Category: Small Business

Finding Business Value in the Blind Spots

On June 15, 2022, BEI featured an interview with Ben Isakov on the value hidden in the businesses’ blind spots.

Today’s blog highlights BEI Member, Ben Isakov. Ben has over 20 years of experience in Quality Assurance, Continued Improvement, and Operations Management in the private sector, corporate, and government organizations. Having a mechanical engineering degree, he considers his super-power the ability to look at complex systems and business functions to identify deficiencies, broken links, and communication barriers between the processes. Making these visible to the business owner is crucial to helping them build a new, better state, which directly affects the bottom-line profits and scalability of the business. Ben prides himself on his keen ability to help his clients significantly increase the value of their business during the planning process. He considers this to be a unique skill set and has insights to share that can assist other advisors in helping their clients.  

We asked him a few questions about his involvement with BEI and the Exit Planning industry: 

BEI: Why did you decide to work with business owners?  

Ben: I had a few reasons to start working with business owners. First, I always liked to work with people, and I feel accomplished and satisfied when I see the positive impact I can bring to their business. Second, I saw how much they were missing out. As a business grows, the business owner should grow with it, applying new ways of managing and running it, adding support systems, etc. However, many business owners are so focused on the core competency of the business that they don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to do it. As a result, they are far from being as profitable as they could be. 

This is where I come into the picture as an Exit Planning Advisor with the tools, strategies, and systems to improve profits and build business value. But most importantly, I come in with an unbiased and rational outside perspective, to help them see and fix the issues that arise in their blind spots. 

BEI: Tell us about an unexpected challenge you have encountered with business owners and what you learned from this challenge.  

Ben: An unexpected challenge that I have faced is realizing that there are some business owners that don’t want to grow. 

The first time I came across this it took me off guard. At first, I was surprised, but when I started to dig into the reasons that growth might not be a priority, I gained more perspective. For some business owners, they were working extremely hard for the current level of business, and for them, more business would translate into linearly extrapolated challenges. 

It took some time for me to convince the owner that this logic is one of the obstacles to overall business growth. The real challenge was to change the owner’s misconception that many business owners have that growth will lead to more challenges, when in fact that is not always the case.  

Since this first time, one of the first things I ask a business owner is how they envision the business (and their role in it) when it is double or triple the size. 

BEI: How has your involvement with BEI impacted your practice? What tools, educational materials, support have helped the most, and in what ways?  

Ben: BEI gives a perfect Exit Planning framework to follow. The initial assessments are helpful tools to use when prospecting, and it also gives a solid starting point for the planning work. 

The most invaluable BEI tools for me are the whitepapers and case studies. They have been my go-to resources within my practice when working with clients and other advisors alike. 

The ability to stay active and up-to-date with happenings in the Exit Planning industry is crucial to being able to answer questions from business owners regarding their biggest challenges. My experience has prompted me to create a 5-step formula for business owners to double their profits.  

This formula has helped many business owners create massive, exponential growth for their business based on five critical areas that must be addressed to gain more clients, generate more revenue, and increase profitability: 

  • Leads 

  • Conversions 

  • Number of transactions 

  • Average sale value  

  • Profit margins  

You can learn more about this formula and how I’ve used it to help business owners from my book (get your free copy here!), along with other blog posts and articles on Exit Planning topics.  

BEI: What advice would you give another advisor early in their career?  

Ben: Be persistent with prospecting! Many business owners need our help, but they are often not yet aware of it. It is up to us as advisors with Exit Planning knowledge to get the conversations started, point out gaps in their business and show them the untapped financial potential that can be added to their business before their exit. 

BEI: How can our readers get in contact with you or learn more about your services?  

Ben: I constantly engage with my audience via my social media accounts, webinars, and seminars. The best way to see my upcoming events and content is by connecting with me on LinkedIn. 

Website: Congruent Clarity 

Social media: LinkedIn 

As a preview of the types of content shared on LinkedIn, check out this article!  

