Archive for the ‘Business Owner Mindset’ Category

 

23 Tiny, Easy Tips to Use at Networking Events

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. People refer people they know, like, and trust. Think about what makes you know, like, and trust others. Then take that laser focused intent with you to every networking event you attend. You’ll have more fun, expand your influence and become more successful. What could be better?

Okay – you’re at a networking event, now what?

1. Come early – the 15 minutes before the event are where the ice gets broken. The initial conversations that help people get comfortable are where stories are told and initial impressions made. I remember Sean showing me the website about how to make cheese (honestly, before that I couldn’t remember his name.)

2. Wear something that’s a conversation starter – it makes it easier for the other person to walk over and make a friendly comment to break the ice.

3. Show up often – If it’s the third time we’ve met, now I can ask something from last time. Secretly, the first time I was overwhelmed from meeting too many new people and you got lost in the overload. Please don’t hate me.

4. Act like the host – There is someone in the room who doesn’t know anyone and might feel uncomfortable. Note, they’re standing by themselves. Make their day by introducing them to someone friendly, has something in common, or might be a good business contact.

5. Say their name – After they’ve introduced themselves, use their name. “It’s nice to meet you Sean”. People feel good when they hear their name and chances are you’ll remember their name later.

6. Smile – It makes the other person more comfortable, and you too.

7. Meet people more, not more people – Don’t look around the room for the ‘next’ person you need to talk to. When I’m talking to you, you’re the only person in the room.

8. You’re NOT working the room – You are connecting with people building trust, relationships, and connections.

9. Get people to talk – ask them questions like, “What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?”

10. Listen, no really – ask questions you really want to know the answer to, “What do you see as the coming trends in your industry?”

11. Treat each business card you receive like it’s an introduction – Read it, comment on it. Make sure it doesn’t get lost. Give yours only after it’s appropriate.

12. Remember something for next time – It’s okay to write it on the card. We all know that committed, busy, successful people have systems.

13. Give a complement – be sincere; it will make their day.

14. Share a story not a sales pitch – An interesting, unique story will be more memorable than your 30-second infomercial.

15. Give before getting – Ask, “How would I know if I ran into your ideal client or prospect?”

16. Exit gracefully – “Well, I don’t want to take up all your time. I’m sure you have other people you want to talk to and so do I. I’d like to continue our conversation, so why don’t we plan to get together? I’ll call you next week.”

17. Stay late – the best conversations happen after the event, that’s where you get past ‘small talk’ and can follow up on something they said.

18. Give generously of your time – We remember people who’ve helped us. Be someone helpful.

19. Be trustworthy – Little things like showing up, being happy, talking to people, and being consistent communicates trust.

20. Touch them later – a nice-to-meet you card, a quick voicemail, an article about what you’ve discussed will make you likable.

21. Ignore naysayers – That little voice inside that says “no one will call me so what’s the use” is that same voice that doesn’t want you to be successful. We all have that and some of us have real people saying it too. Unless they are successful, busy people in your own field and stage of development, ignore them.

22. Have faith – Success is the result of small efforts repeated. No one came here today waiting to write you a check.

23. Keep improving – Each event, be a little more sincere, a little more attentive, a little better follow up. You’ll be amazed at your skills by this time next year.

These tiny steps will make you enjoy your networking events more. You’ll get more people
that you know, like, and trust so you can be a better resource to your clients. And yes, more
people will know, like, and trust you too.

Why go to all this effort?
“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
- Dale Carnegie

Now stop reading about 23 Easy Tips to Use at Networking Events and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset, Increase Sales Tags: , , , , ,  •  No Comments

51 Ways Your Business Can Pay You

With a tremendous number of tax favored ways your company can pay you, you’ll want to decide which ones help your family and business most. Best news, you can make changes that fit your changing lifestyle & business, adding selections as your family and business grow.

