The Brownstone method for success.

Remember that 90s R&B girl group?  The chorus to their hit ‘If You Love Me‘ is a simple model for turning your dreams and ambitions into a success:

  • Say it – Declare it and share it; not wishful or empty words. Once you understand exactly what you want to achieve, you can communicate it – in detail, over and over again.  Got it? Good. Now you’re in the best place to begin.

  • Do it – There is nothing more powerful to making your dreams real than starting to do it. Doing it means trying, failing, and trying again.  Do it until you get it right. Do it a little bit at a time; practice, build up, save up… whatever it takes. It’s simpler one step at a time.

  • Show it – Once you’ve done it, let people know about it. It’s your testimony. Tell them where you were, where you are now and how you got here. Showing your success will also inspire others to do the same.

And now you’re ready to start your next dream.

Saying Goodbye to 2015

image

Before we make those grand plans for 2016, take a moment to consider this: how much of what you want for next year is based on what you didn’t get this year?

If your goals for 2016 are completing something you began in 2015, there might be a very good reason why you didn’t get it done this year. Was it a lack of time? Perhaps unrealistic expectations? Unreliable partners who let you down? Maybe a poor balance between personal and professional priorities?

Whatever the reasons are, wouldn’t it be great to know you’re going into the new year without making the same errors again? Not only that, how about making plans for 2016 without the baggage of the things, people, finance problem, etc. that held you back in the past twelve months?

Walking away from 2015 takes more than simply leaving the past behind and hoping it fades into the background. It usually doesn’t. We come across the same challenges, bump into the same people or have to deal with the same financial deficits. We suggests some practical ways of moving forward while locking the past in the past.

Accept It

As tough as this might sound, let the past go. In other words, draw a line under it. We use the ending of a film as an analogy here. Some films have a happy ending, others don’t. Some things in your 2015 had a happy ending, others didn’t. Let the credits roll and move on. Say to yourself “That was a bad situation. I lost X, I trusted Y, I spent X and it didn’t work out.” That’s the end of the story. No comebacks and no sequels. 

I did say it was tough. Everything is a lesson, or at least it is when you ask yourself “What could I have done differently?” Sometimes it’s obvious that you missed something. Faced with the same situation again you would definitely do something else. Accept that as the lesson. You may also learn that the situation was out of your control. Nothing you could have done or said would have changed the outcome. Accept that too. Now take stock and eject that movie.

Formalise It

In some cases, a business deal or relationship might be on-going. This is the perfect time of year to put some boundaries or formality around it. Perhaps someone has offered to help you with promotions for a reciprocal service. Did you receive the support for your product or service you expected?  

Whether you did or not, this is a great stage to say “let’s do more of what’s been working” or “let’s reconsider how we can work together better”. You should have numbers or anecdotal evidence to back up your conversation. Does one unit of your service have the same value to your partner? Have you been doing all the work while they have only showed up at the end?

It is worth taking time out to talk it through with them to get everything straightened out. You’re potentially going to invest  another 365 days of your time, resource and effort with them; putting aside a day to work it all out properly  leaves you with 364 days of a great partnership.

Leave It

Lethal B said it best, “Leeeave it, yeah!” Seriously. Some things are literally best left in the past. That means all of it. That thing, the deal, the person, the company, the hurt, the tears… all of it. You have sat down and considered what went wrong, or could have been done differently. You’ve decided it is not profitable to take forward into 2016. Now leave it. You can’t take everything or everyone forward with you. 

The more you are already carrying, the less you can pick up in the new year – new opportunities, new ideas, new collaborators. It is never easy to start a new partnership in 2016 when things are left ambiguous with a former colleague. It just gets awkward. It is better to go it alone, with fewer  resources, fewer contacts… especially as those haven’t helped you in the past year. Be professional, tie up the loose ends and leave it as amicably as possible. Remember this is about winning with a lesson, not looking for payback. If there is good will, you might even work together again in future, so be completely transparent and respectful.

What about the money?

What have you actually lost in real terms? There are certain things you can’t claim back: time, emotional or physical investment, hurt, ideas. You can’t get them back. Money is a different matter.  It does two things in our opinion. Firstly there might be amounts owed to you based on receipts, invoices and contracts. If you have these, you can pursue your expenses for services and goods you might have outstanding; legally if you have to.  