Ben notes the importance of an advisor in changing clients’ mindsets and helping them map out their goals. 

“VIP Tooth Brushing Service” Or Why Do You Need Standardization In Your Business

Let me tell you why YOU need standardization in YOUR business. Bear with me for a second!

We all brush teeth every day, right? At least we all should. Let me show you how I see this from the process approach!

This is a pretty simple process and can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Wash the brush under running water
  2. Squeeze some paste on the brush
  3. Brush the teeth
  4. Wash the brush
  5. Wash the mouth

Simple? Yes! Let’s use it as an SOP!

But wait!

  • How much toothpaste do I squeeze each time? Or;
  • How long do I brush the teeth? And;
  • How do I know when to stop?

Even this, seemingly simple process still has so much room for variations. My way of following these 5 steps can be dramatically different than yours. Why it is important?

Let’s imagine for a minute that I run… a “VIP Tooth Brushing Service” at 7 stars super-duper all-inclusive mega-hotel! Where the staff takes care of all of your needs and even toothbrushing is included!

My service is so popular, that now I want to hire somebody to help me brushing my clients’ teeth.

The problem is if me and my employee do the job differently, it will be hard for me to accurately predict my business expenses. How would I know;

  • How much paste do I need per 1000 clients?
  • Do I order enough brushes?
  • What is my current cycle time – meaning how long it takes to complete a process for one client?

Can you see now how following a standard process, with controlled variables, can be important even in a silly example of a Tooth Brushing Service?

How about your business? How much time and money do you waste allowing your processes to be all over the place?

Any business is driven by results, by the bottom lines. When I speak about expenses and overheads most of my prospects and clients will jump right into cost reductions and cuts in consumables and materials. But how about labor? It is always one of your largest expenses. When was the last time you looked at the time spent on the jobs and ways to reduce it?

The only way you can do it is by following the exact same process again and again and tracking its performance and results.

The principles are pretty simple:

  • Break the job, a process, into separate steps and see how can you do them faster and more efficiently.
  • Anything you do more than once, on a regular basis, is considered a repeatable process and should be looked at and examined.

Here what you can do:

Look at your business… Do you have a rockstar? Somebody that just nailed it, and rocks it every time?

If yes, great! Let’s try and duplicate THEIR process!

First, break the process into single steps by following the rockstar and note the sequence of steps, how long they take and what tools and resources are used. This is called Process Mapping.

Remember the teeth brushing service? Toothpaste and brushes are the resources and tools…

Second – review the document you just drafted with the rockstar. Is it exactly what is done? Add any comments and make changes if needed. 

Third – try to follow the steps and see if your end-results are identical.

If not, find the reasons… Sometimes it is because of the skillset differences. If this is the case – CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve found your first IDENTIFIED training opportunity.

Four – test your newly created work instruction with somebody new to the job and observe them doing it. Is it easy to follow? Do they get the results you want?

No..? Back to the drawing board! Refine the instructions.

Yes? Awesome! Make sure everybody does the job this way.

One pro tip here:

Even in the “tooth brushing service” work instruction, we could potentially create separate instructions for the technical steps. For example, for the brushing, it could be a sub-instruction to describe the proper holding technique, brush pressure, and stroke. It is your discretion if you want to include these details in your main instruction or leave it out, assuming a person who does the job was trained to do it.

Now, one HUGE bonus you’ll get from this activity is an opportunity to question the current way of doing things, probably tune it up, or even re-do it completely. I’ve seen it happen many times! Because often, you so used to do something in a specific way, you just don’t question it.

And, when you examine the process, noticing the time, tools, and resources needed for each step… All of a sudden you start to see the obvious cuts and savings, otherwise hidden in the process…

To wrap it up:

  • If you think YOUR business doesn’t need standardization, think twice…
  • It doesn’t matter if it is a product or service-based business or how long have you done that. If you don’t have it – you need it.
  • With very few exceptions, standardization will save you time and money!

