The Art of Digital Leverage

I was hacked, on March 28th, 2018 to be exact. It took 24 hours to figure it all out.  

Luckily There was no damage, just an intrusion. Apparently, the perpetrator didn't find what they were hoping for. It's happened to me only 3 times in 30 years. The most valuable result is it changed my security mindset. I when from big picture cyber security to a personal privacy perspective. You know when you're violated, you never quite feel secure again. In this case, you can benefit from my insecurities and paranoia.

I attribute my lack of privacy awareness and the apparent lack of success by the hacker to my posture as an open book. When you have nothing to hide, you pay little attention to the issue. In this edition of the Art of Digital Leverage, we will focus on how to protect your personal privacy. 

Preventing Intrusion

Investing in strong locks is the first step. Securing the keys to those locks is a close second. Strong digital keys are the passwords you assign to every online account. Yes, they are hard to remember, so don't even try.  I recommend investing in a password vault like LastPass. It gives you the flexibility to generate strong passwords, accesses them from all devices and changes them at a moments notice. With all your software tools in the cloud, securing each with a strong password is an essential first step to securing your apps and maintaining the privacy of your personal information.

The idea of a universal password you can use to access any of your apps sounds like a great idea until you realize it works like a master key. If it becomes compromised, all your apps are vulnerable. Use a password vault to create separate passwords for each account. 

Device Passcodes

The notion of using clear adhesive tape to lift your fingerprints sounds like something out of a spy novel, except that it works in the real world. Use the strongest passcode allowed by your device. Consider assigning completely different codes to different devices. Having to unlock your device multiple times a day (or hour) can be the pain. However, the pain of becoming a hacking victim can ruin your day, your week or your life. 

Social Media Security

Social is not secure. In fact, it was designed to invade your privacy, steal your identity and use it against you. It's not all bad. Turns out it's a great tool to spy on your friends, competitors and prospects. Social media is the first place marketers, bill collectors and your ex goes to learn everything about you. Let's start with Facebook check-ins. Each time you tap check-in you're sharing your location. Not just with your friends and not just in real time. It also becomes part of your permanent record. Depending on your privacy options, you could be sharing your past life with new friends or employers.   

Besides being a huge time-sink, Notifications is the second most abused privacy breach. Check your Facebook privacy setting. Are they set to show notifications even on a locked screen? What is the point of locking your phone, if anyone can read your communications?

To develop a healthy privacy posture, start thinking like a spy. Put on the hacker's black hat and see what you can discover about yourself, your world and your privacy. Just make sure you are sitting down when the information hits your screen. 

 

Not so sure about your privacy now? Call me to discuss a personal security audit. 904-5668325

If you are feeling stressed about the quantity of technology your company is forced to deal with, you are not alone. In a recent report published by Everyday Health, the #1 effect is failing memory. Clients tell me it starts by forgetting just how much they are paying for software each month. A smooth and effective digitally powered organization requires apps and cloud-based software. Most accounts are paid monthly using automatic bank debits. Although it's efficient it's almost impossible to track the expense. It adds up. Even $20 a month grows to $240 annually. I one extreme case, we discovered a new client was spending $5,000 a month for software that didn't increase revenue, it simply drained their bank account.

If you suspect your organization has become a victim of the "$20 a month software club", here is a positive step you can take right now to regain control of your technology expense.

Tools Assessment Inventory

Our area of expertise and experience is leveraging the power of technology, specifically by identifying the hidden cost of monthly software subscriptions. The premise of our Tools Assessment is that each month you are paying for software you don't need. The Assessment identifies what you are spending, with the goal of determining whether it's working or even necessary for your business operation. I’d like to provide you a worksheet you may use to conduct the Tools Assessment Inventory.

All you need is a current bank statement, our worksheet and about 30 minutes. Just click on the link (below) to gain access to the worksheet and its easy instructions.
https://leverageunlimited.net/services/toolsassessment

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

For decades technology innovation has been driven by fear. Specifically, FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). Business professionals have been hounded to buy more and more technology, either because it was “cool” or because a competitor might gain an advantage simply by acquiring the latest and greatest software.

Finally, the IT industry has come clean on the topic. In their annual report, IT Industry Outlook 2019, the “Next Big Thing” gives way to the fusion of technology building blocks, people and processes. This isn’t anything new. Here at Leverage Unlimited, we have witnessed recurring client success when they align their tools, talents, and techniques. What is new is the industry’s revelation that technology, by itself, does not create a return on investment.

Why are we seeing a compulsion to confession this year? I believe it is a fundamental change in how technology is developed, delivered, and implemented. Our digital tools once lived on an individual hard drive, instead of in the cloud. All the processing was accomplished by a single computer, instead of a cluster of virtual machines across a server farm. Data, which was once protected behind a firewall, now is shared between devices.

To deal with the change we see in technology we must change our approach. In fact, it will require a change in your mindset. Instead of individual apps or software, think of your digital tools as building blocks you can use to extend your reach, see opportunities clearly, increase your power.

Ideas

 Here are some ideas you can put to use right now to leverage the information in the IT Industry report.

  • Take stock of your technology investment. Start with an inventory.
  • Reduce expenses by letting go of what you no longer need.
  • Identify digital tools that, “Work well with others”
  • Increase productivity and employee engagement by developing their digital skills.

Over time, processes naturally degrade. Start by documenting what you and your team do each day to surprise and delight your customers. Automate appropriately to get more done in less time.

 

My introduction to modern digital campaigning started in 2007 due to a single comment. Responding to a reporter’s question, Senator John McCain said that when he needed to find something on the Internet, he let his wife Cindy look it up on “The Google” It was with a sense of dread that I decided to check out his opponent's campaign.

What I discovered lead me, a lifelong Republican, to work with Senator Obama's campaign. My decision had nothing to do with allegiance to a political party or ideology. It was the realization that John McCain was looking out his rearview mirror, while Barack Obama not only had his eyes firmly focused out the windshield, he also had a busload of supporters onboard and his foot firmly on the gas.

I vow to remain a Republican until the day they pry my Voter ID out of my cold dead hand. I believe someone has to stick around to clean up after this party. However, in the future, I intend to support candidates who commit to change instead of maintaining the status quo. I learned a lot during that campaign. It's time to put all of it to work.

It’s election time here in Jacksonville. Whether you are a candidate for office or simply support one, what follows is everything I know about using digital leverage to win.

First Things First

Candidates, political pundits and even the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) always start with a focus on the money. Candidates track donations while pundits rank who raised the most money. Visit the SOE online and you will see a host of financial reports. While it’s true that financing a radio or TV spot costs money, and requires both time and effort, using the Internet to extend your reach requires, almost no money.

The only thing more important than building a war chest is building a Volunteer Army. If your supporters lack deep pockets or your candidate lacks name recognition or you lack traditional party support, building an army of committed volunteers is the first priority. When a volunteer publishes a post, a picture, or a video the campaign can gain hundreds of new supporters. With TV and radio the best you can do is talk at voters. The Internet allows you to engage in a conversation with them. Each conversation builds a relationship that transforms a spectator into a loyal supporter. Start by building an Army. Donations will follow.

