Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My List

I have seen several articles and posts lately regarding reading lists, and I just happen to have one of my own. Mine is slightly different, however, in that I am more specific than just a list of books, I have a list of favorite Chapters. As soon as I get a new book, I immediately stick an envelope in as a bookmark, and I take notes throughout the book on it. It has become incredibly useful, in that I can go back to my envelope/bookmark at any time and use it as a reference. So I don’t have to skim TOC or indexes if I need to go back over something for a refresher, or need to recommend some reading to someone.
It does irritate my fiancé, Kelly, more than a little, as I keep my books at her house, therefore I use her envelopes, making sure she runs out at the most inconvenient of times. I dare say that isn’t the toughest ‘Nick’ issue she deals with, but you’d have to ask her.

Anyway, on to my list of chapters, and this is in no particular order:

Chapter 3, What’s Your Mission, in “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. Good book regarding networking and the impact it can have on your success, but probably the best chapter in the book is Chapter 3, on Goal Setting. The book describes in detail how to set effective goals, and how to hold yourself accountable with his three steps. I have used a lot of information out of this chapter. Aside from that chapter, if you didn’t meet enough people at the bootcamp, or are a ‘wallflower’ in general, get this book. Tons of tips on how to meet and make the most of your relationships with people. Chapters 1-14, Dan Kennedy’s No BS Time Management for Entreprenuers. Yes, that’s the entire book, because hands down it’s the most important book I’ve ever read. And incredibly easy to read. It’s over in no time, and you are much better for it. If you ever want to become a true entrepreneur, start here.

Chapter 5, The Hedgehog Concept, in Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”. The Hedgehog Concept is basically an illustration of three circles each partially overlapping one another, with each representing an element of your business; 1) What you are passionate about? 2) What you can be the best at? and 3) What drives your economic engine? It gets a little deeper into the explanation of successes and failures of similar businesses, as does the entire book. An important read for any entrepreneur who wants to see beneath the surface of business success and failure. Later in the book, he also mentions a ‘Stop Doing” list (as opposed to a ‘to-do’ list) as a means of shedding unproductive tasks, and restoring discipline to our working lives.

Chapter 4, Strategy of Preeminence, “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got”, Jay Abraham. This is a strategy that we took and immediately impressed upon our staff at our health club and PT company, it’s so simple, and so true. The soul of your business, he calls it. The Strategy of Preeminence is simply described as shifting your focus from ‘me’ to ‘you’. When doing so, you will stand out in the minds of your clients, employees, employer, or anyone else as the best at what you do. The preeminent choice. I always revert back to this particular chapter (and book) whenever I feel we need to refocus on customer service.

Chapters 6 & 7, Identify Blocks, Destroy Blocks, “Power of an Hour” Dave Lakhani. Two chapters that will help you identify and get past any obstacles that may slow your progress towards your goals. The true insight was in realizing that I was incorrectly identifying my blocks, making it difficult to eliminate them. This book, and in particular these chapters, along with Dan Kennedy’s Time Management book, have increased my productive time probably tenfold. It’s amazing how much time you can spend dealing with distractions if you don’t identify and eliminate them. A great resource for productivity.

Chapter 11, How to Manage Your Cash Flow, Dan Kennedy’s “No BS Business Success” Of course he has two books on my list, he’s Dan Kennedy. Reducing and controlling expenses, getting financing leverage, getting paid for your service or product, and increasing cash flow by increasing sales are a few of strategies Dan explains in detail. His books are such easy reading, large type, small words……..just kidding. They are easy to read though.

“The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber.
Ch. 2 The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician
Ch. 6 Maturity and the Entrepreneurial Perspective
Ch 9 Working On Your Business Not In It
Ch 11 Your Business Development Program
Ch 14 Your Organizational Strategy
Ch 17 Your Marketing Strategy
Ch 18 Your Systems Strategy
Needless to say, tons of info here. Tons.

Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. This entire book is the polar opposite of conventional, exploring the economic reasoning behind debates such as: How the KKK resembles Real Estate agents, similarities between sumo wrestlers and school teachers (I know what each one of you is thinking, and that’s not what he means – but I thought it too!), and what makes the perfect parent. The one chapter that makes this book required reading is Chapter 3 Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms? And it explores underground drug ‘businesses’ and how their hierarchy and systems are put into place. I promise you will learn something from this! Read it.

These are the books which have influenced my and my businesses the most. And you can see they are pretty inexpensive. This list should be on everyone's shelves, they are what we look at as mandatory reading.