Start small. Complete one process. Move to another one. You will see the gains. I promise you!

And if you need a little help along the way, me and my team are always here to help with this, and any other business growth strategies.

Because remember? At Congruent Clarity – Your Success is My Story

Are you a Product or a Customer of Your Favorite Social Media Platforms?

There is one question I always ask my clients and prospects:

  • Are you a Product or a Customer?

Why do I care? In my work with clients, I focus a lot on where their time goes. To help us understand it, I use what is called the “Eisenhower Matrix”. And usually, we place the daily scrolling through Social Media feeds in the Quadrant of Waste (see my article/post about that). With one exception:

  • It is a waste of your time only if you are a Product for social media!

Andrew Lewis worded it very nicely:

“If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer. You’re the product being sold.” 

You see, all the “free” social media platforms, are here to generate profits. And they generate it by selling you and your personalized interests to the real customers:

  • Those who pay to get their message in front of you.

Social media deliver masses who use the “free media”, spending time scrolling their feeds. This puts the word “Feed” into a different perspective, isn’t it?

Back in 1973, artists Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman broadcasted a short video titled “Television Delivers People”. The video was nothing but a blue screen with text scrolling on it. The key messages were:

  • Commercial television delivers 20 million people a minute.
  • In commercial broadcasting, the viewer pays for the privilege of having himself sold.
  • It is the consumer who is consumed.
  • You are the product of TV.
  • You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.
  • He consumes you.
  • The viewer is not responsible for programming…
  • You are the end product.

Since then, internet search engines and social media took over a big chunk of our attention, but the statements still hold true and new media do exactly the same: deliver YOUR attention to the real customers.

So.., to the main point of all this:

If you want to be on Social Media, at least make it your business tool! And then you can transform the “time-waster” into your strategic “time-investing”! Become a customer, and enjoy the free service! And it will change the way you see your feeds forever!

Digital marketing is a great opportunity to generate more leads and convert them into happy customers. And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune!

There are few different ways to approach this. But in a nutshell, they all do the same. You need a strategy and execution plan.

Start by deciding who you are going after, what are the pain points you want to address, how you will help them, and why you are better than your competition.

The exact strategy will vary based on your product/service offering, and there is no “one size fit all” solution. Otherwise, like with diets, we would all know about it, right?

Your strategy will require some brain-storming and creativity. And time… Time invested in it. But in the end it all worth it!

The goal of this short article was to make you stop and think. And I hope I achieved it. No one wants to be a Product, and you shouldn’t too!

As always, looking forward to your comments and questions. And if you need a little help with this or any other business-related issue, me and my team are always here to help! And if you find this article helpful, subscribe below to receive notifications when I post something else!

Because at Congruent Clarity Your Success is My Story

Why You Need a “My Crappy Life” Vision and How to Use The Not-To-Do Lists

Give me a few minutes and I’ll explain why you need to have the “My Crappy Life” Vision and as a bonus how your Not-To-Do list can help you in achieving your goals.


The other day I delivered my “Intro to Strat Planning” workshop, I’ve explained the importance of the Big Goal and the Vision. And how they motivate you.

And while they DO give you the energy to keep going, and getting things done, it is not always about this kind of motivation.

You see, your motivation is always fluctuating. It is completely normal. What is not normal is to allow your productivity to fluctuate! At least I think it is not a good idea. Here where the Discipline is coming to help!

Let’s talk a little about the discipline. If you google it, the first definition that you’ll find is:

“Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience”

Interesting, right?

Brings us right to the “Carrot and Stick” argument in team management.

I’ve gone through a lot of leadership and management training, personally, I don’t see a general agreement on when, how, and why we use the Stick and when, how, and why we use the Carrot. But one thing I know for sure:

In certain circumstances, both have their place, and both are working.