Plan the Attack

Once you have an Army, it’s time to deploy your forces. There is nothing quite as amazing as a new recruit. They are on fire, will even walk through fire, unless you let the fire go out. Give your volunteers something to do immediately. Make sure you point them in the right direction. Traditional campaigns are often obsessed with managing the message. Modern campaigns understand the power of authenticity and allow their supporters to speak in their own words on behalf of their candidate champion.

When a candidate tells you how great they are, it’s bragging. When a supporter says it, that’s testifying. Supporters don't need much in the way of directions. Ask them to remain positive and use their own words. Ask them to share why they support this candidacy and how it makes them feel to be a part the change that’s coming. It’s helpful if they can share a photo or short video. Make sure to give them extra credit for including the official #hashtag. Here are some details you can use to leverage the power of social media.

The Power of Social Media

Photos

You could use your own camera to capture photos during a campaign appearance. Better yet, let supporters use theirs. It allows them to invest in your success. They get to use their photo to publish a post on their profile, which will be seen by their followers.

Hashtag

We are talking about hashtag singular. The use of a single tag increases your leverage. If you use 2 tags, it splits the impact 50-50. The idea that the more hashtags the merrier is a myth. Develop a hashtag that is easy to say, spell, and type. Start your tag with an action verb, iike #Vote. Add the candidates last name to make it unique. Before you make it the official campaign hashtag, test it in the real world. Tags that use first names are often recycled from other candidates. Visit the social media platform of your supporters. Type the proposed hashtag into the search box. Press Enter to see who shows up in the feed. If you are lucky, it won’t be a convicted felon, but you need to know that up front.

Summary

The team at Leverage Unlimited has a whole bunch of tips and tactics to help campaigns create digital leverage. I was asked for my advice just the other day. When I agreed to publish this post, the person said, ”You are not going to share this with my competition are you?”

It doesn’t matter if they know. The tips above will only work if you already have at least the beginnings of a following. These tips simply won’t work for a candidate with deep pockets who practices negative campaigning.

Good luck on your campaign!

I'm not a fan of New Year resolutions. Unless of course, it includes a quick way to reduce business expenses. So, if you are looking for a way to reduce the cost of your technology investment, here is an easy way to assess your investment in software in 2019.

There was a time when software was delivered in a box. Inside you would find a book or manual, along with a set of disks or CDs. Now you pay-as-you-go for something known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It's much easier, not only to acquire and maintain but unfortunately easier to lose track of just how much you're spending each month.

Each year on January 15th we celebrate the anniversary of our very first Digital Tools Assessment. While performing this software inventory for a new client, my team discovered the new client was spending $5,000 a month for a program they didn't need. While your results may vary, investing a small amount of time in an inventory of your technology often pays big dividends.

Digital Tools Assessment

The first part is easy: Inventory what you've got. Grab your last bank statement and simply highlight all of the software subscriptions. Some may have cryptic titles or descriptions, so if they list a phone number give them a call. After working your way through your software list, total them up to arrive at a true cost of your monthly subscriptions.

Once you know what you're spending, it's time for the second part: What's working, what's not. During our first assessment, we were shocked to learn that the client neither understands the actual costs, nor the value of their investment. Go back through your bank statements. For each item you highlighted, determine if the software is working. Is it providing value to your bottom line? 

Immediate Savings

Taking inventory and asking a few simple questions often leads to immediate savings. This process above can help you stop paying for software that you no longer need or doesn't work, and can lead to immediate savings for your company. 

Resources

Our Digital Tools Assessment goes beyond the simple inventory outlined above. Our professional assessment extends beyond a monthly inventory to include your annual subscription renewals. We evaluate each program to determine, if you need it, if it's working, and if it makes your team productive? 

We identify what should stay, and what should go. We then evaluate your business operations to identify what’s missing, what you need and how to acquire the right technology.

Give us a call at 904-566-8325 to learn how we can increase the value and reduce the cost of your technology investment. And Happy New Year!

 

 

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, imagine what it could do to improve your cash flow.  Mention the phrase, "cellphone camera" and construction managers think of "Selfies" or photos of what they had for dinner. Instead of spending time, you can use an everyday camera in any mobile device to save time and increase project cash flow. If you are a construction manager looking for ways to reduce the delay between submitting progress payments and getting paid. These tips are for you.

Revealing the Invisible

Field photography is old school. The ability to capture progress on your projects and instantly share it with your home office, clients and those responsible for cutting checks creates leverage. The highest form of image capture is when you can reveal the invisible. Digital photography is perfect if your projects are distant from HQ or the Clients location. You can use a drone-mounted camera to document roof installed equipment. You can provide visual access to underground construction and excavation.   

That Was Then, This is Now

If you are planning to add photography to your project management toolbox, start here"

  • Document current conditions from the start. Capture beginning benchmarks prior to mobilization. Progress is often measured by comparing where you started against where you are.
  • Like blueprints, orient your photos using the same point of view. Begin with a wide shot to establish context, move closer or zoom in to capture detail. Use a measuring tape or familiar object to document relative size.
  • For outdoor projects, shoot in the same direction and time of day.
  • Keep an eye open for safe practices, including guards, personal safety gear, and procedures.

Powerful Progress Presentations

Providing appropriate access to photos, videos and progress reports keeps everyone on the same page while eliminating the client's anxiousness about not knowing what's going on. If you choose to publish a photo gallery, organize the collection to allow for comparing images over time.

Here at Leverage Unlimited, we use live video to engage and communicate with clients each day. Live video may be a valuable addition to your digital toolbox. It can be used to communicate with clients and field operations in real time while eliminating the expense effort of travel time. 

The ability of drones to change your perspective is an asset to provide an eye in the sky while providing compliance with design specifications and documenting the need and execution of maintenance operations. 

Leveraging Digital Resources

There was a time, not so long ago, that competitive advantage in construction was obtained by using brute force. Today, the proper use of digital tools deliver projects on time and under budget with finesse and without breaking a sweat. 

 

Are you Jacksonville's best? This year's Jacksonville.com BoldCityBest contest is an opportunity to claim bragging rights for your business. You could invest in the Times-Union advertising campaign package. At Leverage Unlimited we believe a better and cheaper solution is to use the tools and resources you already have to secure a nomination this week.

Your challenge is how to connect with your best fans, give them a quick and easy way to nominate you, then tell all their friends to do the same. Easy! Here's how.

Find Your Fans

Instead of advertising to everyone you don't know, start with your best fans. You know who they are. They follow you on social media, read your newsletter; they are right there in your contact database. Make a short list of all those channels you could use to ask for their help.

Find the Shortest Path

Jacksonville.com would prefer you send your fans to their big list. Instead, give your fans a direct link that leads to your category. Use the list below to identify the shortest path to a successful nomination. 

Do It Now

The race goes to the swiftest. And the persistent. You only have about a week to secure your nomination. Post an update on social media today, tomorrow, and the day after. Today's message is, "We need your help!" Tomorrow it's, "Thanks for your help!" Next is, "We are so close!" You are not bugging them; you're giving them an update of your progress. If you respect your fans, your last message will be, "We Made the List!"

