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HM:DAK@=JK;GDMEF MARCH-APRIL 2017 EDITION HOUSTON

MAGAZINE

Chairman John Cruise President/Executive Publisher Steve Levine Vice President/Publisher/ Creative Director/Editor Barbara Davis-Levine 'LMIJ*MRERGMEP3J½GIV Ervin Hughes Publisher’s Assistant Jerome Davis Graphic Designer Genera Media Photographers Gwen Juarez Contributing Writers Errol Allen Mandy Arnold Chip R. Bell Nick Darlington Barbara Davis Barbara Delaney

Donna Koppensteiner Hank Moore Christi Ruiz Pam Terry Gail Stolzenburg Jack Warkenthien

Chief Advisor Hank Moore Publisher’s Advisory Board Denise Adjei Sonia Clayton Donna Cole John Cruise April Day Dr. John Demartini Maya Durnovo Kathie Edwards Mila Golovine Dory Gordon Greg Grant David Holt Richard Huebner Ervin Hughes Jeffrey Jones Darryl King Sandy Lawrence Craig Klein Wea Lee Bertrand McHenry

Hank Moore Lisa M. Morton Mike Muhney Leisa Holland Nelson Annise Parker Page Parkes Howard Partridge Susan Repka Maria Rios Grant Sadler Tony Samper Rita Santamaria William Sherrill Gail Stolzenburg Pam Terry Linda Toyota Mayor Sylvester Turner Jack Warkenthien Carlecia D. Wright Aaron Young

Phone: 832-419-2814 E-Mail: Steve.Levine@SBTMagazine.net Or Write: Small Business Today P.O. Box 31186 Houston, TX 77231 See us on the web at www.SBTMagazine.net

SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED MONTHLY BY LEGACY PUBLISHING GROUP, LLC. P.O. BOX 31186 HOUSTON, TX 77231 EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER - STEVE LEVINE: 832-419-2814 CHAIRMAN - JOHN CRUISE: 832-460-2020 WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET ADVERTISING RATES ON REQUEST. BULK THIRD CLASS MAIL PAID IN TUCSON, AZ. POSTMASTER: PLEASE SEND NOTICES ON FORM 3579 TO P.O. BOX 31186 HOUSTON, TX 77231. ALTHOUGH EVERY PRECAUTION IS TAKEN TO ENSURE ACCURACY OF PUBLISHED MATERIALS, SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR OPINIONS EXPRESSED OR FACTS SUPPLIED BY ITS AUTHORS. COPYRIGHT 2012, LEGACY PUBLISHING GROUP, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED.

WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK? WHATEVER IT IS‌DROP IT! Alklae]

I

t’s time to move forward. It is a new year and we have a new President who is an entrepreneur himself. It would appear that many of his changes since his inauguration will have a profound effect on our nation’s economy including small business. These changes will mean growth. Changes in healthcare such as making healthcare more affordable for entrepreneurs of small businesses, tax reform, immigration, regulations, and trade agreements will mean more money back into our economy. So, if we are in the right place at the right time, how do we make sure that we are properly prepared to embark on this amazing journey, a journey that could finally give us businesses that work for us versus the other way around? To move ahead, we need to shed some of the things that have been holding us back, things that literally need to be dropped from our lives and businesses. Here are but a few to get you to where you need to be: r %SPQUIF/FHBUJWF1FPQMF Drop the people who negatively affect your attitude and with it your productivity. r %SPQ$BSJOH"CPVU.JTUBLFT:PV)BWF.BEF The past is the past! There is a reason why our rearview mirror is so small and our windshields are so large. Making mistakes are part of the learning experience and they make you stronger. Every setback is an opportunity for a comeback. r %SPQ"OZ-PX4FMG&TUFFN*TTVFT:PV.BZ)BWF G-D did not create you to be a failure. You were created for greatness! r %SPQ5SZJOHUP1MFBTF&WFSZPOF You cannot nor should you even try to be everything to everybody. r %SPQ:PVS-JNJUFE#FMJFGT You have no limitations on your growth. Often, we set our own limitations of what we think we can accomplish. Someone who believes in moving on is our cover honoree this month, Lisa Morton. Lisa was our cover honoree in our February 2013 issue of SBT. Since that time, Lisa sold her company, Texas Bookkeepers, and joined forces with another company. Lisa believes that life gives you choices and that at certain times, changes mean opportunities. As a result, she joined forces with Scott Burgess to form Douglas Business Solutions. Even though being a cover honoree is a one-time honor, we believed that we needed to tell the current story of these dynamic and successful entrepreneurs! Also, Lisa was very appreciative of the help from Jessica Cleveland who did her hair and makeup for the last photo. I know you will enjoy Lisa and Scott’s story! Also in the spotlight this month is Archie Elliott of Symmetry Fitness, who just happens to be my personal trainer who I work out with twice a week. If improved health and fitness are your goals, let Archie “Ace� Elliott take you there! Good Reading, Good Sales, & Success to You,

STEVE LEVINE

President/Executive Publisher, Small Business Today Magazine


INSIDE MARCH-APRIL 2017 EDITION HOUSTON

06

ON THE COVER LISA MORTON AND S. SCOTT BURGESS DOUGLAS BUSINESS SOLUTIONS

FEATURES

03 15 16

Publisher’s Column

20

Mentoring and Lifelong Learning

Eight Ways to Win Customer Loyalty 

21

Fast Growth Requires Attention To What’s Important

22

Networking & Artificial  Intelligence Part 1    

Negotiating Success: Turning A Negotiation Into An Opportunity

 17 Helping Millennials Build a Strong Financial Foundation                  23       18 Managing 2017 Reimbursement with the New IRS Business 24 Mileage Rate

Stuck in the Middle –  Do Customers Belong Here?   Financial Astrology March 2017 

Um, Er, Uh, Basically, Like…   Sound Familiar?      SPECIAL FEATURE

19

INSIDE BACK COVER

Archibald C. Elliott Symmetry Fitness When YOU are ready to take your health and fitness to the next level, let Archie Elliott of Symmetry Fitness take you there! Photo by Gwen Juarez

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BY NICK DARLINGTON

A

rchibald C. Elliot, Archie or Ace as he’s fondly known by colleagues and clients, is a former athlete who gained weight and then lost it in his desire to improve his health. While there are many stories of people losing weight, what makes Archie’s story unique is how he has used this experience and combined it with his inherent passion for fitness to help others. Growing up, he was a three-sport athlete who had a passion for football. After attending Savannah State University, Archie entered the corporate world for a few years. It was during this time that he felt like he lacked direction and was unfulfilled. He also had gained a lot of weight and was unhappy with his appearance. He didn’t feel like he was making an impact on people’s lives when all he wanted to do was help others. Those factors became a driving force to not only change his life but to also make a difference in others’ lives. He quit his job, and then proactively took strides to lose the unhealthy weight that he had put on. After successfully accomplishing his personal self-improvement goals, he felt confident that he could help others do the same. Soon after, Symmetry Fitness became a reality and has allowed Archie to realize his goal of helping others live better lives, a goal that’s personified by the company slogan, “Train Harder, Live Longer”.

