Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude Journals and a 90 day plan

I stumbled across the 30 days of gratitude site today, whilst looking for a motivational quote. I'm very glad I did (no sarcasm intended).

It turns out there's been a lot of research done on the positive effects of gratitude on both physical and psychological wellbeing. Increased optimism and enthusiasm, better sleep quality and lower levels of depression or stress were all noted. Active gratefulness appears to help people achieve their goals as well.

To be actively grateful, you need to document that gratitude. There are a lot of lovely suggestions on various gratitude sites about investing in a special book, but, let's face it, not everybody has the time or money to nip down to Journals 'R Us for the superb £50 pressed flower covered notebook and scented pen. Not only that, but the emphasis on the tools detracts from the core message.

Don't bother with the leather-bound journal, the fountain pen and the dedicated timeslot. If you focus on that, your gratitude journal will last as long as that teenage "Dear Diary" Christmas gift - and be as unsullied.

Open up your office software, create a new document or spreadsheet and go for it. Follow these instructions on how to write powerful "gratitudes" and set yourself a target of 6 gratitudes per day. If you've got a smartphone/iPhone/Android, you could use that instead.

Finally, here's a suggestion. Why not keep a 90 day gratitude journal alongside your 90 day plan? By actively focussing on your psychological development, you can help support the development of your business at the same time. Not only that, you have a permanent record of the improvements in your life to refer to in the future. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tithing for Profit

I've just posted on The Kleeneze Lady about tithing for profit. It's worth repeating one of the points here:

When you're building your business, you should be tithing for profit.

Invest your retail profits in your business, invest your bonuses in your lifestyle. That way, you have two stories to tell, rather than one.

Hop over to the original post to understand how and why.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kleeneze, Small Businesses and Network Marketing in General

I've decided this blog is deviating slightly from its original purpose, which was to be a general commentary and advice blog on all forms of small business and network marketing, including low-cost franchises such as Kleeneze.

My more Kleeneze-specific posts will be put on The Kleeneze Lady - feel free to hop over for a visit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Love My Kleeneze Business!

I know I've said this before, but the day job is not what it could be. There is a fundamental lack of understanding about what some of our team is capable of - we are, after all, all multi-faceted individuals with our own interests, talents and motivations. To see that enthusiasm belittled, that passion for change warped into apathy, that expertise ignored - to me, that is the antithesis of proper management, let alone true leadership.

It just goes to show, all the Dale Carnegie Group leadership courses in the world can't change a person if they don't see the need to change...

So, today went much as expected. Managers held meetings and sidestepped the expertise within the team, yet again. I watched an entire team go through the motions, all giving no more than 50% of their effort to their day job, letting the minutes tick by, not bothering to learn new skills or polish old ones. After all, why bother when your managers "know" what you're capable of and won't let you out of your pigeon-hole?

Not me, though. I'm in early, out on time and working as effectively as possible during my day job hours. Why? Because it makes sense. I can catch up on EzeReach messages first thing, while nobody else is in. I can check emails, tweak online adverts and tune plans during my lunch break. If my workload is being completed on or ahead of schedule, nobody can complain if I take the odd 5 minute break to talk to a prospect, or network with others in the company.

Then, when I get home, I'm energised to do the nightly delivery and collection of catalogues; the delivery of orders and the processing of new orders. I'm fired up by the thought that my adverts are being looked at and generating enquiries, that the retail business is building momentum. I'm focussed on what's important.

Four months ago, I was stressed, hated the monotony of the day job and despaired of ever having savings, let alone a decent pension pot.

Now, after being a Kleeneze distributor for 3 and a half months, I have my own business, I'm saving money for the first time since I became a parent and potential team members are contacting me.

Life is great and I love my Kleeneze business! Know anybody who would be interested in earning an extra income? Send them my way, I promise to look after them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kleeneze Success - The Confidence Builder

I work at my Kleeneze business part-time, as do almost all new distributors. I fit it around a busy life which includes a 45 minute each-way commute and a full-time IT job in a corporate head office.

Anybody who has ever worked in a corporate head office department will have experienced that wonderful mix of office politics that flourishes in environments endowed with rigid rule-following, ever-tightening budgets and complacent staff waiting for their final-salary pension pots.

I hate office politics. Traditionally, I'm the sort of character that takes the kicking from people both clambering up and sliding down the greasy pole. I can't cope well with a passive, pessimistic reaction to office politics; it actually makes me physically ill, with psychosomatic symptoms ranging from mild hair loss to eczema and other allergic reactions. But, as anybody who has ever tried it will tell you, standing up for yourself against master office politicians will scar you even more permanently.