So while the majority of the coaches and consultants out there are speaking about the Carrot side, the positive motivation. I want to invite you to the dark side!

Charlie Munger once said that people would be far better served to replace their “What My Ideal Life Would Look Like” picture with the “What My Crappy Life Would Look Like”. I think there is some rationale in this statement.

My idea is to combine the two visions in Strategic Planning. You are going to work on the “My Crappy Life Strat Plan” EXACTLY the same way as you did with your positive Start Plan.

Grab a piece of paper and draw a vision of your “Crappy Life”! How would it look like? What you’d feel?

But hey, don’t get dramatic, because you may end up with something like this:

“I wake up in a flat TV box under the bridge. Drink my morning river water and go to collect garbage for my breakfast”

No… Be realistic… You know what kind of life you want to avoid, right?

Now, when you have it in front of you, start planning the actions you need to take! What do you need to do to get this “Crappy Life” Vision closer?

Do you start to see where I’m going with this?

Here is your Not-To-Do List!

Put it beside your To-Do List and here you go! You’ve got yourself a “Discipline booster”! And now, every time you do something, you know which of the visions is getting closer!

So when you are taking some time off the hard work on getting closer to your “Ideal Life” Vision, put your “Crappy Life” together. Then work on your No-To-Do List. I promise you a few “aha moments” if you approach it seriously.

I hope this little article made you stop and think. Please comment and add questions. Argue! We’ll get it refined!

As always, I’m looking for your questions and comments. Please see my other articles for more ideas and insights.

And if you need a little help with this or any other business-related issue, me and my team are always here to help!

Because at Congruent Clarity – Your Success is My Story

Are You Trapped In Tactical Hell?

Recently I’ve got a response to one of my articles from a reader. And she mentioned that it reminded her of a concept from the book:

“The Laws of Human Nature”, by Robert Green.

I’ve never heard about the book, so I had to look it up…

“Tactical Hell”… Boy, how many times in the past I found myself in it! And how many times I had to grab myself by ears and pull myself out of it!

The concept is applicable to a wide variety of areas. But I wanted to share what resonated with me in the context of business.

“Tactical Hell”, is the inability to accept being in the dead end. When you’ve made a wrong turn, and now stuck in it only because you won’t admit the mistake. Situations, where your attempts to force your way through, are not a matter of “getting closer to your goals”, but asserting your ego. Proving you are right!

When you fall into the “Tactical Hell” you lose the ability of Strategic Thinking. The voice of the ego is so loud… you feel so invested in the situation, that you don’t realize that you waste your energy and time on a tactic that doesn’t work!

One of the questions that should guide your decision making is simple:

  • Does this support me in achieving my goals?

And here the tricky part! You need to be brutally honest with yourself! Because often there is a very fine line between the “giving-up” and “tactically change the direction”.

How do you distinguish one from another? One is leading you toward your goals and the other – doesn’t.

Nothing wrong with persistence! We were not born with all the skills and abilities we need, and it takes time and practice to learn new tactics and strategies. But you also need to know when you grasp into something only because you don’t want to be wrong.

So, next time, when you realize that you struggle in a situation. Fighting the same battle over and over with the same result, ask yourself:

  • Does this support me in achieving my goals?
  • Why do I keep repeating myself? And,
  • Why don’t I use an alternative?

Then use your Strat Plan as a validation tool! A properly made plan will sort out subjects that don’t deserve your attention.
Don’t have a Strat Plan yet? Let me help you draft one to serve YOU and YOUR business better!

Like always, I’m looking forward to your questions in the comments or private messages. Please visit my e-learning system for more insights and strategies you can apply in your business today. Because at Congruent Clarity, “Your Success is My Story”.

Super Power You Can Learn

Have you ever wondered what could it feel like if you had a superpower? What you’d be able to accomplish? How much more could you have? 
All these great opportunities that this superpower would give you! What would you be ready to give up for having one, ah?