However if you don’t have any of this to support your claim, there is a second purpose for money. Value. You may find that the real value of the disappointment you are holding on to, when you weigh it up against your loss, is out of proportion. There’s no need to lose sleep over £200 when your future business is worth a lot more. The way I think about it, there are business courses which would cost ten times as much. If you’ve learned a lesson and know how not to repeat it, then it’s money well spent. Cut your losses. Yes, that phrase has meaning. Cut your losses and move on.

Whatever you have planned for 2016, I wish you well and pray that it is not at the cost of lessons learned from 2015. Here’s to a successful year ahead.

No Money, No Problem.

Will-NOT-work-for-free-init IG

Of course finance is important.  Cash flow is the life blood of any business, and chasing payment (ultimately, not getting paid) is a pain in the… assets.

However a lot of entrepreneurs say you have to be willing to work for free or next to nothing when you’re starting a business. So what do you do when you find yourself in that situation where you’re doing work without getting paid?  Even if you are working speculatively, you’re committing your valuable time and expertise which is worth something.  We think you could consider the following 3 ways of getting the best from the situation.

1. Ask for expenses.  Your full fee may not be available – either because you haven’t yet proven your business to ask for your full fee, or the client needs your services and products but has a limited budget.  Often a request for expenses (travel, consumables, legal or research costs) will be honoured if you can make a fair case for it.  For example, if you have to travel from London to Birmingham to speak at a conference, you can ask for train fare to be covered.  In our experience, a fraction of the bill is met more favourably than the whole fee.

2. Ask for testimonials.  Obviously your clients sees the value of your work.  If they didn’t, they would not have asked you to be part of their project.  Providing you with a testimonial is like giving a recommendation to future clients.  You can ask for a testimonial in a number of ways; either as an email request at the end of your work or with a feedback form (less formal).  Whichever way you ask for it, getting that testimonial will help you get more work in the future.

3. Ask to document your involvement. Depending on your business, you might be able to photograph, film or in some other way capture your role or your work for your website, showreel or portfolio.  For instance, if there is an important or well-known person involved, you could be filmed or photographed with them.  If that is not your preferred style, why not suggest a ‘day in the life’ article for your local newspaper or industry related blog.  Using it on your own website will give potential clients a better idea of how you work… more importantly, what you’re worth.

However you do it, getting some credit back for what you do is important to sustain your business.  While you’re working for someone else, you’re still working and there has to be some benefit to your business.  The best case scenario when working with no money is to agree all three of the above with your client.  This can be done at the point that they tell you they are unable to pay your costs.  Then confirm it in writing and make sure you stick to it… for your own benefit.

The Fisherman and the Businessman

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.

As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish. The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”

The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?”

The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”

The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”


The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”

The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

source

Understanding Your Relationship

It’s a common cliché that no two relationships are the same. This is true for both our business and our personal lives. Your partnership with one person can be more effective than with someone else. This blog breaks down some of the ways in which people work together.

I’m going to keep the jargon down to a minimum and use everyday illustrations to really spell it out. In my observation, there are 5 primary types of relationships:

1. The Fork and Knife

imageIn this kind of relationship, both Fork and Knife split the work and address what needs to be done together. They both sell tickets, or run the event, or paint the hallway or make the cupcakes. This relationship is about many hands making the work lighter or easier. Yes, one could do it by themselves (I have on occasion tackled a piece of meat with just a fork) but working together gets the job done better. One might have an advantage in a particular area i.e. access to a different kind of resource or audience. Overall what they want to achieve is the same thing.

2. The Ball and Bat

image

This is often the kind of relationship mentors have with their mentees or coaches have with clients. The Bat gives the Ball energy to go further than it could have under its own ability. In this type of partnership, the Bat and Ball don’t make the same journey. They are essentially independent until they come together.  It’s only when they come into contact, that the power happens – not independently, but through their exchange.

3. The Ball and Glove

imageThis is similar to the Ball and Bat partnership and is seen in cricket or baseball. The Glove helps the Ball connect to the right stumps or base. The Ball travels a vast distance but it’s the Glove that catches it, gets it to the right place and makes the journey worthwhile. This type of relationship is common for creative people who can have 101 ideas a minute and need more strategic partners to make a business out of the idea.

