Start Your Own Forum
Become a Converge ‘Champion’?
A champion is basically a driven and impatient member. These are the members who are not happy to wait to be invited to a Converge Forum, they go and start their own.
We encourage these driven, impatient and successful people to give us a call. We provide full training and weekly support for Champions and your time requirements are not as big as you might think. Champions drive the recruitment of members as well as chair / lead the meeting.
What do you get?
- The opportunity to grow a network of local businesses selected by you.
- Increased profile in your local area, the Champion is the education facilitator for the group and you form great bonds when you are in a position to help someone’s else’s business.
- Increased skills – you are frontline for all of the coaching material and as a result you often learn more than the members, these skills translates into your business.
- Database – on acceptance as a Champion you will be given a database of every business in your area to source your members. The database is yours to keep.
- Income – not enough to stop doing what you do but it helps
- Personal and business growth – just joining a Converge network provides a good level of growth for you and your business, starting and driving a network gives the opportunity for enormous growth that translates into your business.
If this is you, call or email us today and let’s get started.
Mascot Converge is kicking off in June
The forum will be run by Phillip Agripanidis from Just Lending.
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Freshwater Converge meets each Thursday morning 7:30am at the Bended Fork in Freshwater
The forum is run by Craig Troy from Converge Consulting.
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email email@example.com
Surry Hills Converge will start in June 2014
The forum will run by Cameron McKay from Converge Consulting
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email firstname.lastname@example.org
St Kilda Converge meets on Friday mornings 8:00am at Leroy Expresso, 191 Acland St, St Kilda (starting 20th June 2014)
The forum is run by David Lin from Strata Consultants Australia
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email email@example.com
Why a Business Forum?
Many small business owners feel very alone in their endeavours. We understand that the best way to develop a sustainable, rewarding business relationships is to work with people you like and trust. With more and more people working for themselves, successful marketing is becoming harder. Developing mechanisms to connect your business with the people who need your products and services is imperative and a Converge Business Forum provides such an environment.
Networking also provides the perfect platform for business owners to get together. However for most networking groups all that happens is the handling out of cards. At Converge we think that whilst this is valuable, what is really valuable is the exchange of ideas and experiences.
Being part of a Business Forum is like having a supergroup of fellow entrepreneurs supporting you – promoting your business and acting as a sounding board for any challenges that arise.
The benefits of referred business over non-referred business are well known – the challenge is finding the time and having the skills to build strong referral relationships. We feel that these relationships are not built by a quota system but instead by spending time together talking openly about how we do business and learning how to do it better.
What makes Converge different?
At Converge, we don’t just provide the platform for business relationships. We believe that business networking is great for referrals and strategic business growth – but what makes us different is that we combine high level business resources alongside our business forums.
These resources cover a wide range of business topics and they serve as business education but also a stimulus for the discussions – it is in the discussions that the learning happens.
Converge is the leading organisation in combining business networking with business coaching material. Not only do we offer you the ability to generate quality referrals and receive support from fellow business owners, but you will also benefit from our comprehensive coaching and education program.
Why join a Converge Business Forum?
People join Converge to grow their business and develop themselves personally. We are focused on business owner development. Business coaching is just as important to the growth of your business as the referrals that networking provides. In many cases you are your business, so if we can help you to grow and develop, then your business will benefit even more.
Converge Business School.
Converge members have open access to our extensive business coaching and education resources including articles, books and book summaries, presentations and tutorials. New resources are added weekly and articles are updated regularly. As the saying goes, “you are either green and growing, or ripe and rotting”. It is our belief that ongoing learning (regardless of the topic) will benefit you, and your business. We are so enthusiastic about business education that if you can’t find a resource that fits your needs, just let us know and we will source it for you.
What does it cost?
Membership costs $100 plus GST per month (plus whatever you order for your breakfast).
Return on investment.
