What are your Guiding Principles?

Guiding Principles are the core values, laws and rules we each live by. They define who you are, how you make decisions and they define your business.

In business, just as in life, eventually you will come up against a lot of people and situations that challenge your principles and core values. It’s vital to your success and emotional sanity that you never lose sight of who you are.

Guiding Principles are a blend of your personal ethics, core values and the personal rules of success we have defined for ourselves, on what is right and what is wrong. What is acceptable and what is not. What makes you happy, and what doesn’t. Your Guiding Principles hardly ever change. They are the “voice” that guides your every decision for life.

Guiding Principles trigger that nagging voice in your head that punishes you when you break them and give you the reassuring pat on the back when you follow their guidance. It is the conscience that keeps you on the straight-and-narrow path to right decision and becomes the very soul of your business.

If you want to leverage their power, make them part of your daily conscious thought. Start paying attention to your emotions in different situations. Every time something triggers strong negative emotions (like anger), ignore what triggered it for a moment and think about what Guiding Principle of yours has been broken. Similarly, when you feel strong positive emotion (like giddiness) think about why that incident made you feel good. Those inner thoughts and feelings are your Guiding Principles.

Some examples of Guiding Principles are: [note how each is written out and clear to understand; no one word platitudes!]

  • Honor all Commitments – both the spoken and unspoken ones. If you say you are going to do something and 30 seconds later you realize it is going to cost you more in time, effort or money than you thought, tough! Do it anyway. There are few things more valuable than your own reputation and integrity. (Note: One of the easiest ways to Honor every commitment you make is to Under Promise/Over Deliver).
  • Compatible: Do not spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince someone who does not want what you have to offer. Life is all about relationships – the right relationships. Surround yourself with people who support you, support what you are doing, and root for your success.
  • Be Honest and Transparent – Clarify Expectations (make sure everyone fully understands including yourself) Avoid platitudes like the plague.
  • Win-win or No Deal thinking: This is why I implemented One Best Price. Life’s too short to deal with a ding dong. I don’t mind honest negotiators but I have no time for win-lose negotiators.  That is someone who not only feels it’s okay to leave nothing on the table for the other side but thinks they have to take the table as well.
  • Under Promise/Over Deliver: Go the Extra Mile.  Always do more than is expected of you. 

    You want people like you, to like you.  So, create and nourish relationships who have your same “Speed of Trust”.

    Choose to work only with the 20%!!

    Your best customers share your same worldview and Guiding Principles

    Write down your own principles. Over time, as you get to know them better, refine them. Make them concise. Make them conscious. Your Guiding Principles will keep you on track.


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3 Steps to Your 80/20 Sweet Spot

Businesses that operate from their 80/20 Sweet Spot have the best chance to grow and expand.

Here are the three things you must know:

  1. Identify your Ideal/Top Clients
  2. Identify and Articulate your USP [Unique Selling Proposition]
  3. Create Systems to Under-Promise and Over-Deliver to Your Top Clients

If you truly are a business owner who wants to not just get by, not just exist on the flow of the market-but who wants to dominate their market…and when I say dominate, I mean be a recognized leader in all aspects; have great customers, great employees, systems that deliver consistent results under the umbrella of Under-Promise/Over-Deliver and have increasing revenue and cash flow, then you need to read on.

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? 

  •  You feel as if you are doing all the right things, but your marketing is falling on deaf ears.
  • You are feeling the pressure from your customers, prospects and competitors to lower your prices.
  • You can’t take on any more business because you have no more hours to give. You are feeling burned out and unsure how to continue to grow and expand.
  • You are always understaffed and/or have the wrong people in the wrong slots.
  • Your cash flow is inconsistent or uncertain.

 If any of these symptoms resonate with you, then you are not operating from your 80/20 Sweet Spot.