4. The Spade and Bucket

imageThe old school ‘bringing home the bacon’ analogy – when one of the team brings in a lump sum and another apportions it to what needs to be taken care of. The role of both parties is handling resources but in different capacities. I know a great fundraiser who can generate money for whichever course she chooses. Her partner takes those resources and manages the account that needs to be done. The Spade may seem more dynamic but the Bucket can handle more than the Spade could by itself. In fact, it can handle more than one Spade.

5. The Panties and Bra

imageSometimes the same method cannot be used to cover the essentials. This is the idea of the Panties and Bra relationship. They both cover different areas yet can be identified as a matching pair. They do not do the same job and are not interchangeable  They have fundamentally different ways of working. However without one or the other, things can be left exposed.

These are the five broad areas in understanding the kinds of partnerships you may have to negotiate. It is important that you know what is best for your situation.

  • Is my partner selling tickets within their demographic?
  • Am I a periodic resource for an infrequent sponsor?
  • Do I manage the intellectual offering of a highly creative person?

However you see yourself, once you get what makes your partnership work (or not), you’ll be able to improve on it to get the best out of it for both of you.

For more insights on working relationships, contact info@ideasgenius.com and follow us on Twitter @ideasgenius.

Demystifying Job Cuts.

Redundancies. Downsizing. Maximizing Value.  Corporate Restructuring.  Business Efficiency.  Cost Reductions.

A few phrases that often fill us with dread.  You’re either on the handle end of the metaphoric axe, having to make value choices between laying-off employees (or ‘closing positions’ – to use the cost cutting parlance) or you’re on the blade end.   You are the one being cut (or your budgets or services are).  Throughout my career, I’ve been at both.  In fact, I have left more organisations through redundancy and restructuring than I have for any other reason; hence writing this blog to breakdown some of the issues around cost efficiency measures.

In the old days before political correctness, it was called ‘trimming the fat’.  The implication being that the company could operate better, healthier if it were leaner… literally.  Lean process quality management systems have been employed around the world in various guises to streamline businesses – increasing productivity, maximising quality and reducing waste.  Looking back, there were the inspectors who checked and passed everything before it left the factory, then good old BS5750 – the British Standard for quality assurance or ISO9000 for the International one, then Concurrent Engineering, Lean Systems, Kaizen, Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma!

I often wondered though (just like with those washing up liquid adverts) if the first formula was as good as they said it was, why do we need the new improved version? I’m not knocking any of these process improvement methods – after all I’m a qualified Six Sigma Black Belt (look it up if you’re really curious).  I’ve even run courses training others to define, measure, analyse, implement and control problems.  Ultimately if the tool is not the problem, it must be to do with the process you use to solve the problem.  Swinging a big axe around your head won’t help you unless at some point you strike the right thing in the right way; and the theme of this blog – demystifying job cutting.

What I have learned through experience, on both sides of the axe, is whoever is making the decisions needs to know how and where to wield it.  I use the analogy of going on a diet in order to lose weight so you can visualise what I mean.  It seems a little crude considering our earlier ‘trimming the fat’ expression; however the illustration is more than effective.

  1. Cuts are not a cure.  At some point your business was deemed to be healthy, or at least healthier than it is now.  As the person in charge of making cuts, it is important that you truly understand the objectives of what you are trying to do.  A 12% budget reduction across all departments is not an objective. That’s a target. In the same way, most of us wouldn’t start out on a diet trying to lose 20 kilograms evenly distributed across our bodies.  Some areas need more, others need less.  This is why ‘salami slicing’ (taking small proportions from every area of your business) has a limited effect.   There are parts that are doing fine and are quite peachy thank you very much.  If you are going to swing the axe, appraise your business holistically.  Know what needs more and what needs less.   In some cases, even the slightest cut has very significant consequences.  This is also true when reviewing our personal finances; some expenditure can be halved easily (like your satellite TV package), others like your mortgage can’t.

  2. Reduction isn’t always the right answer.  Surprisingly, diets don’t only mean eating less.  There are types of food and drink of which you might have to increase your intake.  Yes to grilled chicken, nuts and eating more meals during the day, as long as it’s not the deep fried or honey coated kind and eaten in moderation.   Often it involves a greater investment of time to prepare meals rather than cheaper convenience foods; or buying relatively expensive supplements or diet shakes.  The same is true with your business.  The key to making yourself more productive or competitive might be to invest in a new area or renovate an existing one.  Surprisingly, when used as part of a well-thought out strategy, opening up some of the types of work you do could be more lucrative for you.  A little short term pain might produce better in the long term than savage cuts.  Why not increase the offer of your best-selling line or service? It’s already working, right; so how else could you make the most of it?  After all just because it is working well today doesn’t mean it will always perform this way.