1. Paycheck / Owner Draw / Salary – Okay, this is the obvious
2. Business use of your home tax deduction
3. Rent from the business
4. Training and education you desire
5. Travel related to business you get to choose
6. Choosing your own travel modes, timing, and conditions
7. Extra days traveling paid by business
8. Travel conditions you choose
9. Choosing your favorite meals & entertainment places, foods, and times
10. Cell phone
11. Choosing your own Equipment brands, tools, and power toys
12. Lend Money to your company
13. Collect interest from lending
14. Negotiate favorable terms
15. Retirement plans paid by company
16. Flexibility in choosing the best retirement plan for you
17. Deferred Compensation
18. Welfare benefit fund
19. Cafeteria Plans
20. Adoption assistance
21. Dependent care assistance
22. Education assistance
23. Distributions on profits
24. Set up Benefit Programs you desire such as:
25. Vision coverage
26. Dental coverage
27. Medical coverage
28. Health Savings or Flexible spending accounts
29. Business working conditions – that you get to choose
30. Business partnerships that you get to choose
31. Auto provided for your use – you get to choose
32. Parking & parking passes
33. Family on payroll instead of hand out
34. Building emergency reserves
35. Building expansion reserves
36. Certain meals for business, family, friend, & prospects
37. Benefits that can be excluded to executives:
38. Athletic facilities
39. Meals for business convenience
40. Lodging for business convenience
41. Additional health plan coverage
42. Family peace of mind, including:
43. Life Insurance
44. LTC Insurance
45. Disability Insurance
46. Key man Insurance
47. When selling your company – you get to choose when & how
48. Golden parachute on company sale
49. Working part time & flexible scheduling after company sale
50. Goodwill throughout your community
51. Control over your own destiny – Priceless!

Every business is different and every family is unique. Sit down with Merra Lee and see what makes sense for you and your business today.

Now stop reading about 51 Ways Your Business Can Pay You and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset, Small Business Taxes Tags: ,  •  No Comments

Strategic Debt Payoff – Consider future business flexibility when you choose which ‘debt’ to pay next

Many small business owners have multiple debts to pay thanks to the Great Recession and the debt culture we unwittingly bought into over the last 10 years. Stunned as banks have tightened rules, and frightened by the uncertain economy many have become focused on reducing overall debt. Many business owners have numerous debts such as equipment loans, lines of credit, or personal loans. The question is where focus your debt pay down dollars once there are a few more dollars in your cash flow?

The common wisdom is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. That reduces your lifetime out of pocket expense, right? But, consider your next target debt payoff from the one that gives your business the most benefit two to three years from now. It may not be the one with the highest interest rates.

In your small business strategic debt payoff plan, consider the issues of quickly improved cash flow, future re-borrowing capacity, flexibility when borrowing from ‘yourself’, or collateral available for funding expansion of your business. Examples in your strategic debt pay down include:

Paying the smallest debt first. It leaves you with those ‘extra’ monthly dollars to accelerate payoff of the second or third item on your list.

Paying off a credit card. Results in that re-borrowing capacity. This has typically been the debt of choice due to high interest rates.

Paying off a Line of Credit. This also leaves you with re-borrowing capacity, and at usually much lower interest rates than credit cards.

Paying off a personal debt. Perhaps that person will loan again in the future. Also from the continued goodwill perhaps refer you some business. And you will maintain your friendship.

Paying into an emergency fund. Your emergency fund is a kind of debt you owe yourself. As your own banker, you’d give yourself a zero-interest loan. Consider it a loan from the bank of you since you’d need to rebuild that account. It also avoids the use of credit cards. Emergency funds are very liquid and without hassle when you need to ‘borrow’ from yourself in the future.

Paying off an income producing asset. Paying off a rental home or a large equipment loan leaves you with collateral that you can borrow against in the future for business expansion. Perhaps the rates will also be lower the next time.

Paying off student loans. While you may feel good to be finally done, there’s no future borrowing flexibility if you need this money later.

Building a 401(k), Roth, or other retirement plan. A few of the retirement choices may be accessed in a pinch when you know the strict IRS rules governing them. When used according to the rules, ‘borrowing’ from these accounts may appear to have little dollar cost (compared to credit card debt). Used excessively, they have often a bigger hidden cost of robbing tomorrow to pay for yesterday. So use these sparingly and with sincere respect for the debt you owe your future self.

Other types of debts. I can’t cover everything in an article this short. Careful consideration of what debts to focus on paying down and accounts to build up will foster your ability to weather the next Great Recession. Call me and we’ll figure out how best to position your business for the strongest position possible.

Now stop reading about the Strategic Debt Payoff and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

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Are You Shortening Yourself at Work on Your Invoice

If You Sell Your Services, You’re Getting Paid Too Little

If you sell services, you may be working for free. When I’m working with self employed business owners who sell services, I nearly always find that they are not billing for some part of their work.  That is, their invoices are missing what they could get paid.  These lost billings can be the difference between making a living and having money for business and family security, expansion, and retirement.

Here are the major ways self employed professionals and contractors are losing money in their invoices:

Not writing down your worked hours daily. Lax time tracking leads to missing dollars on your invoices.  If you are charging time and materials, your customer has already agreed to pay for this time.

