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Mike Van Horn speaking at Confab at the Silver Legacy Hotel

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Your Business Audience

Business audiences–from national conferences to chamber of commerce breakfasts–pack our sessions and rate us highly. Our success is measured by how often we get invited back for repeat engagements.

Our talks inspire listeners–but not because of any “Rah! Rah! You can do it!” message.   Audiences leave inspired because we focus on the practical, no-nonsense things that help business owners make their businesses grow, be more profitable, and operate more smoothly.

See our most popular talks listed below.   Click on the link to find out more. Also see our “Scheduled Events” page for all upcoming events, including talks by Mike Van Horn and BJ Van Horn.

In addition to the talks described below, we can also create a talk to fit your audience’s needs.
Here’s a story:

I was recently invited back to give a third talk to a local organization. Since they had heard two of my talks, they were looking for something new. “What could you say about coping with the recession?” I was asked.   So I came up with, “How to thrive in tough times–lessons from successful small business owners.” It was based on the stories of owners I work with.   I created slides and a handout, and the talk was very well received. I’ve now given this talk four times.

Let us know if you want special subject matter covered — we’ll be glad to develop a talk for your organization.

Small Business Talks by Mike Van Horn

I give these talks either as 60- to 90-minute presentations, or half-day workshops. I’ll do a 90-minute talk for free for a nearby non-profit small business organization.   Prices for others by negotiation.

Grow Your Business without Driving Yourself Crazy

The bigger you grow, the tougher it can be to grow yet further.

Here are tools to tackle your challenges to growth, profitability, and ease of operation. You will learn how to tackle any barrier to growth, so that you can run your business with greater ease and profitability:

  • The Most Common Barriers Businesspeople Face in Achieving Growth
  • The Five Elements Needed to Overcome Any Barrier to Growth
  • How to Run Your Business With Greater Ease and Profitability
  • How You Can Make These Changes with the Least Disruption, Stress & Expense?
  • How to transform your company’s “culture of smallness” to a “culture of growth.”

Examples of interactive exercises we do during the talk:

  • Hire “Wonder woman” or “Superman” to give you the help you need
  • Stop being “Vice President of Minutiae” and become the “Director of Growth and Profitability.”

This talk is based on my book by the same name.

Promote Yourself to CEO

Polish the skills and capabilities you need to boost your growth, ease and profitability.

Here’s the paradox of small business growth: The more your company grows, the harder it can be to grow yet further. Why? Because the management practices and habits that worked when your company was smaller are no longer adequate.

You the owner are often the main bottleneck. You may not be “presidential” enough in your management style. You need to “promote yourself to CEO” – that is, focus on executive responsibilities and be less of a floor manager and worker. This is true whether you have one employee or fifty.

In this talk, I will present tools to help you upgrade your management style, management practices and management structure – for yourself and for your key people – so that you can take your company where you want it to go.

  • Job description for a small company CEO
  • Climb the ladder of executive capabilities
  • How to fill in the steps behind you
  • Stop being “vice president of minutiae”
  • Get the secret knowledge out of your head

Build a Culture of Profitability

Aimed at small business owners who say, “Growing my revenue is not enough; I’ve also got to be profitable!” and who are not financial whizzes.

What is Profit? Conventional wisdom: a) What’s left over from revenue after covering expenses. b) Your pay as sole proprietor

What is Profit Really? Engine of growth. Return on your investment. Cushion for tough times. Fund for upgrades and bonuses

Insisting on profitability is a key step to small business maturity. In this interactive talk, you’ll learn the 12 Rules for Small Business Profitability, including:

  • Price for profitability.
  • Pay yourself first – and well
  • Know the profitability of your next sale.
  • Stay on top of your financial performance by tracking a few key numbers.
  • Invest in your growth
  • Borrow the growth capital you need

Top 10 Speed Bumps to Small Business Growth

And how to smooth them out

Does this sound like you? Your business is successful and growing. You are sailing along smoothly. Then BOOM, you hit a big speed bump. It can throw you for a real loop!

This program shows you how to overcome the top ten speed bumps that slow the growth of small businesses. These include:

  • Stuck in a culture of smallness.
  • Outgrowing your management style.
  • Chained to the secret knowledge syndrome.
  • Squeezed by a culture of no profit; pricing like a charity.
  • Vice president of minutiae.
  • No plan, no accountability.
  • Lone Ranger mentality.

In this interactive session, you can see which bumps are causing you the most trouble, and what practical steps you can take to smooth them out.

The Secrets of Succeeding in Your Own Business

Aimed at start-ups and budding entrepreneurs

Anyone can start a business. You don’t have to have money. You need no particular experience. All you need to succeed in business is to sell something for more than it costs you to deliver it, and to sell enough of it so that after you cover your costs you can live on what’s left.

You’re also free to fail in business. Because it’s so easy to get started, most businesses that start up don’t last all that long.

My aim is to help you be among the survivors–and thrivers! Here’s what you’ll learn in this interactive talk:

  • Secrets to succeeding in small business. (I’m confident this will be a different perspective than you have heard before.)
  • Myths of running a business, and the reality
  • What is profit, really?
  • Where does money come from to start a business? Where does it not come from?
  • How do you market and sell?

Get a Business Head About Your Speaking Business

Aimed at professional speakers and writers

Many professional speakers and writers don’t have much of a “business head”– your attitudes and beliefs about running a business, your management style, your habitual ways of handling the business. The cost of this is that your speaking business bumps along, but never reaches the level of profitability and ease of operation you aspire to.

What are the basics of “business head” for people who don’t really want to be a business manager? How can you make it work even though you’re not a natural-born manager?

You will learn in this talk how to:

  • Build a culture of profitability (This includes how you price your speaking)
  • Find the “Sweet Spot of Success”–the overlap of what you do best, what you love doing, what people will pay for.
  • Balance the conflicting demands on your time
  • Use your time strategically; knowing the value of your time; getting the greatest return for each hour you spend in your business
  • Be the “CEO” of your tiny company. How to act “presidential” and who does the other stuff?
  • Get needed help, so you don’t have to do it all. Get the “secret knowledge” out of your head.
  • Tackle any barrier to growth, profit, and ease of operation you encounter
Talks for Employers by B.J. Van Horn

Employer Assertiveness Training:

Keep Good People On Track, On Time, and On Their Best Game

So you get a great crew, and…they fall into bad habits.   Life at work becomes a soap opera, and you fear lawsuits or claims around every corner.

While employees are educated in their legal entitlements every day by the media and other civil and social organizations, the business owner is sometime left to his/her own devices.   Why not assert your rights as an employer, and educate your employees on their responsibilities to you ?

  • Learn how to express yourself clearly, forcefully, and appropriately with your employees to keep them doing the job you want done, up to your standards, without legal exposure.
  • Establish a workplace that is firm, fair, and consistent to get back on track, align your employees with your vision of success, and create an environment of satisfaction and productivity.
  • Use this 21-day plan to refine your management style and see how you can stop enabling a non-productive workforce.

B.J.’s Speaker’s Bio

B.J. Van Horn, (Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), has spent over 25 years as a Human Resources executive with companies such as Host International, Hyatt Hotel and Resorts, and Federated Department Stores.  She established the H.R. function at the Bohemian Club and Grove, and was the first woman since the Club’s founding in 1872 to serve as General Manager. She now consults with small business owners to solve human resources problems through The Business Group, a company that also provides on-going problem solving groups, workshops, and seminars for business owners in the Bay area. She is co-author of two workbooks, “Finding and Keeping Good Employees” and “Employer Assertiveness Training”.

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