Spiritual Business: Beyond Balance

Solar System Emergence - The work of God

You might be thinking, “Why do I want to know about religion in my business newsletter?” I’m not writing about the business of spirituality, that is what the places of worship, like churches and mosques, do best. I want to share the idea that when business goes beyond the dollar you go beyond challenge and stress. Sound too ‘woo woo’ for you? Try these three suggestions in your business and see what ‘new’ comes from it.

1. Be the Voice

When I was listening to an audio outtake from a past Wayne Dyer’s TV show I heard him make reference to “being the voice of the person not in the room” with reference to gossiping and kindness. Interesting perspective on helping those without a voice. As I listened further I realized that this was akin to playing the “devil’s advocate”, something I do a lot. The “What if” questions that comes up when we don’t jump to conclusions about people, events, or situations. So often when watching a situational comedy I have had to leave the room because I feel people are so stupid not to ask the questions that would get them out of the hole they dig for themselves with assumptions and secrets.

Don’t let your business be full of assumptions and secrets. Make sure you give people in your business permission to speak when they see something that doesn’t feel right and to make suggestions when they think something can be better. Always be asking questions and looking for the insight into what other options there might be and what other information is missing. Think of having access to an invisible person who knows the full picture telling you what else you might be missing. What would you ask him about your situations so you can have all the facts?

Doing this does not make for funny situational comedy, but it also won’t make you a laughing stock because you acted on misinformation.

2.  Balance is Not About Equal

Lady Justice and her Scale of JusticeI think the word “Balance” is used incorrectly with reference to life. When we think of balance we often think of the meaning referencing weights, where you put something on one side and an equal amount on the other side to balance the weight. I picture the “Lady Justice” with her scales of justice in one hand representing the measure of justice as a balanced and equal measure.

The balance we seek in life is more like this definition:

mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.” [http://www.dictionary.com/browse/balance]

‘Calm behaviour’, now that sounds like a balance I want in my life and that has nothing to do with ‘equal’ or ‘fair’. When we look for our work lives and our home lives to be equal we are looking to try and give our time fairly to both and that is not how life works. At least that is not what I tell my kids when I let them know, “life is not fair”. Your work is your life. Krishna says, in the Gita, “One who shirks action does not attain freedom; no one can gain perfection by abstaining from work.” [The Bhagavad Gita – Introduced & translated by Eknath Easwaran – Nigiri Press 2007]

When you find the work that is your true purpose or dharma, it will allow you to be in equilibrium with yourself, so you will bring calm to everything you do. It will not be about 8 hours here and 8 hours there, it will be about being totally engaged in all hours of the day, whether the work is a business meeting or a PTA meeting. We all have different work and we are not all called to be at corporate head office for 16 hours a day, but some of us are. Know what your calling is and understand how you can show-up in your life so you can experience the ‘calm behaviour’ of a truly balanced existence.

3. Get to Guru

In all religions there are leaders that are revered for their understanding of life and their ability to live by the words or knowledge they see as holy. These gurus, saints, disciples, teachers, etc. come with what seems like a direct line to God or the Universe. They have an understanding of life many of us do not try to comprehend. They can use the forces of the universe to their success. We see this in many successful people today as well as those in our holy books and stories from the past.

If you want to lead a full and exceptional life you need to ‘get to guru’. By this I mean, continue to learn from those that know the way and be open to other possibilities. I know that there are more secrets in this universe than all the answers we, as humans, have already uncovered. Don’t discount the impossible or the improbably because we don’t have a scientific way of describing it yet. Your knowledge and faith to get to your goals will always serve you to your highest outcome. So learn, learn, learn and be willing to be led by others farther along the path then you so you can then lead others behind you on the path; especially those inside your business.

We are all spiritual beings; whether your spirit is led by religion or by the energy of atoms. No matter what your belief system is, you cannot deny that what you do and how you react to what happens around you is completely up to you. You are the control panel for your life and you can choose to do things that feel hard and slow or things that feel light and fun. Try adding one of these ideas to your business and see if you can make the changes to your actions affect your life and business in a positive way.