As a Converge member your ‘Return on Investment’ may come from:
- quality referrals and leads generated from your network
- tips and market intelligence
- advice on business issues from the ‘Board Sessions’
- skills improvement from the extensive business education and coaching provided through the Converge Business School
- confidence that comes from public speaking, ‘selling’ yourself and your business, leading a ‘Board’ and delivering training and educational material.
For many members, all that is required to cover the cost of membership is one or two successful leads per year
Maroochydore Converge meets every second Wednesday.
The forum is run by Mark Mellor from Love & Partners Accountants.
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Converge meets each Friday 7:30am at the Pecorino Cafe behind the train station.
This forum is run by Andrew de Souza from Northshore Business Coaching.
For more information or to attend for breakfast please email email@example.com
Double Bay Converge meets each Thursday morning 7:30a at Cafe 21 on Knox St.
The forum is run by Grant Levitas from Principal Edge.
For more information or to attend a breakfast please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Parramatta Converge meets every Wednesday for lunch in the Parramatta CBD.
The forum is run by Paul Rattray from ATB Partners.
For more information or to attend please email email@example.com
Newport Converge meets every second Friday at the Harvest Cafe at 7:30am.
This forum is run by Converge Co-Principal Wayne Condon.
For more information or to attend please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We hosted our first Champion’s lunch yesterday – a thank you for our brave Champion’s who lead the groups each week. Great opportunity for the guys to get to know each other and talk about their groups, their backgrounds and their experiences. As you can see there was a tiny bit of drinking as well.
Whilst there are many factors of business that are common regardless of the size of the business, there are some behaviours that are common in big business and absent in small business – to the determinant of the small business.
Here are 3 things that big business does and small business doesn’t but really should, especially if they want to break out of owner dependence (where a small business is more self employed job than business due to it being dependent on the owner working in the business to survive)
1. Build in Accountability
Big business has layers of management and this creates accountability. Small business generally has one owner manager and there is rarely anyone there to hold that person to account. Every idea is a good idea, every excuse a valid one and every justification right on the money.
The lack of accountability is a major contributor to mediocre results in many small businesses but fortunately it has a easy fix. You need to get some people around you that will remind you of what you commit to do and tell you that being too busy is no excuse for not doing the sales calls you know you need to do, as an example. It can be a peer, a group, a coach or mentor but that person must be comfortable telling you the truth.
2. Segment & Discriminate Clients
Many small business owners are reluctant to focus on segments in the market and opposed to discriminate against clients who are not core. This greatly increases the work load, reduces the value provided to the clients and in turn the profitability of the business.
Big business does this very well and in fact that would not survive if they didn’t. Singapore Airlines is very comfortable discriminating in favour of the people at the front of the plane and BMW with the 7 Series buyer. Your top clients deserve more / better / bigger and unfortunately this means that the bottom clients will get less. In many cases they expect this anyway. The top ones certainly do. Not all clients are created equal and it is a mistake to try and treat them equally.
The other aspect of this point is where clients enter your business. Small business often buys the ‘promise of lots of work ‘ and start new clients off as A clients, only to have to move some of them down to B and C later when the promised work does not materialise. Big business does this much less. Take the Qantas club – you can’t ‘talk’ your way into the Platinum Club, you have to earn it through flying. Why? Not because it is full but because it would piss off the current members who have earned their spots and privileges and they (the current A clients) would likely move to another airline.
3. Work on the Business
Whilst big business is know for unnecessary meetings and communication, amongst all the meeting they actually do a better job at allocating time to work on the business. Small business owners struggle to find the time and importantly to prioritise this activity and as a result their business grows / develops at a much slower rate than it could.
Again an easy solution but one that takes discipline. Booking time and location to ensure that you spend some time every week working on your business is a key to short and long term success. If you are not working on your business then who is?
I know many very smart business owners (plus some that are not). What puzzles me about some of these smart ones (myself included) is that with all of their experience and business acumen, how they still sometimes make dumb decisions.