Well, I have some bad, and some good news for you. Let me clear the bad one out of the way first: No… You won’t be able to fly like a superman or have the strength of the Wolverine.

Sorry about that.

But the good news is that you still can get a superpower without a need for any creature to bite you! The one that ANY successful person has.

I’m talking about the power of “Self-Control”! The formula is simple:
Control your Attention! Let me show you how you can gain it and get reduced stress levels as a bonus!

In this day and age, we are bombarded and over-flooded with information. Naturally, we are attracted to bad news and this is what media is offering us in abundance! This can be very distracting and drags the attention from where we need it to be.

As a result, things are NOT getting done, your goals are missed and the outcomes are not there. There is a simple trick I’ve learned, that helps me to stay focused on where I want to focus for longer, get more things done, and overall reduce the stress level!

I want to use three circles to illustrate my idea. Let me introduce you the Big Three:

Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control!

“Circle of Concern” is everything that matters to you. All of your interests, things that you care about. Some of them will impact your life, and some don’t.
Your local weather. Results of the elections. Rumors about your favorite and not “that much favorite” celebs.
All this is in the circle of your concerns. The rest existing, but you don’t really care about it. The vast majority of this list is not only out of your control, but also not influenced by you. Like weather or election. Well, maybe the elections are somehow influenced by you, but it is not certain.

It brings us to the next circle: “Circle of Influence”.
It circled around all things that you can influence. I’ve heard that sometimes even your kids are in this circle!

In general, your circle of influence is things that you cannot directly control but can influence through other people who do control it.

Last, but not least is the “Circle of Control”. Here you list all of the things that you can directly control by your choices and actions. There are many things that can be in this circle. And this circle is straight forward.

Why do I speak about these? The circle that you need to focus most of your efforts is your “Circle of Control”. Less attention in “Circle of Influence” and be very selective with the “Circle of Concerns”.

Here where you can see a lot of gains when you start to exercise your power of Self-Control:
The more you control yourself and directing your focus and energy to the inner circles, the better your results will be.

So, how do you learn the Self-Control superpower? Start noticing where your attention is and ask yourself – what circle is it?

If you are out of your “Circle of Control” and even not in the “Circle of Influence”, chances are that you can find something better for your time. Switch your mental channel to the right circle. With time, you’ll get better and better at controlling your attention and directing it where it needs to be.

The first outcome will be more things done and the bonus is reduced stress levels because you’ll feed less and less on all the negative news that are definitely not in your circle of control.

For more tricks on how to get better in your business, please visit our GUIDED TOUR for the state of the art e-learning system at my website. Link in the description.

Good luck superheroes!

Make them YOUR allies!

It is extremely important to build good business relationships with your partners and retailers… It can easily increase your brand exposure, competitiveness, and bring you new leads and clients. So anyone who works with you or touches your products or services deserves attention and focus on their needs.

But it needs to come from the right place…

If you build the relationships based on mutual gain, you will transform your retailers into your strongest allies, so they will be equally interested in your success and work with you on it! Time spent, I’d even say – invested, in getting to know them and their needs will pay back very quickly and open a whole new array of opportunities for both of you.

Search for original and interesting ways to reward your retailers to create true win-win conditions and they will help you build your business. One of the best ways to do it is to create a performance-based incentive plan.

Here how a step-by-step process can look like:

1. Ask your retailers what would be the most lucrative stimulus for them to improve their sales performance.

2. Outline a generous performance incentive plan based on feedback and present it to your retailers.

3. Develop an easy to follow and track performance measuring plan. This will increase the sense of competition between your retailers and push to higher performance.

4. Encourage subsequent sales instead of just focusing on the initial sale. You may give away a higher profit from the initial sale to your retailers but will gain on the larger quantities of the later sales. Always focus on future sales and promote and even train them how to incorporate:

  • Upsell your more profitable products/services.
  • Cross-sell your additional products/services

5. Create an irresistible incentive plan by offering generous and progressing compensation.

Think about each of your retailers and their specialties, their strengths, and unique opportunities and consider it when drafting the plan. If you succeed to utilize their talents, capabilities, and connections, you both will be winners in this game!