Symmetry Fitness focuses on strength training, corrective exercises, self-defense, and weight loss. Holding certificates from the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI), the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT), the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM Corrective Exercises), and the Personal Training Association (PTA Global), Archie not only has the passion but also the experience and knowhow. Archie is relentless in staying at the top of his game and he does it by regularly taking continuing education classes pertaining to his field. “I’m currently studying to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)”, he states. “It will keep me ahead of the curve by giving me the knowledge to identify what an athlete is doing wrong.” 12 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

12

ARCHIBALD C. ELLIOTT Kqee]ljq>alf]kk


COVER STORY

Great Scott! A Great Journey Leading to a Great Accounting Firm BY NICK DARLINGTON AND BARBARA R. DAVIS

W

hen Lisa Morton and Scott Burgess joined forces in 2016 as partners of Douglas Business Solutions, the journey leading up to the founding of this great accounting firm did not happen overnight. From the days of establishing their own companies and referring work to one another, to selling their companies and going their separate paths, a lot has happened over the years. For Lisa, this involved overcoming a great deal of adversity throughout her life that included a childhood filled with foster homes, creating a very successful business, then selling it, and having to adjust to working for those who hired her. For Scott, after spending years working for others in real estate doing accounting, management, and finance for large companies, he woke up one day and realized he didn’t want to be part of the rat race in Corporate America. In spite of the difficult life that Lisa had growing up, her fighting spirit helped her in developing her self-confidence and winning attitude. Lisa established Texas Bookkeepers in 2007 and it became so successful that in 2012, the Houston


Business Journal ranked Texas Bookkeepers as the second fastest growing company in Houston and number 12 of the “25 Fastest Growing Woman-Owned Businesses”. This was a title well-deserved as the company went from $5,000 per month to $50,000 per month in the space of only 18 months! Also noteworthy, the story about Texas Bookkeepers was shared in the January 2013 edition of Small Business Today Magazine! Throughout the years that Lisa was in business, she was in contact with Scott Burgess who was a CPA. They would refer work to one another, with Lisa making use of Scott’s tax expertise. Scott’s journey was somewhat different than Lisa’s. After becoming disillusioned with Corporate America, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to establishing his own company in 2008. He grew the company from his home and in five years he had three offices. It was during those years that Lisa and Scott referred work to one another. Both Lisa and Scott would sell their companies in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Lisa’s motivation to sell came following two offers to buy Texas Bookkeepers, one from Scott “I”, and the other from Scott Burgess, both of whom she fondly calls, “The Great Scotts”. For Scott Burgess, the rapid growth and the necessity to wear many hats caused burnout and he needed time off. After selling their companies, they went their separate paths. In 2016, they would reconnect after Lisa decided it was once again time to become an entrepreneur and established Douglas Business Solutions. She approached Scott, they started talking, and by August they made the wise decision to join forces. Douglas Business Solutions is a full-service accounting firm offering tax, bookkeeping, and payroll. Lisa chose the name Douglas because her husband, J. “Russell” Morton, is from Scotland and

his family is a member of Clan Douglas. Indeed, it really is a case of Great Scotts here, there, and everywhere. Not only is the company logo the Douglas Clan crest but most of the artwork in the office is of Scotland. Not to mention that Lisa’s partner is named Scott, Lisa’s son lives in Scotland, and Lisa and Russell also own the Scottish American Business Alliance which helps Scottish firms set up shop in Houston. Despite Lisa and Scott rekindling their connection and love for entrepreneurship by being business partners, the ride hasn’t always been smooth. They have both had their fair share of struggles. Lisa, one of five children, was born in New Hampshire and grew up in Connecticut. Her childhood was a difficult one. Having come from a broken home and growing up in foster care, she’s overcome many adversities. Between the ages of 10 through 14, Lisa went through at least 20 different establishments, from group, state, and temporary homes. “It was not easy,” she recalls, “I learned how to fight for what I wanted. As a result, I still passionately fight for what I want.” After divorcing the father of her two children, Lisa found the man she deserved, J. “Russell” Morton. Lisa shared, “My husband is my true love. He tells me every day how much he loves me.” It was Russell who encouraged Lisa to pursue her passion for numbers and hired her to work as a bookkeeper at his marine electronics company, GeoNav Marine Systems. When Russell sold his company in 2007, Lisa made the decision to start her own company. Lisa thought to herself, “I’ve always been able to quickly add numbers in my head. I’ll just start a bookkeeping company. How hard can it be?” Lisa picked up a copy of QuickBooks and that’s how Texas Bookkeepers was born!

Shortly thereafter Lisa met Scott Burgess. Scott, who had been in real estate since 1997 doing accounting, management, and finance for large companies, started his CPA firm in 2008. This was due to an epiphany. Scott recalled, “I woke up one day and realized I was part of the rat race in Corporate America and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore!” So, Scott resigned from his job where he was working for a big corporate real estate company and converted one of his rooms into an office, made business cards, created a website, and started hustling for clients. Over the course of five years, the company grew into three offices with 17 employees who were doing over 2000 tax returns a year. As a lot of small business owners do with each other, Lisa and Scott started referring work to one another. That’s how their friendship began. Scott’s company experienced rapid growth but with rapid growth also came a lot of pressure as he had to wear many hats. He was the HR guru, the technical expert, the IT genius, and more. The workload took its toll, and in 2013 Scott sold his company. He reflected, “All that responsibility burned me out. I decided to take some time off.” Lisa had sold her company a year earlier, and with both their companies sold, Lisa and Scott went their separate ways. From 2012 through 2016, Lisa was working for the new owners of Texas Bookkeepers. She worked as a manager of the bookkeeping department for one year before moving to sales for the next three. Her contract was terminated in January 2016 and Lisa set her eyes on once again getting involved in entrepreneurship. Lisa decided to reach out to Scott, who was back in Corporate America working as a Chief Financial Officer for a home builder in the Sugar Land area. She recalls, “I approached Scott and said, ‘Hey,

[ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 7


COVER STORY

Lisa feels “blessed” to have such a great team! With Lisa are ( from left to right) Laura Lee, J. Russell, Becky Dupree, and Mila Sheik. Photo by Gwen Juarez

what are you doing? I’m out on my own and need a CPA to help with tax work?’ He said he had a job but that we should have lunch. So, we went and talked about Douglas Business Solutions.”

Administrative Director and extremely qualified for her position. According to Lisa, “She is all things glue. She manages calendars, communications, clients, and does a great deal of bookkeeping as well.”

In the months that followed, Scott worked as an independent contractor for Douglas Business Solutions while taking time off to evaluate his position. He eventually made the decision to buy into the company in August 2016. Both Lisa and Scott were once again back to doing what they do best, being entrepreneurs, but this time to their surprise, they were doing it together as partners, and great ones at that!

The firm is also held together by a strong cultural ethos with an emphasis on faith, quality, and family. It’s this cultural ethos that helps team members work toward a mutual goal of providing the best service to clients. Lisa proudly says, “We have instilled the importance of faith and want to run this like a small, loving family business that takes care of its clients”.

The team has grown to include Lisa’s longtime friend, Laura Lee, followed by Mark McDaniel, Becky Dupree, and Mila Sheik. While Lisa and Scott both play to their strengths handling bookkeeping and taxes respectively, Becky is an Auditor and also a Certified Fraud Examiner and Mark is a CPA. Mila is the company’s Managing Senior Accountant. Connie Guillot runs the satellite office in Magnolia. Laura is the

And taking care of their clients they do. One only has to look at their mantra, “We provide a personal solution for you”. Lisa explains, “It’s an evolving mantra. No two clients are the same, although they might have the same discipline. For example, I have two clients who are both lawyers. They are completely different people who run completely different businesses and demand completely different things. We want to make sure ev-

8 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

eryone is getting what is best for them, not what’s easiest for us.” Further, Douglas Business Solutions is a forward-thinking company that uses the latest technology. “When we started Douglas, we chose to keep up with technological advancements. We are nearly 100% paperless and operate almost entirely in the cloud,” elaborated Lisa. While Lisa and Scott recognize the importance of technology, they understand they need to follow best practices by taking certain security precautions. They only work with encrypted data. Encryption is the process of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorized access and 128-bit encryption methods are considered very secure. Lisa remarks, “Everything is password protected with a unique password code. Before you can even enter your username and ID, you have to go through multiple levels of security.” Some of the best practices implemented by Douglas Business Solutions were learned by Lisa during the four years of working for the new owners of Texas


Bookkeepers. She not only learned how to deal with fraud once it happened but also how to prevent it. Douglas Business Solutions also helps their clients follow best practices. So, as soon as they have a new client, the first things they do is go in, analyze current systems, and make recommendations. For example, if a client has three different people accessing their account, Douglas Business Solutions will give each person a separate role, username, and password so they don’t see things they shouldn’t be seeing such as payroll information. “Because”, as Lisa says, “this only causes problems such as one employee seeing what another employee’s salary is.” Scott and Lisa communicate almost daily about what to do next, who to hire, and whether to take on a new client. They are particularly wary of bringing new clients onboard for the sake of a paycheck. As Lisa says, “Money isn’t everything. It’s important that there’s a good fit. If there isn’t, we don’t take the client onboard”. Douglas Business Solutions’ focus on best practices and technology, combined with their strong cultural ethos, closeknit team, and personalized service have laid the foundation for expansion. It was also important for them to have a centralized location that was easily accessible for their clients and that is why they chose an area near The Galleria in Houston. Networking has also been instrumental in business growth. Scott exclaimed, “We love to network with people! Even if a potential client isn’t a fit for us, we use our referral network. We rely on referrals both inside and outside our profession, whether they’re referrals from existing customers, business executives, insurance agents, florists, or even CPAs. There’s always reasons why we refer work or why others refer work to us. Maybe it’s because they like us. Maybe it’s because we have expertise in an area. It’s how you survive in the small business community!”

