Aaron Hall : I’m Aaron Hall, attorney in Minneapolis. I’m here with Mark LeBlanc. Mark authored 2 books : “Never Be The Same” and “Grow Your Business”. He works with small business owners consultants, start ups, entrepreneurs.
Mark, what challenges or frustrations or needs are your clients dealing with before they come to you?
Mark LeBlanc : It’s interesting you ask. I think obviously, the challenges of the economy. People’s numbers are down. There’s a tremendous amount of fear out in the marketplace.
I wrote an article a number of years ago, about 4 years ago when the economy went dead titled “Don’t You Dare Blame The Economy”. Chase Bank booked me 15 times to bring that presentation or that message around the United States.
It wasn’t to make light of the challenges of a down economy. But I think we found out what we’re made of when our backs are against the wall. It was really a call to step back and be more creative and innovative than you ever were before.
Aaron : Interesting. So the business owners out there who are maybe using your services, what pain are they feeling right now? What are they going through?
Mark : I think it’s a question of being stuck. Their numbers are down and they don’t know what to do. Even with all the information and all the great advice out there, it’s sometimes not even a question of knowing what to do, it’s knowing what to do in the right order.
Aaron : What value do you add when you get involved in understand their business and help them?
Mark : Threefold really. Whenever I work with somebody or whenever I speak to an audience of business owners, there really are 3 objectives in my mind. One is for them to grow their revenues. Second, to put more money in their pocket as a business owner because business owners are notorious for taking too much, too soon or too little, too long and finding that blend and balance is key.
But then, third which has been a fascinating issue or topic over the last 4 to 8 years is making sure that they’re doing more of the work that they want to do and not just responding just to the needs of the marketplace. Because I hear a lot of people say, “Mark, I’m doing this and this and this, but I really want to do more of this.”
Aaron : Do you have any example without saying names of a business owner that you work with, challenges they were facing and how you were able to help them out?
Mark : In a small business world, really in the micro business world, the SPA defines small business up to 500 employees. In my mind, that’s a pretty good sized business.
But in my world, the world of professional services, 80% of the chamber members earn a million dollars a year and have no employees to 10 employees. A lot of that as small business grows on the enthusiasm and energy of the owner himself or herself.
As they begin to grow, they run into the challenges of managing and leading a team of 3 or 6 or 9 people. That could be a great challenge to get everybody on the same page.
Aaron : What is your process when a business owner comes to you?
Mark : Step 1 is really to look at the money side of their business or practice. It’s often the area that people in small business are afraid of and don’t want to look at. I want to get people to look at how they track their numbers. We developed some proprietary ways of not only how to track their numbers, but at how to look at their numbers so that they can make better decisions about their focus and their marketing efforts as well.
Aaron : Any ideas that you think may be helpful for viewers to know about?
Mark : Just one marketing strategy in particular that I’m known for that I’ve been sharing for a number of years. It’s called developing your target 25 advocate strategy.
Most of us live and breathe or die by referrals or lack thereof. It’s a simple strategy and the essence of it is to put together your own little group of advocates. I called the target 25.
But whether you have 25 or you have 17 or 9, really identifying that network of champions or cheerleaders for you and then creating a systemized and structured way to maintain top-of-mind presence with the people who believe in you and your work.