Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grow Your Exit Planning Practice with Live Presentations

As I complete another successful 2-day Workshop I am reminded of two things:

First, in the emerging field of exit planning, there is nothing more powerful than live presentations to shift an advisor's (or owner's) thinking, making them more effective in using these tools in their practices.

Second, it is a major undertaking to host live events and, therefore, very few advisors go the extra mile to make live presentations a regular part of promoting their message to the market-place.

I would like to share a few thoughts regarding the benefits of hosting live presentations with the belief that this will encourage you to incorporate these presentations into your practice.

Credibility and Expert Status
The first major benefit that you receive from hosting a live presentation is that the audience has gathered to listen to you speak on a topic for which you are a presumed 'expert'. When you take the podium and draw the attention of your listeners, you create a space to make a unique impression on your listeners. Most people watching a live presentation appreciate the fact that a speaker is willing to hold themselves 'out there' and answer questions and respond to comments in an open forum.

The attendees at your live presentation view you as the expert on the topic that you are covering, advancing that ever-so-important issue of credibility that all advisors and consultants face when offering any type of service to the marketplace.

Express Creative Ideas
When you commit to live presentations, you have the unique opportunity to express a creative side of yourself. Beyond the content and material that you are covering (as a credible expert), you can also make a connection with the audience beyond simply delivering information - you can get creative and make the presentation engaging, and, dare I say, even entertaining.

People attend live events not just to gather information. They also attend because they want an experience that cannot be matched by simply reading about the topic on which you are speaking. Knowing this, you have the opportunity to take a topic and make it your own. You do this through the use of creative case studies, stories, and well-prepared materials that make it easier for the audience to understand the points that you are trying to make. When you get creative in delivering your message, you find that a more engaging process occurs.

The Know, Like and Trust Factor
The fact of the matter is that if you are going to go through all of the trouble, expense and inconvenience of hosting live events, your objective from the outset should be to deliver your message in a manner that achieves the objective of being 'memorable'. This not only increases the educational experience of your attendees, but it also furthers the critical 'know, like, and trust' factor. The bottom line is that people do business with people that they 'know, like, and trust'. When you deliver a creative and effective live presentation, this 'know, like and trust' factor takes hold immediately, making it easier to do business with those invited to hear you speak.

Focus for Building Your Practice
A schedule of live events can serve to focus your marketing efforts towards consistently generating new business. It can also strengthen your relationship with existing clients. Pinnacle has a training program that details a 6-week marketing cycle to set and host a live event. Throughout the 6 weeks, you are focusing a certain portion of your firm's resources and time towards marketing the event. By continually hosting live events, you always leave a prospect with the ability to learn more about your services at a future date (for example - see this week's live event at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT, www.exitplanninghartford.com). This focus helps drive your business and gives you a reason ro reach out to many of your existing and would-be clients.

When you speak to a room full of people, you get to say your message once and have it heard by as many people as you can get to attend. The leverage (i.e. benefit) that you get from these events should be measured against the efforts and costs expended to get prospects and clients into your speaking room. It can take a few events to generate a high return on investment, but with a bit of persistence you will soon see that the returns on this short talk will far outweigh the costs of hosting it as you deliver your message to many people at once.

Immediate Feedback
One of the most important aspects of live presentations is the immediate feedback that you receive. Attendees are often very open to providing feedback both in the form of questions and comments during the presentation, as well as in the form of written feedback forms that solicit their insights and opinions of your presentation. This feedback is critical not only to how you make future presentations, but also to how you expand and grow your practice.

The essence of any business transaction is knowing what your customer wants and giving it to them. This seemingly simple objective is advanced when you get feedback at your live events. I personally ask all attendees to be as honest as possible with their feedback. And I put my ego aside and try to really listen to what my audience is telling me. What I am being told is how I can have a more successful business.

Bragging Rights
When you complete a successful live presentation you have achieved a significant event - hence the right to boast about it. At my presentations, we ask attendees for detailed and written feedback, as well as their permission to use the comments as testimonials to encourage future attendees to come to the next presentation. Listed below are a few examples from last week's 2-day exit planning workshop:

"Outstanding presentation to bring structure to a highly complex
area of planning"

- Peter J.

"Excellent seminar - good group interaction and discussion that
included many nuances and extra info."

- Jane J.

"Outstanding seminar."
- Tim P.

"Comprehensive and well put together"
- Mark P.

These testimonials are powerful because they are not you saying how good your product or service is. Instead, it is a credible 3rd party who has experienced your message and is offering to share it with others who will benefit from hearing it as well.