Businesses that are operating in their 80/20 Sweet Spot:

  1. Easily attract the ideal target audience for their business – both customers and employees.
  2. Never experience pressure to compete on price. In fact, their customers gladly pay a premium for the value they are receiving.
  3. Can easily grow and expand their business without requiring extra hours of work from the owner/entrepreneur.
  4. Have consistent and certain cash flow – month in and month out.

It’s easy to fall for the “shiny ball” syndrome and get caught up in the latest marketing, selling or time management tactic or trend.

If your business does not have a solid 80/20 Sweet Spot Strategy, at some point, you are going to hit that growth plateau.

Your 80/20 Sweet Spot is where your Top/Ideal customers [the 20%’ers], your Unique Selling Proposition [USP] and your Under-promise/Over-Deliver Systems all intersect.

In order to thrive, grow and expand, you need all three.


  • If you don’t know who your best, easiest to work with, easiest to communicate with, most profitable clients are, and what they need and want from you, then you can’t possibly create marketing that will attract them.
  • If you don’t know or can’t adequately express what makes you different from your competition [in a way your Ideal/Top clients actually care about], then price will be the only thing you have to compete on.
  • If you don’t have the systems and process that deliver Under-Promise/Over-Deliver Results, consistently without you, then you are stuck trading dollars for hours. You will never be able to grow beyond the number of hours, you the owner are willing and able to contribute.

Would you like help identifying and implementing your 80/20 Sweet Spot strategy?

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Symptoms of Working with Everyone or How to Avoid a Slow Miserable Death

The most common symptoms of an ailing company are:

  • Lack of time.
  • Uncertain or inconsistent cash flow.
  • Not enough of the “right” employees.
  • Not enough of the “right” customers.

“Most ailing organizations are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems but because they cannot see their problems.” – John Gardner

Most struggling entrepreneurs scramble for money and time and almost always it is due to saying “yes” to working with almost everyone.

Inconsistent or inadequate cash flow is the most devastating of the four most common problems most businesses have.

Does this sound familiar?

  • “We’re just one project, one client away. Once I sign this deal, we’ll be good.”
  • Borrowing money to meet payroll.
  • Not paying yourself.
  • Asking a key employee, usually a trusted manager, to hold off cashing his check until “Monday”

The say yes to everyone strategy is not sustainable.

Our 80/20 Assessment Analysis will identify, with absolute “black & white” clarity, who you should be working with and who you need to fire.

80/20 Assessment is about first identifying the customers who you are losing money on, who you are stocking inventory for that you don’t need, who make you cringe when you see their number on caller ID, who demoralize your staff, who pay late, who beat you down to the very last penny, etc. etc. etc.

When you have eliminated the deadwood you now have breathing space.

Could you cut back on staff? With the money you freed up in unnecessary inventory, where could you invest that more wisely?

You now have time to innovate and systematize your business.

Once we’ve helped you clear out the bad, the second step is to identify the very top clients and then implement knock-their-socks-off service and products for these select clients.

Through targeted marketing you now can nurture them and strengthen the relationship.

You can now start serving them so extraordinarily well, that they start to come in more often, purchase more when they do come in and become your private army of outside salespeople and refer more like them.

Every time you clean house you make room for more of your ideal clients.

More clients is not the answer. More of the right clients is the answer.

This is how you grow and expand your business the 80/20 way and eliminate the symptoms of an ailing business.


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How to Get Your Ideal Customers to Raise Their Hand and Beg You to Sell Them More

The real key to success is not having better answers…it is rather in having better questions.

One of the most effective 80/20 strategies you can utilize is to interview your TOP clients and find out what they wish you could change about your industry, what they wish you could provide them or sell them, what they wish someone, anyone could solve for them, what would make their lives so much easier, what would help them grow and expand their business.

Then, do your very best to fulfill every wish. It isn’t that you disregard everyone else, it’s just that you create your systems and solutions based on what your 20%’ers want and don’t want.

Your other “average” clients will benefit as well due to the trickle-down effect.

If you are going to be the business in your marketplace that dominates, you have to come to the realization that you can’t be all things to all people.

