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Adding Value for Your Clients and Increase Business Revenue

At least once a summer, my brother’s family and ours enjoy lobsters together; we continued that tradition last night. Lobster in New Hampshire right now is $3.99 per pound (that’s less than a pound of hamburger), so we’ll enjoy it again tonight. But that’s only because of one retailer that understands the importance of adding value.small__1352976741

If you enjoy lobster at home, you know the worst part of it is the mess it makes – the huge pot, the smell, and the pot always seems to boil over in our house, so then we’ve got to clean up the stove. Yuck. This one retailer, though, has made boiled lobster as simple as take-out: for no additional cost, they will cook the lobsters for their customers. For the customer, that makes eating lobster a no-brainer. For the retailer, their only added cost is the power to boil the water. Brilliant.  Lobsters, along with those “couple of other items” you always need, were going out of the store by the bag load.

Adding value to your products or services allows you to increase nusiness revenue, conversion rates and customer satisfaction. I can’t remember the last time I had shopped where I bought the lobsters, but I bought lobsters and a lot more today. Here are some ideas that could work for your business:

  • A DVD or YouTube video instructions for a product purchased from you
  • Idea sheet for ways to use the product or service they are purchasing from you
  • An exclusive follow-up or consult call
  • Bundled services that relate to the product
  • A small “go-along” product that makes the use of your product or service easier
  • Product or service offer from a complimentary business

Simply put, find what makes it easier for them to use your product or service. There are people out there who want your product or service; make it easier for them and you are adding value, and starting to increase business revenue. 

Eliminate your customers’ reasons for not buying your product or service; honestly, we would not be having lobster tonight if we were cooking it. I didn’t just buy ingredients for tonight’s dinner, I bought an easy, summer lobster dinner. Now, if they would just come and take the trash away….


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

photo credit: law_keven via photo pin cc

Olympic Coaches Develop Powerful Results; Inspiration

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Over the 12 years of my coaching career, this article has never been far from my thoughts; it inspires me to be the best coach possible for my clients, a coach that would carry my clients piggyback down a mountain. It was originally published in the Chicago Tribune, during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.olympics 2012

I’m excited as the 2012 Summer Olympics are about to begin – thinking of the hours of training it took for the athletes to get there, the careful attention to detail by athletes and coaches, the sacrifices made. I’m hoping to see coaches that inspire their athletes to be their best, that hug them good or bad, that remember to give them a last minute wink, not just another tip. I am always striving to give the same to my clients.

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I do.

View the original article here, I hope you’ll print it out and save it as inspiration.


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Top 5 Signs That You Need a Vacation

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1. Your idea flow has slowed significantly, or may even be non-existent.You feel apathy towards your business.

2. You may be thinking “So what if I don’t get things done?”

Vacation for business owners3. You have a “heaviness” physical sensation around your business – you may feel it in your shoulders, gut, even your feet may feel heavy.

4. You are not getting as much done as you usually do; at the end of a day, you sometimes wonder how you filled your time and can’t remember what you accomplished.

5. You don’t look forward to going to your place of business; you may even find excuses to not go in.

The answer? To take a vacation, of course! I may not know you personally, but I know your type, and I know you’re saying “I don’t have time to take vacation” or “Who will run the business while I’m away?”. Hopefully, you have systems in place to quell those thoughts, but if not, book a vacation within the next 3 months and create the infrastructure that allows you to be out of the office. If you’re still hanging on to the thought that you’re indispensable, imagine that an emergency forces you to be out of the office and then build a system. If you’re still resisting, well…suck it up and book a vacation. You’ll make it happen.

In the meantime, take a day off… with absolutely nothing planned. Don’t plan on finishing up a house project, picking up the dry cleaning or even going for a bike ride. If one of those things happen, great, but I don’t want you to plan any activities. Planning keeps your mind in the “to-do” mode and you’ll find yourself checking things off your list, it just happens to be a different list than the one on your work desk.