As part of their networking efforts, Douglas Business Solutions is part of the West Houston Chamber of Commerce, Cypress-Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Professional Bookkeepers, and Business Network International. Douglas Business Solutions is not only part of organizations for networking, they also believe in giving back to the community. Both Scott and Lisa are part of their own charities, aside from the church. Lisa is very supportive of the ALL IN Family Ministries that helps children in crisis. Scott, who was on the Board of Directors of the Sugar Land Rotary Club, is part of Rotary International, an organization that helps local and worldwide communities in several ways. They promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, and help grow local econ-

omies. “It’s a way to give back to many charities in the community instead of one. I love them,” remarks Scott. With the focus on business, networking, and community, it can be easy to neglect family. This is why Lisa has a business coach, Jared Polak. He’s been Lisa’s coach since her days at Texas Bookkeepers. Not only does he help the Douglas Business Solutions team stay on task by assisting with business goals, but he makes sure they have a work-life balance. Lisa remarks, “If my husband isn’t happy, I am not happy. That’s why setting boundaries are so important. Even our clients know that. We don’t let them infringe on our time as we would not infringe on theirs. You have to set boundaries! I found a funny way to say it a long time ago. You can email me, text me, or call me but if becomes excessive, we can always get a restraining order.

For Laura & Mila, “It’s just another day at the office” for this dynamic duo! Photo by Gwen Juarez


COVER STORY

That’s when I mention my weekends are my own. And if I am working overtime it’s because I’ve put myself in that position, not because they want it that way.” Additionally, Lisa stresses that small business need to price their services correctly and keep their word. “If it takes you an hour to do the work, charge for the hour”, she explains. “Know what your hour is worth. The biggest mistake you can make is undercharging or not charging at all. You are never going to make money that way! Your clients don’t mind paying the wage as long as they’re getting what you promised. So, say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep to your word.” Indeed, keeping her word has been one of the biggest things Lisa has missed in the past four years. “My word is my bond”, states Lisa. “It is the only thing that I have at the end of the day.” When she worked as an employee for other people or other companies, she was not always in control of what she could or could not say. Now

that she’s working for herself again, she’s in control and does everything to deliver on what she promises. Scott says, “Your other partner should help augment your skill and that is the case with Lisa and me”. Lisa has strong salesmanship skills; Scott has technical expertise and unprecedented client focus. Lisa remarks, “Scott sets a level of quality and standard that’s unsurpassed. None of his clients are ever surprised or disappointed.” Lisa continues, “I’m glad we’ve done this again. I’m really glad that I’ve done this with Scott.” The great journey leading up to Lisa and Scott’s partnership in making Douglas Business Solutions a great accounting firm has been a long and sometimes difficult one. Even though, in the past, both Lisa and Scott had secure jobs that didn’t require any risk on their part, the rewards of owning their own business far outweighed anything else. Lisa expressed, “When you own your own business, you may pay yourself last but

Lisa and her husband, J. Russell are partners in everything they do! Photo by Gwen Juarez

10 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

you have no boss and you get to build the company with your own culture. Douglas Business Solutions is building a company that looks after its clients and employees. People work for people, not companies.” After both running their own firms and referring work to one another, to selling their firms and going their separate ways, Lisa and Scott have re-established their bond. They are back in the entrepreneurial space, doing what they love best. But this time it’s different. Their great journey has paid off because they are great business partners who are the perfect complement of one another. With Lisa and Scott as partners, drawing from a unique skill-set, combined with a strong core team driven by a unique cultural ethos, one can truly say, “Great Scott! Douglas Business Solutions is a great accounting firm set to go the distance.” SBT


1. Have a business plan. Write it down, stick to it, 10. Set your boundaries with clients and stick to them. There’s no point in answering a call after and review it regularly. five if you said you won’t. 2. Put checks and balances in day one. 11. Price your services properly and charge what you’re worth. The biggest mistake you could make 3. Know your why. is undercharging or being scared to charge at all. 4. Hire a mentor or business coach to help guide you 12. Keep your word. If you tell a client you’ll deliver and teach you. something on a certain time and day, then do it! If you don’t, your clients’ trust will erode. 5. Listen. Accept you don’t know everything and take everyone’s thoughts into consideration 13. Communicate with clients. If you think work is when making a business decision. going to cost more than you initially thought, tell them so they can decide if they want to proceed. 6. Lead by example. Don’t surprise them as this will break their trust in you. 7. Be patient and kind. 8. Be methodical and calculated in hiring the right 14. You don’t have to take every client onboard. people. It’s your team that’s the core of your busi15. Don’t be afraid to laugh even if it’s at yourself. ness. 9. Proactively and strategically network and build 16. Stick to a budget. up a referral network. It will help with business 17. Pray and never forget that you are not alone. survival and growth.

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SPECIAL FEATURE

Archibald C. Elliott Kqee]ljq>alf]kk When YOU are ready to take your health and fitness to the next level, let Archie Elliott of Symmetry Fitness take you there! Photo by Gwen Juarez

BY NICK DARLINGTON

A

rchibald C. Elliot, Archie or Ace as he’s fondly known by colleagues and clients, is a former athlete who gained weight and then lost it in his desire to improve his health. While there are many stories of people losing weight, what makes Archie’s story unique is how he has used this experience and combined it with his inherent passion for fitness to help others. Growing up, he was a three-sport athlete who had a passion for football. After attending Savannah State University, Archie entered the corporate world for a few years. It was during this time that he felt like he lacked direction and was unfulfilled. He also had gained a lot of weight and was unhappy with his appearance. He didn’t feel like he was making an impact on people’s lives when all he wanted to do was help others. Those factors became a driving force to not only change his life but to also make a difference in others’ lives. He quit his job, and then proactively took strides to lose the unhealthy weight that he had put on. After successfully accomplishing his personal self-improvement goals, he felt confident that he could help others do the same. Soon after, Symmetry Fitness became a reality and has allowed Archie to realize his goal of helping others live better lives, a goal that’s personified by the company slogan, “Train Harder, Live Longer”.

Symmetry Fitness focuses on strength training, corrective exercises, self-defense, and weight loss. Holding certificates from the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI), the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT), the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM Corrective Exercises), and the Personal Training Association (PTA Global), Archie not only has the passion but also the experience and knowhow. Archie is relentless in staying at the top of his game and he does it by regularly taking continuing education classes pertaining to his field. “I’m currently studying to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)”, he states. “It will keep me ahead of the curve by giving me the knowledge to identify what an athlete is doing wrong.” 12 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]


But getting to the point where he is today, as the owner of Symmetry Fitness, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was a long journey. Archie grew up in two places, the big city of Chicago, Illinois and the small town of Springfield, Georgia. Archie always loved sports. He ran track in middle school and high school. He also played basketball and wrestled. But even though he always had a passion for football, he did not try out in his freshman year of high school. He recalls, “Football was my thing but I was intimidated because everyone else was much bigger than me. I feel that I would’ve played sooner if there had been additional motivation, if I had that one person saying, ‘Hey it’s okay, you should stick it out’.” Once he overcame that hurdle, he started playing football in his sophomore year. This was followed by a move to Savannah, Georgia, where he continued playing football while attending college at Savannah State University where he eventually obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Community Health. In 2011, while still in Savannah, Archie joined the corporate world as a full-time food chemist. It was there where he gained 30 pounds. Overweight and with the desire to make a difference in people’s lives, Archie took the first step. He changed his lifestyle and over a three-month fitness regime, shed that weight. “Instead of driving, I started riding my bike”, he states. “I rode 10 miles to work and back each day for three months. My best friend also introduced me to the boot-camp style training. We would train once in the morning, take a class in the evening, and then I’d ride home.” Archie then started telling his story and substitute taught group fitness classes before moving to Atlanta in 2012 and later Houston in 2015. “I moved to Houston because the economy was thriving com-