When I went looking for the answers I was surprised with how many potential ‘issues’ there were. Here are a couple that stood out.
1) The fundamental attribution error.
This bias makes us attribute the failure of others to character and our own failures to circumstance. “Bob’s business went broke because he was incompetent; mine went broke because of the recession.” It also attributes our own successes to our competence, discounting luck, while seeing others’ successes as products of mere luck.
This lands you in hot water when you assume that bad stuff only happens to other people: you’re not going to be part of the 50 percent of people who get divorced, and the price of your house will go up etc
2) The confirmation bias.
We tend to like and surround ourselves with people who think like us. If we agree with someone’s beliefs, we’re more likely to be friends with them. While this makes sense, it means that we subconsciously begin to ignore or dismiss anything that threatens our worldviews, since we surround ourselves with people and information that confirm what we already think.
3) The overconfidence bias.
This is also known as the ‘my guess is better than yours’ bias. People’s confidence in their own decisions tends to outstrip the accuracy of those decisions.
4) The availability bias.
We tend to estimate what’s more likely by how easily we can come up with an example from memory. The availability of our memories is biased toward vivid, unusual, or emotionally charged examples. So we tend to make those more salient, then come up with weird decisions based on them.
5) The sunk cost fallacy.
The term “sunk cost” refers to any cost (not just monetary costs but those in terms of time and effort) that has been paid already and cannot be recovered — so, basically, a payment of time or money that’s gone forever.
In economics, a sunk cost is any past cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered. For example, a business may have invested a million dollars into new hardware. This money is now gone and cannot be recovered, so it shouldn’t figure into the business’s decision making process.
This is a big one in businesses, jobs and relationships. You can be stuck in a crappy situation for a while, and then think, “But I’ve invested three years in this! I can’t just throw that away!” The fact is that those three years are never coming back – you’ve already thrown them away, so don’t worry about it! The sooner you cut bait and go for a better situation, the better off you are.
6) We incorrectly predict odds.
Imagine you’re playing Heads or Tails with a friend. You flip a coin, over and over, each time guessing whether it will turn up heads or tails. You have a 50/50 chance of being right each time.
Now suppose you’ve flipped the coin five times already and it’s turned up heads every time. Surely, surely, the next one will be tails, right? The chances of it being tails must be higher now, right? Well, no. The chances of tails turning up are 50/50, every time, even if you turned up heads the last 20 times. The odds don’t change.
The gambler’s fallacy is a problem with our thinking. The problem occurs when we place too much weight on past events and confuse our memories with how the world actually works, believing that they will have an effect on future outcomes (or, in the case of Heads or Tails, any weight, since past events make absolutely no difference to the odds).
You have a relationship with your clients and like in any relationship sometimes people behave badly. In some cases it is you and in some cases it is the other party.
Often you have to change the way you behave in order to get others to change their behaviour.
Sometimes people play roles in their relationships that actually work against them. One of these roles is that of the ‘enabler’. This is where you enable or allow the other party to behave in a certain way even though you don’t like it.
Whilst the enabler can be very passive they are the ones often who need to change in order for the other party to change. In other words if you don’t like the way someone is behaving towards you then you might need to change the way you behave to make it better.
I have had clients ask me to change the behaviour of certain staff members and my response has been that the solution (and problem) actually lies with them and not the staff member. Yes the staff members is acting like a jerk or a bully or being unprofessional but they (my client) are enabling that behaviour. The staff member has no motivation to change as the current status quo is serving them in some way.
Ever seen those TV specials with the grossly overweight people who are bed ridden and still getting bigger? They can’t get out of bed so who is making them fatter? They always have an enabler, usually a loving partner who is going out and buying the food they shouldn’t be eating. They convince themselves that they are helping but….
So where you have a client or staff member who his not behaving the way to would like them first check to see if you are in part responsible, if you are actually enabling or allowing that behaviour. Asking them to change won’t work. You first need to change the way you behave towards them.