The long-term solution is to understand the frequency with which you need time off and to regularly schedule vacations. Imagine your energy as a reservoir; your goal is to never let your business ownership energy drain completely. Instead, schedule periodic “refills” so that you, and your business, stay at peak performance.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Drawing a Salary From Your Business: Part 2

In Monday’s blog post, we discussed two barriers that may keep you from drawing a salary from your business. Today, we’ll cover the final aspect of this issue: Mindset. If you’re honest with yourself, this is most likely the biggest obstacle.

Here are three common beliefs:

1. Cash, and possibly customers, is in short supply and bound to dry up any minute. Better paysuppliers as soon as the invoices arrive to make sure we have enough cash to cover them.
Besides, we tell ourselves, it’s a sign of business strength to pay vendors quickly.

2. It’s better to invest in the business than it is to pay yourself. Chances are, you are the business,or at least a significant part. Paying yourself is investing in the business.

3. If you’re the competitive type, you fall under the spell of the chase: “If I can do $XX in business,than I can do $XXX if I keep going.” Competitive types also play that game with the amount of cash they keep on hand, always looking to increase their business bank account balance. This is just a game! Set a reasonable level of cash to have on hand; pay yourself a salary.

If you’re struggling to draw cash from your business, consider each of the factors carefully and make adjustments where you can. Set a pact with yourself that increased revenues or improved profitability brought about by changes made will become your salary.

For example, the business owner who said “We’re up 132% but I still can’t draw a salary” should be able to take at least 20% of that increase as salary. We often get caught up in what “salary” ought to be, but there is no minimum. At my urging, one client recently took her first paycheck to the bank – a whopping $65, but she said it felt great and was grinning from ear to ear. $65 this week, $95 next week, and so it goes. As with any journey, you have to start somewhere.

Add a comment below or Tweet to share your experience.

View Part One of this post here. 


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Draw a Salary From Your Business: Part 1

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“We’re up 132% but I still can’t draw a salary”.

Empty Wallet

This was posted on the web by a frustrated business owner, and it’s not that uncommon. We’ve all heard the advice to “pay yourself first” but, most of the time, it just doesn’t work. Or so we tell ourselves. Let’s look at this challenge more closely.


 Profit, or net income, is a simple mathematical equation: Revenue minus expenses equals profit. If profit is too low, then either revenue is too low or expenses are too high – simple math. All too often, business owners believe that if they open their doors, customers will come. Sorry, it doesn’twork that way. Instead, look at what additional revenue streams you can add; analyze current revenue streams and, by revenue type, brainstorm on ways to increase each. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

If you are a… Consider this revenue generting idea:
Business to Business Service Business Take advantage of the slower summer season; offer longer consults during July and August.
Business to Business Product Business Develop a “Frequent Buyer” program with incentives provided by complementing businesses. It helps both businesses!
Business to Consumer Service Business Post service openings on Facebook; it creates asense of urgency and generates traffic
Business to Consumer Product Business Your customers want to be outside so coordinate a “Summer Celebration” with neighboring businesses. Think picnics and face painting!


If expenses are out of line, ask yourself this: “If I had to cut expenses in half, what would I change?” I promise that you will know exactly what you would change. When we ask ourselves to cut 5% or 10%,we look for little changes within our current systems. More significant expense reductions require achange in your operations; that’s where meaningful savings will appear.

Cash on hand

 If you’re not currently taking a salary because the cash flow doesn’t support it, look atyour cash flow statement. This financial statement may feel overwhelming and difficult to understand,but here’s the bottom line: if you have inventory or facility equipment, you might as well have dollar bills on the shelf. I want you to picture that “great deal” you got as a pile of cash.

If customers owe you money, that’s cash you’ve “loaned” to your community, and that’s cash you could have used to pay yourself a salary. Excess inventory or equipment and customer receivables canall prevent you from paying yourself. Paying your vendors quickly can also prevent you from payingyourself, but more about that in a moment.

Check back later this week for the final piece of the puzzle: Why your mindset is the biggest obstacle to drawing a salary from your business. 

Until then, add a comment below or Tweet us to share your thoughts on Profitability, Cash on Hand and how you manage (or don’t manage) to draw a salary.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.