When Should You Give Up?

chess board

Owning a business is a challenge day to day. Sometimes there are great rewards, huge accomplishments, amazing opportunities, and it feels great. Sometimes there are great disappointments, huge losses, and a feeling that path was lost. And often it is simply routine. Doing what has to get done, over and over. No gain, no change, and no closer to your desired goals. It can feel like there are only two options: Win or Lose.

So when is it time to “throw in the towel” and give up the race? When the losses are greater than the rewards? When there is no future vision that can be found to get you out of your current situation? When it is not fun or enjoyable any longer? If your business is not making money, month after month or year after year?

I believe that every business owner has a moment (or a day or month) when they think:

  • What am I doing here?
  • Am I doing the right things in my life?
  • Can I be doing something else that will make me more money and be easier?
  • Is there something else that would make me happier?
  • Should I go back and get a job?

All valuable questions and worth evaluating for yourself. If you are like me, that last question (Should I go back and get a job?) makes me wince. Not because ‘job’ feels like a four letter word to entrepreneurs but because I cannot see any future for myself inside any other business. What would I do? What position could I hold? Who would I report to? I have no answers for these questions.

When faced with the feeling that your business may not be a viable way to live your life you need to ask yourself the questions above but you also need to evaluate your business and not on your own. Take these three steps to evaluate if your business is even a viable revenue generating idea and get to the answer of ‘Grow it’ or ‘Give it up’.

Research and Evaluation

Go back to your original research for the development and launch of your business. Were your estimations and evaluations correct about your marketing, your sales, your product, your customers’ needs, etc. If you did not do the research initially then this is an indication that you are not as serious about business as you may actually believe. Go and do the research and evaluate it with your known operations and sales. What are the real trends? What are the real costs? Who is your primary and secondary competitors and what are they doing?

Sounding Board

Take your challenges, issues, research, and current numbers to a trusted sounding board for brainstorming. These people should have an experienced understanding of business (not just your business). Invite them to spend a few hours just focused on your business. Let them know all the numbers so they can tell you directly if you are on the path of potential or if you should shift your focus. Take all ideas as plausible. Don’t discount or discard ideas because they feel small, redundant, or impossible, just listen and capture the options.

Strategic thinking comes from having a bigger understanding of the playing surface (your business) than what is currently visible to you right now. If you could see the way out you would have done it already. Find all options and play with them in your business plan. What have you tried and how can you try it again with a small twist on delivery? What haven’t you tried and how can you make something new in your business? What is the expected outcome of trying something different and is it worth the time, money, and effort? Are you willing and able to step up, because I guarantee that every possible option is going to require you to get a little more uncomfortable than you are right now.

Make the Decision

With understanding and options now available to you the next step is to decide what to do.

Keep the business and make changes OR move on?

To make the right decision you have to know what you want. Yes, what do you want in your life? What are you willing to sacrifice (time, more money, relationships) to make your goals reality? Are you willing to do what it takes? You have the answers so what are you going to do with them? The answer, which ever it is, will not feel comfortable. Again, if it was you would already be doing it. Making changes, giving up more, or closing something down does not feel good, but it should feel right.

If the outcome of your brainstorming was that you should invest a lot more money and you didn’t also define a plan to get that money or you are unwilling to get the money, then closing it down is likely the only option at this point.

If reducing the size and focusing on a niche or smaller market was the option, and you did not define a plan to reduce the size and exactly who and where the niche market is, then this is not a viable option either.

Whatever you decided as the most potential option for keeping your business you must also have created the plan to make it happen. Without that plan you do not have an option.

The key to implementing the plan is that it must be working towards something you desire. Without a desire on your part to make it happen, there is a lack of effort to do the hard things required. Honestly, if it were going to be easy everyone would do it.

The reality is, you are doing the hard work so you can focus on work that feels more like play. With both passion around the work and a desire to fulfill your goals you will have the drive to make it happen. It will not be time to give up.

How to Be The Expert

John Timbrell - Pink Floyd Tribute Band - London 2014

At breakfast this morning with a friend and colleague I heard a confession that was interesting to me. She said, “I worry I don’t have enough expertise to be able to do this.” This was interesting because of all the people that do not have expertise, she was defiantly not one of them. She is well trained and educated. She has certifications and letter behind her name. She has years of experience and still she worries that it is not enough.