Prior to joining Kleeneze, I'd experienced enough office politics in both this company and my two previous jobs to convince me that I just wasn't cut out for a 9 - 5 corporate life. Unfortunately, I still had to deal with the playground tactics around me and it wasn't going well.

Today, I got side-swiped, yet again, by masters of the craft. Normally, that would be enough for the allergic reactions to start showing up over the weekend. Not this time.

With the confidence built up over the past few weeks with Kleeneze, I took a different approach. I side-stepped the potential political quagmire, politely drawing a line at the edge of the quicksand, and walked away from the fray.

You know what? It feels wonderful. I'll be at home at 6pm tonight and my real job starts then - collecting catalogues, bagging up orders and filling in my tracking sheets. I already have enough orders collected in this week to know I've achieved my 10% bonus for the second period running.

The day job just gave me a reminder about why I'm doing Kleeneze and I'm so grateful to the political idiots in my department for doing so! Who says negatives can't inspire you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Little Successes Pave The Way

"If you have a plan, anything can happen" - Michael Khatkar.

Last night, I drove round my Kleeneze round, delivering orders.

Today, I looked at my Kleeneze account. Because I pay in ALL the money I receive for orders in the early weeks of each period, as I receive it, I'm now in the wonderful position where this week's orders are pure retail profit. My sales aids are the only things that I need to pay for; my account is in credit and this week's orders will be paid for when last week's retail is put into the Kleeneze account.

Now, this method of operation won't work for everybody. For people like me, paid monthly, where the month's pay tends to run out in the third week, it's wonderful to know that I have the ability to rely on my retail profit if and when I need it.

Best of all, it means I have the money available to focus on lead generation so that I can build my team.

I promised myself that I would use my retail profits to build my business. My Kleeneze bonuses will go towards building a better lifestyle. Today, I have the evidence that building my business is sustainable from my retail efforts and I'm delighted.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Building a Business One Day at a Time

Sometimes, life expands to fill every single moment. Parenting, work, relationships, traffic jams; they all conspire to reduce the time you have to focus on your own business.

Happens to me all the time. It happened again today.

Plans go out of the window, you drift off the subject of building your customer base or your team. What happens next is up to you.

Today I was proud of myself. Despite all the temptations to just put my feet up and take a well-earned break after 13 hours of parenting, commuting, paid employment and shopping for essentials, I got changed into Kleeneze polo shirt and jeans, put on the woolly hat and waterproof coat, and delivered catalogues for 90 minutes.

You can only lead by example. "Do what I say, not what I do" is not an option in an army of volunteers looking for generals.

When my team says to me, "I can't do this, I'm too tired." I can help them go that extra mile. Literally. As Lao Tzu says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Kleeneze distributors are proving that each and every day. Well done, all of you.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Reasons for Business Failure Part 2: Cashflow

We're all aware that the Credit Crunch drastically limited the sources of finance for small businesses. The media is full of stories about how SMEs (small/medium sized enterprises) are not getting access to loans to help their cashflow or to fund further growth. Accountancy organisations such as the UK's ICAEW give firm advice about small businesses having to provide good reasons for needing capital injections.

That's just one more reason why business owners need to be realistic about their survival costs before they start a business. All businesses need startup capital, to cover the initial outlay on property rental, vehicles, tools, overheads, stock, office equipment and stationery, fuel costs, etc. The new business owner also needs to ensure that their personal overheads, such as mortgage/rent/loans, household expenses, personal vehicle & fuel costs, are also covered.

Traditionally, business advisers suggest that most small businesses take up to three years before they are fully profitable. That's three years where, every time you take money out of the business for personal use, you delay the point where your business "breaks even" and moves towards profitability. The more net profit you can invest in your business in the early years, the earlier your business will break even.

If you need an income of £2000 ($3000 or 3000 euros) per month to survive on before you start your own business, ask yourself how you will fund that income in the first 3 years of running your own business. If you can't fund that income out of savings, where is the £72000 coming from? From redundancy payments? From family? From another income in the household?

Or would it be better for you to build your business part-time, in parallel with an existing job? Can you do that with your current skill set? If you can, how will you get customers? How will they pay you? Will you need to take time off your existing job to visit prospective customers, or can you sustain business growth outside of your existing workday?