Not billing quickly for work completed. When you wait a couple weeks to invoice, the ‘newness’ has already worn off of the wonderful job you did.  This leads to customers questioning the invoice more often, leading to slower pay and sometimes challenging the invoice.  Either way you’ve lost money.

Missed additional services. When you hear your customer say, “hey, could you fix this thing over here…”, that’s the sound of appreciation and opportunity.  If you discuss the additional cost as soon as the customer makes the request, their most likely response will be “That’s fine.”   If you wait till you later invoice, or worse yet miss it, you may be losing money on your invoices. Extras clients most likely knew they would pay for but now assume they won’t because you didn’t mention it at the time.

Multiplying these issues with employees. If you miss invoicing opportunities on our own work, I guarantee your employees are too.  They follow your example, pay less attention to the money than you do, and generally get paid by the hour (sometimes even if the customer did not get billed for that hour.)

When my clients find, systematically reduce, and capture these lost billings they find the money to build operating reserves, pay themselves more, build expansion funds, and increase their retirement savings.  This often happens without working extra hours. In many cases it also saves time.

So how do you do it?   That’s the part that takes a little time, thought, and process.  Here’s one new solution that I’ve seen work well.  There’s an iphone application that allows contractors to quickly build quotes either while on the customer site or shortly thereafter, such as during a coffee break.  This application quickly turns the quote in to an invoice after adjusting for the actual hours worked and materials used.  Thus both the quote and invoice can be done quickly, usually the same day as the job.  Since it is easy to add hours on the go, it can be quickly adjusted to reflect actual time spent.  Finally, since it is simple to use as well as economical, employees can use it as well.

If you’d like to discuss profits through better invoicing or to find other ways to build your own profits without working harder so you can build a healthier financial future, give me a call.

Now stop reading about Your Invoices and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

SYSTEM – Save YourSelf Time Energy & Money

How many yellow sticky notes can you juggle before they mysteriously start crawling away?  In desperation, you start doing things the same way each time and voila you’ve developed a system! Let’s take it to the next level; actively search for routines you can systematize.

Save YourSelf.  It’s your business so the benefits of more saved time, energy, and money will flow to you.

Time.  By doing things the same way each time, you have the tools, forms, and answers closer to-hand saving you time.  You’ll spend less time tweaking the tools, finding the forms, and searching for solutions. Systems can be trained into employees, so you’ll be able to delegate confidently, leaving you to spend that time elsewhere.

Energy.  Let’s face it; it’s exhausting making dozens of decisions and creating new ideas every day.  Systematizing may improve those numbers to a more energizing level.

Money.  Also you’ll save money. When you’ve created systems, you can spend less money paying for customization, special skills, and training.  Starbucks delivers high quality, high value, high priced products, yet delivers it with minimum wage employees.  Using systems, you’ll be able to measure and fine tune your results.  Only through repetition can you hone your skills to see where faster, cheaper, better results can be achieved.

Here’s an example.   When I meet new people, I use a simple follow up system.

1)   I send them a hand written note card so they’ll remember me.  I have blank cards, stamps, and an assistant to help make this fast, easy, and meaningful.

2)   My intern enters them immediately into my contact management system.  So if I need to follow up by phone or email, they’re in my iphone quickly.

3)   I add details about their interests next time we meet. Thus, I can learn what they’re interested in, so I can make suggestions or referrals and remember what’s important to them.,

4)   I send them emails of my upcoming events, seminars, and socials; but only if I think they’d be interested.

5)   About the 4th or 5th time I ‘chat’ with someone, I have an idea if any of my services or products would make sense to them so I can make a helpful offer rather than an intrusive sales pitch.

6)   Once a week, I look for my ‘network’ of connected people using Internet social networking services LinkedIn and Facebook.  I get notices of their profiles being updated (new job, new project, new interest).  I compliment, congratulate, commiserate or contribute in a meaningful way depending on what’s happening in their lives.

7)   I use referral groups like PRE (professional Referral Exchange, LEADS and WIN (Women in Networking) to meet, connect with, and find referrals for others.

This system steadily increases the ‘connectedness’ I have with ever larger number of people. It becomes easier to spend my time and energy thinking of ways to really help people since my system handles the mechanical part of deciding when and how to connect and keeps the tools near to hand.

If you are looking for better systems to connect to more entrepreneurs in a meaningful way to build your business, ask me about the new Greater Reading Chamber’s LEADS program or a group in your area. Drop me an email or give me a call.