In the book “Outliers: The Story Of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell he demonstrates that success is very different than what we think. The typical ‘over night success’ takes years to achieve and that expertise in any one area is similarly a journey of learning and practice. He suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to become an expert in your field.  So the question is then, when is it enough that what you know and are able to do is considered as an expertise? When  do you become an expert?

Take Inventory

Start by simply adding up the amount of time you have been focused on doing what you want to be considered an expert at. If you want to be an expert barista and you work at a cafe for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year it would take you 5 years to reach Malcolm’s 10,000 hour level. If you are an entrepreneur and you are taking certifications and teaching others in a specific field like wellness, you may only get to focus on your expertise 20 hours a week, in which case it will take you 10 years.

Add In The Past

Deciding to focus on one field was likely not a single point in time. I highly doubt you said to yourself one day, “today I’m going to start my journey to become an expert guitar player,” and then go out and buy your first guitar. Expertise is an evolution from your past experiences, your passion, and your abilities. Get a friend to help you look back at your past and see where you have been using your expertise and how you are building on those foundational abilities. My friend at breakfast this morning could not see this for herself, yet she had spent many years as an employee successfully doing exactly what she wants to help entrepreneurs be able to do for themselves.

Never Stop

Experts don’t hit the 10,000 hour mark and stop what they do. Now that you are an expert there is no time for a nap, you have to continue to learn and grow. Experts are not ‘know-it-alls’; they are people that live and breathe their knowledge. Experts don’t bring out their abilities, like party tricks, to show off; they are engulfed in their field of expertise all the time. If you are an expert and you don’t get to simply speak your educated point of view without ridicule then you probably are ready for a new group of people to hang out with. It takes a long time to become an expert and the sharp edge of your experience is dulled by disuse, so don’t stop using your gifts.

Put It On

When you get picked to be in a band and perform for hundreds or thousands of people that want to have you back, you can easily see your expertise. When you work hard to be good at something that only a few people at a time get to experience it is sometimes easy to overlook our expertise. If you have the training and the experience and people tell you how good you are at what you do, maybe it is time to start wearing the title of expert. It won’t feel like it fits immediately so don’t discard it. Call yourself an expert and see how people react. Say it in front of people that know you, so they can help you validate your new title. It will fit soon enough and you will hear people refer to you as the expert at ‘X’. If you don’t believe it first, no one else (except your closest friends or your paid coach) will believe it either. You know you are so what are you waiting for.

Say it. “I am an expert.”

 

Image: John Timbrell has been playing guitar for close to 35 years. He has started and managed several bands, written music, and has had his music recorded and published. In this image he and a friend organize an annual rock concert with four of Canada’s top tribute bands, including his band “Brain Damage“.

Small Begets Small – Breaking the Cycle that Keeps Businesses from Growing

In a recent interview with Canadian Business Magazine I was asked about the challenge why small business growth stalls. What do small businesses do when they find themselves plateauing or stalled? We talked about things you can do to help start the growth again but why not avoid the issue all together?

If the law of attraction is correct, and I believe it is, then what you focus on is attracted to you. If you focus on the issue of running a small business, the challenge of managing more than you have now, the problems of growing when you don’t have any more time or money to do so, what you are attracting to you is more of the same. This small mindset focus begets more small business problems that keep owners from taking the really big steps.

If you want to start seeing a significant positive change in your bottom line you need to make a significant change in how you perceive your business. You have to see it as large. And how do you do that?

Understand your “Tens Times Business”

To ensure you don’t stall on your way to a larger income you need to be prepared to do what needs to get done when you get to what would be a typical level to stall. This has more to do with your psychology then money or time which tend to be the excuse for most of us (me included). When we know what the next step is the cost becomes negligible.

An example is when I decided a few years back that I wanted to host several of small evening events in Toronto to help introduce my skill and process to more business owners. I knew Toronto was expensive to rent locations and the places I wanted to go were going to cost me hundreds of dollars. When I did the calculations I felt the price I would have to charge was going to be too prohibitive. If I had not had the insight to understand what my next step needed to be I might have stopped there.

Because I knew what my business structure and needs were going to be in the future I was ready for what I had to do now. I knew I wanted to engage a location sponsor for these small events. Someone that was aligned with my clients’ needs. When I was at an event and in the company of the Business development director for an international business centre corporation all I had to do was ask. I knew what I needed and why, so the ask became easy and very interesting to them.

