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2011 Business Lessons Learned – What did YOU learn?

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This has been an amazing and insightful year for me. It’s my first full year out of corporate America, and I have had one heckuva ride! Many awesome clients, a few not-so-awesome clients, and LOTS of lessons learned!

My biggest business lesson learned in 2011: Profit and loss are great but cash flow is KING!

cash flow is king just like the burger king king 300x270 2011 Business Lessons Learned   What did YOU learn?I had a relatively profitable year. Most months were in the black with enough to pay the bills and enjoy a nice meal or two with my wife. But though I was billing hours, I had a few months of near zero revenue collected. That means NO money in bank account, which meant no bills paid.

YIKES!

But I learned that lesson and now, by asking for half down for any projects and billing retainers a month ahead instead of a month behind, I’m living much more comfortably. Same profit and loss, but much better cash flow.

What about YOU?

What was your best business lesson in 2011?

Looking for some inspiration? Check out the 11 business lessons learned at Business on Main.

YOUR TURN: Leave a comment with the best business lesson YOU learned in 2011. I’ll be selecting 2 at random to deliver a $50 Amazon gift card to. You have until December 24th, 2011 at 5 PM central time. Good luck, and let me know your¬†1 best business lesson learned in 2011 in the space¬†below.

Disclaimer: My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis.

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  1. Funny. I was just writing the same type of blog post last night. My lesson learnt is: listen to your gut, not the people around. Too many times I had a chance to act on my own feeling/my inner voice, but due to lack of confidence (or experience), I chose the world around to drive my decisions. Wrong! Next year, I am making a point to listen to my gut and not concern myself with what people say. It’s not the popular ideas that become great, but those that don’t get all the support at the start.

  2. I will tell you what I learned: That I am willing to go hungry rather than keep busting my hump to make money for somebody else.

    I learned that I have a ton of help to give to others.

    I learned that I can write 2,500 words a day. For days at a stretch.

    I learned how to make a very professional-sounding podcast.

    But the best Business Lesson is this: You have to get up and show up every day and provide some value to the people that are watching. Phoning it in won’t cut it. RT’s don’t cut it. Grab your audience by the hand and show them how it’s done.

  3. Rich McElaney says:

    For all of us in the service-provision business, managing cash flow is absolutely critical to sustaining and building the business. A simple change like asking for half up front is so dead simple that it’s easy to overlook.

    My big lesson for 2011: establish success criteria for your clients up front – in writing and have both parties sign off on them. This does three things:

    1. It sharpens the focus on delivering specific results.
    2. It allows for course corrections if things are veering off the plan.
    3. It provides context to review performance and validate client satisfaction. (Which is good for long-term cash-flow planning!)

  4. Great post, Phil.

    The greatest business lesson I learned this year was that I was leaving a lot of money on the table.

    Like you, I had transitioned out of Corporate America and had to build my individual brand over the years. So, for years I had been diligently working on gaining more experience and credibility not only in this new line of work, but within the community I served.

    This past year my lesson was to stop trying to prove that I was credible, and to start asking for what I was worth. I am thankful I have mentors and a strong support system that, all year long, reminded me of how capable and good I was at what I do.

    It may seem common sensical, but sometimes we are our own barriers to success. Once I realized where I needed to improve, I simply started asking for what I was worth and ended up generating more money with those wins. My close rate has been nearly impeccable.

  5. I learned we need each other and the communities we serve now more than ever. Being selfish and self centered will not get us past the recession. Helping one another and finding ways to better our lives is going to keep everyone’s spirit’s alive.

    Stephen’s right, we all have a lot to share with others. Get off the couch in 2012 and give of your time, talents and treasure to others!

  6. I sat in a room of pharmaceutical sales managers as they summed up two days of meetings on how they can make a difference to their sales reps, to their customers and to cancer patients.

    It boiled down to three words: trust, authenticity and love.

    I tried to imagine my grandfather, who ran a big part of the Forest Service, saying that in a meeting. Or my father, when he ran an aluminum company.

    Those three words are the key to business success from here on out. Trust them. Be authentic. And serve your team out of love.

  7. I learned that what actually happens may be wilder than your wildest dreams. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that I would be working one-on-one with people like Carol Roth and Michael Port only 18 months in my business. It has been a really wild ride but I know that next year is going to be absolutely amazing. My advice: Dream bigger.

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