Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Become Profitable as Quickly as Possible

By John Sanpietro, Certified Business Coach

Whenever I begin working with a new Coaching client, I ask them what they want out of their business.  Most of them will tell me, among other things, that they want to be profitable.

I tell them that isn't a problem… IF they're truly committed to profitability.

And even though they all say they are, many come to realize they really weren't, and once they can change that, profit will soon follow!

So, what does it mean to be truly committed to profitability?  It's really quite simple.  There are just 2 criteria:

1. You Don't Allow Yourself To Waste Time
Wasting time is easy!  There are so many things you can do that distract you from your actual business.  Things you may even convince yourself are necessary, but, in reality, don't pass the profitability test.

Time is the one thing you truly have a finite amount of.  And the amount of time you have to spend on your business is even more finite.  EVERY MINUTE of that time spent on tasks that don't build your business is making you less profitable. 

And those minutes add up! 

Even if you spend just two hours per week wasting time, that adds up to almost three weeks of lost productivity and profit per year!  Imagine what you could have done with those extra three weeks!!

What Can You Do?:  Take a good, hard look at where you're spending your time.  Ask yourself… is this REALLY helping me build my business?  If the answer is no, eliminate it.  Plain and simple.  Like I said, becoming profitable isn't complicated.  You just have to be committed.

2. You Don't Allow Yourself To Waste Money and You Stick To Your Profit Margins
This is the classic battle between stamping as a hobby and stamping as a business.  If you want to truly build your business, you have to be committed to doing everything you can to make sure EVERY DOLLAR you spend yields a profit.

Not just breaking even… but a real profit!  You have to base your decisions on ROI (return on investment). 

For example, you may have an idea for a class, but when you crunch the numbers, you realize it doesn't make you enough profit to justify the time involved.  What should you do?  Can it!  Or, at least, change it so you can meet your profit margins. 

Plenty of ideas I've had have died in development.  Not because they wouldn't have made me money.  Because they wouldn't have made me enough money.  They wouldn't have met my margins.

Remember, profit margins are important.  A higher profit margin means you can work less and make more.  This leads to better work/life balance, as well as greater opportunities for growing your business.

Another example… I'm a big believer in professional development.  I like to take courses and attend conferences.  However, I won't even think about purchasing a course or a ticket unless I was 90-95% certain I was going to earn TEN TIMES what I was spending in the first twelve months.  So, if I spend $750 on a conference, I expect to make $7,500 in new profit as a direct result of that conference within twelve months. 

If I don't think that's a real possibility, I don't do it.  And I have no hesitation and no regrets because I'm committed!

What Can You Do?:  Take a look at everything you're spending money on, and analyze the return on investment you're getting.  Determine what you want your profit margins to be.  It doesn't have to be 10X like me (although it could be), but it should be at least 3X.  If you find things not meeting your margins, drop them… or figure out a way to change them so they do.

Again, this isn't rocket science.  It's very straightforward stuff.  Sticking to it is tough, though, because the commitment it requires is very, very high.

But if you can maintain it, you'll be amazed how profitable you can be… and how quickly it can happen!

Good luck!

Warmest regards,


John Sanpietro
Certified Business Coach

The Premier Online Community for BUSINESS-MINDED Stamping Business Owners!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MARKETING - It Makes a Difference!