Selling from the Stage
With a bit of practice and precession, a live speaking event can also be a great opportunity for you to sell your services [or products] directly to your attendees at your event. Since the attendees have taken the time to respond to your invitation to attend your speaking event - and they are offering effusive praise for the experience - it is logical that they have a positive pre-disposition towards taking advantage of any offer that you may have. By positioning an offering at the end of your talk, you can make these events profitable for your business and convenient for your clients and customers to sign up for your services. This is where the art of public speaking extends beyond simply marketing and educating and into the selling of your services [and/or products].

Concluding Thoughts
For all of these reasons, I encourage you to put live presentations into your business building tools. Although the coordination and marketing of these events can be taxing, the long-term benefits that you receive are well worth the efforts.

For our Pinnacle Members, we provide materials to take care of the 'content building' portion of your live events. As always, we strongly encourage you to use these materials and to apply your own creative ideas as to how you can present this material to business owners. Doing so is a proven method to grow your business. Pinnacle's most successful Members are using these presentation to owners as a regular course of their ongoing marketing.

If you do not current use live presentations to grow your practice, I truly hope that this newsletter motivates you to action and to experience all of the benefits that come from hosting your own events.

Looking forward to seeing you at my next live event this week in CT.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Monday, June 15, 2009

Better Decisions = Better Exits

For many years, I have been writing and saying that business owners are making decisions every day in their businesses, and, for the most part, they are focused almost entirely on running and growing their businesses. If these same owners would include an exit plan in their decision-making process, their decisions would be more aligned with a future exit and they would be more successful in protecting (and capitalizing) on their illiquid business wealth.

Well, I have always known that to be true. However, what I learned this week opened my eyes to how owners can begin to truly make better decisions. I find that sometimes simple concepts can alude us until someone presents the ideas in a simple manner. That is what happened as I listened to a new friend, Mickey Moore, present the way that owners make decisions.

Mickey walked through an example of how large companies make decisions. He contrasted this against how owner-operators make decisions. The contrast was dramatic but the solution to bridge this gap is not so difficult that it cannot be understood by any advisor or consultant.

You see, a large company makes decisions following a process. They make decision-making a science. Now I am not discounting the ability of an owner or manager to use their intuition to make major decisions. The creative process is not removed from these decisions. Rather, the science of making decisions is 'data driven'. The scientific way that you would analyze anything you want to investigate can be applied to small businesses if an owner will merely accept the fact that the right data can help them make better and more profitable decisions.

You see, most owner-operator business owners are treating decision-making in their businesses as a 'craft'. The creative process almost entirely drives both their tactical and strategic level decisions. The all too common problem with the way these owners make decisions is that they do so without the inputs of the market, their customers, or other professionals who can assist them with the running and/or exiting of their businesses.

Mickey built a software program to help with this decision-making process. Beyond simply surveying customers, vendors, and the marketplace, Mickey's software analyzes why certain responses are relevant to the customer and how a small business can easily meet this customer's needs.

Interestingly, I started listening to Mickey's presentation less as a consultant, and more as an owner of a fast-growing business. I started asking myself how I was making decisions. What information was I relying upon? How well had I surveyed the exit planning marketplace for insights as to what you would find most helpful in a support program for advisors and consultants.

And then I thought about the owners that I work with on their exits. For years I have been watching these owners make critical decisions, only to tell me about them weeks or months later. It may not have been my role to participate in these decisions, but it was so obvious to me, as their consultant, that it was the wrong decision to be making.

Mickey summed up this dilema nicely . . . he said that most small business owners 'self-correct' their way to success. This means that the game of 'trial and error' is played every day by owners. When fully analyzed, the main problem is that bad decisions are very expensive, on a relative basis, to small businesses that have limited resources. Taken as a whole, this leads most new small businesses to go out of business and many established small businesses to lose the opportunity to maximize their profits and return on investment in their businesses.

Taken in the context of exit planning, this dilemma is even greater. You see an owner cannot 'self-correct' their way to a successful exit. Unlike the nature of decision-making in the growth of a business, an owner needs inputs up-front before they begin executing on exit decisions. As the largest financial transaction of every owner's life, the decisions that are made are critical to success.

So, what data is available to these owners to make the right / best decisions?

What process is in place to guide these owners through their growth and exits?

Who is trained to help these owners with this critical planning phase?

How can we, as advisors, ask the right questions and provide the right data to help these owners come to the best conclusion about how they should exit their businesses? Well, for this emerging exit planning space, the resources are very limited and the need is very great.