  3. It’s what goes in that counts.  It is always more effective to review the inputs of your process rather than look at what comes out the other end.  I’ll skip the dieting analogy on this one…  for obvious reasons.  Needless to say, analysing the way a department is working might be a better option than cutting the budget.  By that I mean productivity is more than how much they are producing or how much they are spending.  The people in those teams are probably going to thank you for asking them “what could make your output better, cheaper and more efficient”.  One of the companies I worked with had a massive problem with unresolved invoices.  They had a large amount of money due to come in but it had never arrived.  It didn’t take long to work out that the process for delivery notes had been the casualty of an office move.  These remittance notes which would trigger the invoices were sitting in an in-tray on the old desk waiting to be action because the person whose job it was had left and the new person hadn’t been aware…  you can imagine the rest.  That was $400,000 worth of invoices outstanding because of a duff process.  Oh and I have more stories like that – like the faulty photocopier that ate up 1.5 people on the headcount every month!

  4. Cherish your improvement.  It doesn’t make sense to do all that work getting a new, lean body and not taking care of it so it stays that way.  Love your new process and improvements.  Bear in mind that whatever you change, invest in or cut will need to be maintained.  Otherwise you will need the ‘new improved version’ every time there is the next round of corporate restructuring.  It is worth noting what it will cost to sustain your new body or business.  How will your diet change after you’ve reached your target weight? What kind of exercises will you need to do and how often? More importantly, how much will it cost? This is the hidden expenditure that we often overlook but without it we yo-yo from fat to lean to fatter to lean-ish.  Like us, organisations can become complacent – “I’ve dieted before so I can do it again”.  This may be true but it’s harder to achieve the same results the second time round.  You’ll have less resources this time and possibly a waned incentive.  

Ultimately, most businesses do have to be competitive.  In order to do that you might have to cut costs and make improvements.  Our recommendation is not to do it alone.  There are many who have been through it and survived.  Their experience is invaluable.  If you happen to have a workforce or even a small team who care about your business, we promise you can find ways of making the whole thing a lot simpler and a lot less painful than it needs to be.  If you would like to chat more about how Ideas Genius can help your business improve contact info@ideasgenius.com.

Social Media’s 7 Deadly Sins

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Vine, Keek, Klout – so many tools to help you get your word out and so many ways to get it wrong.  We know this because we’ve done it ourselves.  Here are seven of our lessons learned.  Hopefully these will help you to speak more effectively with your friends, followers, fans, clients and audiences on Social Media.

Quality, not Quantity

Our very first lesson and one well learned.  Social media is not about how many followers or friends you can get.  It’s about who you can effectively connect with.  We spent almost two years before we worked it out.  Fifty contacts that are actively engaged with what you do are much better 10,000 who you’ve collected.  If you’re a journalist, connecting with a handful of hacks will serve you better than lots of people who just happen to know you.

 

Use it or Lose It

You may not lose the number of followers or friends, but you do lose credibility if you don’t engage with your Social Media connections.  It’s a conversation online.  So when you stop talking or listening people lose interest.  You may not be sure a high priority ‘reply’ or ‘like’ after 3 months of silence.  It’s also important to remember it’s not all about you.  Even when you have nothing to say yourself, get involved in your friends conversations: commenting, retweeting, liking.  After all it is a two way conversation.  

 

Content Is King

Looking for more retweets?  Use more content – pictures, video, etc.  It is always better to use the content uploader which is native to the platform.  Simply put tweeting a picture with twitpic is better than attaching a link from Instagram or Facebook.  In our experience, retweets are five times more likely with content than those without – even when you do add ‘pls RT’ to your message.

 

Tell Me About Yourself

Bios are REALLY important.  They are the short descriptions that you write about yourself.  What we learned was it is often the first (and the last) thing people read to find out about you.  It should tell a potential friend or contact everything they need to know about you.  Why are you a good connection to have?  What are your expertise?  What can they expect from being connected to you?  Your bio should always say what you are doing now and how people can get in touch with you.  Also keep it consistent across all your social media platforms.