Low- and No-Cost Marketing

First a few tips for putting together your marketing messages and reinforcing your personal brand:
  • Have a format - work with your brand - but be flexible so you can respond to circumstances
  • Sometimes your marketing initiatives will have INSTANT results and sometime it can take weeks or even months to see those results
  • Always have more than one marketing plan running at a time so the ones that give your fast results can support your business while you are waiting for the long term ones to kick in
  • Bigger is NOT always better - analyze your results to ensure that the time you are spending turns into actual business
  • Stack your efforts and reinforce your brand with your internet appearance, your newsletter, your messaging
  • FOLLOW UP!!!  This is the one thing that GUARANTEES results yet so many of us don't have an ironclad follow up plan
  • Learn from the "No's"; listen to what people are objecting to so you can have workarounds ready to go
  • Stay realistic
Here are some things you should either have on hand or have ready to update and get out the door in a FLASH:
  • Business cards; either through MDS (marketing opp for MDS!) or from a vendor
  • Current promotion flyers 
  • Samples to hand out or display
  • Preformatted press releases 
  • Thank You For Asking packets (see below) 
  • Giveaways or donations 
  • Prize drawing slips 
  • Hostess Packets 
  • Recruit Packets
Also think about:
  • Putting the SU! logos on your car with other DE motifs (check with your automobile insurance company first!)
  • Carry SU! reusable shopping totes, your SU! event bags, deliver EVERYTHING (even non-SU! stuff like things for school, etc). in SU! plastic bags
  • Wear your SU! apparel and Simply Adorned items
  • Carry one of those window totes with card or page samples showing
Thank You For Asking packets are little packets that I make batches at a time.  They consist of our card sized flat cello bag with several (2-3) blank-inside cards, a business card, a mini, any SU! promotions printed two to a page and sliced in half, a half sheet flyer I make up listing my classes and a "FREE PARTY!" coupon.  I hand these out to EVERYONE!  If the cashier is a peach, give her one and say something like "You have been so nice today, I would love to give you one of these!”  And if the cashier is nasty, give her one and say something like "You seem like you could use some cheering up, I would love to give you one of these"!  And then turn to the person behind you and say "My mom told me that unless I had one for everyone, I shouldn't offer something, so here's one for you too!"  If anyone asks "What's Stampin' Up!?" you say … “Thank you for asking - here's a little gift that will tell you all about it."
Here is a list of places that might need cards to send - remember that when you do this you have DOUBLE exposure - the people for whom you are making the cards and the people who are receiving them, PLUS anyone else they show it to!; may have inexpensive advertising in newsletters, at events or on their websites - many offer a discount or free ads to people who offer discounts to their members; may need someone to come in and be a guest speaker or provide an activity for their group
  • Realtors - offer to put together little "We've Moved" kits with stamped post-it notes for the new people to put on their bills, etc. with some stamped postcards and a Welcome to the Neighborhood or Thank You card for the realtor to send to them.
  • Teachers - thank you notes, good job notes for students, postcards for events, post-it notes; offer to teach scrapbooking or stamping to kids
  • Nursing Homes - for the residents to send to their families, for the employees to send to families; offer to hold a monthly mini camp for the residents with the nursing home paying only for supplies
  • Chamber of Commerce - thank you notes, congrats notes, etc. for members to send to customers and clients
  • Rotary Club – ditto
  • Mothers Groups - Mothers & More, MOMS, M.O.P.S. - offer to be a guest speaker about scrapbooking, stamping, etc at one of their meetings; offer to hold a special event for the members
  • Adult Education Centers - teach classes!
  • Fundraisers - offer baskets - fill with as much retired stuff as you have with a current mini, current catalog, promo flyers AND A COUPON FOR A FREE PARTY!
  • Libraries - while many won't allow you to "sell" you can teach classes!
  • Consignment Stores - see if you can set up a little area with cards and gift packaging
  • Gift Stores - any independent store that does not already sell cards (and some that do might still be interested!) has that need - go fill it!
  • Florists - make up a bunch of business card sized cards (that's the size of the envelopes they have and what their stands fit) along with some greeting card sized items; show them around!
  • Candy stores - cards and gift packaging
  • Hair Salons - make up some fun, blingy, girlie cards
  • Wedding Stores - see if you can display a board with everything from save the date cards to thank you notes
  • Maternity Stores - show off baby announcements, congrats cards, enclosure cards for gifts
  • Tutoring Centers - parents sit there with nothing to look at - give them something!; tutors may want congrats and good job cards to give to students
  • Monument Stores - Sympathy cards, thank you notes
  • Nursery Schools - make up albums of party invites, announcements, thank you notes
  • Greenhouses - same as florists
  • Jewelry Stores - cards, gift packaging, set up display for shoppers
  • Knitting Stores - gift enclosures, cards using the knitting set for the knitters to send, set up display for shoppers to buy
  • Sewing Stores - WAHOO!  All our new sewing stuff - PERFECT!
  • Garden Clubs - Offer to be a guest speaker, demo garden related projects, see if they need cards to send to members, etc.
  • Civic Groups - thank you notes, congrats, etc.
  • Women's Groups - cards for members to send
  • Red Hat Groups - be a guest speaker, cards for members to send
  • Attorneys - cards to send to clients
  • Medical and Dental offices - cards to send to patients
  • Nutritionists - cards to send to clients, set up display for clients to buy
  • Health Clubs - cards to send out to clients, set up display for clients to buy
Remember, OFFER don’t ASK, make it all about the other person and LOVE WHAT YOU DO!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Workshops - What Do Customers Want?

When we have new customers we often mistakenly assume they know how to use the tools and products we demonstrate. What tips do you give new customers that they appreciate the most?
I always start out by asking the customers who has used punches, a Big Shot etc, depending on what tools I will be using.  I them ask them sweetly to wait until I show them some tips on how to use the products before jumping in.  Things like using a separate Stampin' Scrub for Staz-On, or how the new punch design works best when it is used flat on the table (and you can use it upside down to center the image you want to punch) . .. even if they have been told these things in the past, a refresher is always good.  It helps prevent MY products from being ruined. 
I think my most popular "tip" is the bow-making advice I have taken from SUDSOL!  People are always so thrilled when they can make a nice bow!
I always show everyone at a workshop HOW I cut the  cardstock to make a card. Most people don't even know how you get to the card part so I take a 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock and show them how to cut it in the middle and fold it. They are always amazed and excited that it is easy to make a simple card with cardstock.
Believe it or not I show them how to mount and use stamps. If they are really new they have no idea how to put the new stamps together, how to open an ink pad, how to get ink on the stamp (rub it? Pat it? Upsidedown or rightside up?), clean the stamp. If they don't even know that it's not surprising that we can overwhelm them with a three layer card in four colours with ribbon, buttons and bling! :0) Sometimes people say "I've been to these workshops before but I didn't order anything because I didn't know what to do with it!"
I know personally that the more layers, embellishments, and bling the better I like it, so I have to force myself to remember what it was like the first time I stamped.
The tips my gals appreciate the most are these: 
1)  How to apply adhesive so things stick but they don't break the bank by over-adhereing stuff.  If they are using good adhesive, they don't need to cover the back of the cardstock!

2)  How to stamp something and then hold the punch upside down so they can see it through the "hole" and then punch the item while centering the image they want punched.  (I hope that makes sense.)

3)  How to use their measuring tool (I always recommend our Fiskars cutter).

4)  How to use markers on their stamps to omit an image if they choose.

5)  If you want all the colors, buy spots instead of full inkpads but always buy the re-inker when you buy a pad or a spot!  Never be without a re-inker!

6)  Your projects will only be as good as the tools you invest in and cardstock counts as a tool. "Cheap" products will give you cheap looking projects.

 7) How to use the Stamp-A-Ma-Jig!