What Is Next

Once you've shown your fans the way to a successful nomination, it is a short hop to sharing your invitation with their community. Frances Fisher invited her community to nominate a company she is familiar with, RuffRubs. It is the best use of earned marketing media.

The Very Best Media

There are three kinds of media you can use to promote your business. The value of each varies. Let's start with the least effective.

Paid Media - Traditional advertising is no longer king. It is expensive and is targeted to those who know and trust you the least. The cost is high and the results are small. 

Owned Media - Your social platform, website, and blog are totally under your control. You get to target your audience and tell your own story.

Earned Media - Your raving fans are your best resource to gain new fans. It has the highest trust factor and provides the most personalized invitation.    

 For Extra Credit

Consider a short video to invite your fans to nominate your firm. Think of how you would ask a friend for help. Yes, it's that easy.

Brand Reputation Strategy

The tips above come from our brand reputation playbook. At Leverage Unlimited, we believe every business needs a consistent Brand Strategy. Call Jerry at 904-566-8325 with your questions about building a profitable brand. 

Resources - Direct Links to BoldCityBest categories

Find your nomination category below

Direct links to Contest Categories

Auto & More
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285463 

Cuisine & Cocktails 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285464

Health & Well Being
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285465 

Home & Professional Services 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285466

People, Places & Faces of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285467

Real Estate & Finance 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285468

Shops of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285469

Things to Do & Places To Be 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285470

 

Don't take my word for it. Media monitoring site Mention.com just published the definitive word in the 2018 edition of The Twitter Engagement Report. Mention works with heavyweight brands like Microsoft, AirBnB, Mercedes, and Adobe. After collecting valuable data and insights from studying more than 700 million Twitter posts and profiles, they summed it up in just 8 words, "In general, hashtags do not increase Twitter engagement." The report includes analytics and clear charts that reveal the truth behind the #hashtag myth. 

I know what you're thinking, "Well then, you're not using enough #hashtags!". At Leverage Unlimited our research indicates more #hashtags lead to less engagement. If prospect engagement is your online goal, here are some effective tactics and strategies you can use immediately to let go of #hashtabs and embrace effective engagement.

The Ultimate Question, "What's Next?"

If all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you follow them? Hashtags are used because "Everyone's doing it!" Try this instead. Craft a social post your audience is compelled to share. It should be about all the good things happening at your firm, not how good you are. It must be authentic and ring true. Before posting, ask yourself, "What's next?" to help you guide your audience along the path of engagement directly to your cash register. 

The Problem with Hashtags - The Power of Links

Hashtags lead prospects to explore everything ever published about the topic. Instead of a hashtag, provide your audience with a link to a page you control. Why would you want to send leads away instead of bringing them close?

Visuals - The Speedbumps of Social Feeds

How many social posts do you see in 24 hours? The not so funny answer is, "too many". How many were memorable? Chances are, your remember the ones with an interesting visual, either a photo or video. Use the photos you've captured to capture the interest of your audience.

You don't need a monthly $100 subscription to Mention.com to measure audience engagement. In less than 90 seconds you can scan your page feed to determine which posts generated the most engagement. It starts with a conversation from audience comments, extends to shares. Which of your posts excelled in engagement? Now you have a model for success. 

An audio cassette recording by personal development giant Earl Nightingale launched my discovery of the value of nurturing a focus on what's possible. What we now refer to as a podcast, the audio recording of Acres of Diamonds is as relevant today as it was when the book by Russell H. Conwell was published in 1890. By his death in 1925, Conwell delivered his speech 6,152 times. He invested the profits to found Temple University. It's a simple story of an African farmer who, seeking diamonds, sold his farm and traveled the continent until giving up, committing suicide. The man who bought the farm later discovered what would become one of Africa's largest diamond mines, in a stream, right in his own backyard. I believe we have acres of diamonds right in our own backyard, right here in Jacksonville.

Discovering Your Acre of Diamonds

If you've been in business for more than 5 years, I believe you have hidden treasure in your business. Your diamonds are buried in your contact database. They could be former clients, people you met only once, or those who may have said no to your original offer. How often have we heard "No" and let it write the end of the story? They may have said no, but what if they meant "Not yet"? Have you considered mining for new customers in your own backyard?

The idea for this edition of The Art of Digital Leverage came to me while working with a client to migrate to a contemporary Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platform. You don't need a pick, a miners helmet or a flashlight. All you need is a plan.

Mining Your Acre of Diamonds

If you are considering migrating your contacts to a new platform, great! Here are some tips to you can use today to see immediate results.

  • Do NOT import all your existing contacts into the new platform. It's like dragging 19 pieces of luggage through the airport. You are sure to miss your flight. Start by scrolling through your existing contacts. Being selective in choosing the most valuable existing increases the probability you will follow through by reconnecting. Jot down where you left off with this contact. Former client? Someone you lost contact with? Can't remember where you met? All are reasons you can use to pick up where you left off.
  • Once you've imported the contact, add a note to their record of how you met, where you left off, anything that points to why you wish to reconnect.
  • Use what you've learned or remembered to compose a reconnect email. The three most important items to include are, who you are, why you're contacting them, what you expect them to do. They are simple answers to the questions formed in their mind when they see your email in their inbox.
  • Instead of an "Ask" or pitch, focus on asking about their world. 
  • If you are lucky enough to receive a reply, document their response in your CRM. Whenever I coach a business professional I document three items: What we discussed, what we decided, what's next. The process forces you to take action toward building or rebuilding the relationship. 

Mining Your Existing Database

If you are happy with your existing CRM platform, you can still profit from the process of rediscovery. It's simple and you can execute it right this minute.

  • Scroll through your contacts on your phone. You can even close your eyes and let your finger do the searching for you.
  • Tap a contact, then tap their phone number. Use a script similar to the email rediscovery above. "Hi, it's (Say your name), we met (where and when)." Here's the best part. Tell them the truth, "I just saw your name in my contacts and realized how long it's been since we last spoke."

Once they realize you're not calling to ask for a favor, the conversation often results in a favorable outcome.  

Established business owners tell me they feel at a disadvantage in the digital age. Even if you are experiencing a temporary sales decline, I believe experienced managers can profit from having the best of both worlds. Future sales increases will appear when you combine traditional business rules with digital tools. Are you ready to mine for diamonds?

 

  

 

   

 

 

 

It was 20 years if it was a day. I received an invitation from an established organization to present a session on how to choose the right technology for business professionals. It would be a hybrid presentation style. No PowerPoint, no still photos with captions, just live video. I arrived for a tech rehearsal and found a ceiling projector with a pull-down screen. It's fine for PowerPoint, but live video presentations need an HD flatscreen display to provide a quality presentation. I asked their IT person if they had a TV on-site. That's when I discovered a 20-year-old, analog TV. it was 21 inches diagonal and almost two feet deep. I almost asked, "Does that still work"? I'm glad I didn't.  

Is it Working?

Later I realized the technician would have answered yes to my question. They would have plugged it in, turned it on and used the snowy screen as confirmation. From their point of view, as well as their organization, what worked in the past was proof it would work in the future. However, both the equipment and the mindset of the organization were stuck in the past. They had an analog mindset in a digital world. For leaders of traditional companies, it's a challenge of culture, are you looking backward to an analog past or forward to a digital future? 