If you spend some time thinking about this problem in the market you will likely realize that you are perfectly positioned to deliver these solutions to the owners that you serve. In the process of helping owners make the right exit decisions, you will earn the role of trusted advisor and command a fee and income that is proportionate to the value that you bring.

Ask your owners about how they are making decisions. Be confident in your ability to help them. Continue being a student because the landscape of business keeps changing. And be wary of the data that you collect and the sources that you rely upon for your own decision making. Give this advice some thought and see how it impacts your next conversation with an exiting owner. You will see the difference in the conversations that you have with owners and, likely, will start making better decisions for your own practice as well.

Thanks again Mickey for a great lesson.

Looking forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming workshops.

© John M. Leonetti

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bouncing Out of This Great Recession

The thing about business books is that they tend to be practical, appealing to the left-brain thinker who can use a system or process to advance forward with 'steps' that can be followed in a logical manner to get a certain result.

Well, in my opinion, Barry Moltz breaks from that mold with his book,

Bounce: Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success.

Bounce is a book about dealing with trying times and developing business confidence and resiliency so that you become stronger as a result of the challenges that you face.

One of the really neat things about Barry's style is that he writes about - and talks about in his public speaking - his failures. Barry's large point is that sometimes failures teach us valuable lessons - but sometimes they do not. Sometimes failure just plain stinks and has no lesson to teach.

Either way, it does not matter. The important part is not to invest too much time looking for the lesson in any one (or a series) of failures. The point is that life and business don't move in a linear direction - there are twists and turns and pauses on the way to business success.

Today's economic challenges are a pause - nothing more, nothing less. And being able to have this perspective keeps you focused on the longer-term objectives for your practice and keeps you moving forward with confidence. This is true resiliency. And it is a lot easier said than done to take these steps. Moreover, as I discuss below, if you have not been resilient yourself, then how can you help a business owner to be so while assisting them with the exit from their business?

You see, as Barry brilliantly discusses in his book, the real problems develop not when we face adversity, but when we get stuck in a negative way of thinking. When we take the challenges of the outside world and allow them to impact our decision-making process, we begin to move further from our goals. We become gun shy, complacent, and downright afraid of taking any risk whatsoever. Well, as Barry highlights, life and business is risk. You cannot remove it because you don't want to deal with it any more - it is simply not possible. Instead, you need to develop resiliency and begin to 'bounce' forward - to 'Bounce' out of this mindset.

Barry's insights are sown throughout this book in a way that draws upon example after example of entrepreneurs who have utilized the concepts - which Barry identifies as Building Bands (like those on a ball of rubber bands) - to develop bullet-proof business confidence. Barry identifies 10 Building Bands that one can follow to analyze their situation and achieve this confidence. The following Building Bands require some self-examination so that you can identify areas where you may be stuck and begin to move past them:

  1. Your environment and cultural DNA

  2. Humility

  3. Facing [hidden] Fears of Failure

  4. Giving up shame

  5. Understanding that failure gives you choices

  6. How to make smarter decisions to become a better risk taker

  7. Valuing process over outcome

  8. Setting patient goals for what success and failure will look like

  9. Creating your own measurement system for success

  10. Valuing action - almost any action [over lethargy and defeat]

Bounce delves into each of these 10 Building Bands in a way that really engages the mind into examining what may be holding someone back.

By reading Barry's book and speaking with him, I saw that this is invaluable advice for the advisor who is working with business owners to get them to move forward with their exit planning (and it is also great advice for the advisor who is still feeling stuck themselves).

Remember that one of Pinnacle's main criteria for establishing an exit plan for a business owner is 'mental readiness'. Accordingly, Barry's book is a great tool that I personally will be using with certain business owners to complement Chapter 3 of my book - The Mental Game of Business Exits - and to get these owners to 'Bounce' into their Exit Planning.

© John M. Leonetti
Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Recommended Reading - "The Go-Giver"

As you know, I really enjoy sharing many of the insights that I receive through my coaching sessions with advisors.

In fact, I have been steadily sharing information regarding a positive mindset and attitude since last Fall when the world markets and economies really started to slip into a funk.

Since that time, I have been revealing many of the changes that I made to my mindset that have allowed me to move ahead with the sale of my wealth management business and the fast growth of Pinnacle Equity Solutions. I am happy to say that the sum and substance of much of what I have been sharing is reflected in an entertaining and powerful little business book titled The Go-Giver.