 

Hashtags

Get into discussions with hashtags rather than simply inventing your own.  For example if you’re running an event about social media called ‘Let’s Connect’ you will get much more interaction using #socialmedia as a hashtag rather than #letsconnect.  A bespoke hashtag is great if are making a massive impact but for most of us, it’s better to go with the existing flow of conversation.

 

Know Your Worth

If you are using Social Media for business or promotion, it is important to know how effective your social media activity is.  There are plenty of analysis tools for Twitter: Tweetstats, Tospy, Tweetreach… to name a few.  We had to learn that the time you spend on Social Media is important, so your return on that investment has to be quantified. Is your message getting to everyone you want it to?  If not, why not?  If so, what can make it better, louder, clearer?

 

Get A Little Help

As well as looking at what you are doing with Social Media there are also tools that help you manage how you do it.  Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are the ones we use but there are many others out there.  They can help you plan your messages and content.  It frees you up from having to check your phone every few minutes to see if there has been any interaction.  Grab yourself a coffee and spend fifteen minutes with your Social Media tool.  We promise you will get much more out of doing it this way, rather than trying to respond to everything as it comes through.

 

There are many more ways we can help you get the most from Social Media for your needs.  If you would like to find out more get in touch with ruth@ideasgenius.com

How Much Should I Charge For What I Do?

image

Ideas Genius gets to the heart of making a business out of your ideas.  Today it’s that dreaded area of money and getting paid.  This post is a practical guide for how and what to charge for your service, product or idea.  To begin, we all have different attitudes towards money (which is a completely different topic – may go into that in another blog), so we need to establish certain principles. 

The Head Game

Firstly, let’s flip your thinking about transactions – that is, exchanging what you have for what they (your clients) have.  We re-frame that as exchanging what you WANT for what they NEED.  It sounds simple but that distinction is important.  They have come to you because they have a need or problem. They are trying to fix, resolve or satisfy the need.  Your business or idea is the solution to that.  If the customer has contacted you, it is no longer a question of whether your product is what they want. You’re talking about it so, at the very least, they have given your service a high probability of meeting their need.  And guess what?  You are willing to give them that solution in exchange for something… Sounds like a win-win situation already.

The transaction is about now about price, and no longer just about the product.  Most businesses send a lot of time trying to tweak what they offer to fit a price.  Think product first about it.  Your customer already knows what they want the item to do.  It’s the reason you go into a shop to ask about a pair of shoes or call a plumber for a quote.  You are convinced that the product or service is what you need. In your mind, you have already considered that this could be a good option IF the price is right.  We rarely ask the shopkeeper to take an inch off the heel so it meets your budget or ask the plumber to only reduce the size of the leak because you can only afford that much.  Once you understand that you are in a good position to help your customer out, you will be more confident about how and what you charge for it; and whether and how you negotiate. So first of all, be confident in your product.

The Decision Is Yours

Yes or yes?  How much you charge is completely up to you.  You have all the options.  The customer is always right, yes.  However, they don’t dictate how you run your business.  They can only decide:

  1. I want it and
  2. I can afford it.  

Your job is to make what you offer affordable and that does not necessarily mean making it cheap.

You can decide that what you have is of a different quality, or is more convenient than similar services; either you have a wider range or are a specialist niche.  These things are all distinctive about your brand, service or product, and what you offer is unique.  So before you work out how much you are going to charge, decide WHAT it is you’re offering?  Are you a McDonalds franchise or The Ivy?  Do you deliver a bespoke service or one size fits all?  Is your product a rarity or convenient? 

Stay In Your Lane

The final point before we get into putting your numbers together is subtle but very important.  Not everyone wants the same thing.  You may not be able to satisfy everyone with the same product or service.  Once you know the type of business you are… stick with it! It is easy to be tempted to change your pricing because your market is quiet and others in your industry or specialism ‘appear’ to be doing better.  It is critical that you stick to your guns because that is as much a definition of what you offer as your brand itself.  

Imagine a high-end service provider offering bargain basement rates overnight; or a 99p store selling items for £10.  You have already started to think about the possible back story which may make you feel insecure or unstable about buying from that business.  Sticking to your prices is vital to your credibility.  However, there are ways of making promotions and negotiation work in your favour to meet an opportunity or gap in your market (that’s a completely different blog).