First, you need to go back to your 80/20 Assessment Analysis and pay special attention only with your ideal, top clients.

If you have 1,000 customers, it is likely that as few as 10 or maybe as many as 200 qualify as your ideal, top clients.

You interview these people and you talk to them, ask them smart probing questions and you LISTEN to them.

Ask them why they do business with you?

Ask them if there are any other products or services they would like to see you offer?

Ask them what they like least about your industry in general and you in particular?

Ask them what you do well that really, really pleases them?

Ask them what they hate most about other types of businesses – like restaurants, cleaners, auto dealers, shopping in general?

Ask them about their aspirations, challenges, short and long-term goals?

Our 80/20 Assessment Analysis consists of anywhere from 12 to 15 different qualifiers.   Contact me to learn more.

Never waste your time, staff or resources providing what your top, ideal customers don’t want or don’t care about.

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Grow Your Business Based on a Favorite Clients plan

Are you focusing all of your energy, time, money and marketing efforts on out-playing, under-pricing or out-shouting your competition, when instead you should be playing an entirely different game than everyone else by focusing only on your favorite clients?

When you’re rebuilding or growing your business, there’s a sequence of steps you must follow.

Here are the first two critical steps:

First, relabel yourself. What is it that makes you unique – your Unique Selling Proposition [USP].  You have to set yourself apart from your competition.

A unique selling proposition (USP) is your unique answer to these questions:
• What does your product or service do that your competitors doesn’t?
• Why should I buy from you instead of anybody else?
• What guarantee can you make that nobody else can make?

Here’s an Example of a USP:
When Domino’s Pizza first came on the scene, they had a game changing proposition – “hot, juicy, delicious pizza – delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s absolutely free.”

They were specific, 30 minutes or less and they gave a Risk-Free Guarantee.

AVOID platitudes like the plague.
Like they could have said:  “Best pizza in town delivered to your door.”

Best pizza”anybody could say that.

“delivered to your door”good, but how many questions does that raise?
How long will it take?  Will it be cold and soggy when I get it?… What happens if it isn’t?

Look around your market and see how many businesses say similar things to what you say.

Platitudes mean nothing!

Second, is to identify your ideal audience, AKA: your favorite customers & clients – the 20% that generates 80% of your revenue, profit and cash flow. During this same phase, you are identifying the diseased clients in your midst that you have to stop serving. Only by identifying and firing the deadwood will you ever free up the time, resources and staff to under-promise and over-deliver through innovative systematization.

Here is the criteria to use to help you identify your ideal customers and clients:

1st: rank by their monetary value to your business – revenue and/or profitability.

2nd: Now cross out those who make you cringe (character, attitude, likable…). These are the people that when you see their number on caller ID, your stomach churns.

3rd: We identify and rank for each of the following qualifiers:

  • Cash-is-King: Do they pay on time or better yet early?
  • Frequency: Do they purchase on a regular basis?
  • Potential: Could they generate a significant amount of revenue for you in the future?
  • Communication Skills: Do they communicate with you well?
  • EBA: Is your Emotional Bank Account high enough that if/when you make a   mistake they give you chance to fix and forgive?

4th Now we rank by secondary qualifiers – here are some ideas. Each business owner is unique and may have their own criteria to add as well.

  • Opportunity: Does working with them give you opportunities you would not otherwise have?
  • Referrals: Do they refer others to you?
  • History: Do you have a long history of working with this client making you feel confident you clearly understand how they will behave in all situations?
  • Add a blank column for your own personal unique qualifiers

5TH: Finally, we help you identify your personal Immutable Principles. These are the principles you WILL NOT compromise.

When you hire us, we start with our 80/20 Assessment Analysis and have a unique way of grading each of these so that you know, beyond a show of a doubt, who to keep and who to let go and clearly why you should do so.

We get you only the right people, your favorite clients – the 20%’ers who generate 80% of your profits by creating marketing, strategies and systems so that your business works for you instead of you working for it.

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