Every now and then a book grabs my attention so strongly that I forego the Amazon purchase and drive over the book store to get it right away - this is one of those books. Truth be told, I did not get home to my wife and kids until long after dinner-time the day that I bought this book because I could not put it down.

The Go-Giver is a story about a stereo-typical Go-Getter, a young man, Joe, who works for a large company and is struggling to meet his sales goals for the most recent quarter. The book opens by finding our main character, Joe, in a panic over his need to get more sales to meet his quarterly quota. Joe is using a mindset that many of us were raised and trained with - that you need to get business from other people. Joe's greatest turnaround - and the story behind the book (as evidenced by the title) - is when he realizes that getting is not the key to success, instead it is giving, hence the title, The Go-Giver.

When Joe begins to change his approach to business, he realizes that he has more to give than he ever previously knew. The plain fact is that no one ever put these thoughts in Joe's mind . . . or, as many coaches will tell you, Joe was simply never previously ready or open to receive this information. It took an emergengy for him to open up-more on this later.

In the book, Joe's new mentor is teaching him the five (5) laws of success - all basically tied to being a more balanced and authentic person to himself, his clients, and all the other people that he encounters in his life.

The story details the five (5) laws of success that Joe should follow. They are:

1. The Law of Value

Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

2. The Law of Compensation

Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

3. The Law of Influence

Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.

4. The Law of Authenticity

The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

5. The Law of Receptivity

The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

When diligently applied to your life, these five (5) Laws can produce dramatically new results for you as well.

I know this to be true because I too went through a similar transformation when I was first learning and applying these same principles to my business and life.

I share the entire story of my 'old' versus my 'new' mindset with my coaching students and Platinum Group Members. I also sell a 2-hour CD copy and transcript of this story in interview format with my mentor, David Neagle titled "Changing The Mindset" - Pinnacle gives all proceeds from these sales to Charity :)


Essentially, once I started changing my approach to how I conducted my business, I started looking for opportunities to 'give' instead of simply to 'get'. This was not an easy transformation, and I am often-times challenged by this new way of thinking and behaving . . . after all, there are certainly those out there who will try to take advantage of someone who is 'giving'.

In truth, changing your mindset is not simply something that you do to get more business and then abandon when it is no longer convenient. To get new results in your business and your life, you need to commit to new ideas and change the way that you make decisions and run your business. These changes are difficult and will pull you out of your comfort zone. But, that is the whole point. In order to grow, you need to experience some discomfort along the way.

I believe that today's economy is representative of The Go-Giver's main character Joe and the challenges that he faces with meeting his sales goals. All business people are challenged in this environment. The discomfort associated with a recession is tied to the inconvenience of this new economy and the recognition that we need to take a new approach to our businesses.

This is the same conclusion that I came to a number of years ago when I decided that the 'old' way of doing business was no longer working for me. Without being able to define exactly what I was looking for, I began searching for answers for a new way of doing business. I was open to receiving this new information and was able to find sources right away.

Many years later, I am happy to have found The Go-Giver because the principles in this book make it much easier to share - with those who are open to listening - the core changes that I made to my business that have allowed it - and me - to grow at a rate that far exceeds any other points in my career or life.

Today's economy is forcing us all to look critically at our businesses and the way that we deliver services to the market. There is a great deal of wisdom in the solutions that Joe discovers in this brilliant book, The Go-Giver. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy (Amazon.com retail price of $12.97) and give it a read . . . it may be just the information that you were looking for to get you adjusted to handling this new economy.

© John M. Leonetti

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If, you have been thinking about adding Exit Planning to your practice.

If, you are interested in working with business owners on a more comprehensive level.

If, you are looking to differentiate your practice . . . then
Register for Today's FREE Call @ 3:00 EST

Our Secret Workshops are being revealed !!
Upcoming Events
Thursday & Friday,
June 18th & 19th
(Norwood, MA)

Thursday & Friday,
June 25th & 26th
(Mohegan Sun Casino, CT)
Pinnacle Equity Solutions is pleased to open our Summer Workshops and extend an invitation to these 2-Day Exit Planning presentations being held at the end of June, 2009. These 2-Day Workshops are a big hit with all who attend and are just the thing to jump-start your Exit Planning practice.

John Leonetti, founder of Pinnacle Equity Solutions will be hosting a call to describe the 2-Day workshop and what makes it such a success. To listen in to see how Exit Planning can grow your practice, and to get details about these upcoming Workshops, click the link below and register for the upcoming call.

We look forward to seeing you on the call.

Click Here to Register for the FREE Call!

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions