Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

Money Mastery – Three Easy Steps to Mastering Your Financial Destiny

When I was a kid I was constantly told, “We can’t afford that; we can ONLY get this; ask your dad if you can have that; you must save your money for a rainy day; start saving now for retirement.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention of some of these messages and that they may even hold value for some folks but I also have learned that these statements can lead to potential financial paralysis.

By hearing those statements over and over again, I developed what could have been my Money Destiny. That Money Destiny led me to believe I would never have enough money, that I must always save and never spend, and that I was not financially safe. These messages repeated themselves in my mind every time I needed to make a money decision or anytime I thought about money. Soon thereafter I found myself resenting the “mean green” and at times wanting to rebel against it. Thank goodness I realized one day that should I continue down this same Money Destiny road, I was destined to have just enough (not plenty) or none at all for that matter or worry about money constantly, and stay in the middleclass.

When I noticed how I was making decisions that would keep me in the same place and never propel me forward financially, I knew it was time to bust my old patterns, break debilitating money-habits, and create a new money system, a new Money Destiny. Doing this was going to take some mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical work, oh yeah, and financial work as well! It meant I was going to have to stop listening to what I had been told all my years growing up as a child as well as stop playing the “tape recording” of these messages over in my mind. It also meant I was going to have to buck this old system every time it flashed before my eyes! My intention in sharing this article with you is to help you break down your conditioned mindset and build it up with a new one that actually works with you and not against you. This is a mindset that YOU are going to create, nobody else will be creating it for you. Isn’t that exciting?

So what does mastering money look like? Mastering your money literally boils down to one thing: your mindset. Have you ever noticed that when your bills are paid off for the month and you have some extra “bread” in savings, you are just bouncing around the planet like you are rich (even if you aren’t)? However, on the contrary, have you noticed that when you don’t have enough to make ends meet and you’re struggling to figure out where the next dollar will come from to pay your rent or mortgage, you never seem to see the light? And, have you ever noticed that you actually decided, either consciously or subconsciously, which of those scenarios would play out in your life?

What I would like for you to do is sit for a moment and put yourself into both situations. First, visualize yourself in the moment when you have no money, nothing in the bank, in fact you may be in the negative. You’re not going to be paid for another week and all of your bills are due yesterday. What is the first feeling that you notice? Desperation, anger, frustration, helplessness? Take a quick note of that. Now, go to the visual of having money in the bank, all bills paid off and in essence you feel free. You have extra money to do what you would like and everything seems to be going right in the world. Again, take note of the first feeling that pops up for you when sitting in this visualization.

Let’s take an even further step. Picture that you are in control of both scenarios. You actually designate or choose which will happen in your life. And, you actually choose the same scene over and over again. Which do you choose? Do you choose the visualization with lots of money and financial freedom or do you choose the daunting visual? I venture to guess you wish to choose the one of Money Mastery.

The concept of Money Mastery has to do with having a destiny when it comes to money. Some folks actually are destined to be rich, middle class or poor. For most of us, we witnessed how our parents behaved with money, listened to things they said and then modeled after them. If our parents were rich, we figured as adults that we, too, had the right to be rich. If our parents were poor, we grew up thinking we did not deserve to have more money so we followed in the footsteps of our poor parents.

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to follow in anybody’s footsteps when it comes to mastering money except your own. Today, you get to decide your new Money Destiny in just three steps.

Step One: Change Your Money Talk-

As I stated earlier, mastering money has to do with your mindset so if you have been saying repeatedly, “I don’t have enough money” or “I need more money” then I venture to guess you haven’t had enough money for quite some time. So, I challenge you to begin saying(even if you don’t believe it in the moment, trust me, you will learn to believe the following statements wholeheartedly), “I have plenty of money,” or “I am grateful for the money I have,” or “Money is a precious gift.” These are simple statements yet extremely meaningful. These affirmations are packed with power! And here’s why: when we hear ourselves say something, we generally believe what we say-whether it is good or bad-we believe it! Thus, if you are constantly saying, “Money is a precious gift and I am grateful for it,” somehow your mind hears that statements and translates it into action. Before you know it you are taking action to have more money in your life or better yet, money is finding its way to you and you did not even lift a finger!

Do you see where I am going with this new verbiage? Positive thoughts become positive feelings which lead to positive actions that grant you positive results.

Step Two: Change Your Money Feelings-

If you feel badly about money all the time you will not get money in return or worse yet, you will spend it like water because you want to get rid of the bad feeling. Makes sense, right? Therefore, it is imperative to change your Money Feelings.

Here’s an exercise: Take out a one-dollar bill. Look at it, in fact, examine it. Notice what you like about the one-dollar bill. Is it the color, the images printed on the bill or perhaps it is what is stated on the bill. I want you to find at least two things you like about the dollar. Now, sit there for a moment and FEEL what you like about it. It may help you to close your eyes and just be in the feeling, be in the moment. Now, think about what you can get for just one dollar. Maybe an apple, a banana, an orange. Maybe a pack of gum or two packs of gum even? You can give a tip to somebody after buying a coffee or you can get change for your one-dollar bill and put money in the meter to prevent getting an expensive ticket. Do you see how far that one dollar went? Did this give you a new feeling and new perspective about that bill? For what appeared to be a small bill it certainly turned into big things, didn’t it?

The idea here is to constantly associate positive feelings with money in order to get more of it. Let me give you another example. I used to get angry every month when I had to pay the bills. I would say to myself, “I get so angry working so hard for my money only to turn around and give it over to somebody else.” Then one day it dawned on me that I should be grateful that I have the money to pay the bills in the first place! Suddenly I reframed my thinking to state,”I make plenty of money to pay my bills every month.” And believe-it-or-not, I no longer resent that time of the month when I have to pay bills and more money has been coming my way.

Step Three: Change your Money Behavior-

If when you get your paycheck and you turn right around and spend it then I am going to challenge you to pause for a moment and not take the same action. In fact, I am going to ask you to replace that action with a new action: Paying yourself first. What I suggest to my clients is that they take at minimum 10% of their paycheck and pay themselves first by putting it in a savings account, retirement account or money market account. What is better is if you can automate this so you never even see that 10%. These days, most banks or employers offer an automated savings plan whereby they take whichever percentage you desire and they put it into whichever account you want. This is a great way to begin paying yourself.

Now if you are the type who never spends a dime, I ask you the question, “What exactly are you saving for?” Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging you to not save your money, but I am encouraging you get really connected to what exactly you are saving for. If you are saving in case of an emergency rather than for freedom, excitement, purpose, joy, or love, realize what will manifest is an emergency. My challenge to you then is to change the reason for your saving.

When we stop and really think about the phrase, “Money Talks” we realize just how truthful that is. What’s important to note is that we have the power to dictate the conversation with and about money so that it is either a rich conversation full of financial freedom and joy or it is a poor conversation wrought with desperation, frustration and debt. Here, you have been given three powerful steps to Money Mastery. My question to you: Which conversation will you now be having?

Vacations Are Possible When You Plan For It

With the spring and summer months right around the corner and summer break right on its heels, most people's thoughts turn towards vacation! My family is no different. In fact, we've been planning all of our vacation time for the past twelve months.

Our goal is to take three trips a year. Two short ones; maybe a weekend trip to another city in our state or a bordering state. And one nice, relaxing, long trip that we have to pack our bags and head for the airport for that lasts seven to ten indulgent days!

For example, about the time our son's April birthday rolls around, we plan a weekend trip somewhere in our state. His favorite is always San Antonio because he likes to visit the theme parks and gorgeous Riverwalk that they have there. Since we live in Dallas, it's less than a four hour drive; and it's usually the precursor to kicking off our year of getting away.

This year, the longer trip will be in the summertime, a week after school is out. We are planning a vacation to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We will be gone for ten glorious days for fun in the sun.

And then, in October, my husband and I are planning a three to four day getaway to celebrate our anniversary in beautiful Mexico. And that will give us our three getaways for the year! It's as simple as that.

Now, we have not always been able to do this. Why? Because of poor planning on our part. But, that is no longer the case. We've wised up, and if you have not been getting away for a little rest and relaxation because of the same problem, here's how you can guarantee that that will not be the case next year … or the year after that – forever !

My husband, Muri, and I have created what we call a "Battery Recharge" account, or in regular terms, a travel account. All monies that go into it ensure that we'll be able to get away with our ten-year old son, Jordan, or for a romantic weekend on our own!

Have a family discussion and decide where each of you would like to go. Narrow it down, and vote on three locations. One that's far away and two that are within a reasonable driving distance.

Once you've done that, do your research. There are a number of online resources. Thanks to technology, finding attractions in the city of your destination is no more than a click away! You can build an itinerary of what your family will do, as well as get the costs of each show or attraction you'd like to attend.

Then, one-by-one, you begin to fund your "Batter Recharge" account until you have the money to do each trip! What's so great about the two short trips, most can be done for less than five hundred dollars. The key is not extravagance. It's just getting away with your family to bond and re-energize yourself.

You work hard, everyday. Take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor with the ones you love and cherish. Your mental, physical and relational well-being will be all the better for it!

Happy vacationing!

Web Hosting Options for Small Business

It seems that so many times it is hard for the little guy to get a leg up in the business world. Every supplier or service that you talk to is only interested in catching the larger fish and is totally disinterested in you. When it comes to finding a web host for your website it can often times be no different sometimes. Sure they have service plans that you can cut costs with but how do you know just what you need to get by.

There are a few simple rules to follow if you are in the market for a budget web hosting plan that at the same time does not leave you empty handed on the essential services that you will be needing from time to time. If your website is less than one-hundred pages and does not have any data intensive components such as streaming videos than you can get by with the bare minimum amount of bandwidth and gigabytes of memory and that means a basic plan for about $ 5.

If you have more than one-hundred pages and or your pages are heavy laden with text and photos then you may want to take the option of shared web hosting for about $ 10 which is going to give you more bandwidth and memory. That is what you will need for the bare bones basic web hosting service if that is all that you need. You have to bear in mind though that what you are going to be doing with your website also has to be considered.

For instance; if your site is just for reference purposes that is supporting a non Internet business in your community then you can still get by with the low cost basic web hosting service. If however your business is an Internet business that changes the picture considerably. This is because, unless you are marketing a product that only you have and no one can live without, you will be in competition of untold numbers of other people on the Internet.

This then means that you are going to have to engage in some level of website promotion or SEO which stands for search engine optimization. If you do not, then every time that someone types in the keywords to look for what ever it is that your website is selling you will be the last in line with regards to prospective sellers.

SEO can be approached two different ways with regards to a prospective web hosting service. The first way is to just pay them to promote your website and do the SEO for you but it is going to cost you.

The second way is to learn about SEO and then do it yourself. If you are going to do it yourself you will need to learn what basic tools you will be needing your web hosting service to have available. SEO is not overly complex but you do have to know what you are doing or all of your best efforts can be a waste of time.