Sometimes achieving a challenging goal or dream just takes a little confidence and a leap of faith! Photo by Gwen Juarez

pared to other states”, says Archie. Upon moving to Houston, he began working in a corporate gym. One day, while at the gym, he was asked along with others why they had joined the fitness industry. He recalls, “I heard so many answers as this question moved from person-to-person. My answer was that Houston had an obesity problem and someone needed to do something about it but everyone laughed. My rebuttal was that they weren’t serious enough about attacking these problems.” In his efforts to address these problems, Archie tried to launch the one-millionpound challenge, a challenge Oklahoma City has successfully implemented. He is still determined to get this campaign successfully launched even though it has been a struggle to do so. All that is needed is for the trainers in Houston to band together. Regardless, he’s been on a mission to “Get Houston Slim” by helping, educating, and encouraging people to be more active. Archie operates Symmetry Fitness out of The Core in Houston. The Core is the largest independent training facility in the United States. While this is his main office, he also does home visits and has corporate accounts. With these corpo-

rate accounts, he conducts corporate boot camps with the goal of those participating becoming more active, reducing stress in their lives, and improving their productivity. Archie takes a unique approach with every client. When a client approaches him, he first tries to find out what their why is. “I try to understand why they have come to see me in the first place”, explains Archie. “What are their goals? Why do they want professional advice?” Archie then does a brief assessment of the person to understand how they move and establishes what their weak points are. For example, some clients have bad knees, poor posture, or even a weak back. Based on this, he creates a goal-orientated workout specifically designed for that individual. Archie then follows a specific protocol depending on the assessment and goals of that individual. Archie adds, “If their goal is weight loss, we move on to the weight loss program. If it’s strength, we move on to the strength program. And if it’s power, we move on to the power program.” Regardless, Archie starts out at a moderate pace and progresses accordingly. His approach is also supported by his

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SPECIAL FEATURE

Steve Levine believes in Archie and his program so much that he has hired him as his own personal trainer and works out with him three times a week! Steve loves Saturdays at the gym because that is “Gloves On Saturday!” Photo by Gwen Juarez

attentiveness. “I listen to what the clients are saying”, remarks Archie. “I hone in on what they’re telling me which helps me create a unique bond.” By being observant, Archie also prevents injuries while his clients are following the program. “You have to look at the structure of the body. If they’re slumped or their posture isn’t right, chances are they sit down a lot. You need to pay attention to these cues, understand what exercises will fix the imbalances, and ensure clients do the exercises properly.” By following the approach, combined with his vigilance and knowledge, Archie has managed to get a conversion ratio of 90 percent which are some really great statistics! Archie especially loves working with athletes. He also enjoys working with a diverse spectrum of people from children through to adults. For example, Archie is currently working with a young boy. This requires Archie to use a different approach than he uses with adults. “In developing younger athletes, we focus on movement patterns like hopping, push-ups, standing on one leg, and jumping”, elaborates Archie. “We don’t use weights because this can stunt growth.” And for those with injuries, he uses the utmost caution. “We watch their movement”, remarks Archie. “We ensure they aren’t doing exercises that put them at risk. We strengthen those areas that need strengthening until they’re stabilized. We monitor everything very, very carefully.” Archie suggests people apply this same attentiveness when choosing a professional trainer, “When you’re choosing a professional, do your research”, he advis-

es. “Make sure they have the right certifications to properly help you. It is very important to get references, too. Also, ask enough questions to find out about their preferences and what they specialize in. This is important because I often see a poor fit between clients and trainers.” Many people have a limited time to do activities that help improve their quality of life. They don’t work with a trainer and they struggle to find time to exercise. Instead, they go to work, become less active, and gain weight. Archie suggests the following: “Make a concerted effort to wake up a little earlier so you have time to work out. If you can’t do that, I’d say the solution is to move more and not only watch what you eat, but also watch the size of your portions. Make it a point in your dayto-day activity to exercise. If you’re a runner, by all means run. If you enjoy walking, then walk. Use whatever avenue you have to be active and make a 100 percent commitment” Archie has been committed to fitness and helping others improve their health for the past five years. While he understands the importance of training hard, he doesn’t forget to have fun. He recently launched a backflip challenge. As of the 30th of November 2016, he committed himself to a daily routine of one backflip per day. At the time of writing this, he was on day 44 with plans to do it for 365 days. As Archie looks forward in growing his business, he is clearly committed to not only training but also to having fun. Even though he is poised for growth, Archie wants to remain a small business. “I don’t want to grow too big”, he states. “I don’t want to become a corporation

14 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

where I lose my connection with everyday people. I want to think locally to save globally because the more people we reach, the better. It means we are having a direct impact on people’s lives and that’s where my passion lies.” Archie truly understands what others go through because he has traveled the distance. From being an athlete and in top physical condition, to putting on weight when he joined the corporate world, and then finally accomplishing his goal of losing that weight, Archie is passionate in sharing his story and making a difference in people’s lives. By creating Symmetry Fitness, Archie has used his inherent passion for fitness and combined it with his experience, knowledge, and expertise. Symmetry Fitness is the fine-tuned machine that Archie designed to make an impact on people’s lives, and indeed, help them “Train harder and live longer”.

For more information on how you can change your life by training harder and living longer, you can contact Archie by phone at 404-307-3423 or by email at AceFitBody@gmail.com.


EDITORIAL FEATURE

E]flgjaf_Yf\

Da^]dgf_D]Yjfaf_ BY HANK MOORE CORPORATE STRATEGIST™

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6. Approach your career as a body of work. This requires planning, purpose and commitment. It’s a career, not just a series of jobs. 7. The person who is only identified with one career accomplishment or by the identity of one company for whom he-she formerly worked is a one-hit wonder and, thus, has no body of work. The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. 8. The management that takes steps to “fix themselves” rather than always The mentor becomes a role model, offerprojecting problems upon other ing insights about their own life-career. people will have a successful organiThe mentor is an advocate for progress zation. and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get 9. It’s not when you learn. It’s that you learn. results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philoso- 10. Many people do without the substantive insights into business bephies. The mentor stands for mentees cause they have not really developed throughout their careers and celebrates critical thinking skills. their successes. This is a lifelong dedication toward mentorship...in all aspects of 11. Analytical and reasoning skills are extensions of critical thinking skills. one’s life. 12. You perform your best work for free. How you fulfill commitments and L`]egklka_faÚ[Yfld]kkgfkl`YlAd]Yjf]\af pro-bono work speaks to the kind of eqZmkaf]kkda^]^jgee]flgjk$n]jaÚ]\oal` professional that you are. ]ph]ja]f[]$Yj]k`Yj]\`]j]2 1. You cannot go through life as a carbon 13. People worry so much what others think about them. If they knew how copy of someone else. little others thought, they wouldn’t 2. You must establish your own identity, worry so much. This too is your which is a long, exacting process. challenge to frame how they see you 3. As you establish a unique identity, and your company. others will criticize. Being different, 14. Fame is fleeting and artificial. The you become a moving target. public is fickle and quick to jump on 4. People criticize you because of what the newest flavor, without showing you represent, not who you are. It loyalty to the old ones, especially is rarely personal against you. Your those who are truly original. Worksuccess may bring out insecurities ing in radio, I was taught, “They only within others. You might be what care about you when you’re behind they cannot or are not willing to bethe microphone.” come. 5. If you cannot take the dirtiest job in 15. The pioneer and “one of a kind” professional has a tough lot in life. It is any company and do it yourself, tough to be first or so far ahead of then you will never become “manthe curve that others cannot see it. agement.” rofessionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. I heartily endorse that find a great mentor. I have had many excellent ones in my long career and have in turn mentored hundreds of others.

16.

