Barb Stuhlemmer

Make Your Business Work for You

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I was having lunch with my ex-accountant some years ago. We were talking about business owners and how difficult it was to run a business on your own when she came out with a statement I found surprising. She said to me, “you know Barb how it is as a ‘solo-preneur’? If you are not putting in 80 hours a week you are not working hard enough. I cannot believe how many business owners feel they don’t have to work and then whine about not having a successful business.”

Now I do know the type of business owner she may have been referring to; the one that does not put in their 110% to the business initially and still expects to have a 6-figure business or better. That is probably not a good combination. What surprised me was to know that after 10+ years in business herself, she was still working 80 hours a week.

I’m a firm believer that if you structure your business correctly and put the effort in to growing it in a reasonable and responsible manner then you should get to a point where the business is working for you and not the other way around.

This doesn’t mean I do not put in an 80 hour work week on occasion, but it does mean that it is an occasion that causes me to have to put in an 80 hour work week. I work hard to build a business that will eventually only require me to do the one or two things that are my passion and life’s purpose and all other tasks and positions within the company will be looked after by someone or something else.

Here are three key points to having a business that will give you time to spend with your friends and family doing the things you want to do. I guarantee you have heard them all before but I want you to think about how you can implement at least one point from each of these three areas right now and see what it does to free up your time.

1.   Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going how you will know when you get there.”  I don’t know who originally coined this phrase but I do know that it is absolutely true. You need a vision of what your business is going to look like when you are not doing all the work.

The Big Goal

Envision the final product (Your Big Goal). You need to know what it looks like so you can start building the plan.

Exercise: Pretend you have all the resources available to you and you could afford it. Now what does your business would look like if you had all the people you needed to do everything except the one or two pieces you want to look after yourself? Write it down or draw a picture of it. Make it as real as possible. The more you accept that as the reality of your future the more you will believe that that is where you are going and the easier it will be to get there. This is like getting buy-in from yourself to pursue the dream.

A great resource for building your business brand from your vision is the E-Myth Mastery by Michael E. Gerber.

Incremental Goals

Incremental goals must be in place for the big goal to be achieved. For example the Big Goal may be to have a website that you can run your business from. Some of the incremental goals may be to build a website using WordPress, tie in social media modules, get a shopping cart, create products to go on your website, set up a shipping alliance for your product delivery, etc.


Break down the goals into manageable steps and tasks. These should be something you can complete in a few hours or less. This way every step completed is an accomplishment that gets you closer to your ultimate Big Goal.

Business Plan

You do not need a formal business plan but you do need to capture your plans in writing, with your goals and steps, support systems, and financial estimates defined. It will look ominous so I suggest that you take one or two steps at a time to reach one incremental goal. Like the adage goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Take it one step at a time. Break your steps down into daily tasks on a ‘to-do’ list to make it more manageable.

Surprisingly, with this plan in place you will often feel there is more time for yourself much earlier than you expected because your progress and timeline will be clearly known to you. The overwhelm will feel less and the process will be more enjoyable.

2.    Support

I am fond of saying, “you can start a business on your own but no one can succeed in business alone.” I say this because when we start a business we sometimes don’t recognize how much work we have to do outside the core competencies we focused our businesses on. As our businesses matures we find ourselves overworked, once again trading our time for dollars. Don’t expect you will do it all yourself. Hire, contract, outsource, and automate whenever you can. Implement help every time your business does well so you feel you can afford it. Get the right people into the right positions (e.g. get a VA that knows online mailing programs if you need them to help you with your mailing campaign).

Look for the support outside your business, like a mentor, advisory board, coach, mastermind group, peer support, association, networking group, referral partner, JV, etc. Having someone outside your business to bounce ideas off of and get support in your decisions will be key to the amount of time it takes you to implement and the quality of your success.

Exercise: Create an organizational chart of all the positions within your company and fill in the name of the person that is currently doing that job. Your name may be in most of the fields. My first org-chart had between 30 and 40 positions. The bookkeeping, accounting and editing were done by other people and everything else was performed by me.

Now circle the two positions you want to do. These are the things you envisioned yourself doing when you visualized your future company. Put a line through the two positions you hate to have to deal with. These may already be managed by someone else and if they are not then off-load this work to someone else as soon as possible.

3.   Time Management

If you have so much to do how do you get it all done? Even with help we are still the manager of our business and we have to stay on track. There are many great tools out there to help you manage your time.


We all put a priority on working with our clients but we often do not do that for working on our business. What if I told you that meeting your referral partner was going to turn into a $20,000 sale? Would you go? Of course you would, but often we excuse ourselves from our networking events and other business building task because we do not see the immediate value. You must make business building a priority

Exercise: List all the things you do and put a priority on them. Label them as A, B or C. If it is labelled ‘A’ then this is something that must be done. You cannot trade this time for a client’s needs. You will be surprised how often I have said, I’m sorry I am not available until after 1pm does that work for you and they will say “Yes”. I have never had a client say, “sorry if you cannot meet me at this one time then the deal is off.”

Anything you prioritize as ‘B’ should be attended unless you have a real need from a client. If you have something else that is going to build your business or bring in cash that is an A priority the substitute it.

For items labelled with a ‘C’ you should be finding someone else to look after these. I love working on my website, coding HTML, creating e-mail layouts, etc. but it is not important for me to do that. I got a VA (Virtual Assistant) to manage all those tasks and now I have hours of extra time each month.