So How Much Do I Charge?

In pitching your business or idea to a price, three things are key:

  1. How much does it cost to make?
  2. How much income do I expect from the business overall?
  3. How much am I likely to sell it for?

 

How much does it cost to make it?

Everything has a direct or indirect cost.  In our experience, this is the hardest things for a new business to work out.  Even when the only thing you put in is time; time has a cost.  If you were not doing this, what would you be doing and how much could you earn in that time?  Too much already?  Sorry, we’ll slow down…

image

Let’s look at price with a common example:

Cupcakes – a popular business opportunity at the moment, but how much do you charge for a cupcake?  Well first of all, you would rarely make just one cupcake.  All that shopping, mixing, baking and icing for one cake?  Perhaps 12 cupcakes are more likely.  Already we had worked out that even when we sell one cake, it is part of a batch of twelve. So it might be easier to look at pricing from the perspective of 12 cakes rather than just one.

Here’s how much to charge for 12 cupcakes:

  • Add up the cost of all the ingredients including the cups.

  • Add the proportion of your electricity bill or gas bill to make the cakes (yes, you do need to know that)

  • Add your time (how many hours does it take to make them – including going to the shops for the ingredients)

  • Add the time and method they will get to the client (are you delivering them or are they picking them up?)

We’ll stop here.  This should be the very basic price you charge for 12 cupcakes – if you do this process every single time you get an order.  For the price of one cupcake, divide by 12.

Now you can add the following things that make you a more than basic supplier of cupcakes:

  • A proportion that covers your packaging and marketing

  • A proportion to cover your administration costs, phone, website etc.

  • Another slice to cover development i.e. investing in yourself to be a better cupcake maker (training course, a new recipe book, extra dough and icing to experiment with, etc.)

  • Oh and what about a profit?  You do have other bills to pay.

This does mean taking some time out to look specifically at what you do and how you plan to do it.  It can be quite confusing but we promise you that it’s well worth the attention.  If you need assistance to go through this for your business, contact us and we’ll help you work it out.  


How much income do I expect from the business overall?

A common assumption is that once you start your business you will be charging enough to pay all your outgoings.  So if your monthly bills come to £1000, you would have to sell £1000 worth of cupcakes.  Wrong!!  More like £1000 plus the costs making and delivering all those cupcakes.  Immediately you’ll see that you’ll have to sell a lot more than 12 cupcakes a day otherwise you’ll be kicked out of home for rent arrears.

In our example, we researched other suppliers and twelve cupcakes can range from £15 – £60 for a dozen. So we’ve pitched ours here at £30. We’ll explain a bit more about researching later.

Next, sizing your business as ‘how much per week/per month/per year’ can be really helpful in setting the right charge price.  You may then choose to make cupcakes as one part of your business, but also birthday cakes which you can charge more for.  Hey… and why not wedding cakes?  You could charge a lot more money because they are even more special but with pretty much the same equipment and ingredients.  Now you’ve got something that each month looks like this:

  • 10 orders of cupcakes (at £30 each order)
  • 4 birthday cakes (£50 each)
  • 1 wedding (£500 – evidently I don’t buy wedding cakes often)

That’s £300 + £200 + £500 = £1000.  Note: this is not all profit.  What you have started to do however is work out that some of what you do will sell for more than others.  Welcome to Product Strategy 101.

The alternative would be to try and make 34 orders of cupcakes a month (going to the oven 34 times rather than only 15 times in the above example).

Charging for ‘special’ orders moves you from the ‘per time’ type of pricing to ‘per project’.  Making a wedding cake might not take ten times as long as a birthday cake; but it’s special and special jobs have special prices.

How much am I likely to sell it for?

The average wedding cake can cost 10 times that of a birthday cake.  There is almost an expectation that it should sell for that much.  Whether we like it or not, some things sell for more money than other things; no matter how similar they are.

Personal trainers cost more than going to the gym by yourself or using a DVD.  Food in containers sell for less than food on a plate.  Your decision about where in that scale you want to position your brand will affect how you are perceived.  Here is our insight:

It doesn’t matter where you put your business.  You can succeed as long as you run it accordingly.