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Few will understand you. Others will attain success with portions of what you did. None will do it as well. Consumers are under-educated and don’t know the substance of a pioneer. Our society takes more to the copycats and latest fads. Only the pioneer knows and appreciates what he-she really accomplished. That reassurance will have to be enough. Life and careers include peaks and valleys. It’s how one copes during the “down times” that is the true measure of success. Long-term success must be earned. It is not automatic and is worthless if ill-gotten. The more dues one pays, the more you must continue paying. The next best achievement is the one you’re working on now, inspired by your body of knowledge to date. The person who never has aggressively pursued a dream or mounted a series of achievements cannot understand the quest of one with a deeply committed dream. A great percentage of the population does not achieve huge goals but still admires and learns from those who do persevere and succeed. The achiever thus becomes a lifelong mentor to others. Achievement is a continuum, but it must be benchmarked and enjoyed along the way.

Contact information for Hank Moore. Website: http://www.hankmoore.com. Email: hankmoore4218@sbcglobal.net. Phone: 713-668-0664. Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations, including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations.

[ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 15


EDITORIAL FEATURE

F]_glaYlaf_Km[[]kk2 Turning A Negotiation Into An Opportunity BY JACK WARKENTHIEN

W

e all negotiate every single day--at home, at work and everywhere in between. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Despite this constant practice, 68% of us are anxious about negotiating, and 86% of us want to become better negotiators. The key to a win-win or no deal approach is finding ways to help both sides feel successful, rather than just focusing on getting what we want. The approach I’ll share with you, in this article, will help you to solidify long-term relationships and partnerships--both externally and within our own organization--and builds positive momentum for every future negotiation. Approach negotiations from an “abundance” frame of mind, instead of a “scarcity” mentality, visualizing the many benefits available to both parties. To that end, there are three kernels of knowledge to chew on: The Negotiation Process, the Negotiation Theatre, and the Impact of Personality & Style.

THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS The permeating attitude in the process is always win-win or no deal, whether you’re negotiating price, terms or any other aspect of the desired outcome. The Negotiation Process includes three components: STYLE, OPTIONS AND PRINCIPLES. Starting with style, your best bet is to embrace a flexible negotiating approach, moving along a continuum from quick to deliberate, mixing it up along the way, to vary the tempo and keep from being predictable. Carefully plan your options, developing a best case, acceptable

case or worst case scenario. Adhere to basic--simple but not easy--principles. Among the most important ones to bake into your approach, include a realization that there are really no rules, everything is in play, and a NO is acceptable and sometimes a preferred response. Learn to work with, rather than against, the other party, for a mutual agreement.

WELCOME TO NEGOTIATION THEATRE My belief is that life itself, is one long, continuous “act” and we are all bit players in the “production”. Negotiating is “theatre”, and the negotiation model has four distinct acts. The Investigative Phase begins before the curtain rises-though we call it Act 1. This is where you must find out all the information possible, and do thorough research on all parties involved. The most successful negotiators know more about the opposing side’s outcomes than they often know about their own. In Act 2, called the Presentation Phase, we begin to present our case, based on our research, and in the course of our presentation, we totally justify our pricing, and any of our preferred desired outcomes. Along the way, we have anticipated many potential objections along the way, and diffused as many as possible even before they’re voiced. Act 3 begins after both sides have delivered their lines, and the Bargaining Phase officially starts. One of the conclusions the “audience” agrees on: both sides have a genuine desire to trade. Expect a healthy dialog in this act, as both parties begin to share and sort out their wants, needs, roles and

16 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

goals, usually hinting at where their top priorities lie. Finally, everyone in the “theatre” is anxious about how this play will end. Introducing Act 4--the Agreement Phase, where there’s an acknowledgment from both sides, that all points have been addressed. In many ways, this act is the most “entertaining”, since one of the “actors” may drop out here, and not even stick around for the final curtain. You must be prepared to walk out of the venue, if there’s no agreement to be found. Be aware that play may end without a standing ovation.

IMPACT OF PERSONALITY & STYLE When you are savvy on how people are likely to respond--or react--to your negotiation, you are in THE strongest bargaining position of all. Keep in mind that each “actor” involved, has a primary personality & style. Your job is to quickly gauge the characteristics and traits of each person, and make your best guess. A focus on win-win or no deal, contributes greatly to creating a proper negotiation mindset. From that perch, negotiation sessions are rarely winner-take-all affairs. Instead, they enable us to negotiate from a center of power, no matter what. Never fear compromise as a path to mutually beneficial agreements. Jack Warkenthien, CEO, NextStep Solutions. Email him at jwarkenthien@nextstep-solutions.com or call him at 832344-6998 www.nextstep-solutions.com


EDITORIAL FEATURE

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Build a Strong Financial Foundation BY BARBARA DELANEY

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merica’s 83+ million millennials will soon be leading our nation. Called the first digital native generation, most millennials were technologically savvy by the age of six. Millennials are engaged, optimistic, and ready to take to lead the world. But before leaving their mark, they must have strong foundations from which to build. Therefore, it is incumbent on mentors to teach our young people how to cultivate lifelong foundations, including a solid financial groundwork which will allow them to thrive and prosper. The first step to sound finances is creating and maintaining a budget. On a mathematical level, it is easy, just adding and subtracting. The tricky part is calculating what can be spent and sticking to that budget. Make sure your millennial understands the difference between a want and a need. Rent and food are needs, a fabulous new pair shoes is most definitely a want (even if they are on sale). It is easy to track budgets with the many apps available. But exercising self-discipline that goes with maintaining a budget has to be taught and encouraged. Credit is a part of everyday life. Credit is also fickle; it can save us or destroy us. Often loans are necessary to make any large-scale purchases. Credit may also be required cover emergency expenditures if cash is not available. To obtain a loan, a good credit score is needed; to build a credit score, credit must be used. Thus, it is essential that millennials begin to build their credit early in adult life. Paying student loans on time each month is a great start. Credit cards are another

Gf[]bgZg^^]jkZ]_aflg[ge]af$ eadd]ffaYdkf]]\lgd]YjfaehgjlYfl ^Y[lgjkaf\][a\af_o`a[`hgkalagflg Y[[]hl&9kca^l`][gehYfqg^^]jk Y,()cgjgl`]jlqh]g^eYl[`af_ j]laj]e]flhdYfYko]ddYkghlagfkdac] [gflafmaf_]\m[Ylagfj]aeZmjk]e]flk& factor in beefing-up that all important score. However, millennials must learn to read and understand the fine print. Low introductory rates may be only temporary, skyrocketing at the end of the promotional period. Some cards include points that can be used to purchase other items. But those cards may come with a high membership fee; so what seemed like a good deal may turn out to be a costly deal. Furthermore, no college-aged student needs a $5,000+ credit limit. A $1,000 limit will suffice to cover any emergencies while minimizing the temptation to let spending run amok. Once job offers begin to come in, millennials need to learn important factors in deciding which position to accept. Ask if the company offers a 401k or other type of matching retirement plan as well as options like continuing education reimbursements. Before any decision is made, know what type health insurance benefits are offered, and if that offering includes a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)/ Health Savings Account (HSA). Although not as glamorous as a corner office or an expense account to wineand-dine clients, retirement and health benefits are 100% tangible and should their value should never be overlooked.

The final pillar to building a strong financial foundation is savings. First, 5% of earnings should be diverted to an emergency fund. Next, if an HDHP/HSA is available, take the time to learn all of the advantages they provide. HSAs offer big tax savings, HDHPs/HSAs tend to have much lower insurance premiums, and many employers contribute to the savings account. HDHPs often cover all preventative care at 100%, allowing for more savings. HSAs give young people an excellent opportunity to build a significant safety net that can be used for healthcare costs decades later when those funds will be needed the most. It’s never too early to start retirement funding. Contribute the maximum amount to 401ks and increase contributions as income grows. Ask about a Roth Feature, giving up a tax deduction that other plans allow may be a lucrative trade-off due to the Roth benefits. Whenever possible, keep savings with the employer. Benefits Executives typically work with financial advisors and have greater purchasing power than individuals. To avoid the temptation of spending verses saving, enroll in automatic payroll deductions – just set it and forget it. Millennials will shape the future, so take some time to help them build a solid financial foundation. Some advice can make a difference in the financial wellness of the next great generation.