Now stop reading about Saving yourself Time Energy and Money and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Measuring your Referral Network

First the real question.  Do you measure your referrals and where your customers originated?  It really isn’t difficult if you just want to get started.  A tally sheet kept at the cash register, a customer database, even a 29-cent Palm Pilot (a pocket-sized spiral notebook) will get you an initial measure.

Why track client referrals? If you know how much time, energy and money went into getting your clients, you can see which methods you want to keep when you are looking for expenses to cut.  You would cut the one that was least effective, not the one that was most expensive. Alternatively, when looking for more customers, you’d want to expand the programs that are most effective.

Be careful what you track. A common approach is to measure the final trigger that ‘caused’ the prospect to become a customer; for example, being introduced by an existing client.  That, however, leads to some inaccurate conclusions.  For example, I have 69 clients that have come directly from my networking efforts (PRE, Chamber mixers, Church, Boy Scouts, etc).  Those people have introduced me to another 90 clients.   It would be easy to say that the 90 came from ‘client introductions’, while only the 69 came from networking.  That would lead me to the false conclusion that I should focus primarily on client introductions to build my future business.  Especially since those are virtually free; there are no dues or mailing costs and it takes very little time to generate them (except of course for the hard work I do to earn client satisfaction).   However, if I had not done the original networking effort to get the first client, they wouldn’t have been able to introduce me to their friends and family.  It’s like trying to have grandchildren without first having children!

Measure the lifetime value of a referral source. Instead, I include in my metrics for each networking group, the full count of original clients and the people they introduced to me. Thus, all 159 clients came from networking. That tells me I should keep networking and look for new ways to network. So, the lifetime value of my involvement in PRE, for example, includes all the clients that have been introduced to me by people who first became clients from PRE.  That total is 31 with 18 of those being second or third generation.

Oh, and yes I should keep on doing a good job for my clients so they keep introducing me to their friends and family.

Now stop reading about Your Referral Network and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset, Increase Sales Tags: ,  •  No Comments

Follow Up Fatal Flaws: Why Self-Employed Fail at this Most Basic Sales Skill

Okay, I admit it.  I don’t always follow up promptly every time.  And when I don’t, it ruins my whole week; I feel like a complete fool. I resolve to get better, put in a place a fail-proof, simpler follow up system and get on with my life.  So here are my pitiful, real life reasons for not following up and what I am doing about them.

“I lost your card.” Maybe men don’t have this problem, but I sometime have no pockets, my purse is not nearby, or my day timer has a loose sleeve and the cards fall out.  Maybe it’s just that I have too many places to put the business cards I receive.

So I bought a business card holder.  In fact, I bought 2, one for my purse for casual meetings and one for my carry-all, a bag that holds a laptop, notebooks, or folders, for business meetings.   If I receive a card, it goes into the business card holder, right after I write what the person was interested in and what networking event I met them at.  The card doesn’t come out until it’s ready to be put it into my sales management system.

“I forgot to call you.” We are all busy especially if we’re successful.  Yellow sticky notes no longer count as a reminder system.  And your memory is what you forget with. Let’s stop feeling bad about this and put in a system.

I started using Google Tasks <http://mail.google.com/mail/help/tasks/>.   It is always on, sits next to my calendar, and takes only seconds to add an entry. My iPhone can get to it and so can my assistant.  So I can enter tasks from anywhere as well as delegate simple tasks like sending information (if that’s what I promised you) or having her call to set an appointment for me, which I tell people if I promised to set up a meeting.

When I schedule my meetings, there’s typically a little time between them, so I can review my task list and make a quick call if that’s what I promised.

“It’s been too many days and now I’m too embarrassed to call.” My life is about paperwork, calling people back, and meeting with them face-to-face.  Sometimes with too many meetings stacked back-to-back, my task list gets too long to get everything done quickly enough to suit me.

First of all, get over it.  Many people don’t call you back for a week, and you forgive them, so forgive yourself.  Just be honest and apologize genuinely.

Now fix your system. Set a personal commitment that your follow up calls/emails/mailings will occur within 48 hours.  Then put it on your dashboard and measure yourself.  It’s amazing how focusing on and measuring a result will produce dramatic improvement.  Even if you don’t reach 100%, your success rate at prompt follow up will skyrocket.

Do I feel like a failure for exposing myself this way? No.  I work with self employed people everyday; they share their own foibles.  I’m not alone and neither are you. My clients and I work on easy, simple, no cost ways to measure and improve profits.  Follow up is free and profitable, so every self employed person should build their skill.