All of these questions need answers before you build up your own business. It's part of making sure you're not a business failure statistic in 6 - 18 months time.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Reasons for Business Failure - Part 1: Planning

So, why do businesses fail? Why are a third of businesses gone in the first two years, and why do half not survive the first five years? What goes wrong between the initial enthusiasm and the final desperation? How can we stop that happening to us? How is this relevant to network marketing in general, and Kleeneze in particular?

Let's take the main reasons first:

Poor Planning

I don't know about you, but if I hear "Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail" one more time, I'll hit something. Anybody attending a network marketing training session will be told that, as though it's a failsafe mantra. Anybody who works at a relatively experienced level in any business or industrial sector will have heard a version of it.

Yes, some people fail to plan, but most people who are serious about building a business do plan. They are told to provide business plans to banks, or to plan their workload, so they sit down, try to work out what they want to happen over a given time frame and write it all down.

The trouble starts with what happens next.

Some create plans that look good on paper but which are wildly optimistic and are based on everything in life, including the global economy, being absolutely perfect. 

Failure to plan for adverse situations is planning to fail.

Some assume that, once the plan has been created, that's it. By some mystical universal force, everybody and everything will telepathically understand what's required and align with the plan, without further input from the creator. 

Failing to work according to your plan is planning to fail.

Some write the plan, allow for real life to intervene and work the plan but they don't amend the plan to allow them to grow their business. They are stuck in a mindset that tells them that as long as they do the minimum level required, they'll be fine.

Failure to review your plan and reset targets upwards is planning to fail.

I've planned to fail in the past based on those three criteria and it's painful. It's also OK. Planning to fail is a learning exercise that all new entrepreneurs will go through in one form or another and it should not be used as either an excuse for failure or a reason for others not to try the same path.

So you're overoptimistic at times? You haven't accepted how much work is involved in building your own business? You think you're heading for the stars when really you're coasting in neutral? 

Get over it, get a new plan written and commit to it. Work it; review it at weekly, 4 weekly and 13 weekly (90 days, remember) intervals; change it and improve it as necessary. Then get back to working the plan. Repeat until it's a part of you.

Because where your future's concerned, it's not an attitude, it's a way of life.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Get Rich Quick Mentality Sucks!

It came as no surprise to me to find that if you type the word Kleeneze into Google, the second suggested option in their drop-down list is Kleeneze scam.


Because, as my first business lecturer told us, a satisfied customer will tell a couple of people, a dissatisfied customer will tell a dozen. Upgrade that to the Internet version and it's closer to a satisfied customer will tell their social network, a dissastified customer will tell their social network and then go on to conduct flame wars on every forum and review site that dares to mention the product.

The amount of hatred and bile directed at Kleeneze, Avon etc. is truly disheartening; you'd think people were nicer than their internet personae indicate.

But note:

This bile isn't spewing from dissatisfied Kleeneze customers. The pyroclastic flow ready to engulf the wary new distributor erupts from ex-distributors, many of whom appear to have distinctly distorted views of how to run their own business. There are complaints about fees needing to be paid to use various services, shipping costs needing to be paid if orders are under a certain amount, admin charges being applied in some cases. All of which, it has to be said, are covered in the manuals you get in your starter pack as well as online on the distributor site. Do these people not read any small print?

Part of the reason for the "bitter ex-distributor syndrome" has to be due to poorly-trained apprentice distributors not winnowing out applicants who are either tyre-kickers, lazy or who really just want an employer prepared to pay them better than minimum wage for no real effort. Those applicants would not make it in their own business; heck, they couldn't cope with fixed-price leaflet delivery work either.

In my previous network marketing company, my sponsor was a lovely lady who should never have been recruited into the industry. She would spend a fortune to avoid going out and talking to others about her own business opportunity, and then complained when she wasn't getting value for money for the few leads that came her way. All she really wanted was a work-from-home job from a "real" employer, who paid her PAYE.

Kleeneze is a business first and foremost. A Kleeneze distributorship is also a business, first and foremost. Sure, it's an opportunity. But opportunities are not treasure troves waiting for the taking. First you mine the gold ore, then you refine it, then you wear it or sell it on. Treasure troves only exist in fairy tales.

Let's face reality. According to US statistics, 30% of small businesses fail in the first 2 years; by the 5th year only 50% have survived. According to UK reports at least 33% of startups fail within 2 years; one BBC report had it closer to 80% since the credit crunch hit.

The most common reasons for business failure include poor planning, lack of customers, poor market research, rising fixed costs (overheads, employee costs, fuel, etc.) and failure to obtain sufficient financing to grow the business.

