What Else Do You Need To Learn?

Books in a school library

Your Learning Curve

Does it ever feel like you have spent so much time learning, reading, attending classes, conferences, or online programs, working with experts or coaches, and filling up your knowledge bank that you could be full? What is there left to learn when you have learned so much?

Learning isn’t an On/Off switch. You don’t learn something new and suddenly you are an expert. This is the challenge with learning because so much of it feels like we have already done it. Sometimes we can even be thinking to ourselves, “I’ve already learned this, why can’t I make ‘it’ work the way it is supposed to?”

Learning is also not just about the ‘What’. It is about the how, when, where, how much, who, and why. Learning requires knowing the answers to everything around any one topic that you wish to be an expert in. Maybe ‘it’ hasn’t work for you because there is something about yourself you do not know or understand yet.

I have found that when I feel completely confident in my expertise at something I have accomplished several areas of learning. What I also know is that even with 20 years’ experience at something, there is always room for new knowledge on my topic of expertise. Let me elaborate using my expertise as a technical writer and secondly as a small business strategist.

Mastering My First Competency

My background in technology and my education gave me the foundation for my career as a technical writer.

  • I started in a high-tech company learning how to operate the equipment we were manufacturing. I had to know all aspects of the equipment to to help others be able to use it but I did not have any experience creating manuals. Email was new to business and most of my instructions were done via fax.
  • I was asked to help with some internal documentation and another person with experience using MS Word showed me some of the steps for using the software.
  • I was asked to use my knowledge about the equipment and MS Word to create the instructions for a service manual.
  • After the manual was published I was asked to write all the internal work instructions, build procedures and quality procedures. I created templates based on standards. I now had the title of technical writer, but I didn’t feel like a tech writer. I didn’t know the industry or what experts in this industry needed to know to be experts.
  • I attended conferences, continued to write, asked questions of experts on list-serv communities, and joined an association for technical writers so I could be connected to the industry and the masters.

After many successes, I got to a point where I could answer all the questions my clients had around what was needed, how much it would cost, how long it would take, who was doing the work, when could we start, etc. I saw myself as an expert.

Small Business Strategist

With my background and connections in small business and my own experience owning a small business that did technical writing I found I had a great deal of knowledge and interest in the support of small business owners.

  • I was volunteering to help small business owners because there was a need and people asked for my help.
  • I got certifications, read, worked with other experts, attended conferences and hired coaches to work on myself and the tools I could use to work with my clients.
  • I surrounded myself with experts, mentors, and other business owners so I would have continuous access to the ideas, insights, and mentality of the people I wanted to be expert at helping.
  • I invested in industry information and researched the small business industry.
  • I worked with small business owners as often as I could, as clients, in networking, or through volunteering.

It wasn’t until I say with certainty what I was able to do for my clients and know it was possible that I felt like the expert.

My Learning Curve

What steps do the learning of my two expertise have in common?

  • Start with the fundamentals I leaned in school, growing up, and other experiences.
  • Outside people needed me for my current skills
  • I got more skills
  • I spent time with others that were masters
  • I researched the industry and became more knowledgeable
  • I practiced the craft at every level, continuously.

I’m sure your learning takes a similar path each time you mastered something new.

Your Learning Curve

If you want to figure out why you cannot master something take a look at two things that you are very good at. Two things you can do better than other people. Then think back to when you were not good at them and look at how you learned it, what you felt, when did you start becoming competent and what you had to do to get to the place where you could do the work without having to actually think about how it would work for you. You will likely discover a pattern in the way you learn. You can use that patter to determine what you have not done to get you to where you need to be on your learning curve.

Finally – it is important to understand that 100 years ago a person would get an education and not much would change over their lifespan. Their knowledge level did not need to change much to be successful at what they did in life. Now we learn something and 5 years later someone else has come up with a disruptive invention to replace the program or technology we learned and our knowledge becomes obsolete. If you are not learning you are falling behind and you will not be able to sustain the level of excellence and thus the lifestyle you were originally schooled to live.

What else do you need to learn? Why everything of course. Don’t stop. Remember, school only provides you with the fundamentals of your calling – it is experience and the investment in further knowledge that gives you the mastery.

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.

 

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!

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.


 

Discover what working with a Business Strategist may be like for you.

Sign up for a Level Up Strategy Session – Identify your next steps.

Create More Income in Mid-Summer Doldrums

Unless your business is a ‘summer seasonal’ business, you may be like many of us where sales are down over the summer. I think it is especially difficult in places where the winters are harsh and the summers short. Where I live (in a snow belt) we get long, cold winters with a lot of snow. This summer we have had incredible weather and no one wants to be inside. For those businesses that sell to other businesses it can actually affect the bottom line.

Yesterday I was talking with a client about her June/July sales which are down over last year. After looking at all the possibilities that can affect sales we thought one of the most likely causes is that her clients (massage therapists) are not seeing as many clients themselves because of the beautiful weather and hence not using as much product. After all, with the Canadian dollar disparity and a looming price increase, they should be purchasing more right now.

If you are having a usual or unusual slowdown in the summer (or another time of the year) here are three things you can do to create more income in your business to drive more sales.

Big Sale sign in red over white background

1. Sale

Have a sale. This is a great time to let your customers and past clients know they can purchase your service or products for a short time at a really great price. It will allow you to reconnect with past clients and get your brand in front of people that have not bought from you before. This may be the opportunity some people have been waiting for to get the product or package they want. Remember that your sale price should not be less than your cost, unless it is a ‘lost leader’ meant to bring in more customers to purchase other ‘on sale’ products.

2. Unique Offering

Offer something you never sell as a one-time purchase. For instance try these unique offerings:

  1. Pair up with another business to give a ‘2-fer’ – two great purchases for one great price. Pair up with someone that offers a product or service your clients would love to have but that you do not offer (e.g. Reiki and massage / weight loss and supplements / coaching and marketing assessment). Remember, you still need to both be making money.
  2. My VA offers a summer ‘try me’ package that gives a month of her time on a trial price (50% off her regular). Believe me once you have someone doing the work for you as a consumer you are likely to continue to purchase. If you do the work for your clients try this last idea out.
  3. I have a client that loves to offer a 10% discount at a local health food store when people come through her nutritional programs. The big win for the health food store is they get new clients in the door and my client looks generous being able to get her clients this discount on food they will need for their new lifestyle.

3. Bonus

Add in something that has great value but costs you little or no additional time or money.  If you have a product that can be downloaded (a program that teaches or relaxes or energizes, etc.) you can add it to any other offering for a short period of time. Remember, it must have true value, not just your ‘free offer’.

Something else I have tried is giving clients access to a personality assessment which I purchase in bulk. This does cost me a little, but it is nominal since I purchase in bulk and it has great value to help my clients understand their marketing language, marketing archetype, or fascination value – all of which makes them better able to cope with the leadership requirements of business ownership. It also gives us language to use when we are working together so we both have a better understanding of what they need to do next for their business’s strategic growth.

Don’t let summer (or any seasonal lull) stop you from making money. Keep your clients happy, keep them coming back, keep them in-the-loop with your offering by making it more desirable to purchase right now.

As for my client with the June/July dip in sales, she has decided to offer her loyal customers one last opportunity to purchase at a lower price after she raises her prices to cover the import costs. After all, who wouldn’t want to stock up before they have to pay more?

 

Getting Your Pricing Right – 3 Key Points

Do you ever feel like you are either under or over charging for you are delivering? How about the feeling of not being completely sure what to deliver – is that an issue too? Getting your pricing right has a lot to do with what you deliver and the value it provides.

This past weekend I worked with a client that is not new to business but is new to this current business. She has incredible transformational skills that are highly valued by her clients. The challenge is she felt she was constantly giving more time than she was charging for and she could not see how she could charge more for what she was delivering.

Your Ideal Client

Knowing your ideal client will always make it easier to sell your value. In a discussion today with a business owner (let’s call her Beth) that sells personal care products, that are organic and healthy, Beth talked about how many people asked, “why would I buy your product when I can get the same product at Walmart for 1/4 the price?” Those questions don’t bother her any longer because Beth knows her client is the mother with a child that cannot tolerate additives, scents, gluten, etc., that are the cheaper way of making the products sold for less. Her ideal client needed what she has and is excited to find it both locally manufactured and sold, even at a higher price.

What is the Result/Benefit?

Our clients don’t buy for features, they buy for the results it will give them. This is why it is so important to understand who your ideal client is. By knowing who they are you can also know what they value most. Is it more time to be with their family, less stress around managing a business, or healthier kids that don’t need prescriptions? Whatever it is, it will be something that closely affects the happiness and enjoyment of their lives. Your product or service needs to speak to their needs. It must provide a benefit that solves their issues. If you don’t know what that is, ask your best clients what it is they get from you.

For Beth it is not the product she is selling, it is the health of a mother’s child which in turn gives them the ability to do better in school and live a happier more productive life. Beth knows that a child with sensitivities or allergies cannot easily focus in school and they start acting out or falling behind. Beth also knows that having toothpaste, hand cream, or cleansers that don’t aggravate or trigger her child is absolutely invaluable when her client’s child comes home with an ‘A’ in school.

Always know your ideal client’s needed results so you can sell the benefits and not the features.

Your Own Value First

You must be able to truly believe that what you are charging is of great value. That you are giving something that is going to do what you say it will do and you must know the cost in hours and expenses. This helps determine your pricing.

In the case of my transformational client from this past weekend, she was offering a choice of two coaching packages: 3-month or 6-month, where the 6-month was twice the price of the 3-month. So what is the value of purchasing 2x more time with her? There was nothing that she knew her clients needed that would be defined by spending twice the time with her. So what did they actually get? It turned out that her best clients usually started with a focused session that identified their blocks. They actually left this first visit feeling better. The remaining time is how she locked in their transformation, went to the deeper blocks, and kept them continually feeling better. Her problem was she felt guilty about giving them 2+ hours for the first visit because she was not charging them for it and she did not want to increase the price because she did not know the value (or at least she could not define the value in terms of benefits and results).

Without changing her hourly rate we re-evaluated her product delivery and benefits and came up with a product that met her ideal client’s needs, gave them measurable results, and was priced to cover her costs, both in time and in expenses. It did not feel more expensive. It was actually easier to sell as she could speak directly to the transformation and the time it would take. She could stand behind her offering and really make a difference. It made selling more like an invitation for her clients to feel better and be more productive.

By knowing her ideal client and their needs she could create a product with lots of value that gave the results they were seeking. She could now easily charge what she was worth.

Being congruent with your value first will allow you to be valued by others and will make you more competitive. Charging what you think people will pay will not. Don’t let an industry, a mentor, or a potential client tell you what to charge. Do the research and the math and make your numbers represent the actual value. It will be worth your time.

Doing the Work is Your Obligation – More Fun, Focus, Passion, Sales, and Success

My friend Satya Kalra of Path to Anandam says, “Focus on work, not just on the fruits of work”. I didn’t get it originally. Of course I thought it was a logical statement but I didn’t truly import the context of what it meant to me. Doing what I love does not feel like work and everything else just needs to get done – it is work – it is a responsibility – it is time consuming – it is my obligation to my business. Of course I would do the work.

Recently I realized that I would be racing through my obligations unconsciously. “Just get it done. ” “Work Now – Play Later”, I would tell my kids and myself. But what does this mean for my business – or yours if you are like me?

Less Fun – When things have to get done and you are always looking to the future for the next fun thing you are not living in the moment.

  • Remember when you where an employee? Just get through Monday and you’ll be fine. ‘Hump Day’ we’re half way there. Can’t wait for Friday to finish work.
  • What about being a parent? You can’t wait until they are out of diapers. Soon they will be able to make their own lunches. If they could only drive themselves…
  • And in business! You hate the admin work because you have to sit in front of your computer for hours. Calling is so stressful.

Schedule time to do the workLess Focus – When the work is not part of your whole day and it feels segregated from the fun, you find yourself more distracted and procrastination seeps in.

  • Have you ever found yourself in front of the fridge. You’re not hungry, your just there thinking about things you could be doing.
  • Has a Facebook post ever led you to view something else and an hour later you remember you were in the middle of doing something important?

Less Passion – sometimes the work we don’t enjoy as much outweighs the work we love to do. It can feel overwhelming and under appealing. You might have even thought, “Where is the joy in my business when all I do is tedious, time consuming, and frustrating for me.”

Less Sales – Here is a statement I hear way too often, “I don’t have time to grow my business.” I see so many business owners doing so much of the work they hate. if offloaded to someone that loved the work, was an expert, and likely did it faster and better, they would have time to create more in their business. Is this you too?

Less Success – What is success to you? If it is doing a lot of what you hate and not growing then you are there. Likely this is not the case. Having a business with systems that allows you to enjoy more of what you love, feel great about doing what you must, and staying focused more of the time will increase your sales and allow you to create more (like hiring, adding new markets, increasing your reach, etc.)

If more sales are what you are expecting for 2015 then knowing how to do all the work with joy is important. When I worked unconsciously I  missed out on the time I did the work. I gave up part of my daily life to do the ‘work’. It showed through on my interaction with potential clients and my sales numbers. I felt the burden of this stress in most days. Doing all the easy stuff does not grow the business and doing all the hard work is not enjoyable. I found myself asking,” where is the fun I thought I would have running my own business?”

This was not an easy transformation for me. I spent much of 2014 focused on what I was missing so I could make the changes that would see me more successful for 2015. Finding what your missing when it is not a ‘thing’ takes a lot of soul searching and some incredibly attuned experts to with insight and skills I did not have. I could not have done this alone. AND THE RESULTS? … I made more in 5 weeks at the end of 2014 then I would normally make in 3 months and this year is starting off with a bang. I’ve sold three months worth of strategy days in one week, plus I had 3 unsolicited invitations to speak. There was no pushing, no anguish, no fret, and no ‘work’. I just ‘did’ and it happened. In fact ‘work’ is no longer a ‘4-letter word’ with negative connotations, it is simply my obligation to living my life with joy.

Are you up for more joy this year?


More Success for Cindy Ashton

Creating a Successful 2015 – 3 Important Keys to Growth

Are you looking to create a more successful year in 2015? What are you planning on doing different?

If you want something different to happen you must do something different and this is often the challenge of creating more. Different sometimes means ‘more of the same’, but often that is not possible. The challenge with growing a business is usually that we get to a place in our business where we are so busy, and we are so invested that we have no more time and no more money to do ‘more of the same’.

Creating a more successful business takes doing something new. Doing something new is almost like starting a new business. There is new development, implementation, marketing, operations, costs, and customer support. You wouldn’t start a new business without a plan so don’t start a new year with a new focus and no plan.

1. What are You Creating?

Doing what you do

Be very clear about what you are planning on implementing. If growth simply means taking on 5 new clients per month doing what you currently do, then first you need to evaluate if:

  • what you do is selling well enough now to be able to sell more
  • you have enough time to service 5 more clients running the way you currently do
  • you will need the same, more, or different marketing to reach 5 more clients

You may need to change your product, hire someone to manage other things in your business or create a new marketing campaign to be able to attract and handle 5 new clients.

Planning for an increase in sales may take shifting your resources and adding more or new duties. Look at all aspect of your business evaluation and determine where you need to make changes.

Doing something new

If growth means creating a new product or service, reaching a new target market, opening a new branch, selling franchises, or licensing your business model then you have a much bigger plan to make. Don’t skip making a plan just because you have done this before. Success requires knowledge of the endpoint and a grasp of what it will take to get there.

Where to start

Start with the end. Where do you plan on ending? What does your ending point look like? Be specific. Do you plan on creating a new service? Describing the product is likely the easy part. You already have this as it was the vision you had seen when you first thought of growth. But don’t stop at ‘I want to create a new program and it will have 5 levels and take 9 weeks.’ You need to know everything about it.

  1. What will it cost me to run this program (in time)
  2. What will it cost my business to manage this program
  3. How many new clients do I need to cover the cost of creating this new program
  4. How many clients do I need to breakeven on the cost of the program
  5. What will it take to attract these new clients
  6. What other resources do I need (new website, more help, investment, etc.)

2. What is the Plan?

Figuring out how to get your business working should not be left as a surprise for the end of the year. If you set something in motion you should know the outcome and if it is not what you expect you should make changes along the way. Don’t just make your plan and hope you get what you expect to get next New Year’s Eve.

Man surprised at what he was not expecting

Now that you know what the end looks like work backwards.

  1. If you know it will cost you an extra 15 hours a month to run the program, book 15 hours a month for the program in your calendar right now. Figure out when you will offer the programs and make it real.
  2. If running the programs does not cost you any extra money then great, otherwise, figure out how you will pay for that cost when you don’t have any clients. If you cannot afford it (e.g. you have a manufacturing process that must be developed and optimized) then look for other ways you can pay for it (investment, loan, pre-sale deposits, other income) while you build up your sales.
  3. Determine how you will pay for the creation of the new product. My favourite way to launch a new product is to offer it at a reduced price for a short period of time to the people that already love you. Getting your clients to pay you a little to  create something new is a win-win. You get to start, they get to learn, you get feedback, they get support.
  4. If it will cost you more to support this new number of clients than you can afford in time and income, you need to evaluate what you are charging. Know what your time is worth and how much of it you need to get paid for (not your company, but you).
  5. Look at your current marketing. Is there any way you can get more clients from what you are currently doing? It is more likely that you will need to add a marketing channel or invest more time into your current channels. If your new product is a service or a program delivered by you, the best way to get new clients is to get out speaking. If you get your marketing right, you should have the clients you need at your product launch. This will help with the cost to launch a new product.
  6. Know the cost of everything (in time and money). Don’t dismiss a cost just because it only took you an hour. One hour here – 15 minutes there – a week later on. Everything you do will add up and when you don’t know your costs you won’t understand why you have no time or why you are so overwhelmed and it may lead to a failure to launch.

3. What are the Steps?

Doing the work of your business is never a ‘One-off’ event. Everything you do leads into the next event, launch, sale, program start, etc. There must be a continuous process in place with timelines for each event, all the pre-event work that must be done, and all the post-event follow-up booked to be complete. Start with a marketing calendar, it will illuminate the steps and uncover the work that needs to be completed.

For example, let’s assume you plan on launching a new 5-level program on Monday June 1, 2015. It will take 3 months to deliver with 3 hours per week delivery time and 2 hours a week prep-work. You will deliver it 3 out of 4 weeks per month over the three months for a total of 9 weeks (at 15 hours per week).

  • Start at June 1 and put your program delivery times into your calendar.
  • Put your prep time into your calendar
  • Add follow-up time for the week (or more) following the program. Remember to ask for testimonials while you are following up.
  • Add up your new expenses.
  • What are you going to charge?
  • Define your expected sales income.
  • Now work backwards.
    • What is the last date someone can sign up for the program?
    • What events will you host to fill your program? Remember you will need to know your conversion rate for any specific type of event to know how many you will need to do to fill the program.
    • What do you have to do to invite people to the pre-events
    • Where else will you tell people about your program (website, flyers, business cards, ads, Google, networking). Book time and other resource now to ensure these channels get set up early so you are not challenged with technical work when you are trying to focus on inviting.
  • And work forwards
    • What is the next program this will lead into? Make sure that it is in your calendar so while you deliver this program you are talking about the next step up. (The best time to convert a past client into another sale is when they are totally loving what you do and they are seeing the results of working with you.)

Every sale, every launch, every networking event, every speaking engagement, etc. is an invitation to a program or next event you are hosting. It is a constant process of filling your programs through your marketing channels. Fill your calendar with your marketing plan so you can fill your programs with new clients.

 

Free Can Get You More Sales

Recently I have had several clients developing software applications and mobile apps. I’ve been in the software industry and software implementation in one form or another for over 2 decades so I’ve seen a lot of different models for development and product roll-out. The software I see and use seems to have a very different way of reaching their market: It starts with free.

I’m just taking serious note of it as I have had some friends create a new software program that has some potential for great value and they want to ask $420 a year to use it. When I tested the software and found several bugs and functionality issues I came to the conclusion that although they have something, it is not ready, in my opinion, to be a full offering. Here are a few things I think they have missed with this roll-out of their product, that apply to most businesses and some suggestions I think would gain them more clients up front and potential investors to create the full premium version of the software.

Start with Free

The best way to get people using your product is to offer some portion of it for free. The “Free for Use – Pay for Premium” model is used a lot for some of the biggest and best loved software applications right now. In the software industry it is almost expected. Here are some examples of software programs that have ‘Free for Use’ components and ‘Pay for Premium’ profit models.

Facebook.com and Google.com

Get connected, start relationships, and build a following for free. When you are ready to be in front of your target market on other pages they visit you can pay for ads. I would say Google is the granddaddy of this business model to the scale they have created. For years the founders of Google did not even want to charge. Their investors kept asking, “how are we going to make money if we didn’t charge?”

Well that all worked out for them, the users and the investors, didn’t it?

Hightail.com, Dropbox.com and Anymeeting.com

Hightail (formerly YouSendIt.com), Dropbox, and Anymeeting are all online support software packages that can be used for free. They are completely functional and provide amazing support to a certain level for free. Their profit model comes when people need more.

Hightail will send large files for free. If you want to track the downloads, keep records of your messages, brand your emails, or send extra-large files you can purchase one of their premium packages.

The same applies to Dropbox and Anymeeting. Dropbox is a cloud storage location and Anymeeting is for webinars. Want more storage… Want to record your webinar or host larger groups… that’s when they charge.

TheLadders.com

I admit, I have never used this website but I do know a great deal about it because it was the focus of a book by Bill Murphy (The Intelligent Entrepreneur). I know that they rolled out their software and enticed as many people as possible to use the software for free. Then they transitioned to a paid model.