If you want to know what your business structure and needs are going to be in the future you need to do the work of the ‘Ten Times Business’. This is looking at your business as if it were ten times larger than it is now. Ten times more clients, more income, more expenses, more employees, more markets… choose a factor and evaluate what you would need to be able to handle it. Ask yourself, “What would I have to do if I had X clients?” X is the number of clients you have right now times ten. If you really think about this what you get is insight into what things you will need in the future, just to grow a little beyond your current ceiling.

Act ‘As If”

This is not the same as “fake it ‘til you make it”, but similar. It is not about faking, it is about changing the way you see yourself and your business. Tell yourself, “this is what it will be like” and it will be believable by both your unconscious, which believes everything is real, and your conscious. If, to be more successful you need to have expert status and you have taken all the courses and got all the accreditation then the next step is to be the expert. If you want to be accepted as an expert, then you first have to believe you are an expert. This is true for any aspect of life. If you want to be accepted as a wealthy business owner then you have to believe you are a wealthy business owner.

There is no faking what you are, so start acting as if you are what you strive to be and you will become it.

Up Your Reference Group Level

If you want to see yourself as an owner of a bigger business start spending time with people that see you as you want to be. Find people that will hold you accountable, stop you from spending too much time in ‘pity mode’, see your best and strongest traits, understand your challenges, and won’t belittle you when you run into a block but instead help you see the way around or through it. You want people that are doing what you want to do and have knowledge and expertise to share with you.

If you are always the smartest person in the group, you have no way of learning and growing. Make sure your group is climbing the ladder of expertise with you. If they are not and they are simply content to be where they are, then you will need to find some more people to help fill this void in your ‘growth’ reference group. Find people that challenge your status quo and make you take uncomfortable action to get you out of where you are and on to where you want to be. Remember, owning a larger business is not the same as owning the business you have right now, it has new challenges that require new thinking so stop thinking small.

Your Message Affects Your Money!

First impressions should make people want to get to know you better.

A TV show I have enjoyed in the past is “What Not To Wear” on TLC. It was a show that had people nominated for a makeover. These people were hoping to do some great things in their life, like be a lawyer, run a global charity, have a successful business, or simply be accepted in the circles they were trying to be a part of. One thing that was common about these people was that they almost all would say, “I don’t want to change, people should like me no matter what I wear.” This is true, except as humans we are programmed to make judgements about situations, events and people to ensure we are safe, comfortable, and connected.

If your business language creates a first impression that screams ‘SHAM’, you say things that make others uncomfortable, or your vocabulary does not attract or appeal to your clients and others you wish to be connected to then it’s time to take a look at what you are saying/writing and make it create the right image for those whom you want to receive your message.

First Impressions

First impressions help us determine if we are going to be safe, comfortable, and feel connected. In the history of our evolution our brains have become wired for the ‘Freeze, Flight, or Fight’ reaction. We see or hear something and we have to evaluate immediately if we were going to be safe. We still have this unconscious reaction to new environments and new people, hence the reason why we still tend to make judgements about people we meet, when we first meet them. Although I would not recommend to anyone to make decisions on a first impression it is still important for you to create an image that makes people willing to connect with you again so a decision or a sale can take place. After all, we don’t purchase from people we don’t trust, so having a language that builds trust, especially on your first contact, is imperative.

First-impression Touchpoints

Where are your first-impression touchpoints? These are the places prospects are likely to experience you for the first time. Is it your website, your Facebook page, at a networking event, a video on YouTube, or an ad in a magazine? What does it say about who you are and what you do? Your first impression about you and your business has to say two things:

  • I am trustworthy, likable, and worth knowing
  • I have something of value that you might want

If you want to know if this is true of your message, have someone from outside your inner circle, preferably a client or prospect, evaluate the language they experience.

  • Do they feel like they would want to connect with you or your business? If so they should be excited to have met you or experienced your message.
  • Is your message clear or is there something missing they expected to find or understand about your or your business? For it to be clear they not only have to understand what you are saying, but must be attracted to your message. If they are not, your language is not targeted to the people you want to attract as clients.
  • Do they know what to do next? If you meet them at a networking event do they know what their next step is to stay connected with you. If they see your message in a magazine is there a clear call to action that they will actually act on? Do they want you to connect with them or do they want to simply have a way to stay connected. You need to know what the best way to continue this new relationship will be and have that message ready too.
  • What can you do for them right now that will also build on the trust? If you give first you will create a comfort level that will open the door for future conversations. Remember to give without expectation of reciprocation. This true gift is a language of its own that speaks directly to our unconscious mind.