Barbara Delaney is Founder, StoneStreet Advisor Group www.ssadvisorgroup.com

[ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 17


EDITORIAL FEATURE

EYfY_af_*()/J]aeZmjk]e]fl with the New IRS Business Mileage Rate BY DONNA KOPPENSTEINER, SVP AT RUNZHEIMER

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he 2017 IRS business mileage deduction rate is out, and businesses must modify their vehicle reimbursement policies to keep expenses to a minimum, while fairly reimbursing business drivers.

The new rate of 53.5 cents is a halfcent drop from last year, marking just the fifth time in 16 years the rate has gone down. Typically, the IRS safe-harbor rate – the standardized per-mile amount individuals and businesses can deduct on their taxes for business-related travel – tends to rise year-overyear - apart from last year’s 3.5 cent decrease. Low fuel prices are a major factor in the rate’s decrease, but other elements, like rising maintenance costs and insurance premiums, kept the rate from dropping further. While the IRS standard business mileage rate is an important benchmark across industries, reimbursement is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Variabilities in gas prices, insurance costs, road conditions and more, from cities across the country, should all be considered when selecting business vehicle reimbursement programs. The IRS mileage deduction rate takes many of these variables into account, but reimbursing drivers from high-cost cities like New York the same amount as business drivers in low-cost cities, like Atlanta, doesn’t equate.

EYpaearaf_Zmkaf]kkn]`a[d] hjg_jYekaf*()/ As the 2017 IRS mileage rate takes ef-

fect, it’s important for businesses to evaluate their current business vehicle programs and look for ways to revamp them. Here are four things employers should consider for their business vehicle programs in 2017: Implement mileage tracking tools: According to a 2016 Workforce Mobility Report, nearly half of businesses track business mileage manually. This unreliable tracking method can lead to unnecessary costs. Through automated mileage tracking and reporting tools, employers can attain better accuracy. Businesses that implement these tools can lower overall mileage while remaining adherent to the IRS rate. Consider a fixed-and-variable rate (FAVR) program: FAVR programs offer some of the most accurate and defensible reimbursements. Employers choose a vehicle model (or models), as well as set insurance requirements, that fit the needs of their mobile employees. Any employees with personal vehicles that meet business requirements set by the employer, like having auto insurance, are also eligible for reimbursement. Drivers receive a fixed sum based on the model the company sets as a standard, which is designed to cover insurance, taxes, depreciation and registration. Employees are also granted a variable CPM reimbursement scaled to the price of gas locally, which accounts for the cost of fuel, maintenance, oil, tires and other incidental expenses. Harness business driver risk: Insurance verification is vital when vetting employees for business vehicle programs, however, 46 percent of em-

18 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

;gfka\]jYÚp]\%Yf\%nYjaYZd]jYl] >9NJ!hjg_jYe2>9NJhjg_jYek g^^]jkge]g^l`]egklY[[mjYl] Yf\\]^]fkaZd]j]aeZmjk]e]flk& =ehdgq]jk[`ggk]Yn]`a[d] eg\]d gjeg\]dk!$Yko]ddYk k]lafkmjYf[]j]imaj]e]flk$ l`YlÚll`]f]]\kg^l`]aj egZad]]ehdgq]]k& ployers don’t do this. If an uninsured employee gets into an accident while driving for work, a company is left in significant financial risk. Prioritizing risk management can save companies from costly situations. Manage all of your programs holistically: Every company is unique and every company manages to the unique needs of their employees. Companies may need to implement more than one business vehicle program. To maximize savings and efficiencies, businesses need to devise a unified business vehicle program approach. By adopting a careful and strategic approach to managing reimbursement, companies can prepare for the new IRS mileage rate and position themselves for considerable cost savings in the new year. As senior vice president at Runzheimer, Donna Koppensteiner is responsible for driving business growth through strong business knowledge, analytical skills and a dedication of fostering a collaborative team environment. She can be reached at dkr@ runzheimer.com.


EDITORIAL FEATURE

Me$=j$M`$:Yka[Yddq$Dac]

Sound Familiar? BY PAM TERRY

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ou may be guilty, as I am, of incessantly repeating utterances and words, such as, “um,” “er,” “uh,” “like, “or “basically,” or the phrase, “you know what I mean?” These aren’t bad utterances, words, or phrases, except when they are used repeatedly in a talk and detract from your message. They are bad habits. Not only do they detract from your talk, they also can annoy your audience. However, removing them from your presentation is simple - just stop saying them!

Fglgfdq\gl`]q\]ljY[l^jgeqgmj lYdc$l`]qYdkg[YfYffgqqgmj Ym\a]f[]&@go]n]j$j]egnaf_ l`]e^jgeqgmjhj]k]flYlagfakkaehd]% bmklklghkYqaf_l`]e 4. At this point, you have to (quickly) collect your thoughts and think about what you’re going to say next without saying those repetitive words and phrases and it works beautifully. You will feel alive in the process!

As you practice this technique, you will L`]j]Yj],kl]hklg]daeafYl]l`]k]af[]kkYfl$ artfully accomplish your goal. You will be j]h]lalan] Údd]j kgmf\k$ogj\kYf\h`jYk]k2 able to give your presentation with very little use of these repetitive, meaning1. First and foremost, you must have a less, possibly annoying, filler words and desire to want to stop saying them. phrases. 2. Then, you make a focused effort, a conscious effort to notice when you are about to utter “um” or “uh” or “basically” or “so” or “you know what I mean.” 3. Next, you literally stop yourself. The cool thing about consciously stopping yourself is that it works. It works better then you can imagine because you will have the power of the pause! When you are about to say one of these sounds, words, or phrases, and you stop yourself mid-sentence, you will have a deliberate pause which can be very powerful! Pausing abruptly can engage your audience. You’re speaking and, then, all of a sudden, you stop, and the audience notices something has changed so they lean in to see what’s going to happen next.

You will become so skilled in delivering your content that your presentation will become better and better! Think of yourself as developing great orator skills, someone who captures the attention of the audience and keeps them spellbound with the flowing of continual valuable information, peppered with powerful pausing, and helping to transform the audience in some way with your information. If you are being interviewed on the radio or a podcast or presenting a webinar, and you say “uh,” “um,” “basically,” “like,” or whatever words you repeat all the time, it is even more noticeable and detracts from your message. Imagine your distraction becoming so annoying that the listeners can’t focus on what you aretrying to convey.

For example, I was listening to the former president of the top Ivy League university in the U.S. while he was being interviewed on a PBS radio show. The man could clearly benefit from this training. He had a very deep voice and every “uh” that he said (way too often by the way) was resonating throughout the message where I could not really concentrate on what he was saying. He had such a deep voice and so much potential, but his “uhs” were so deep sounding and too distracting!! Don’t let “uh,” “um,” “er,” basically,” “so,” “like,” and other repetitive nonsense detract from your presentations. You can become the skilled orator you know you can be by employing the power of the pause and stopping these nonsense filler words, sounds, and phrases in their tracks. The more you practice this technique, the better you will get and the faster you’ll achieve your goal to eliminate these meaningless and genius-sapping sounds. In summary, simply desire to eliminate them, notice when you are about to say them, stop your utterance, pausing, quickly collect your thoughts and then speak. If you say a nonsensical sound, word, or phrase every now and then, don’t worry – but do practice and soon you will be eloquently and engagingly delivering your next presentation. Pam Terry is a highly recognized speaker coach and marketing strategist. For a complimentary copy of her eBook, “How to Easily Develop a Presentation,” visit www.pamterry.com. Pam can be reached at 832-276-4153 or pam@pamterry.com.

[ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 19


EDITORIAL FEATURE

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Win Customer Loyalty BY CHIP R. BELL

Sir, we can do anything!” It was the front desk hotel clerk’s response to my statement, “I have a unique request.” Even before I could state my unique request, I got a full frontal view of his amazing attitude! My memory of cost, convenience, or competition were now deeply buried. And, I have told lots of friends about my special connection with ‘can do!’

Customers are favorably attracted to organizations when they get an emotional connection. This means heart-touching encounters filled with spirit, caring and an obvious positive attitude. Whether in line, online or face-to-face, customers recall the experience long after they’ve forgotten you met their need. Below are eight rules for building customer loyalty through emotional connections.