Here is one way you may be able to use free to get more sales.

  1. Give the software for free to get a large user base
  2. Use the feedback to streamline the product for optimal value for your clients.
  3. Evaluate how clients use the software to create a plan for a premium product.
  4. Leverage the numbers of your current user base to get outside investment.
  5. Use the investment to create a paid segment of your product that answers needs not fulfilled by the free version.
  6. Roll-out the paid product marketing to your current clients first.
  7. Create a marketing campaign to reach new clients and give your current clients bonuses for bringing in new clients.

If you can give something of value to start a relationship with your target market then think about giving all or some of it for free to get more sales later on. It may be the first step to your multi-million dollar enterprise.

3 – 2 – 1 – September! No More Compromises

No More Compromises!” This is what my client said to me this morning. I kicked her butt in gear and she now refuses to compromise on her value, her time, or any other part of her life. She is a powerful leader/celebrity and she’s now leaning in to her purpose.

We can be seen as an amazing, powerful, confident, leader and still not feel valued. If you have ever said this (and meant it) “I can help anyone…” then this may be you.

If you are still looking for ‘anyone’ then you are not valuing your worth. What I mean is, you will spend more time and make less money, help less people and give lower value to your clients with this attitude.

Do you want to stop? Do you want to not only be seen as an amazing, powerful, confident, leader but also live a wealthy, giving, abundant life? Look at these two aspects of your business for clues to changing your business attitude.

Stop sign that says GO

Pricing

If your pricing and products are confusing to your clients it makes it hard for them to make a buying decision. Take for instance a client of mine. Let’s call her Sheila (not her real name). Sheila had a booking page with more than 20 service options, all about the same price but each slightly different. When we evaluated the differences we found that people could not make a decision because they didn’t know what they needed. After all, Sheila is the expert and she will need to tell them what they need most.

Sheila had tried packages, but what they became was a few extra options on the same page – 22 options and still no clear reason to purchase.

The key was to find what all the options had in common. What does she offer to every client at every session? That is the start of all her packages. That is the key to finding a person’s need and then getting them into the perfect support. Sheila found the key and then created three levels of options that did not confuse people about what she was offering. She found their need and then gave them the option that addressed the solution.

That very week she got her first $2000 client (a package that was 13x more than her hourly rate). She didn’t even change her pricing, she just made it easier to buy.

Time

  • Answers the phone at the dinner table,
  • Can’t say no,
  • Feels jaded and angry about volunteer time,
  • Wants to make more money when there is no more time.

Do you know someone like this? Is this you?  Your time is the one resource you cannot earn more of. You get X amount and that is it. So why, when time is so precious, do we often find ourselves wasting it?

If you say, ‘No More Compromises‘ to your time then try these tips:

Time to Respond

Give yourself time to respond to voicemail and email. Set time every day when you will answer calls and check messages. If you are afraid of missing a client, make sure you voicemail is very specific when they can reach you and how. I recommend adding a note your voicemail letting clients know they can email you to  schedule a time to talk. Use your CallerID to answer urgent calls and let everything else go to voicemail when it comes in during times you are trying to do other work.

Think about how this works. If you call a client back and say, “Thanks for letting me call you back, I was right in the middle of helping another customer…” how will that person feel? They will feel like you will give them the attention they deserve when you are working for them.

Time to Volunteer

Make sure you have the time you promise to give. If you don’t you can become very jaded and angry. It will feel like people are using you. I had a client with a video production company. He volunteered for a local charity to create a video for them. He then did a flash-mob video for them. He was then asked to do another project. He was so angry. When I asked him why he said, “Don’t they know how much time this takes and how much time I’ve already given them?”

“I don’t know”, I responded, “do they know?”

It turned out he had never sent them an invoice. It could have been for ‘in-kind’ donation or zeroed-out invoice to show the value of what he had given them. They need to know so they can value your time. This will not add any cost to the charity’s bottom line but it did add value to his gifted time and his self-worth.

We are quickly coming up to the final quarter of 2014. For me, my fiscal year ends September 30 so I am almost complete. Are you going to be able to finish the year saying, “I made big changes that allowed me to help more people, reach more customers, and create a bigger life for me and my family,” or not? No More Compromises! Make your pricing easy to understand and give your time wisely so you can honestly say, “I’ve created something amazing, I get to do more and I’m better off for it.”