Your first impression is not a time for sales, it is a time to start a lasting, positive relationship .You might think, like the nominees of the TV program I mentioned earlier, that people should love you for what you do, but until they know you they need to like you for what they see and hear. Since they really don’t have a lot to go on yet your first contact should be a rich, warm experience full of value. The next time they experience you, like in the email, they will be thankful for knowing you instead of fearful of what you make be asking of them. With trust comes the opportunity to have your conversation around money.

 

Why You Can’t Do It Alone

Since I started my business over 10 years ago I have said “you can start a business on your own but no one can succeed in business alone.” I have always believed this to be true but it has felt obvious. Can it really be that simple? Is the secret to success in the people we spend our time with?

Running your own business can be a lonely job. All the responsibilities are ultimately yours – so point at yourself and say, “The buck stops here.” Sharing your challenges with people that don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of your business are difficult enough, but try sharing a true win. It is surprising how few people will understand the significance of giving up your second, part-time job to put more hours into your business or applaud you when you turn down work so you can stay true to your value. The people you share you successes, issues, and failures with must be able to understand the nuance of the situation and give you valid feedback and support that will help you recover and progress. That is not every person in our lives. In fact it is not most people in our lives. Even those that love us cannot always give unbiased strategy when their fear of loss is much higher than yours. They will want the best for you and may suggest something more stable in their minds, like that ad for a good paying job they just saw in the paper.

Don’t worry, you are not alone with this worry, but you are alone if you don’t do something about it. Here are three insights into the value of surrounding yourself with great people that will help you continue to grow your business with confidence.

Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich

Mr. Hill spent 25 years researching and studying the 500 wealthiest people in North America and from his findings he teaches that the most successful people use something called “Accumulated experience” to increase their individual knowledge and experience level. No one man has the ability to know everything. He cannot learn everything and experience everything to be an expert at everything. “No individual may have great power without availing himself of the “Master Mind.” To be great you must have access to the knowledge and  experience level of an expert. To do this he found that every successful, wealthy business owner had a mastermind group, whether they consciously participated or not, where the members had access to each other’s expertise.

He writes, “The ‘Master Mind’ May be defined as: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of definite purpose.” No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” Meaning, two heads together are better than two on their own.

If you want to achieve something quickly, go gather your mastermind to work through your strategies and develop your plan.

McClelland- Research

There is a statement I’m sure you have heard before. “You are the combination of the 5 people you spend the most amount of time with?” I often wondered if this was just an ‘old wives tale’ and so did a researcher in The States. Thanks to a social psychologist, Dr. McClelland of Harvard we now have some real data to prove the significance of this statement. Dr. McClelland reports, “Your ‘reference group’ determines 95% of your success or failure in life.

They determine the

  • Types of conversations you have
  • Places you visit and hang out
  • Your ability to see opportunity
  • The knowledge you take away from your experiences and learning

Think about it. There are people that talk all day and say very little and there are those that add a single sentence to an idea to solidify the entire concept. If the people you admire and want to spend time with are not the same as the people you are actually spending time with then this may be a limitation for the growth of your business.

Darren Hardy – Mentors

Darren Hardy is one of my favourite successful people that I like to mentor under. I admit that all my mentoring has been from afar as I’ve followed his programs and read his book for years now. That said, one thing I’ve learned and admired about Darren is that he attributes his success in business to the mentors he has had over his life and the people he constantly surrounds himself with.  His learning is accelerated by the depth of experience he has access to. He does not have to re-invent the wheel every time he comes up with a new idea, he simply reaches out to the great people around him.

If you know of Darren then you might be thinking, “well Barb, that’s all good for him, he has had Jim Rohn and John C. Maxwell as mentors and access to Seth Godin, Sir Richard Branson, and likely half of the most successful people in the world. If I had contact with that level of business owner I’d be successful too.” The problem with that way of thinking is that you assume that he had that access first and then he became successful, but that is not the case. He had desire and persistence first and then he found his successes. On his way up the success ladder he continually picked up new connections with people that were farther up the ladder than he.