Drafting a plan shouldn’t be a complicated process. Use our GUIDED TOUR to come up with some great ideas and roll out your first incentive plan!

Make It Pop

There are 5 major components to good advertising copy: (The order of these is essential to success)

  • Command Attention
  • Showcase Benefits of Products/Services
  • Prove the Benefits
  • Persuade People to Embrace the Benefits
  • Call to Action

Advertising is sales in print. So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. You need to emphasize results, not features.

Let’s take a minute to talk about each of these components:

  1. Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with the headline. You need an attention-getter that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement.
  2. Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
  3. Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
  4. Persuade: You need to add compelling reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create scarcity. This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into
    the last component.
  5. Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something.  Offer a freebie-a booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.

Good advertisements include all of these components and are not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place
them together for the most effectiveness. 
We can help you with this too.

Try our GUIDED TOUR to learn how to put together great advertisements from some of the
best in the business.

Kick Start Your Marketing

Today I’d like to teach you about the three most important start up marketing tools you need to get and keep new customers.

  1. In person: It’s essential you meet with customers/clients in person whenever possible. This shows you respect them and take the time to work with your clients to give personal attention to each of them.
  2. Follow up letter: Always take a moment to send a follow up letter about what you talked about, new agreements or partnerships made and to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Likewise, you should always send thank you letters or small gifts to partners you find success with.
  3. Phone call: Use a telephone call to follow up with them to talk again about the matters you talked about in your meeting and offer any assistance you can to help their business run smoothly and more successfully.

None of these will work if you don’t have a quality product/service to back you up!

Here are the key steps for putting together your start-up marketing tools:

  1. Research potential customers, buyers, competitors and their preferred methods of distribution.
  2. Talk to potential customers. Take a hard look at your product from a customer’s perspective and see what it needs to be successful.
  3. Follow up with your 3-step process from above.
  4. Develop systems for contact follow through, quality control standards and customer service.
  5. Develop post-sale follow up system to keep lines of communication open is customers and build on your current relationship which increases future purchases.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” Peter Drucker, management consultant

Here’s another one I love from an icon:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

This lesson has offered you the tools to put together a start-up marketing plan that can be used over and over again to help your customer base and business grow in a manageable way.

Stop Wasting Your Resources!

Today you’re going to learn how to find a target market of potential customers so you aren’t wasting precious resources on blitz marketing. So, the two questions you have to ask yourself are:
  • What do people really want to buy from me?
  • What related products are they already buying?
Once you figure this out you will know who is more predisposed to purchase your products/services. Then, you find other businesses with the same customer base who you can customer share with. Come up with an incentive and great arrangement to encourage both of your customer bases to shop at both of your stores. The basic concept is this: You want to find existing businesses who have the customer profile that you are looking for to market your products/services to. Then strike up a relationship with those business owners to work out an incentive for customers to purchase from both businesses. As a result, you have an audience to market to and they generate an added value from their current base. So, how do you figure this out? There is a great formula from Jay Abraham you can follow with great success. LV = (P x F) x N – MC Here’s what it all means:
  • LV is the life time value of a customer
  • P is the average profit margin from each sale
  • F is the number of times a customer buys each year
  • N is the number of years customers stay with you
  • MC is the marketing cost per customer (total costs/number of customers)
Once you know how much you need to spend to attract a new customer, you will know how much of an incentive you can offer to a business to help attract new customers. So, here’s your step-by-step process:
  1. Find companies who already have the customer base you are looking for.
  2. Negotiate an incentive for them to share that customer base with you.
  3. Focus your marketing resources to this group of predisposed customers.
If you need help working through this process, please contact us and we’ll set you up with the most comprehensive system of marketing tools and resources.