More Technology is Not the Solution

What is the cure for this TV problem? Most managers would answer, "Buy a new flatscreen TV. Unfortunately, it would only treat the symptom. It would do nothing to change the culture. The status quo is not what it used to be. In the future, successful companies will challenge the status quo. They will look forward, move forward, not with a map from the past, but with a compass pointed toward the future.

Compass and North Star

Navigating toward business success in the digital age requires leaders to follow their internal compass. It's less about how your company has operated in the past and more about where you wish to lead your team in the future. Here is a place you could start. Pick a business process that directly impacts your customer. Disassemble the process into individual steps. Address each one with the question, "How will this help my customer?" Will it provide them with knowledge? Will it give them peace of mind? Will it provide them with a solution they didn't even know they needed? Focus on serving the needs of your customer.  is your North Star.

At Leverage Unlimited we work with clients who want to find new customers and rediscover existing customers. We invite you to learn more about the Customer Journey or contact us now. Questions? Call Jerry now 904-566-8325.   

Christian had a problem. He was successful, too successful. After years of working as a dance instructor for established studios, he decided 2018 would be the year he would become his own boss. He was immediately successful, with a growing list of loyal students. Too many in fact. Trying to keep track of all the session bookings, not to mention rescheduling and cancellations, was about to make his budding venture stumble. Christian needed a digital scheduling tool to manage his bookings, but which tool? 

It seems like every business owner starts with a focus on the tool instead of the task. The amount of possible choices is staggering, overwhelming. It's no wonder companies spend too much on the wrong solution. It's enough to give technology a bad name.

If you are a business professional that doesn't have the time to text and evaluate all of the available tools, here's a process you can use to make the right choice, in record time.

Step 1 - Define the Customer Journey

I asked Christian to describe his customer journey. We jotted down each step in the booking process. How did existing clients make appointments We uncovered all the problems around changing appointments, how and when to charge for cancellations, how to make sure everyone in the process received up-to-the-minute information, while everyone was out and about. 

Step 2 - Figure Out What's Working

The best solutions are the ones that work. A quick Google search for Ballroom Studio scheduling revealed a successful studio in Denver with a killer online scheduling strategy. In less than 10 minutes we had a likely candidate for a solution.

Step 3 - Real-world Evaluation

Most digital tools are acquired as a subscription. They start with a free trial period to let prospective customers evaluation the platform to see if it's a good fit. I opened a trial account for the scheduling software. Here's what I learned. The platform met most of Christian's booking needs. It was easy to learn and use. The vendor provided phone support. 

Step 4 - Smart Acquisition

When a trial subscription ends, many vendors lure new customers by offering a discount for annual enrollment. I recommend starting with a monthly subscription for a few months. Trial offers come with a short duration.Annual contracts rarely are refundable. Better to start with a monthly term. It may cost more in the short term but could save plenty in the long-run.    

Digital Tools Assessment

Established firms acquire technology over time. Chances are, your company has a virtual closet full of technology you continue to pay for, but never use. At Leverage Unlimited, we use the Digital Tools Assessment to develop a custom toolbox for your company. It is a proven strategy you can use to reduce technology expenses immediately.

Small Business Week

The President has declared April 29 - May 5 Small Business Week

 

In an editorial in last Sundays Times-Union, it was revealed that the board of the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) acknowledged for the first time that the status quo is not what it used to be. Board Chairman Alan Howard said JEA in the midst of "historic change: in a "dynamic market". The board points out that sales are more than flat, they are declining. The editorial goes on to say, "The entire utility industry is entering an era of rapid change. This is a shocking change in culture from its history as a conservative industry that only changes slowly." 

What is most newsworthy is not the announcement, but the timing. More evolution than revolution, the decline and "disruptive" nature of JEA's situation springs from renewable energy including solar and wind. The leadership of JEA chose to turn a blind eye toward the forces of change all around them. If a major utility with over a half-million customers can miss such a major opportunity, what about your company?

Every company in every industry will experience marketplace disruption within 5 years. The culprit is not technology, but how your customers use technology. In less than 10 years, the customer journey has changed. The long-term survival of your company hinges on the answer to the question, "Has your company changed?" As a business leader, you have a choice. You can either disrupt your organization or like the JEA, be disrupted.  Here are three opportunities you can use today to ensure that, unlike the JEA, your organization can avoid the chopping block. 

The Breakfast Club

Invite your top five customers to breakfast. Who to invite? Choose the ones who made you exclaim, "If we only have 10 more of this customer." Ask them about their customer journey. How did they discover you? How long did it take for them to trust you? What did it take for them to make the purchase decision? 

Virtual Town Hall

Take what you learned at breakfast and open a conversation. Use your newsletter to conduct a dialog instead of a monolog with your community. Too often organizations talk at their loyal customers instead of talking with them. Don't be surprised if they seem surprised. The art of listening is not a marketing trick, it's an essential part of doing business in the digital age.

Transformation

Leaders who perceive change as a four-letter word use the word disruption. Your organization's future success starts with a change of mindset. Banish the word disruption from your organization and replace it with transformation. Create a current edition of your customer journey. Take stock of your digital tools, workforce skills and talents, streamline your techniques and processes.  

JEA will be sold, and not for a favorable price. It's inevitable. Business brokers tell me it's the "sticker shock" their clients get when they realize the company they spent decades building isn't worth as much as they thought. Will your company share the future fate of JEA? Don't wait for disruption, transform. 

 

 Yes, itis real. Just as real as, Achondroplasiaphobia – The fear of midgets, or Omphalophobia – The fear of belly buttons, or Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies. Go ahead and laugh, LOL. What about your fears? Not so funny when the joke is on you. When it's personal.

Fear is nothing more than an emotion. It's induced when the subject perceives a threat. It can be a fear of an object, place or situation. Last Friday I became painfully aware that phobias are real. I've been the master of my digital domain for more than a quarter-century. I'm in control of my technology. From my perspective, Technophobia is silly, something to get over.

While speaking to a group I stressed the need to have everyone's email address. Someone said, "What if we don't have an email address?" I made a smart remark. It was thoughtless, both ignorant and arrogant. I regretted it immediately. The person in question actually did have an address, he simply didn't want to share it. I was wrong. I've requested his phone number and plan to follow up with an apology. As for you and I, perhaps it would be more helpful if I offered three steps you can use to deal with technophobia.

Accept Your Fear - You are right, it is complicated, it's difficult to accept that technology has value, especially with hacking and trolls and constant change.

Reframe the Situation - Technology can be a valuable resource for your business. It can extend your reach into new markets. It can be used to increase the velocity of your business. It can cut expenses and grow your operation by eliminating the need to build a new plant or offices in fifty locations.

Eliminate the Overwhelm - You don't need to invest in every digital tool. Many organizations have so much technology they become overwhelmed by all the choices.

Is a fear of technology preventing your organization from achieving success? Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Start small. all it takes is a call. Jerry Gitchel 904-566-8325.  

The details revealed in the release, on Friday of the latest indictment in the Russian election meddling case were shocking. I'm not talking about the charges nor the political ramifications. I'm shocked to learn they had a 1M monthly bill for social media engagement. Wow, just wow! And that's USD, not Rubles.