One of Darren’s quotes says, “Broke people talk about people and problems, Rich people talk about IDEAS & GOALS – Your conversation chooses your destiny.” Surround yourself with the people that will light your ‘wealthy conversation’ language so you can climb the ladder of success, supported by people that will understand your goals and your journey and lend you their expertise to get you there. If you truly want to be successful you cannot do it alone.

More Products from What You Are Doing Right Now!

If you know your pricing is correct then making more money in your business can be achieved two specific ways: sell more or charge more. Charging more is a discussion for another day. Selling more product can seem daunting. What else can I sell? Do I have time to create something new? Do I have the skills needed to do something different? A way to make money in your business is to focus on what you have done or are doing right now. If you have been in business for a few years you likely have previous products and content you may be able to use to create value for your clients on top of, or within, your current offerings. Here are three ideas you can start with.

Past Content

We often create a large amount of content for our clients; like video, audio, and written content, as well as content we have created for our own use inside our company. Here is one example that may give you some ideas of what you could add to your own products.

When I started hosting the Power of Leadership 5 years ago (back when it was called the EClub), I wasn’t thinking about how I would accumulate the recordings of experts and their teachings over the years. Time often gives us a great deal of options that we only see as the single focus. In this case, I saw a monthly 1 hour expert call. When I realized I had over 50 hours of recordings from some of the most successful small business owners in North American I started thinking, “what else can I do with this?” I had recordings stored away and inaccessible to those that really needed it. I had hours of prep work and interviews invested and was still investing and no way to ensure the experts’ brilliance was available in an ongoing way. This made me think about creating something that would be easy to use and valuable to my clients. So I created a product that gave unlimited access to all past and future recordings for $47. It is digital access so I don’t have to monitor it (except to upload new calls) and people can download and listen to any call at any time.

Bundle & Packages

If you have ever given a webinar or online training, you can use some or all of the content created for a new product. In fact, it would be best to create products with the intent of reusing the content for a digital product.

For instance, I gave a 5 week online program call “Profit and Play”. It was a detailed program on business development which included group calls and group coaching. I put the group calls and exercise work into a digital product and offered live group coaching calls to go along with it. I only needed to deliver the content once for the program and then it was delivered via weekly download. I reduced the amount of time I had to put into delivering the program and was still giving people the insight and support they needed to grow their business.

Add Value

Use any past product, part of a product, or content to add value to a new product and entice more sales. You have seen this done very successfully by many experts. When you purchase their new product they add in access to something else.

e.g. Register for my 3-day program by ‘specific-date’ and get immediate access to my ‘X-program’.

You can even use your past content to add to your marketing reach by offering it to someone else’s product launch.

e.g. Purchase my new book today and get $1000 in free gifts. (which includes a gift from you)

If you have physical product sitting on a shelf because it is not selling as it once did, make it a ‘value add’ for your newer products. This helps with current sales and also helps you clear your inventory and balance your accounting. It is much better than having to count the product every year when you do your end-of-year inventory

e.g. Buy two and we’ll through in one of our best selling products at no extra charge.

Now that you have some ideas, get your mastermind group together and brainstorm what else you can be offering to create more money in your business sales right now!

When Success Starts – Don’t Depart

When we start feeling that overwhelm – that churning, aching, anguish we get as humans when things start piling up, we often stop doing the work that has to get done. If the pile is the result of wanted growth then be careful you don’t stop growth from happening by giving up every time it feels like there is too much on your plate.

One of the reasons so few people achieve big success is the commitment required to stay the course when success starts taking hold. Success is not easy. It is not just a lot of work up front and a ride at the end. It is not in your DNA or your inheritance. It is a consistent push every day to do what has to get done; and not just the fun things. Everything – every piece of your business must get handled routinely. There are no exceptions.

Today I want to remind you to stay on track. If you really want to make it, if you truly desire to create a bigger business, then ‘stay the course’; you can do it. Here are three things you can do to help get through those overwhelming times and onto the routine of running a bigger business.