Researching similar businesses will give you an idea of what others charge in your industry for THEIR service. This should only be used as your price guide because your business may be similar but not the same.  The value of your product is often communicated with the price. This is the reason why certain brands are considered a cheaper option.  They will do the job in the same way, however there will be a different expectation.  It does not mean that one is better or worse than the other; but simply they meet a different need.

The best example of this is Primark.  Love it or not – despite questions about the perceived ‘quality’ of the products – they are one of the fastest growing clothing retailers in the United Kingdom.  A small price does not have to mean a small business. What is more important is the model of your business – the way your run your business to make it most profitable.

image

Recently in a barbershop debate, we were discussing whether or not a particular music artist was ‘good’.  The discussion compared their early underground work to their new, more pop, inclusive sound.  The implication being ‘you are better because you’re selling more records’.  One very sharp commenter remarked:

“KFC sells more chicken than my Mum but you can’t tell me hers isn’t the best”.  

Simply stated and very true.  What your customer thinks is good, best, worthwhile or affordable is all down to what you (and only you) can give them in return for them making the decision to buy from you.  There might be others doing similar or even the same thing.  However, what makes the difference between winning or losing a customer is you – firstly your product, then your price.  

If you would like to discuss your business, pricing or how to present your product in the best way possible, get in touch with ruth@ideasgenius.com.

 

Cupcake image courtesy of @KupKase – this is not their business plan 🙂

Coaches versus Mentors

Make your 2013 a better year than 2012.  We’re already one month in, so how are you doing with your big ideas:

  • Stumped by the same old problems?
  • Run out of motivation and inspiration?
  • Has the optimism at the end of 2012 expired already?

We think we can help.  Have you considered a coach or a mentor?

image

Coach or Mentor: What’s the difference?

Coaching and Mentoring are not the same thing. One of the best definitions of this difference is ‘a coach helps you decide which mountain you want to climb, by when and why. A mentor shows you how to get from the second base camp to the third.’

Simply stated, a Mentor is someone who has experience in your desired field or an associated one. They’ve either been there and done that; or they have done something similar or know people who have.

Coaches help you find the best way for you to achieve what you want; using your vision, your motivation and your ability to ensure that you will make it happen in your own way – because YOUR ambition and circumstances are unique.

A coach will set your goals with you and help you identify where you might need a mentor, so it is a good idea to have both. The choice, however, is yours.

To help that decision we have arranged for five dynamic coaches from different disciplines to answer all your questions about what they do and how they could help you; from the comfort of wherever you are.

Millionaire Mind Seminar: A Delegate’s Story

We gave five lucky Ideas Genius friends the chance to attend November’s Millionaire Mind Intensive seminar in London.  We had a great time together together ;).  Just as important are the success stories.  Here is a frank testimonial from a delegate after the event – Elvina Quaision, Silk Solutions:

“What a surprisingly excellent weekend I have just had thanks to winning a ticket on ideasgenius.com! The Millionaires Mind is an excellent 3 day INTENSE weekend that really does (if you let it) adapt your relationship with money IF like many of us you have a problem with managing your money!

Being there with the other winners and Bernard added to the experience as we supported each other and were able to explore our self-discoveries with each other. After the first day my mind was expanding at a rate bursting with possibilities. It was like someone had unlocked my self-inflicted barriers and now I was able to see huge possibilities for my business but added to that I was also seeing how to start making them happen.

As they said at the workshop, the Millionaire Mind has less to do with practical steps (which are important and I will talk about those in a minute) but has a lot to do with how you think about money and yourself. It is literally crazy how my thought processes have been restricting so many areas of my life, I am committed to not letting myself slip back… that’s where having a support system comes in!

Today is Monday the first day after the workshop and I spent the morning putting some steps in order, I have organised my accounts and then called debtors and have started Managing My Money! The result of which is that I have saved £200 a month and innumerable bank fees just from having the confidence to pick up the phone and speak confidently about my financial situation. I could speak confidently because I had spent the first part of the morning examining my statements, income and expenditure and monthly budget.

I am so confident about my financial future I am practically buzzing and my imagination has been set free because I’m not worrying about money, I control my money it most definitely does not control me.

Final word if you have the opportunity go to a Millionaire Mind Intensive, don’t let the American-ish presentation style block you or the upsell moments.  Please open your mind and go with the commitment that you will follow what you have learnt.

So, THANK YOU ideasgenius YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!”