If an investment in social media builds influence for the Russians, imagine what it could do for your business. According to the indictment, they allegedly targeted specific user demographics, engaged with individuals and were able to influence large groups, not only those who were proponents of a cause or candidate, but also those who actively opposed.The Russians successfully generated engagement. You can profit from their strategy without a much smaller budget. Here' how. 

Finding Your Audience

  • Core Audiences -  Select your audience manually based on characteristics like age and location.
  • Custom Audiences - Upload your contact list to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • Lookalike Audiences - Use your customer information to find people similar to them on Facebook.

Helping Them Find You

  • Create a Facebook Page - Find new customers and keep in touch with current ones by promoting your Facebook business Page.
  • Join a Community - 
  • Connect with Messenger - More and more people around the world are connecting through instant messaging
  • Create a Mobile Hub - 

Get People Insights

  • Facebook IQ delivers insights that help make marketing campaigns more effective.
  • Insights to Go makes data more accessible and actionable, sort the stats you care about and share them instantly. 

 Easy on Your Budget

Adwords is fee-based. Facebook's instructions and the information is free. The trend I am most excited about for 2018 is learning new skills. I encourage you to use the links above to learn valuable information you can use to propel your business forward in 2018!

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I don't even have the words to express my love and appreciation to my girlfriend Deborah for such an amazing birthday week. She planned something special for each day. I was greeted with a card and announcement every morning. She is an expert at Adapting Technology to Meet the Human Need. Love you, Deb!

Jackie Dorst coined the Leverage Unlimited motto in the title above It appeared out of the blue during a client conference called The Gathering, back in 2014. Making humans a priority over machines is more than a strategy, it's a principle. My business life has been built on that principle. I preach about it all the time. I've must to admit, I wasn't sure if anyone was listening. Then the birthday celebration began. 

The first greeting arrived via Facebook from Scott Friedman all the away from Kuala Lumpur. Then slowly across the globe, both close to home and from afar. Al Bagocius produced the most moving tribute by quoting a client testimonial from my friend Phillip Van Hooser in Princeton Kentucky. Phil posted in almost 10 years earlier. I received warm wishes across all channels. I had no choice but to reach out and reply. I am grateful for the gift of connection I received. Wow, just wow.

I was reminded in a most marvelous way the importance of the connection vs the channel. At no other time in history have we has so many tools and methods to meet the human need for connection. My community gave me a gift of connection, and I am grateful.

Making the Community Connection 

Who do you need to connect with today? Take a moment, lean back where ever you are at this very moment. It's not cheating and perfectly legal if you switch to your contact app and scroll down to find the one person you have let slip away. My gift to you is a simple request. Reach out to them. Yes, right now. Call, text, message, whatever it takes. Don't be surprised if they hesitate. I promise they will be astounded that you reached out without a having a need, simply just because.

Some people define present as a place. I define present as a point in time. When you use your digital tools to connect in the present, there is no distance between two hearts. Happy Valentines Day my friends. 

   

 The Philadelphia Eagles disrupted a sports dynasty on Super Bowl Sunday. Brandon Graham’s forced fumble produced the only sack of the game. It changed the momentum, the game and most importantly, the mindgame of Tom Brady and the Patriots. If a single disruption can change the course of the Super Bowl, imagine how easy it would be to disrupt your industry. Chances are, it’s already happening in your business, it can’t be stopped, but you can do something. Change your mindset. 

There are two words used to describe the changes impacting your sales and business operations. Disruption and transformation. The first generates fear, the second makes you fearless. It’s not your fate, it’s a choice. You can either give in to feeling out of control or you can call a timeout, regroup and make the necessary change. I see it everyday, Established businesses experience change and name it disruption. Startups experience change and see transformation. What do you see?

The changes during this Super Bowl were experienced beyond the field. The commercials were different, more serious, less silly. We experienced less fantasy, more reality. They promoted community and gave us hope. Not everyone saw it that way. Matt Damon delivered a simple, straightforward invitation to invest in clean water. It appears the idea was too simple. Not to understand, but to comprehend. The idea that the purchase of a Stella Artois chalice could provide clean water to a family for 5 years was disruptive. Skeptics blasted the idea and demanded a fact-check. 

If you run a traditional business, you and your industry are going to experience change. Your future success in large part depends on how your mindset. Here is a good place to start. 

Fact Checking Matt Damons Clean Water Promise in a Super Bowl Ad

Someone, somewhere close by is hitting the reset button. It may be your best competitor, most loyal customer, or favoured vendor. Your competitor has watched the disruption in other industries and has vowed to leverage all their resources to maintain a competitive advantage. Your once loyal customer has chosen to embrace a new way of meeting their needs and wonders why you are not seeing the future. Your vendor is losing patience with your slow communications, decisions and payments. Don't look now, but you are being disrupted.

A report recently published at FastCompany.com titled, "Self-Disrupt, Or Get Left Behind" addresses one of the most important decisions you will make in 2018. Disrupt or be disrupted. Will you wait for the storm to hit, or will you start paddling really hard, right now? Movie industry disrupter MoviePass.com has transformed the, "Let's go to a movie" experience by delivering a 30-times increase in value all for the price of a $10 monthly subscription. They have combined a traditional customer loyalty model with the cost-sharing profit model of healthcare insurance. The entire system consists of an  App and debit card. it works, and moviegoers love it.

On the other hand, one theatre chain hates the idea. While most chains have signed on, AMC theatres not only said no, they said hell no.  A war has developed between the two companies, including threats of legal action. The bottom line is this, instead of accepting the increased traffic and sales, AMC has decided being disrupted by MoviePass makes more sense.

At any point in time, the movie theatre experts like AMC and others could have disrupted their business model and kept all the traffic and sales. Instead, the waited until MoviePass stuck it to them. I predict this will end badly for AMC, Just as it did for Kodak and Polaroid and hundreds of companies in industries including lodging, transportation, real estate, and healthcare. Companies, industries and even entire business sectors are sitting quietly with their heads in the sand hoping the disruptors will pass them by. The problem is, hope is not a strategy.

How to Become a Self-disruptor

  • Identify the early adopters. Look at each end of your industry, at the top organizations that have deep pockets, as well as the smaller, nimble operators who have nothing to lose. This is where disruption first appears.
  • Work with your industry's professional association. Chances are, they are receiving reports and intellegence from the field about how savvy operators are disrupting their traditional business model.
  • Assemble the A-Team. Traditional management theory is simply not up to this challenge. Assemble, train, and equip a special forces team with a special mission, disrupt your company to build something new.

I've lived on both coasts of the US. I've survived earthquakes and hurricanes. You can't prepare for an earthquake. On the other hand, hurricanes provide an early warning. A storm is heading your way. Don't wait until the rain starts.Take action now.  

How We Can Help

Leverage Unlimited provides business evaluations to business owners who want to replace disruption with transformation. By this time next week, you could have an action plan in your hands to avoid a disaster. Call now, 904-566-8325

 

Nothing kills business productivity quite like a bright shiny object. If your goal is more focus in 2018, eliminating digital distractions is a great place to start. Here at Leverage Unlimited, we serve as the catalyst to help organizations transform in the face of industry disruption. When it comes to your personal technology, you have the power to eliminate distraction at the source, starting with those annoying notifications on your devices. 