Nick Berry
This list does not include ebooks and/or info products, otherwise the Dan Kennedy's and Michael Gerber's would be pushed aside by the Lee's, Labadie's, and Cosgrove's out there. Those guys get their own list.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Big Al's Ride

A good friend of mine had a bit of bad luck last night, as some may have heard. The man got his car stolen, and wrecked. I’m not celebrating it, by any means, but he’s managed to spin his bad fortune into the opportunity for some good fortune for the rest of us. He’s a great guy like that. So I thought I would pass the link forward, http://www.fitnesswebsitedesign.com/new-car-fund. Everyone knows of Allen Hill’s high quality of work, and this product is nothing less.

Get a jumpstart on your website traffic while the getting is good. The discount is taken at checkout, so it’s around half price.

Follow the link and check it out. And then recommend to Allen he get a stunt double to pose for that testimonial at the top of the page! Not exactly eye-candy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ok, I’ve gotten some feedback on my little rant below, Knowledge Assets. Those readers who it was directed at know exactly who they are. I thought I had covered everyone when I stated “before you start with I don’t have money, I’ve got payroll, or rent’s due or whatever it is you are going to let make you continue to put off taking some action……” and “Lots of salesmanship, not so much value. And in a certain few cases that’s true, but someone’s reputation as giving great info or a crappy product will let you know if you should be buying from them or not. They can’t hide that. But there are many more good, valuable products and resources than there are bad, especially within the PTU circle…”

After re-reading I believe I left a few people an ‘out’ so to speak. I completely understand that money can be tight – trust me – and that you need some reassurance as to the quality of products certain individuals may produce. What got lost in my message is that rather than letting skepticism keep you from getting any product at all, get a feel for someone’s smaller products, then get the larger ones. Get your hands on some of their less expensive material and you will know ahead of time if you are going to like their larger products. It’s an ‘economically efficient’ method of building a relationship with the information producers out there. It’s basically a test run.

Here’s my test run for you. If you are an individual who is skeptical about product quality, or for whatever reason don’t think you have the money
http://www.fitnessconsultinggroup.com/businessactionplan.html. I had a part in creating this, and it was done with EVERYONE in mind. Every person who has an interest in the fitness profession will more than get their money’s worth from this product. For those who get in by Sunday at midnight EST, we are having a teleseminar to explain exactly how to use these tools. There will be an overview of each tool followed by a Q and A session. An open Q and A is your chance to insure that you get your money’s worth, if you take advantage of it. If you don’t take advantage, well, it’s guaranteed anyway, as always.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I thought this was appropriate following my last post. I got this a while back, and I don't remember where or I would send them a thank you.

Knowledge Assets

I had the privilege of eating dinner with Ryan Lee, Jim Labadie, and a group of 10 or so of us at ‘Bootcamp 06’. Among other topics, we were discussing who had purchased each others products, and how much money each individual had spent on info products and coaching. At our table, the top three SPENDERS, (in no particular order) Ryan, Jim, and Pat Rigsby (<--I guarantee Pat’s #1 – he amazes me). Funny thing, arguably the most successful people at the table were the same group of three, and this table had some names sitting there, I assure you.

Anyway, Jim is telling a story about Pat calling him and asking “Don’t you have anything else you can sell me?” because Pat already had everything Jim had put out. We got a laugh out of it, but Ryan put on his serious face for a second and pointed out, “You know, Pat spends the most, and he’s the most successful – why don’t people see that?”
Great question. Why would Pat continue to spend money on info products if he’s already established himself?

I think I heard Alwyn Cosgrove mention that he was nagging Jim for business coaching, but he’s Alwyn Cosgrove! He can’t need business coaching, right?

Noticing the pattern? There is a direct correlation between the people who are spending money on knowledge and their level of success. This is non-debatable, I will not hear it. And before you start with I don’t have money, I’ve got payroll, or rent’s due or whatever it is you are going to let make you continue to put off taking some action, listen to this one:

This weekend Pat and I had the honor of hosting Mr. Allen Hill Jr. in Elizabethtown, KY, for a 48 hour brainstorming session. I don’t know if everyone knows this about Allen, and I hope he doesn’t mind me telling, but 9 months ago, Allen’s business was struggling. He was working his butt off and treading water, and he was getting fatigued. He decided to buy Pat’s first product, the Personal Trainer Money Machine. Long story short, Allen Hill took those principles and applied them to his training AND his website design business – and look what he’s doing now. He’s slammed. You know what? He continues to get business coaching even now. He is investing in knowledge and he will be rich because of it.

Info products and business coaching don’t just facilitate perpetual success, they can also set you on the path to success even if you are starting from ground zero. Investing in knowledge works, it is proven. If the successful ones are doing it, and you want to be successful, why wouldn’t you do it?