Another minor example – your client calls you at 10:30 at night and you pick up. You are enabling their behaviour in terms of calling you at all hours. You can’t complain later when all the clients start to do that.
First you change and then they will change.
Pricing is a challenge for many businesses, especially small businesses. Here are some pricing concepts to consider when setting, communicating and negotiating your price.
Value is the main game
People do not buy on price – they buy on value. If you know the value your offering gives your customer you know how to price it.
It is never the price – it is always value. When people say it is too expensive what they are really saying is that they can’t see the value in it at that price. Change your language so that you hear what they really mean versus what they are saying.
Price has nothing to do with cost
You can’t set your price based on your costs. Price is a factor of value and is determined by the customer / market. What it costs to produce your product is clearly important but it doesn’t drive the price people will pay.
Arguing with the market that the price should be higher because the costs are higher does not necessarily work. Understand your market; understand the problem you are solving and most importantly what your clients will pay. Then work out what it will cost you to bring that product to market and that will tell you whether it is viable or not.
You are what you charge
We associate quality with price. Premium good cost more and cheaper good cost less. Everyone has there own perception of where this line is and it is important that your offering’s price matches your markets perceptions.
This also relates to how you charge. If you charge by hour then you are selling time versus selling by outcome – as an example.
Price the customer
The customer is the ultimate decider of the market price which is why it is so important to understand your customer and to be as specific as possible about who they are and who they are not. Don’t price for everyone, price your product for your market and focus on him or her.
Understand the Substitutes
There are very few offerings that don’t have a competitive offering or a substitute. Business tend to do a good job at understanding the direct competition but not as good a job with the substitutes.
A substitute is a product or service that your customer can buy instead of using you and it often looks different – which is why business owners miss it. We think it is comparing apples to oranges but the customer sees it as apples for apples.
An example is coffee and red bull. There is a market that drinks coffee for the effect alone and if coffee was unavailable or became too expensive would switch to red bull. There is also a market which would not.
If you told a barista (especially a really good barista with great coffee) that he / she was competing with red bull they might disagree. Therefore they would miss it as a potential competitor to their business and not factor it in to their pricing model.
So what are the substitutes, how important are they for your target market and how does their pricing affect your pricing model.
Providing clients with options changes the psychology of buying from a ‘yes or no’ decision to a ‘which one decision’. It might seem subtle but smarter people have studied it in detail and it makes a positive difference to the results.
With some products this is hard to do. With services it is easier. Try in all cases to provide a choice either project or retained, upfront or by the month, full or part etc. This is part of making it easier for your customer to buy you.
Remember that sometimes how you price is as important as the price itself.
Test Your Pricing
Before you roll out everything test the pricing with potential / past / non-customers. You are often too close to your business and your offering to be objective. You may over estimate or more likely under estimate because for you this product / service has a lower value due to the fact that you can do it easily. E.g. fixing a tap has less value to an experienced plumber that to someone who has no idea how to do it.
Remember it is not you or your costs that determine the price – it is what the market is prepared to pay which is based on the value they get from it.
Making decisions is a core skill of all business owners, manages and employees. It is something that we do hundreds of times every day and yet it is an area of difficultly for many businesses.
Of course some decisions are easy to make as the information clearly shows what action should be taken.
But what do you do if you really can’t see a difference between two courses of actions?
The answer is get more objective information. Don’t flip a coin or go with what you did last time, make the effort to get more objective information.
The key here is that the information is objective – that means that you might need to consult a source away from or outside of your immediate circle in order to be able to decide.
If all courses of action appear equal – get more objective information.
I am very excited to announce that Converge Business and Consulting has a new partner – Heidi Armstrong.
Like the rest of the Converge team Heidi is passionate about small businesses and seeing them succeed and grow into larger more profitable organisations. She has founded, managed, promoted and recently sold the successful online non-bank lending business, State Custodians.