)&:]l`]9llalm\]QgmOYflQgmj;mklge]jklgK`go We all enjoy serving happy customers. You can help them act pleasant by showing them how. Aim your best smile and warmest attitude toward your customer. Then, deliver a warm greeting that says: “I can’t wait to give you really great customer service.” Optimism and joy are contagious.

*&F]n]jD]l;mklge]jkD]Yn]<akYhhgafl]\ Even if you can’t always give customers what they want, you can always give them a great service experience. Find a way to help. And make sure they leave remembering your great smile, positive attitude and upbeat disposition.

+& L`]9fko]jakQ]k$o`YlkQgmjIm]klagf7 This “we’ll figure out a way to do whatever you need” tells customers your small business has a “can do” attitude. Like the front desk clerk in the opening paragraph, go out of your way to help. Show customers your pride. Try to never say “no” to customers unless their requests are inappropriate or unethical.

,&?j]YlEYff]jkEYc];mklge]jkEgj]DgqYd Customers enjoy getting respect and manners. Customers may not always be right, but they are 20 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

always your customers. Your goal is to make the feel right. If they all decided to not return, you’d be out of a job!

-&Dakl]flgD]Yjf$FgllgEYc]YHgafl One challenge I had as a parent was listening with no agenda. When my son expressed any concern, I’d feel the need to make a point, teach a lesson, or offer advice. When I stopped trying to be a smart daddy and simply listened, he began to trust me because he felt heard and valued. Customers are the same; give them your undivided attention.

.&>af\;mklge]jk$<gflEYc]L`]e>af\Qgm Staff costs can be the most expensive item in most small businesses. It can sometimes mean too many customers for the number of people to serve them. It also means being more assertive in finding customers to serve. Never let customers have to search for assistance. And, let your “how may I help you” sound like you mean it.

/&>apl`];mklge]j$FglBmkll`];mklge]jkHjgZd]e It is not enough to fix a customer’s problem when things go wrong. Just as important is “fixing” the customer’s feelings. Give the customer a sincere apology, show you understand their concern, and let them see how fast you are working to get them back to normal. Follow-up after their disappointment to make sure they are okay.

0&L`Yfc;mklge]jkDac]QgmJ]YddqE]Yfal Customers love it when you tell them you appreciate their business. They never forget they have options and they feel valued when you show you never forget that fact either. Sound enthusiastic! If you sound like a “thank-you-for-shopping-at-JMart” robot,” they will remember your insincerity, not your gratitude. Be a joy carrier. If you give customers the best that you have, the best will come back to you! Chip Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.


EDITORIAL FEATURE

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Requires Attention To Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Important

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BY MANDY ARNOLD

s an entrepreneur, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve learned not to define a companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success by profit alone. Rather, we must focus equally on building a strong culture. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not easy â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the dynamics within an organizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture require ongoing attention and nurturing, and the right decisions arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always immediately clear. As priorities shift, we must remain agile and comfortable with change. Through these challenges, companies can grow â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and grow up. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surprising is that the lessons to be learned along the way can also translate into how we help our clients â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for our team, with branding and marketing strategy â&#x20AC;&#x201D; by applying an understanding of how to build trusted relationships.

KeYjl_jgol`[ge]k\goflgĂ&#x161;n] [gj]Yj]Ykg^^g[mk& r,OPXZPVSDPSFDPNQFUFODJFT As you grow, every business is faced with defining its focus to ensure it never becomes too diluted. Are you comfortable saying a certain course of action is not right because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not who your business is or what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re good at? In periods of fast growth, there is a constant pressure to refocus and stay the course without missing important turns or forks in the road. It can be difficult to keep your brandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actions consistent and true to the mission as the team gets bigger. Focusing on your strengths as a leader, a team and a business can help to guide you â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but only if you work to pay attention to these pieces every day.

L`ak fg[dmll]j [gj]nYdm]akaehgjlYfl YkYoYqg^\gaf_Zmkaf]kkYf\\gaf_ alo]dd&A^Yj]dYlagfk`ah^]]dk`]Ynq$alk dac]dq[Yjjqaf_YZmj\]fl`Ylj]imaj]k Yll]flagf&A^YlYkc^]]dkgn]jo`]deaf_$ aleYqZ]Zg__]\\gofoal`mff][]kkYjq[dmll]j&O`]fl`af_k\gflk]]e lgZ]egnaf_^Ykl]fgm_`$[mlgmll`] [dmll]jYf\j]Ykk]kk& Build a sense of collaboration by embracing change and input from others, but be cautious not to lose the vision and the mission of the brand you built in the process. r3FNPWFUIFDMVUUFS In the public relations and marketing industry, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always preaching the importance of a clutter-free message. But, we know this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy. The difference is that our no-clutter thinking is designed to drive everything we do, from our office space to our relationships. Get to whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important, faster and without distraction. This â&#x20AC;&#x153;no clutterâ&#x20AC;? core value is important as a way of doing business and doing it well. If a relationship feels heavy, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s likely carrying a burden that requires attention. If a task feels overwhelming, it may be bogged down with unnecessary clutter. When things donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to be moving fast enough, cut out the clutter and reassess. r"MXBZTIBWFIPOFTUDPOWFSTBUJPOT Never lie, never cheat and always be fair. As an entrepreneur, not everyone will like the decisions you make. But if you make decisions based on honest relationships, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll sleep comfortably at night.

r(FUDPNGPSUBCMFXJUIEJTDPNGPSU When you own a business and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re growing fast, you will face difficult decisions. Understand that feeling of discomfort and embrace it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also valuable to understand people and delivery. Manage your own response to a situation, rather than simply reacting. Whether with customers, employees or vendors, you must become a master of your emotions. Move through the tough conversations sooner than later, and never let the anticipated discomfort of a reaction delay the need to address an issue. r,OPXUIFOVNCFSTBOEUIFQFPQMF The balance sheet and the team culture should hold equal value in the organization. This can be tough if you employ an intergenerational workforce. Millennials value different things than Generation X, and some days it feels like a crapshoot trying to build a business that engages and satisfies everyone. In the end, it becomes more and more important to balance the numbers and the people to support greater success. For me, success is seeing a team embrace their full capabilities, respectfully pushing each other for better outcomes and delivering work that makes us all proud. Focusing on these five core areas will help your business identify what is important, guiding decisions in the process of building a true team and defining your own success. Mandy Arnold is the president of Gavin Advertising, a digitally minded public relations and marketing agency devoted to truth in branding and driving action. You can contact her at 717-848-8155 or email marnold@gavinadv.com. www. gavinadv.com.

[ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 21


EDITORIAL FEATURE

F]logjcaf_9jlaÚ[aYdAfl]dda_]f[]HYjl) BY GAIL STOLZENBURG

H

ave you noticed how robots are becoming more involved with our daily lives by taking over many of the routine tasks? And, the robots are adapting to more complex tasks and even replacing humans, where creativity is required. Experts are predicting that over the next 10 - 20 years machines will take over 80 million American jobs and 15 million British jobs or about 50% of the workforce in each country. In the past the jobs being replaced were manual tasks. Today jobs being replaced require thinking. An Oxford University study quoted by Yahoo says the jobs at risk of being replaced by robots include loan officers, receptionists, paralegals, sales people, drivers, security guards, fast food cooks, and bartenders. Of course, people have the ability to learn new skills which can keep them competitive, so there may be few jobs added to the unemployment list.   When a customer of AT&T  purchases a new service or renews an existing service, they receive a text from AT&T which asks them questions regarding the level of service for the transaction. After each answer, they respond based on the customer’s answer. Sounds something like what we do when we are networking doesn’t it? That computer response could be called a rudimentary form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can be defined as an area of science making computers do things that require intelligence when done by humans such as learning, game playing or speech recognition. Have you noticed that most smart phones now have an app for voice recognition so you can talk to your phone and immediately have the information translated to the written form?   There are a number of branches of AI including logical, search, pattern recognition, learning from experience, planning, and common sense knowledge and reasoning, which is one of the more diffi-