The initial startup costs for a business should not be underestimated either. As well as whatever is required in the way of business setup costs (IT, tools, vehicles, office/workshop rental), a new startup owner needs to consider how they are going to cover their own basic costs (food, clothing, bills, personal expenditure etc.) until the business makes a profit. When I attended a business startup course, the advice was to pare down my personal outgoings to a bare minimum, and then calculate the costs for 3 years to see how much I needed in reserve before I started my own full-time enterprise. As a single parent with a mortgage and no other financial support, I needed a minimum of £60,000! Couples need to ensure that they can survive on one income for 3 years before both work in the business full-time.

Take a look at the available opportunities out there. Be sceptical, do your due diligence and do your own calculations regarding projected income and expenditure. Then make a decision. But don't whinge if you don't make that million in the first few years.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Apprenticeship and Leadership

I got a mention in my upline's newsletter today, congratulating me on reaching my first bonus level.

Thanks, Amanda!

I'm not resting on my laurels yet; I have more bonus levels to reach for personal retail, the top one being 24%. That may have to wait a bit, but it's still a goal.

My next goal is two active distributors by the end of 2010. With less than 2 months to go, I can either get panicked, or get moving. Guess which I've gone for?

So far this month, I've had 3 enquiries and I've shown the opportunity video provided by Kleeneze to all 3 people. No feedback so far. That's typical and I'm not fussed about the lack of uptake. Proverbs about "leading horses to water" are there for a reason, after all.

The problem many new entrants into network marketing have with building a team is not a lack of detail on what to do, it's a combination of information overload and lack of confidence. Dealing with that killer combo takes time and experience.

That's where being a leader comes in.

To lead properly, you need to learn how to serve first.

Traditionally, people were apprenticed for 4 to 7 years before they were deemed capable of working on their own. During that time, they were taught all the details of how to be a competent member of their work community. They weren't paid, but the master craftsman who taught them would house, feed and clothe them during their apprenticeship.

Once they had completed their apprenticeship, they were entitled to charge for a day's work; they were now called journeymen. Some journeymen travelled all over the country, learning new skills from other masters in the appropriate guild. Many were effectively full-time employees.

To be accepted as a master and thus have apprentices of their own, they had to produce a piece of work known as a masterpiece. If that was accepted by their guild, they could join and call themselves a master craftsman.

This is exactly what we go through as team leaders and team builders within network marketing.

The problem is, many newcomers expect to go from application form to mastery within weeks or months. They don't realise that they are apprentices, that they will need to spend time as an apprentice before they move on to the next stage and that their outgoings may well match the income from their new business for a year or two. They don't listen to advice, think they know better and re-invent wheels faster than you can count the cliches in this paragraph.

Worse, they apprentice themselves to people who are still apprentices or journeymen. You now have the classic downhill spiral - demoralised wannabe masters leave in a huff, claiming that their upline is rubbish and thus demoralising the upline team.

I was "lucky" with Kleeneze (in that "the harder I work, the luckier I get" way). I'm in Gavin Scott's downline. Gavin has been Distributor of the Year twice and his group has the highest turnover in Kleeneze. I've apprenticed myself to a master craftsman who has been doing this for 18 years.

I'm still an apprentice. Still learning my trade. The difference is, my trade is leadership. I will be successful, and I will be a master. This is not about attitude, positive or otherwise. It's about making changes to my whole way of life.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Consistency = Success

Well, I've proven something to myself - and I can't stop smiling because of it...

A bit of background - I spent several years working with another network marketing/direct selling company and although I moved a couple of steps up the payment plan, I never really achieved what I wanted. Part of that was due to my own inconsistency (life got in the way A LOT, including divorce, kids changing schools, teenage angst, parental ill-health, you name it). Not once did I achieve a bonus from the company for any of my efforts.

After 3 months with Kleeneze, including more upheaval, a holiday and a really bad bout of bronchial infection - all of which wiped out 4 weeks and 2 potential bonuses - I have received my first bonus payment and achieved my first retail goal 8 weeks ahead of schedule!

That's big.

I have a story I can tell others now.

In my first committed 4 week period since I started the business, where committed is defined as sticking to my revised target of 400 catalogues out every week, my retail income from Kleeneze, including my bonus is:

I am truly delighted about this!
Week 1 of Period 12 has just finished and I've already achieved 50% of the sales that got me the bonus payment in Period 11. Talk about an incentive to hit my next target ahead of schedule.
I now know that I can achieve regular Kleeneze bonuses and that I can teach others to do likewise. Time to build up that team.
Here's to a fun and prosperous month.