Heidi has won a string of awards from a variety of industries and is now sharing her energy and passion with the Converge community. She loves helping business connect and build relationships so the fit with Converge is a natural one.
Starting with a bang Heidi will be hosting a new radio program call “The Entrepreneur Show” on 2GB Wednesday nights at 9:30pm – starting tonight 16th July.
I strongly encourage everyone to listen in.
End of financial year – a time full of numbers. All business owners should have a good grasp on the numbers in their business though sadly many do not. there are however 3 numbers that every business owner should always know.
- Cost of goods sold (COGS)
This is the total cost you incur in providing or delivering your product or service. It includes all materials plus overheads (rent, phone etc) as well as your time. This is where most business owners get it wrong, they don’t allocate their time accurately or they heavily discount it. What you need to know is exactly what it costs you to deliver he product or service to the client including all pre and post work. There should also be a client acquisition cost in there which is any marketing or advertising cost that you incur to get the sale in the first place.
This is crucial information that many business owners don’t know.
Easy number to know and quote, what are you charging.
Separate to the price is the value the client receives. This needs to be greater than the price. As consumers we buy on value, not on price. If I pay $1 for something I need to get at least $1 worth of value – in my perception. In most cases it will need to be greater than $1.10 or $1.15 to make it worthwhile. The difference between the price and the value is what is called the ‘customer surplus” and it is a key figure in terms of business, pricing and marketing.
COGS = $60
Price = $100
Value = $105 (client 1), $180 (client 2), $300 (client 3)
If this is an example you can see that there is a clear area of profitability between the COGS of $60 and the sales price of $100. Looking at the value you can see that there are three clients all with different perceptions of value. Where the perception is $300 – that is a good client and a safe one. At $180 we are still doing well but at $105 I would say that we are in serious danger. That client at $105 is just hanging on. A one for one exchange of price for value is not enough, it is adequate but not sustainable.
So as the business owner do you invest in getting the $105 client up to $150 or do you let them disappear over time instead focusing your efforts on enhancing the offering two the $180’a and $300’s.
How do you know the value the client gets – you ask them. Yes they may won’t want to tell you but you will be able to get a measure even if it is in figures like double or 1.5 times. You need to have a fair idea at a minimum.
Knowing these three figures allows you to make good decisions about how to invest money in your business, how to price your offering and which clients you need to chase and which you need to lose.
We all have them. Those clients that are high maintenance poor payers or the ones who just don’t get you and your business. These are the ones that if you had a 100 more you would either go bankrupt, insane or both.
So let’s sack them! Or at least one of them.
We are calling this national sack-a-client week. Pick the one at the very bottom of the list, the one that you know is not profitable and the one where their absence would make a better world – and sack them.
Couple of options:
- It not you, its me. Take the old dating example and give them a “we have changed our processes / people / business etc to say that you can no longer service their requirements.
- Dramatic price increase. Triple or quadruple the price. Due to unforeseen changes in your COGS the amount you need to charge will now be X. Sorry to have to do it and you understand if that means that they need to find an alternative supplier.
- Honestly tell them they are crap. Tell them that in the last couple of exchanges that you felt that they did not value you, your business, how hard your worked, how good you are etc and based on that you are severing the relationship. Wish them all the best and hang up the phone.
Go on, do it. See how good it feels.
I get the benefit if working with many business owners and have observed some common aspects and beliefs. I am calling this the business owner condition or syndrome.
These are beliefs that are not true:
- We think that everyone deals with the risk and stress of business ownership the same as we do
- We think that people will just get on with it and get the work done
- We think that if there is extra work to do that other people will see it and just do it
- We think that it is reasonable to be skilled ion all areas of the business and be able to switch task and role easily.
- We think that starting a business is normal and that everyone is capable of doing it
The last one is probably most important and most untrue. if you have taken the plunge and started a business – and are still doing it then you are firmly in the minority. It is a hard thing to do and takes a high risk profile. Be proud!
Which of these (or others) do you have that are not the case?