What have you done lately to improve your follow up?

Now stop reading about follow up and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

The 7 Deadliest Financial Mistakes Self Employed Make Coming Out of Recession

For many of my self employed clients, the sales cycle is already on an upswing.  Recovery recession has turned from a deep desire to a slow spiral of reality.  Now comes regroup, refocus and rebuild.  As you build plans for the rest of this year and into next, avoid these deadly financial mistakes that may kill your business during the next recession.  Yes, there will be a next recession; they’re a normal.

Waiting for the All Clear Signal – If you are waiting for headlines that say unemployment is falling, home sales are booming, and sales exceed expectations, you’ll be too late.

Focusing Solely on Debt – You have friends whose business lines of credit have been frozen and others just killed by debt.  Your own debt may be frightening.  As your income increases, don’t make debt reduction your only priority.  Build a stash cash for the next recession, even if you have to start small.

Forgetting Lessons Learned – Now is a great time to make a list of smart things we wish we’d done: saved more, put more away for retirement, researched more before spending, retaining marginal employees.  What did you wish you’d done?  Now don’t forget.

Old Thinking – No, we will not go back to the easy credit, easy sales, and easy growth of 2003 through 2007.  Just like the Great Depression, people’s buying habits have changed for a generation. You’ll need new sales techniques, new marketing techniques, and new customer service methods if you want to be a winner over this next expansion.

Competing on Price – Yes, most of us think Berks County buyers only care about price.  If that’s true, why is Wal-Mart not the only store in town?  Focus on value above price.

Ignoring Your Best employees – Many small businesses reduced employee work-week to save money.  In many cases, the work load didn’t decrease so employees took work home or even came into the office without pay.  If it’s too soon to put these best team player employees back on full pay, find some other way to show you value them. Otherwise, you risk them finding another job later this year.

No Plan for Next Recession – Hopefully we’ll have three or four years before another economic downturn.  Come up with a plan for getting ready.  What did you wish you’d done differently five years ago that would have made you weather this last recession better.  Then do that.

They say that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  So here’s to the newly strong, self employed getting a whole lot stronger.

Now stop reading about The 7 Deadliest Financial Mistakes and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset, Increase Sales Tags: , ,  •  No Comments

Building your Starter Business Dashboard, in Excel?

Business dashboard excel

How Small Business Owners Can Blog for Profits

Welcome to the CaptureProfits blog. A Blog (a contraction of the term “Web log”) is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Here’s what’s great about blogging:

  1. Anyone can blog - No technical skills are required.
  2. Blogs are a very inexpensive way to publish to the web – You don’t need to pay a programmer, webmaster, intern, printer, or employee to publish. Once you’ve written, just cut and paste into your blog site. Most blog software packages are free.
  3. Blogging is fast – You simply type and submit. New ideas can make it online just as soon as you can create them, in seconds.
  4. Blogs get your site rapid notice by search engines – Right now search engines favor blog entries. Search engines currently index new blogs in hours where traditional site pages sometimes take weeks.
  5. Blogs allow a broad list of topics – You can write a short bit of information without being wordy, exhaustive, or spending enormous amounts of time writing. That way you can share a long list of topics.
  6. You can have multiple blogs – Once you’ve set up your first blog, it’s very simple to add a new one on a different topic. This is great for trying out new business ideas, new marketing ideas, or even prospecting into a new community.
  7. Blogs allow you to create your brand in the eyes of your customers, industry, and press – Your blog can be used to demonstrate your expertise, your quality, your innovation, your community involvement, or whatever your company and products stand for.
  8. Blogs are a great way to build internet traffic – When you have an interesting topic, people will come back for more, generating more visits.
  9. Blogs get people to stay on your site longer -The average length of visit for a blog site is currently 96 seconds. This is informal research done by How Long Do Your Readers Stay at Your Blog – Length of Stay . While that may seem like a short time, it is two or three times the length of a commercial.
  10. Blogs convert visitors into prospects into customers into profits – Using blogs as part of your marketing program brings more visitors to your website. If your website was effective before at getting those people interested in your product and becoming customers, the trend will increase.

 So, welcome to the Capture Profits blog.  I’ll share about what my small business owners are doing right now to capture profits in their businesses. Let me know what you want me to write about by sending me comments.

Profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®, can help you blog for profit.  She spends all day, everyday helping business owners reach their financial dreams and goals by capturing business profits. She can be found at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset Tags: ,  •  No Comments