While meeting with a Jacksonville business leader last week our conversation was interrupted by the sound of chimes. Each of us reached for our devices. It was the new smartwatch she received as a gift. Picking up where we left off was a challenge. It took a few moments, but we laughed and carried on with our conversation. It was as if we accepted the interruption as inevitable. So why do we allow digital distraction? If you've been a victim of device disruption, it's time to eliminate the device bright shiny object.

You Have Mail

New devices and Apps each start with a 4-alarm fire notification level. It's by design. Like a roomful of classic cuckoo clocks, they all go off at the same time. You don't know which App or device needs to be silenced. When it happens in a meeting, it's unproductive and unprofessional, but it's an easy fix.  

I discovered two ways to manage notification settings. The first method is to create a comprehensive list of all the Apps on each device, then chose which ones to leave on or turn off. The second method I discovered when I realized just how much time it would take to complete the first method. Here is my recommendation.

Scorched Earth Method

Turn off ALL your device notifications. Yes, all of them. Somewhere in each device is a settings menu with an item for Notifications. Navigate there and set all the options to off. Enjoy the rest of your day in total bliss. You will soon experience a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If you must, check your device. Congratulations. You have just become the master of your digital domain. 

Slowly over the course of a few days, feel free to reset the notifications that you simply can't do without. Follow up by exploring the various notification options. Choose sound or vibrate if it makes sense in your environment. Set the screen display to flash momentarily or persist until you choose to clear the notification. In no time your associates will be calling you the device-whisperer.

Once you've gained control of your device notifications, explore the options available for each App. Start with your calendar. The default reminder is 10 minutes. Just enough time for you to realize you're going to arrive 10 minutes late. Don't forget to choose how the reminder is delivered. I've found out of office meetings require a 30-minute reminder delivered to my phone with sound and vibrate. The perfect way to ensure NBL (Never be late).

Multi-device Method

Have you ever watched a multi-device user play Wack-a-mole attempting to silence all their devices at once? While you are on your journey to notification nirvana, consider switching the notification settings for your primary device to On, and Off for the rest of your devices. I recommend starting with a smartwatch or smartphone, the device you have with you at all times.

Bonus Round

This final tip is the bomb for increasing your productivity and velocity. Decide in advance your default action when you receive a notification. Eliminate the deer-in-headlights reaction to an alarm. For a calendar reminder, will you simply silence the alarm and arrive late, or will you get up immediately and get to the meeting?

I hope this brings you value. If it does, consider sharing it with those associates who attend the same meetings. Imagine how quickly the meeting would end if no one's phone went off in the middle of the meeting. 

May your day be Just Another Day In Paradise | JADIP

 

 

 

Welcome to 2018. The unsettled feeling in your gut this morning requires a choice. Are you feeling scared or excited? I choose excited. This is one of those rare times when almost everyone is open to the possibilities instead of the pitfalls. Kind of scary isn't it? Entrepreneur.com VIP contributor, Adam Toren shared some advice on leverage in his article, "5 Quotes About Leverage to Help You Push Your Business Forward". Of the five, #4 stuck out for me.

"Attempting to succeed without embracing the tools immediately available for your success is no less absurd than trying to row a boat by drawing only your hands through the water or trying to unscrew a screw using nothing more than your fingernail." 
-- Richie Norton

 Richie Norton is the author of The Power of Starting Something Stupid. It's written on the premise that you should listen when your friends and associates say, "That's a stupid idea." Richie's point is you should listen, but see it not as a stop sign, but a green light. The status quo is not what it used to be.  Here's an idea from Adam as a riff on Richie's quote.

"Try taking an hour and looking at all the pain points in your business. Then match those pain points with a leveraged solution and get to work using that solution as a tool.
  - Adam Toren

Here at Leverage Unlimited, we start each client engagement with an inventory of your organization's digital toolbox. Using your digital assets to publish nothing more than photos of your dinner is a waste of both your tech and your talent. Which tools do you no longer need? Which tasks need better tools?

What will you do to give your idea a green light in 2018?

Focusing on the quality of questions was my Aha! moment in Gary Keller's The ONE Thing. Asking the one question creates a mental speedbump to slow down our frantic busyness. In the last 24 hours, the holiday dinner moved from stove to refrigerator, wrapping paper from presents to recycling, and holiday music tucked away until next fall. Who could blame you for feeling distressed at your sudden lack of stress, or a kneejerk reaction of asking, "What's next?" As your attention turns to the new year, here are three questions of quality to help make 2018 the happiest of new years.

What did you learn in 2017?

I learned to learn again. I took a Javascript programming course through Udemy.com. I used it to successfully develop and launch an App for a client. The most valuable lesson was that online learning creates a competitive advantage for companies who have all the technology they need. In 2007 acquiring cutting-edge technology created an advantage. After a decade of innovation and competition, every company now has access to high-quality, low-cost technology. In 2018, successful firms will upgrade the talents of their team members instead of their software. What did you learn in 2017? How will you leverage it for more success in 2018?

What were you grateful for in 2017?

You may find answering this question to be as challenging as the events of the last year. Here's a little secret I learned about developing an attitude of gratitude. Just start. Sit down with a journal or a single sheet of paper and start writing. Like eating potato chips, I'll bet you can't stop at just one. I was most grateful this year for the challenges I experienced, including the App mentioned above, replacing a blown head gasket, learning how to help a friend with health challenges who didn't want any help. I learned I can fix any "thing", but when it comes to people, supporting is more appropriate than fixing. What are you most grateful for in 2017? For extra points, if you are grateful for a person, tell them. There is no greater gift.

What are you most excited about for 2018?

   Taking another page from The ONE Thing, of all the challenges you could do, which should you do, such that everything else would become easier or unnecessary? Here at Leverage Unlimited, we intend to elevate our vision while creating a tighter focus to work with those we serve best. As outlined in Lead and Disrupt by Charles O'Reilly and Michael Tushman, we intend to focus on developing leadership within client organizations instead of developing technology. What are you most excited about for 2018? Have you put your plans on paper?  

Happy New Year!

All of us at Leverage Unlimited are looking forward to our best year ever in 2018. Happy New Year everyone!

 Early next week in the blink of an eye your living room will go from a vision of sugarplums dancing in their heads to a total disaster of wrapping paper and empty boxes. Once you clean up that mess, it would be the perfect time to address your digital mess. We are talking about your collection of unused apps and desktop icons that you’ve collected over the years.

We have all the technology we need. The challenge is we load up our devices then waste time looking for the right one. A perfect first New Year resolution could be Sean Winter’s article in CMSWire.com Declutter Your Digital Workspace. Here at Leverage Unlimited, every client engagement starts with a detailed inventory and analysis of the firm's digital tools. We focus on creating a custom toolbox for each client.

Here’s some ideas you can use to lose  10 ugly pounds of digital fat just in time for the New Year.