1. Stick to the Plan

If you don’t know where you are going you can end up anywhere. That is why you have a plan for your growth, so don’t forget to use it. Review the plan at least monthly and check to see if you are on track. Are you meeting your deadlines? Do you have what you need to move on? Have you stayed focused on the plan or have you been side-tracked by some other fun / shinning / new idea? The plan defines where you want to be in the future and outlines the path you have identified to get you there. During implementation, you will be able to identify the daily ‘to do’ list from this plan that will get you to the immediate and long-term goals.

2. Do the Work

Do your work; the work you are best at; the work that when you do it you add value to the company. Let others do the work that is not yours. If there is no one else in your business but you then start looking at why you are alone. This may be one of the reasons you are not growing. You will have to hire someone before you are ready to have employees. If you know employees are in your big-business vision then start letting go.

To start the ‘letting go’ process look for the three things you do that do not add value to the company. Look for things that take you a long time to do. Things you are not good at and that you do not love to do. Your ‘Yuck Work’. After you have identified just 3, look for ways to offload that work to a contractor. If that is not possible then find a way to automate the work or systematize it so you don’t have to contemplate the process more than once. Reducing your ‘Yuck Work’ gives you more time to focus on the things that truly add value to your company and will help you grow.

3. Prioritize

Pick three ‘Must Do’ goals each day that must be completed by the end of that day. Evaluate if they are the right goals by asking, “Will completing this goal get me closer to my ultimate goal of growth?” If the answer is no then it is not the ‘Must Do’ goal for that day. If you ask this question and you think, “I have to do three other tasks before I can do this, then this is also not a ‘Must Do’ goal. Put those three immediate tasks on your ‘Must Do’ list for the day and then get the bigger goal tomorrow.

Note – If you complete your three ‘Must Do’ goals feel free to move on to other things that you need to get done.

Being successful is simply doing the work that others give up on when things get overwhelming. Make doing the work part of your routine, stay focused on your goals and ensure that the goals you are working on fit the plan you have for your business. You can do this, I believe in you!

Money – Details – Path – Spend!

It’s funny, people don’t ask me about spending, they tell me “I can’t afford to…” with a belief that someday they will have the money they need to spend. I call it a belief because it usually does not come with a plan. Listen to these statements below and see if any are things you have said before. (add to the list in the comments if you have other examples)

  • By next year I should be able to hire someone.
  • I just have to get through the fall, then I will be able to do that.
  • I need a new computer and a bunch of other things for the business.
  • I can’t afford to travel right now.
  • I need to move out of my office to something bigger.

Of course we have all said something like this. These are the statements that are the beginning of a plan. The difference between someone that does get what they want and someone with the belief they can and never seems to get there, is the plan.  If you have said any statement like these and found yourself saying again for the same reason next year, and the year after, you are missing the plan.

The person with the plan to ‘hire someone next year’ is not simply hoping they have enough money to actually hire someone, they are doing the research, evaluating the job requirements, deciding on what they will actually hire for, determine the costs, creating a strategy to make the money they will need, and identifying the exact time it will be possible to hire if they meet all their deadlines.

So when do you know it is time to spend? A few years back I blew the engine in my 12 year old Subaru. I think the universe was telling me it was time to spend, but I still had to do this work, even when it was a required purchase.

Don’t Have the Money

When you don’t have the money it becomes difficult to do the work, hire, travel, purchase, etc. When I thought about getting a new car or putting a great deal of money into my old car I kept thinking to myself, “next year” or “in the fall” or some other time. Like things were just going to change on their own to make it the right time to put out a large amount of money. It is the same for our businesses. Unless we have specifically earmarked money to spend and we know the plan to make it viable for the business it is just a belief in a future that we would like to see materialize.

When you don’t have the money you need to start by thinking, “How much money do I actually need.” To answer that question it is much more than simply saying ‘a lot’ or ‘a new car’s worth’.

Don’t Know the Details

If you want to know what you have to earn you have to know what you have to spend. This is particularly true if you are also hoping to have a profit in your business. Start with the details of your purchase. Do you know how much it will cost to rent a new office space or purchase that new computer? The ‘real numbers’ not just a range that you think you know based on signs you’ve seen or people you have talked too? I find that my expectation of value are different than my actual need and that affects my estimation of cost.

