Aaron Hall: I’m Aaron Hall, attorney in Minneapolis, here with author Mark LeBlanc who is also a consultant working with business owners. He authored a book titled “Growing Your Business” as well as another, but one of the topics in “Growing Your Business” is understanding the numbers. Often, business owners have a struggle keeping track of their finances and really understanding the financial position of their company. They may even just look at their bank account to figure out how they’re doing which, as you know, is a terrible way. Could you give a couple of tips to business owners about how to get a grip on their money?
Mark LeBlanc: I certainly can and I think money is maybe the most important thing about small business because if the money side of your business is not clear, everything else is muddy. And it’s not just money from a greed perspective or that more is always better, but I really want people to have a high degree of clarity. You know, one of the tips that I suggest to people is throw away the concept of the calendar year and the annual goal. They often do more to discourage us. We all know that New Year’s resolutions tend not to last and part of that is just simply the calendar year. So what I want people to do is look at three levels in their business. I call it the SRO formula, and I always look at things from a monthly perspective. So even if you have an annual goal divided by 12, and that would be your monthly optimistic number. So it’s like you really want to get connected to…what do you need to generate every 30 days to survive? What’s your survival number? And then based on how you’re operating your business or your practice before, what’s realistic for you to generate on a monthly basis? But if you could look at the crystal ball and say, “If I could be at or near this number every 30 days, that would be pretty exciting,” and then create your daily focus around that particular optimistic number, not what you need to survive. I find that it creates a sense of urgency because sometimes, the annual goal lets you off the hook, even when you start to think in terms of the fall or coming into the holidays. If you’re off track from what you wanted on January 1, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to slide into the holidays thinking, “Well, I’m going to get ready to get ready, and I’ll start all over again on January 1.” And then our New Year’s resolutions tend to fail again.
Aaron Hall: So you break it into daily goals that are actually attainable on a daily basis, and you can see how you’re doing.
Mark LeBlanc: One of the best practices that I share is once you have an optimistic monthly number, that you ask the A.M./P.M. questions every day. In the morning, your A.M. question is what am I doing today to book or generate my optimistic number of x? And at the end of the day, your P.M. question is what did I do today in order to book my optimistic number of x? And you just insert whatever your monthly target is. Just by asking those two questions everyday—one in the morning and one in night—you will begin to make your decisions differently. And then if you could build your day or ground your day upon what I call “three high value activities,” and a high value activity is a business development step connected to the execution of a marketing strategy.
Aaron Hall: So could you give me an example?
Mark LeBlanc: Well, I sure can. Everybody in business has a business card on their desk and, for whatever reason, they’re not making that call, even though the person who gave you the card said, “Hey Aaron, why don’t you give me a call? I’d like to know a little bit more about what you’re doing.” And for whatever reason, time goes by very fast and even with good intentions. So a high value activity can be as simple as making one telephone call that you’ve been putting off or sending one e-mail or sending one notecard. If I could give small business owners, and even though they’re juggling a lot of responsibilities, if I could get them to plant three seeds a day, day in day out, typically in a year, they have more business than they know what to do with.
Aaron Hall: Any other tips for getting a grip on your business and specifically, your finances and your numbers?
Mark LeBlanc: One of the most important things that I share is know plus or minus carryover, and what I mean by that is reset your counters to zero every 30 days. So if you generate or you book your optimistic number in a month, you reset your counters to zero for the next month, and you start all over again. We’re very good at resetting our counters to zero on January 1. Why have one New Year’s celebration a year when you could have 12? And so imagine if you can keep that same sense of renewal and enthusiasm that you have typically the first five days on January, you don’t have to wait another 360 days to have five good days. But if you get into the habit of resetting your counters to zero every 30 days, you can let go of whatever did or did not happen and recommit yourself to what you want.
Aaron Hall: These are great examples of the nuggets of wisdom in growing your business. People can get this on Amazon as well as your website.
Mark LeBlanc: They can get it on Amazon.com or smallbusinesssucess.com.