22 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]

cult. English Mathematician Alan Turning began work on intelligent machines after World War II and focused on programming instead of mechanical processes. Work has progressed slowly because even though computers have great capability, human intelligence is very complicated. One of the first expert systems was MYCIN in 1974 which diagnosed bacterial infections of the blood and made recommendations. Today there are many high tech giants involved in AI research such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, who announced an AI partnership established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies. IBM and Elon Musk are also working on projects.   So, how does that relate to networking? Suppose you are at a chamber of commerce meeting or a networking event and you meet someone who has expressed interest in how you are helping others, but the time was very limited. Instead of sending them to a website, what if you could give them a phone number that used AI to do much of the preliminary question/answer sessions to determine if you should meet face to face. Or, If you receive a number of calls from ads you placed or employment inquiries and AI could eliminate your spending a lot of time on people that was unproductive. Have you been thinking about becoming more productive in 2017? In part II we will drill down with specific examples where your networking can become much more efficient by using artificial intelligence. Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg Author of “Connections: Contacts to Clients” Gail@GailStolzenburg.com 281 493 1955 www.GailStolzenburg.com


EDITORIAL FEATURE

Klm[cafl`]Ea\\d]

Do Customers Belong Here? BY ERROL D. ALLEN

W

hile on a client engagement, I could hear customer service personnel repeatedly apologizing to customers. When asked why, they informed me of a scenario where customers make purchases and are promised a 24hr installation of the product by one department, when in fact, the department in question had no idea if the promise could be met. The customer was stuck in the middle between the sales department and the installation department. It’s important to remember to make sure your customer’s experience is as seamless as possible. Let’s look at a few ways to accomplish this feat.

faced when dealing with hotel guests. After about 15 minutes of identifying issues which required they contact either the hotel general manager or assistant general manager, we were able to create options that could be utilized without the need to contact anyone. The front desk personnel were visibly relieved upon the completion of this exercise as they could now feel good about their ability to make decisions that were both good for guests and for the hotel. Give customer facing personnel options that can be executed autonomously. It’s a good idea for both customers and customer facing personnel.

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When developing policies and procedures for customer service personnel to follow, it’s important to remember to get their input. After all, they’re being held accountable for both adhering to the policy and providing a great customer experience. They know what drives the customer crazy about your company’s policies and procedures. For instance - if your company has a product return policy, be sure to take into consideration how this will impact both customers and customer service personnel. Will you allow returns for specific reasons? Make sure the customer is fully aware of your return policy when they make a purchase. If your customer purchases your product online, make sure that your return policy is prominently displayed on the page where the purchase is completed. Will you allow blanket returns - or in other words - can they just bring it or send it back for whatever reason? Think about this - Do your policies make sense? Are they easily understandable by customers? Will they encourage repeat business? Will they incent customers to refer your company to potential customers? These are some issues to consider when developing policies and procedures.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure that there is good cross functional communication within your company. Make sure that everyone understands how their roles impact other employees, departments, etc. Your customer need not be caught in the middle due to poor communication within your company. The goal should be to ensure that the customer receives a great experience. This requires setting customer expectations that are achievable by personnel who will actually perform what the customer requires. When developing policies and procedures that impact customers, remember to get input from all departments that contribute to and or participate in the process of providing a great customer experience. As my Dad used to say - “Everything you do affects someone else. You do nothing in isolation.” One should never hear this statement from a customer - “It seems as though you all do not communicate with each other there.” If you do, it’s an indication that you probably need to work on improving internal communications.

;j]Yl]=ehdgq]]9mlgfgeq Often times the customer ends up in the middle of your policies when customer service personnel are not provided with the power to make decisions. When working with a hospitality client recently, it became apparent that front desk personnel were not equipped with options to deal with a variety of situations they

O`]f\]n]dghaf_ hgda[a]kYf\hjg[]\mj]k^gj[mklge]j k]jna[]h]jkgff]dlg ^gddgo$alkaehgjlYfl lgj]e]eZ]jlg_]l l`]ajafhml&9^l]j Ydd$l`]qj]Z]af_ `]d\Y[[gmflYZd]^gj Zgl`Y\`]jaf_lgl`] hgda[qYf\hjgna\af_ Y_j]Yl[mklge]j ]ph]ja]f[]&

Well, there you have it. In order to make sure your customer is not “stuck in the middle”, be sure to Establish Customer-Focused Policies, Create Employee Autonomy and Communicate Internally. Doing so will lead to both great customer and employee experiences. Errol D. Allen – CEO, Errol Allen Consulting errol@errolallenconsulting.com [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 23


EDITORIAL FEATURE

Financial Astrology

EYj[`*()/ BY CHRISTI RUIZ

F

ull Moon in Virgo on the 12th brings a burst of awareness in business for your hard work and discipline that you have shown done.

Solar Eclipse in Pisces brings caution in any plans of risky activities for this day. Do not schedule minor medical procedures or surgery for that day. New Moon in Aries will bring new seeds of energy for your dreams and goals. This will be a very powerful day. March 27th to April 3rd Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter squares (obstacle) Pluto this will create power struggles and temporarily slow down business or any new ventures due to lack of financing. Government regulations may also get in the way also on your projects. "SJFT.BSDITUUP"QSJMUIm Full Moon brings chaotic emotions and you will tend to overreact to situations. Your insecurities will arise. The New Moon will give you the momentum to create a bold intention list. Clear lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s debts or make a plan at this time. 5BVSVT "QSJM TU UP .BZ TU m Full Moon will give you qualities to assist others and focus on your business income. The New Moon will point out confidential concerns and other secrets that may affect your business. Caution with harmful attachments. (FNJOJ.BZUP+VOFmFull Moon this is time to create and develop new business tactics. Beware emotions will be up and down try to keep an equilibrium. The New Moon will be time to mingle with important people. Ignore

the naysayers and keep going with your business plans. $BODFS +VOF OE UP +VMZ OE m Full Moon will bring many challenges be ready for them and learn new things/skills so that you will be up for the challenges. The New Moon emphasizes teamwork in your professional life. You will be motivated to move forward on long-range plans. -FP+VMZSEUP"VHVTUOEmFull Moon will bring chaotic and confusing emotions try to keep calm. Use meditation to diffuse and understand your emotions. Focus on personal savings and resources. The New Moon will add fuel to the fire power of Aries use it to be more resourceful. 7JSHP "VHVTU SE UP 4FQUFNCFS SE m Full Moon could have you explaining yourself, clarifying positions; a decision is in the near future to your partner in life/ business. The New Moon spotlights collaborative moneymaking efforts and provides supportive contacts.

4BHJUUBSJVT/PWFNCFSUP%FDFNCFS TUm Full Moon urges you pay attention to your professional agenda that may end up affecting your home situation. The emphasis will be on your office or base of operations. The New Moon will have you follow your instincts about preparing for the future. Do not invite showdowns at this time in your business. $BQSJDPSO %FDFNCFS OE UP +BOVBSZ UIm Full Moon brings time to focus on enhancing your knowledge about your business. Improving your communicative skills is important. The New Moon brings a desire to start a fresh start in your business or another business. Harmonize your mental strains over your business.

"RVBSJVT+BOVBSZUP'FCSVBSZUI m Full Moon will make it easy for messy or chaotic emotions to take over. Do not allow yourself to become depressed or allow others to bring your down. The New Moon in Aries will be a fresh start for you in communication and thinking. Do not overlook -JCSB4FQUFNCFSUIUP0DUPCFSSE opportunities for gain. m Full Moon will cause chaotic emotions and can put you under stress. You will feel 1JTDFT 'FCSVBSZ UI UP .BSDI UI m that you have been burning the candle at Full Moon can be helpful to your dealings both ends. Find time to rest and recharge. with others, since it allows you to distinThe New Moon urges you to follow your guish patterns of behavior and how to instincts, not your worries. Do not doubt correct problematic ways. The New Moon your capabilities. provides support for making a fresh start in money earning and spending it. Create 4DPSQJP 0DUPCFS  UP /PWFNCFS  poise and confidence within yourself. m Full Moon will highlight group activities with networking. Seek others of like Love & Light, Christi Ruiz mind for support and healing. The New Business and Spiritual Life Coach Moon can trigger the desire for a fresh christiruizchristi@yahoo.com start in your business and with co-workO: 713-773-0333 C: 281-904-2658 ers. This is the time to display your execwww.christiruiz.com utive abilities.

24 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH-APRIL 2017 ]


Small Business Today  

March / April 2017 - Houston

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