When I went to purchase two computers for my office I found that one was $1,000 more than I expected and the other was actually a little less than I expected. What I needed, what I wanted, and what I could afford were all different. I had a plan to purchase the computers with an estimation based on what I saw in flyers. Computers for business require different software, different setup, and different support, plus the work to transfer what I had to my new system. If I had made a plan I would not have been surprised. I would have had the money I needed and I would have known what I had to do to make it happen without stress or issue. As it was, I got only what I needed and had to give up some of my wants on one computer to get pay for the extra cost of the other. My belief was not my reality and it cost me time and money, and added stress to my purchase.

If you want to grow your business do the research long before it is time to buy. Know what you need, where to get it, what you must have, and what you can do without so that when you are ready you can simply step into that next level of your business without surprises in cost, time or stress.

Don’t Have the Path

What do you need to sell? What level of business must you be at? What is your plan to pay back debt (if that is a factor) and what do you expect to spend? Now that you know the exact numbers you can make a plan. If you need to spend $1,200 within the next 12 months then start putting away $120 per month inside your business to make it happen. That is on top of all your debt repayments, weekly, monthly, and yearly expenses, and your paycheque. If you need to $50,000 investment within the next 12 months then the same equation applies. If you do not have that type of money coming into your business then this is where your plan would include new strategies to create money or get new investment. The money does not come at the expense of your current payments, it must come as an addition to them.

Spend

Now it is time to spend. When you get to this moment, defined in your plan, it will not feel like you are being extravagant. You will not feel like you have to continually justify your purchase. It will feel like this is what you planned for. This is the next step in your business. This is how you will earn more money, make more income, create more profit, and serve more people. We all have to invest in our businesses. Every time we want to grow we have to invest. If you have a plan then your purchases will be investments aligned with your growth strategies. Don’t just buy, buy, buy because you see a need and don’t just kept putting off investment because you never see the path, create your plan to spend and invest wisely in your business’s next steps.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Business Coach

Really, there are some significant reasons not to hire a business coach. That is not to say you should not hire an expert to help you with different aspects of your business, because you should. Never, in the history of mankind has anyone become successful without training, help, and support of others.

So want am I suggesting then? That there are key differences between a business coach and a business strategist. On the surface they look very similar.

What is the Difference?

Below is a graphic to highlight three key differences between a business coach and a business strategist.

Three key differences between a coach and a strategist The key here is the training. In coach training, coaches-to-be are told they are not required to ‘be’ the expert. They are there to help you identify what you need to do next, to get you unstuck and moving forward. Coaches ask powerful questions to create this movement for you but what you don’t know is what you don’t know and they are not there to teach, suggest or recommend business ideas.

Many people that call themselves a business coach are experts and may even be business strategists. Here are 5 questions you can use to find out if the person you want to hire is the expert you need.

How to Find a Qualified Business Strategist

  1. Do they have experience?   In the aspect of business that you are focused on and hiring for, does the business coach you are looking at have the experience you need? For example, if you are looking for growth in your market, does the business coach understand your target market, pricing strategies, industry trends, etc.?
  2. Ask them who their ideal client is.    Are their clients retail stores, large corporations, or small businesses in service industries? Are their clients new business or established? These all required different knowledge and experience to be considered an expert.
  3. What are your clients’ results?    Ask for testimonials and get some hard numbers. If they are experts at marketing ask about the return on investment (ROI) their clients got from implementing a plan they helped them with. The ROI could be dollars, new clients, hits on their website, new prospects, etc.
  4. How many years have you been doing this?    Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes around 10,000 hours of doing the work and improving over time to become an expert at anything. How long have they been focusing on business development.
  5. Do they have training and are they constantly being trained? This is where coach training, or teaching certifications and a mindset of a life-long learning are important. Just because someone has been a successful business owner does not make them a great teacher, coach, or mentor. There is a lot of skill required to be able to not only bring current, up-to-date business expertise to the table but to also ensure that they do not override the client’s agenda. It is your business after all and they have to understand what you want to do, teach what matches and make powerful suggestions on things that may not.

Like an athlete, having a coach to train with necessary. It is important that you get the expert that knows your ‘sport’ well enough to train you to win. When you finalize your relationship you should be sure you are getting the expertise you need to do more than you are able to do now and not just any business coach.


 

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