  • What’s in your toolbox? Survey the Apps on your phone. Delete the ones you no longer use. If you just can’t let them go, at least move them to the back. While you’re at the last screen, look for Apps that need to be moved up to the front. I bet you feel lighter already.
  • Unsubscribe from the $20 a month Software Club. Scan your bank statement to identify software subscriptions you no longer use. Close the accounts. 
  • Acquire the right tools. Now that you’ve dropped all that ugly digital fat, consider investing in the right tools to help you increase productivity and profits in 2018. Start with tasks. What do you need to do? Look for the best technology for your organization and workspace.

I can’t wait to see the new you in the New Year. Happy Holidays and may every day of 2018 be Just Another Day In Paradise!

Retail stores were empty on Black Friday. Kate Taylor, in an article for Business Insider, delivered the bad news, "Photos of shockingly empty stores prove that Black Friday as we know it is dead" (See photo above). Just 4 years ago shoppers were camping out all night with the full knowledge they could be trampled in their quest for holiday discounts. The amount and speed of the change in customer behavior is startling and a clear call to action for business professionals. 

Retailers are not publically alarmed. They point to a shift to online sales with a sigh of relief. I suspect that in the back of their minds they are thinking, "What's next?" It took less than 4 years to decimate in-store sales. A generation ago the expected lifespan of a corporation was more than a century. It's dropped to twelve years. Take a moment to reflect on what your business will look 4 years from today.

Your New Digital Reality

Marketers are still laboring under the false premise that mass-marketing works. It's used for online marketing for #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, and #GivingTuesday. Instead of shoppers falling all over each other to get into the stores, marketers are falling all over each other to get into your inbox. The idea of pushing a one-day event to boost traffic is as empty as the store in the photo above. If your organization is looking for an edge in 2018, start here.

Personalization

Using the digital tools you already possess, gather intelligence on your perfect prospects. Start with social media. Personalize your email messages. Include both first names to start building a relationship. Compose a message that focuses on their individual needs. A generic message sent to your entire database is like a T-shirt with a "One-Size-Fits-Most" tag on the collar. It fits no-one.

Content Sharing

Sharing the intellectual property (IP) created by others sounds great. No need to create your own IP, just copy the value of others. The problem is it dilutes your value, not once but twice. You failed to add your value, then you pointed the prospect away from you.

Instead, write your own posts and publish to your blog, content sites like Medium.com, or your social media platforms to demonstrate your expertise. If you find a valuable piece of content you simply must share, target the recipient carefully to create the highest value. Not only will it be well received, they will remember who cared enough to share it with them. 

Customer Journey

 Retailers were surprised when lines didn't form outside their doors on Black Friday. They failed to keep an eye on the customer journey. Each business is different, and it evolves over time. The changes are happening quicker than ever. Start by putting on your customer hat. Then use post-it notes or 3 x 5 cards to document not only each step but the segues in-between. Look for what's missing, watch out for distractions that throw them off-track or abandon the sales process altogether. With a plan in hand, update your social media, blog and landing pages to create a smooth path of engagement. 

Mass-marketing is simple. It is also ineffective. in 2018, success will come once you focus on individual customers, train your team to leverage your investment in digital tools and streamline business processed to increase your speed of execution, extend your reach beyond the low-hanging fruit and develop strong bonds of trust with those you serve best.

Digital Leverage for More Sales in 2018

 Each January I conduct an invitation-only session to sharpen my client's tools for the new year. If I wait until January, it will be too late. Please check your calendar for December 14th, 11-1 p.m. here in Jacksonville for a special session. If you like an invitation, give me a call at 904-566-8325. I call it The Gathering. 

Wow, just wow. Next week is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's the time of year you hear everyone say, "This year sure went by fast!" It really did. The iPhone turned 10. Puerto Rico was destroyed in a single day. If you feel like you are even further behind the curve, you are not alone. It's more than just a feeling. Change happens faster, is more disruptive and the struggle to keep up has become a primary focus. You can forget about getting ahead. That bothers me. If it bothers you, here are some ideas you can use to not only keep up but get ahead in 2018.

The Need For Speed

Stop running. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but you can't add the number 13 to your clock. The key to getting more done is is to increase the speed of execution, not your pace. There are only three ways to make this happen. Focus your energy on any one of the three and you will be amazed at your success and peace of mind.

Tools

If your phone looks like the Swiss-Army-Knife of Apps, stop and take inventory. Start at the back. If you haven't opened an app in over a month, delete it. Ignore that twinge of anxiety, just let it go. Second, look at the Apps that remain and identify the task it was meant to do or the challenge it is supposed to solve. If it lacks purpose, delete it now. Finally, identify the Apps you can't live without, (not Facebook, I hope). Drag them to your home screen. Not enough room? Drag the less frequently used Apps to your second or third screen to make room.

My personal motto, Discard Nothing, works on two levels. first, I don't throw away people, things or ideas just because they are old or have slowed down. Unless, on the other hand, they have been revealed to be nothing. If your digital tools no longer bring you joy, let them go. 

Talent

 Now that you have a lighter digital toolbox, let's make sure they, as well as you, are sharp and ready to do great work. Here at Leveage Unlimited, we just launched a direct mail campaign to promote a client's new App. We were able to obtain thousands of targeted leads, for free (and not only for a single use). Using the digital tools we already own, we segmented the database and printed labels for our in-house postcard design.

Did you know you can automate the publishing of a weekly newsletter to require nothing more than writing a blog post? You are holding it in your hands right now. Make a commitment today to learn more about the extraordinary functions of your magical modern tools

Technique

Once you've chosen the right tools, sharpened them and yourself, you are ready to hit the gas and build momentum for 2018. Defining, documenting and designing streamlined procedures is the point where you will see your productivity soar. Every organization has at least one process that contains a bottleneck, a step that's always left out, one that never quite seems to reach 100% complete. Maybe it's collections. It's killing your cash flow. Maybe it's prospecting.

Whichever one you choose, start there. The rules of business have not changed, just the tools. Combining business rules with digital tools is vital to your success in the year ahead.  Use 3x5 index cards or post-it notes on a whiteboard to define your business process. Decide which digital tool will help you execute quickly and focus on including all the steps to eliminate the need to do something twice. If it fits the process, create a template to give you a headstart and create a consisant, high-quality outcome.

Digital Leverage for More Sales in 2018

 Each January I conduct an invitation-only session to sharpen my client's tools for the new year. If I wait until January, it will be too late. Please check your calendar for December 14th, 11-1 p.m. here in Jacksonville for a special session. If you like an invitation, give me a call at 904-566-8325. I call it The Gathering. 

"Know your numbers" was the top takeaway from last weeks Small Business Consulting Services Group Meetup here in Jacksonville. Richard Scherzer of About Floors N' More shared classic business management principals with the entrepreneurs in attendance.  Richard's tough love mindset and timeless truths brought audible gasps from the crowd. Not surprising when you consider the contemporary mindset is that all you need to succeed today is a website, a social networking feed and a killer app.   

Richard is right. It takes discipline to sustain success in business. I believe the entrepreneurs are also correct, it takes modern tools and techniques to connect with new clients and compete in the digital age. The truth is your success in the future requires a combination of the best of both mindsets.