I’m an example myself. I thought info products were very gimmicky. Lots of salesmanship, not so much value. And in a certain few cases that’s true, but someone’s reputation as giving great info or a crappy product will let you know if you should be buying from them or not. They can’t hide that. But there are many more good, valuable products and resources than there are bad, especially within the PTU circle. Anyway, Pat got me into info products, and I later found a business coach – who’s not in our industry – and I can’t say enough about him.

Business coaching should be mandated by any lending institution on startup businesses, and by any investment group. A study of Fortune 1000 companies who participated in Business Coaching programs reported the following benefits from the coaching they received:

- Saw an increase in productivity by 53%
- Increased customer service by 39%
- Increased retention of senior people by 32%
- Reduction in costs by 23%
- Increased bottom line profitability by 22%

The same survey reported that the individuals who received coaching saw improvement in:
- Working relationships with their direct reports
- Working relationships with their manager
- Team-building
- Reduction in conflict
- Business Relationships with clients

I’ll put this as bluntly and forward as I can. If you, for any reason, are not investing in knowledge in one form or another for your business, you are a business ‘dummy’. There is no excuse that you can’t find something that will make you and your business operate better. After the examples and numbers I gave you – can anyone – ANYONE – afford not to?

Get off of your ass and do something. Invest in knowledge. Those who offer the information are giving you everything you need to do what they’re doing. Do not be satisfied being a business dummy, or just as bad, being complacent. Be aggressive. Get what knowledge you can and put it to use.

Last thing. We are in what is described as an Intangible Economy. Here’s the definition according to Wikipedia:
In the Intangible Economy, four factors of production - knowledge assets (what people know and put into use), collaboration assets (who people interact with to create value), engagement assets (the level of energy and commitment of people), and time quality (how quickly value is created) are the four key resources from which economic activity and competitive advantage are primarily derived and delivered today.

I believe we have all four components at our disposal. That would leave us no excuses, right?

Nick Berry

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Task, Completion Plan, System, Goal, Big Picture

Sales and marketing is the most important system in most, if not all of the businesses we consult. It is either their most impressive and valuable tool, or it is the area where they lack the most. Either way can make a tremendous impact, in either a positive or negative light. Certain businesses are very dependent upon relationships for their sales and marketing. An owner with a few good connections or clients who send referrals can build a fairly large clientele. That’s great until they decide they want to cut back on their workload or it is time to sell. At that point, the revenues drop, or prospective buyers will recognize the risk of losing clients. This reduces the value of the business, and I know, you’ve heard me talk about it repeatedly.

So do you have your systems in place?

On the flip side, some businesses build lead generation systems that are not “personality based” or “owner dependent”. They are based on advertising, direct mail, location, or other systematic techniques that have been proven to work.. The lead generation is where it all begins, and is step one in your sales and marketing system.

Step two is giving the leads to trained salespeople who know how to close a reasonable percentage of the prospects. These systems are tracked and fine tuned to improve performance. In our weekly staff meeting this morning I reiterated the reason behind our systems and completion plans – predictable results. Every result we want to achieve is outlined in our Big Picture, and in this case is enrolling new clients in our programs. Our completion plans outline the precise steps in each phase; lead generation, sales appointment, closing, enrollment, program design, renewal, and upsells throughout the process – all have detailed steps and themselves form a system. Software companies, distributors, service businesses and many other businesses use these techniques to improve their business and increase the transferability of the business.

Here’s my question to those who haven’t developed business systems yet:

Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable with a sales system that is independent of the you and your personality and proven over time?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Incredible Weekend

We are back from the bootcamp, and I feel like my head is on fire. Sooooo many ideas, so many emails and questions………

I love it.

I met so many great people. Smart people with a nose for business. People that we can work with and learn from, and I'll take that at every opportunity.

I enjoyed seeing and hearing the same things that each of you should have seen and heard this weekend. And most importantly, without a doubt, the word of the weekend was……


Go figure.

No less than a few hundreds times, we heard that word. Needless to say, my head was spinning.

Everyone mentioned systems. And that's great, systems are that important. The sooner we recognize that, the better off we are. However, I don't think I heard anyone mention what systems will give you that nothing else in the world will:

Predictable results.

Not 100% predictable, but what in the world is?

Increasingly predictable.

Which is the cornerstone of your business being independent of you, and you opening up your ‘money-making window.’

Honestly, this is not to say I told you so. This is just a reminder of what systems can do for you (or not do).

What Are You Working For?

Admittedly, the title should be "What Are You Working Toward?", not "-For?"

Keep the momentum from this weekend.

Nick Berry

P.S. Thanks Ryan. Your work is truly appreciated.