What You Have That The Government Does Not

view of field of flowers through chain link fence

Freedom to Grow

I believe in government as a necessity to ensure things happen for a large group of people. In fact I live in a country where government is a big part of our lives (more than 50% of our income goes to taxes) and we get to say we live in the best country in the world measured on many different metrics.

I have also been fortunate not to have worked in the government. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. A “cushy” government job is a dream of so many people. My husband does have a government job and he is thrilled. But as an entrepreneur I am looking for different freedom than is offered inside a large bureaucracy.

You Know Who

The Government works for the people. But who are the people? The government does not have a target market. They do what every entrepreneur is taught not to do; they say, “I work for everyone.” (Everyone in the country, everyone in the province/state/city/etc.) The problem is, even in government you cannot work for everyone. They don’t even work for the majority on any issue. Finding a balance between what needs to work to run a country and what people want is always a challenge. Being a political leader has to be one of the most difficult jobs around. Less than half the people like you because your vision and goals for the future don’t align.

In business we focus on our core target market. We know who we are supporting with our products and services. We understand what they need and why they buy. We know who our suppliers are and what their biggest challenges are. We are close to our issues and the solutions. Everything is more personal. We know these things because if we didn’t we wouldn’t be in business.

The government is in business because it has to be. We are in business because we choose to be.

The Green-Light Manager

Approximately 92,000 people work for the Ontario government. If one person finds an issue, has some feedback, wants to change a process, sees an inconsistency, etc. how loud does their voice have to be to get heard? There are processes that are meant to handle this very question, but who knows about them? Usually not the person wanting to bring the change. Often not the people they would ask for help to get the answers. Great ideas are so often lost in a bureaucracy. The mindset of management (in any setting, not just government) is to err on the side of safety, meaning they would rather throw out a good idea then be responsible for giving the “green light” to a bad idea. Since it is not management’s job in government to bring change, it is to make the status quo work smoothly, listening to new ideas is not even an option for most managers. The voice of the least person in government usually goes unheard, and they often have the best view of the issues that are hard to fix.

In our business we can see all the moving parts. We have access to all the people that have the different perspectives. We can be open to new ideas because we are the ‘green-light manager’. We can say yes to change and we should because we are small enough to be able to make change happen when we need.

We are not caged, like in the government, to only do the status quo. We are free to grow, add, change, and stop what we are doing.

No Cement Shoes

The money invested in ideas is accountable to everyone when you work in government. When you answer to everyone, you need to be more sure of everything. Once a plan is put in place, there is no going back, or at least not without major controversy. Some years ago my government placed an order for new planes for the military. We are not a military-focused country so as soon as the government changed, the order was cancelled. The cancellation fee cost the tax payer billions of dollars. Thank goodness this does not happen often. The reason it doesn’t is because of the “cement shoes”. Once a plan is put into works, it is like everyone involved is standing in fresh cement. They cannot leave without ruining the concrete plan, but they don’t want to stay because the plan doesn’t look right to them. There is no going back.

The money invested in ideas for your business is accountable to you and your investors. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan to stay the course, but with a smaller size business, there is more room to pivot. The weight of the ‘cement shoes’ is less and the cost of change is less. In fact, it is possible to build change into the plan initially to be able to make the changes needed, when they are needed, at a cost that is not prohibitive.

I almost got myself elected to a municipal Councillors position a few years back. I do want to make a difference and I love my city, but I am very thankful I did not get in because I don’t think I could make the impact I wanted with the tools available to anyone working in the government. I can do more from inside my business and so can you.

Remember as you grow, look for the areas in your business where you may lose sight of your entrepreneurial spirit. As you build your systems to manage a bigger business, don’t let bureaucracy sneak in and block you from doing the work you first intended to do. As you bring on new people, don’t let your size stop you from getting the perspective of everyone on your team. After all they are your brand managers (all of them) and they can make your business look successful or they can make it feel broken. You have this ability and the government, which runs one of the most successful countries in the world, does not. Take advantage of it.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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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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?