Business Rules and Digital Tools

Maximizing cash flow is one of the most important business rules to ensure success.  In fact, it's one of the primary Leverage Principals we focus on when working with business owners or buyers. It's a great example of the power of combining the truth of business rules with the leverage of digital tools. If you are a business owner looking to get paid faster with less hassle, these tips are for you.

At Leverage Unlimited we create client success in three areas. Acquiring the right tools. Building better teams. Streamlining business processes. To maximize your cash flow, document your Accounts Receivable process. Create a timeline of all the steps and durations. Don't forget to include surface mail delivery, invoice aging, bank deposit holding, etc. Make sure you are sitting down when you total up the elapsed time. Next look for all the places you can eliminate all that wasted time. Electronic invoice delivery and online payment systems can cut your receivables aging by 75%. 

With a streamlined process, research the digital tools that enable the process. Mobile card readers are now available for swipe, chip reader, and tap-to-pay. We recommend clients explore PayPal for electronic invoicing, online payment, and requesting a PayPal debit card to eliminate waiting for payments to clear, giving you instant access to your hard earned cash.

Beyond Accounts Receivable

Streamlining your AR process is a big step in the right direction. Another opportunity is building a payment strategy that sets the payment expectation from the start of an engagement. that eliminates the hassle of invoicing for both you and your client. A member of our ResourceArmy, Sara Hansen of Phoenix Online Solutions requires online recurring billing to eliminate the hassle of invoicing for you and your client. The client doesn't have to remember to pay Sara, and Sara no longer chases clients for payment. 

The bottom line is this. You have to wear a bunch of hats to run a successful business. Bill Collector shouldn't be one of them. 

Resources

Tips for Streamlining Accounts Receivable

Last week I shared an insight I learned about a local luminary with a close associate. He cautioned, "I wouldn't publish that on Facebook." Even though it was complimentary and a great tip for those who present from the platform, I never gave a thought to writing about the celebrity's superpower. The encounter got me to thinking about the topic of privacy vs secrecy. Organizations work hard and make a considerable investment in their brand reputation. In the age of online transparency, the transformation from hero to zero can happen in the blink of an eye. When I think of online privacy, my thoughts turn to how marketers control what I share online. As outlined in, 10 Reasons Why Privacy Matters, author Daniel J. Solove challenges the idea of who ultimately controls your personal privacy. 

Does this Post Make Me Look Stupid?

Like the fit of an unflattering pair of pants, if you have to ask, you already know the answer. Just because we live in an age of transparency, we don't have to share everything with everyone. In fact, the all-seeing, all remembering eye of the Internet, calls for caution before tapping the unrecoverable, unforgiving Send button. I've learned that although I have the right to remain silent, there are times when I don't have the ability. Apologies take effort, can be costly, and often require lots of forms.

Most well-run websites publish privacy policies. What if you had a written personal privacy policy? Imagine the feeling of being in control of your personal brand reputation.  I think I'll start on #9 today.

I'm back in the office now that Deborah and I have returned from our vacation to Costa Rica. As I checked in with clients yesterday their first question was, "So, how was your vacation?" Thanks for asking, it was a disaster. A natural disaster. 

As Tropical Depression 16 grew into Hurricane Nate, thoughts of sun-drenched sandy beaches were replaced by torrential downpours, loss of electricity and flash flooding. Oh, did I mention we lost the Internet? I could share a whole litany of trials and tribulations, but I won't because, in the middle of all those challenges, I found opportunities. Four in fact.

Matt, Victor, Antonio, and Remegius

Matt and Joellen are the proprietors of El Chivo (the Goat) in the little town of Nosara. It is the best restaurant in town. In fact, during the storm, it was the only restaurant in town. Matt's goal was simple, "Keep the lights on." They emptied their refrigerator, slow-cooked everything overnight at their home up in the hills and singlehandedly kept the community together. Each rain-soaked, poncho-wearing patron was greeting at El Chivo's wide open double doors, often by Matt himself. When we arrived, Matt expressed concern about my missing flashlight I'd left behind earlier in the week. I had just met him, but it felt like I'd known him for years. Lessons from El Chivo: Keeping the lights on is not a slick marketing slogan, it's a mindset. It kept the community fed, the staff employed and the operation in the black.   

Victor patiently listened at the United Airlines counter in Libera as I attempted to explain our missed connection to San Jose. We were going to miss the last flight of the day to Houston. There was a flight leaving Liberia, but it was completely full. I thanked Victor and headed back to the Sansa Airlines counter to work on Plan "C". With the thought of spending an additional night somewhere in San Jose in mind, we headed for security. All of a sudden Victor bounded across the concourse and shouted, "We have two tickets for you!" Even with missing luggage and incessant seatback video marketing, I'm left with a positive feeling of United team members. 

Antonio, our Nosara Transport driver, did his very best to miss the potholes on the last 60 Kilometers of gravel road to Nosara. I'll share on Facebook the photo of his Crucifix hanging sideways from his rearview mirror as he dodged quads and pedestrians and an entire heard of Bhrama bulls (morning rush hour). As we neared the Liberia airport, I thought about his lonely ride home. 

Remegius was not the only attraction in Houston. The shiny new airport sports a sea of iPads mounted squarely in front of any traveler brave enough to sit and endure the incessant video marketing. Remegius gave us the gift of elevating our golf cart shuttle ride into a giddy parade float resplendent with princesses' waves and hearty hellos to all the perplexed onlookers. It was the perfect distraction to the last leg of our journey, a mad dash in front of Hurricane Nate on our way home to Jacksonville. 

The most important thing I learned on my vacation is that the customer experience is not about marketing. It's about the customer.

It was too easy. Sharing news reports, industry findings, and product launches with everyone on the planet was so easy. Find content, copy the link, post it to social and you are done. You didn't even have to create your own intellectual property. Like a cover band, all you had to do was copy the work of others. 

It was so easy everybody started sharing. We didn't even have to write the obituary, we simply copied and pasted social sharing to the grave. What started as an idea to create value and demonstrate expertise has devolved into a quick and dirty method of demonstrating just how little respect you have for your readers time, intelligence and value to your organization. There is a better way to meet the original goal. One that doesn't require an increase in your investment. All it takes is a change in mindset.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was meant to protect the rights of Americans. About 15 months ago we started hearing about law firms taking advantage of the act by sending small businesses "Demand Letters" to produce revenue through intimidation. Yesterday we received reports that the practice has arrived here in Jacksonville. Jim Poggott, I-Team reporter with News4Jax reports, "Dozens of ADA lawsuits seeking compliance or cash?" The report indicates the alleged scam involves a law office contacting local small businesses and threatening legal action. They offer to make it all go away, for a price.

We have been working on a related issue, web accessibility. Law firms have been using similar tactics to attack small medical practices. They allege they have a client who was denied access to the practices web site. Same tactic, same demand. Once a medical practice receives a demand letter, it's too late. There is only one effective solution to this threat, prevention.     

Thursday, August 10th I will be presenting the three steps Practice Administrators need to take to avoid becoming a target.

Use the link below to learn more or register now.

Web Accessibility Standards for Medical Practices
August 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

DPC Technology Center
7845 Baymeadows Way
Jacksonville, FL 32256