When I think about these things today, they sound so penny-pinching but that’s how most of the people on my street lived. Never for one second did we think of ourselves as poor, but nothing with any useful life in it went to waste.

Maybe that way of life was a hangover from the Great Depression. My parents and those of their generation who lived through that nightmare were never the same. Financial security became an obsession. Saving something for a rainy day became their mantra. My parents never owned a credit card. If they wanted something they saved up and paid in cash. Buying a washing machine or a television set was a significant decision. When we got our first telephone, a black, beauty with a rotary dial, my mother had it installed in an alcove behind a little curtain like The Wizard of Oz.

We were mostly happy and well adjusted. Then Madison Avenue went to work telling us in TV ads that we weren’t cool unless we paid five times more for the jeans with somebody’s name on them. We started looking for happiness in things instead of people. Credit cards sprang up everywhere and people started buying houses, cars, fancy weddings and vacations they couldn’t afford. They found out too late that the simple lives their parents led, though not easy, made them happier than all the things money could buy. How can we restore an appreciation of simple pleasures back into our lives?

I hope it doesn’t take another Great Depression.

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Similar thoughts have appeared throughout history. 

In the biblical New Testament – translated into English from the historic Greek in Mark 3:25 as “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

In an Aesop Fable (16th century) – “The Four Oxen and the Lion” – A LION used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near, they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

There is No “I”​ in Sales

This week, we have focused our attention on sales basics. We discussed sales prospecting, presentations, sales questions and even the sale that possibly goes wrong. Although yesterday’s segment was scheduled to be the last in this series, I’ve received a number of emails and comments throughout the week basically asking the same thing, “what do you think is wrong with my salespeople?” Well, here’s an article from our archives that may best address this question. Again, realize this applies regardless of what you may be selling. After all, successful sales are based upon fundamentals!

Nothing Happens Without a Sale!

Dedicating our efforts to the latest technology is essential to leading the field in any industry. However, we must not lose sight of the basics. Just as a professional baseball player practices and drills on the basics, especially when in a slump, entrepreneurs must review and stress the basics of business. And nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale!

With this in mind, I will take you back to the very fundamental aspects of sales from the perspective of you being the one making the sale. Share the same with your salespeople in your organization and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how getting back to basics improves your team’s results.

On a very basic level, there are five ingredients needed to create a sale:

The salesperson. The qualified prospect. A need or want that the prospect has. The product or service. The selling strategy or procedure you follow that guides a prospect to the natural conclusion of the selling process, the sale.

While many salespeople would say the selling process is about the customer, they wind up making it about themselves. Think about all the fears or reluctance you may experience when it comes to cold calling or selling. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to be a nuisance. I don’t want to impose. I don’t want to be rejected or hear no. I don’t want to blow it! I, I, I, I, I!

Look at the first word that begins each statement above. Making the selling and cold calling process about you is the number one roadblock to successful prospecting and the number one cause of cold calling reluctance. Instead of making the selling process about you and how much you can gain if you sell, make it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.

If you are experiencing any fear or resistance to prospecting, look at who you’re making the selling process about. Chances are, you’re making it about you! Once you shift your focus and energy towards making it about the prospect, it will immediately relieve you of the unnecessary pressure to look good and perform.

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On another note… Winners or Losers: Choices are Made Everyday

The Winner is always part of the answer; The Loser is always part of the problem.

The Winner always has a program; The Loser always has an excuse.

The Winner says, “Let me do it for you”; The Loser says, “That is not my job.”

The Winner sees an answer for every problem; The Loser sees a problem for every answer.

The Winner says,” It may be difficult, but it is possible”; The Loser says,” It may be possible, but it is too difficult.”

When a Winner makes a mistake, they say,” I was wrong”; When a Loser makes a mistake, they say,” It wasn’t my fault.”

A Winner makes commitments; A Loser makes promises.

Winners have dreams; Losers have schemes.

Winners say,” I must do something”; Losers say, “Something must be done.”

Winners are a part of the team; Losers are apart from the team.

Winners see the gain; Losers see the pain.

Winners see possibilities; Losers see problems.

Winners believe in win/win; Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.

Winners see the potential; Losers see the past.

Winners are like a thermostat; Losers are like thermometers.

Winners choose what they say, Losers say what they choose.

Winners use hard arguments, but soft words; Losers use soft arguments, but hard words.

Winners stand firm on values, but compromise on petty things; Losers stand firm on petty things, but compromise on values.

Winners follow the philosophy of empathy: “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you”; Losers follow the philosophy, “Do it to others before they do it to you.”

Winners make it happen; Losers let it happen.

~ Author Unknown.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

When the Sale is in Jeopardy, but Failure is not an Option!

This week, we’ve discussed sales basics including prospecting, presentations and sales questions. Today, in our last segment, we’ll discuss the key sale that possibly goes wrong. From a business owner’s perspective and in light of today’s economic environment, the possibility of being in this position is quite real. This applies to all types of sales, and especially as nothing happens without a sale!

When the Sale is Critical, What if…?

You’re close to finalizing a major deal with a prospective client that will result in a large payout and repeat business for years to come. The time you’ve spent nurturing this prospect will finally payoff. Some of your current clients have been disappointed by the lack of attention you’ve shown them over the past year, but you know you can make it up to them after you close this deal. Besides, this new client will generate a significant increase in revenue and profits that everybody knows is vital to the company’s future success.

But wait. You’ve learned in the 11th hour; the prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. You find this out from a former employee, now employed with your competitor. He goes on to tell you the prospect would rather do business with your company but only if you weren’t involved.

You think about the potential loss of immediate and future business. What about the revenue and profits the company desperately needs? How will you be viewed by your employees (and partners) if the prospect signs with your competitor when you’ve invested so much time and resources? What happens if key employees find out the prospect could have been saved if you stepped aside? What is it that you did or said that caused the change in direction? Does it really matter now?

Forget the “this wouldn’t happen to me” response. Put aside the “it couldn’t happen like this” statement. Look beyond the “he should have seen it coming” exclamation. Let’s assume it happened exactly as it was described above – What would you do? How would you handle this situation?

I look forward to learning various insight and perspective on this. Please share in the comments section, send me an email to paul@acceler8success.com, or text me at (832) 797-9851. As well, I’d love to discuss. So, if you’re so inclined, let’s schedule a phone call. You may grab some time on my calendar HERE.

On another note…

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or maybe you’ve already taken the plunge into entrepreneurship but not yet meeting your expectations, then this video is for you. It’s less than minutes long. If you take the time to watch it, I’d love to learn your thoughts.

“Life is a gift and now is the time for you to become the entrepreneur that you are looking for. A great life, it doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by design.”

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Questions are Key to Closing Sales

In continuing with our focus on sales basics this week, we will build upon the last two days’ articles about sales prospecting and presentations, and today discuss sales questions specific to a B2B situation, but can be easily revised for any sales situation. But first, let’s begin with my Question of the Week.

How important is it for an entrepreneur to be proficient in presenting and selling?

I’d really appreciate your feedback. So please, share your comments, insight and perspective in the comments section below.

As we dive back into the sales conversation, let’s start with the infamous scene from what I believe is one of the best “sales” movies, Glengarry Glenn Ross. As you’re responding to today’s Question of the Week, I’d love to understand your perspective about this scene. *Please pardon the language and some phrases that are definitely not politically correct in any sense imaginable today.

Questions Set the Stage for a Successful Sales Outcome

Prepare, in advance, the questions to be asked when actually get face to face with the prospect. Of course, every selling situation is unique, and every selling situation requires some variation, but certain basic questions that come up in every sales situation can be planned in advance.

With careful planning them, all bases can be covered. Wording must be precise. There is one caution – words must be phrased in such a way that they won’t sound canned.

Ask As Many Open-Ended Questions as Possible

Closed questions that call for a “yes” or “no” answer tend to discourage people from talking, to give only limited information, and they tend to set a negative tone. During the probe (the questioning) step of most selling systems, primarily open-ended questions that require prospects to express how they feel, what they want, or what they think are essential to the process. There is always room for “yes” or “no” questions, but caution must be exhibited to not to use too many or to use them incorrectly. Now is not the time to try out words not yet fully understood.

Ask Needs-Based Questions

In the probe phase, key is to get the prospect talking. His or her needs (or desires) must be addressed. Therefore, questions must phrase to gain insight into how the prospects perceive their needs (and desires).

Ask Questions That Help Identify Problems That Need to Be Solved

Usually there’s one overriding problem that needs to be resolved in the prospect’s mind – a situation that can be understood by asking the right questions. Plus, with proper pre-call planning and strong internal advocacy, a glimpse of the problems can be identified early on.

Ask Questions That Help Pinpoint the Dominant Buying Motivations

Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on. Look for tell-tale signs – hot buttons.

33 Most Valuable Open-Ended Sales Questions

Avoid Offensive Questions or Asking Questions in An Insensitive Way

Certain types of questions can offend prospects and cause them to back away. Here are some examples of pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t use leading or “set up” questions such as “You do want to make a profit, don’t you?” What’s the prospect going to say…”No, I don’t?!”

Probe don’t pry. Nosy questions can be a real turnoff.

Be careful about phrasing. For example, instead of asking “How much can you afford to spend?” you could phrase it a little more positively: “How much had you planned to invest?”

Ask Questions That Are Easy to Answer

Questions that require knowledge the prospect doesn’t have can often make him or her feel stupid. For example, asking most consumers, “What’s the maximum wattage per channel on your amplifier?” might get you a dumb look for an answer. The smarter the prospects are made to feel, the smarter they’ll think the salesperson is and the more they’ll like them.

Use Questions to Guide the Interview & Keep the Tone Positive

Some people love to ramble on and on, but by skillfully using questions, the interview will remain focused on point and move in the right direction. Also, questions should be asked in such a way that will solicit responses in a positive manner. Studies have shown that most people much prefer to agree than to assert themselves and disagree. In other words, the goal is to make it easy to say “yes.”

Ask – and Then Listen

The prospect can’t talk while also trying to listen. Besides, it’s hard for the salesperson to learn while they’re talking. Every word said by the prospect must be quickly grasped while staying aware of speech tone, body movement and facial expressions that may accompany the spoken word. Remember, people can be talked into buying, but listening and responding accordingly, keeping things about the prospect will create a buying experience the prospect will feel confident they made the right decision instead of being pushed to make a decision. One they may regret after the fact,

Shifting Gears… Against All Odds!

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Anytime that you believe your business ideas are a long shot, think about 2022 Kentucky Derby Winner, Rich Streak who won against 80-1 odds. As long as you’re diligent in your preparations and as opportunities present themselves, a little bit of luck will go a long way. After all, luck is nothing more than opportunity meeting preparedness.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!