I like to start with the things I must do every week. I define a time for reoccurring events and then I put it in my day timer. I prioritize the items. For example, I have sample coaching calls. These calls are at the same time twice a week but the time is just set aside for a potential client. They are marked tentative until a client is booked. My BNI meetings on the other hand are a high priority and are booked every Tuesday morning for a year at a time. As far as I’m concerned these meetings are written in stone. If my clients or my referral partners are going to be there then so should I. For items like this I would write them in pen or put it as ‘Busy’ in my day timer so that I will not attempt to schedule something over top of it.


Don’t forget to plan your personal events as well. If you are the type of person that habitually misses family events because of the hours you put into your business then this point is important. Book the same time every week to do something that is for you, your family and/or your friends. It may be difficult at first to take that time off but after a while it will become your time. You do deserve this. For example, my exercise class is an ‘A’ priority because I know if I am not well, not only does my business struggle but so does my family. So this item is booked weekly for 3 months at a time.

Envision the business of your dreams, plan for it, get your support and manage your time wisely and you will have the business you need to enjoy your life the way you want.

Prosperity Pyramid – How to do away with the traditional sales funnel and stop cold calling

We have all heard of the ‘sales funnel’ for business. Traditionally we have been taught that we find our leads and pour them into our sales funnel. As we work through the sales process, creating more and more touches to our leads we work ourselves into their conscious. As they get to a point where they recognize our business and maybe our name we may get the opportunity to talk to someone other than the gatekeeper. One day we may even get to do our sales presentation for the prospect and from that we will get some sales. You may have even been told that it’s a numbers’ game. I was taught that out of 100 ‘No’s’ you will get 10 ‘Yes’s’, so if you get enough ‘No’s’ you will meet your quota for sales.

It is a proven process and still works for some industries, but really what is happening is our customers are becoming more educated and aware of their options. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to hear nine ‘No’s’ before I get one ‘yes’. Today we have to work harder to create a relationship with our clients to even get that first call. Jill Konrath, author of “Selling to Big Companies” really understands how the sales process and corporate purchasing mentality has changed. Konrath writes, “When you think about all the big companies out there, it’s incredibly seductive to want to keep all your options open. After all, just about every corporation “could” use your products or services. Right? … Not so.”

If the traditional sales funnel does not work any longer then how do we fill our business without cold calling? In many teachings and books, like those from Konrath, or “High Trust Selling” by Todd Duncan, they talk about the relationship. The relationship is where we can build this new sales model, “The Prosperity Pyramid”.

In “The Prosperity Pyramid” model, the customer starts by choosing you. Right from the start you are filling your inverse funnel with people that have selected you as a person they want to know and potentially purchase from.

Filling the Pyramid (bottom up)
So how do they do this? They come for the gift. The free gift is their first transaction with you. Since it is free, you will have many more people interested in the ‘free’ then will purchase from you, but they are there of their own free will.

The free gift has no cost to your clients and requires no time from you. You can give this away all day long, year-after-year, forever and it should not affect your business negatively. The gift should have great value to your prospects. As consumers we get all kinds of “FREE” in our purchasing lives so something that is perceived by them as valuable is a necessity.

Starting the sales
Unlike the traditional sales funnel, the sale does not only occur when the prospect pops out the end of the funnel, it happens all the way up the pyramid. Each product that the client is introduced to costs more, requires more of your time, and will have less people buying in, until your reach the peak of your pyramid. At the peak is your highest costing product. Only a few of the people that were initially introduced to your product through your free offer will want to take your relationship this far, but by the time they do they are purchasing your platinum product or service which will require a lot of your time but will make you a lot more money on a single purchase.

What are the benefits
Using this model will allow you to leverage your time on the smaller products or services by being able to offer them to the masses at a reduced cost. For example, a membership site may have a yearly fee of $150. If all you do is get 15 people to sign up every month you will have $2250 per month. If your next product is a downloadable product that only requires the time of initial creation and shipping then you are spending a little more time at this but it may get you $397 per purchase. If you sell 10 per month  that is $3970. Then your bigger product may be one-to-one or small group sales, where your time is required for training or consulting. You may only get one of these a month but it could be a $2500 sales. Now with all three of these products you have monthly sales of $8720, that is over 6-figures per year. You’ve only made 26 sales in that month not one of them was ever a cold call. Remember, they came to you.

These are not large numbers so hopefully you can see where leveraging your time on the smaller products so you can spend more time adding value to your high-end products becomes appealing not only to your prospects but also to you as a business owner. For your prospects, they may not be ready or able to purchase the high-end products, but getting in on the ground floor allows them to get started working with you and your services. When they are ready they can always move up the pyramid until they have what they need from you.

Why do they continue to purchase?
What keeps them interested in you? Your traditional and online marketing campaign is how you stay in touch with them. You will need to continue to offer them high-value content in the area of your expertise so that you can remain ‘top-of-mind’ with them. Invite them to your events and teach them how to get what they need. Make them into savvy buyers so when they are ready to buy they will purchase from you.

Relationship has always been a part of a sale, but today’s customer is much more commodity savvy and definitely populated with more female buyers. Relationship is the biggest part of purchases these days, so start by building a relationship with the people that really want to buy from you, instead of everyone you think you could sell to. It will take less of your time, cost less in the long run and you will be able to leverage your sales process to grow well beyond the $/hour model of the past.

Working in Mastermind Groups – Three Things to Look for When Joining a Group

Working with support is imperative to business success.

There are a lot of types of support you can engage in to help grow your business, like mentoring, training, coaching, etc. When you commit to learning and growing using these support systems you will always take away something of value. Today I’d like to talk about three things to look for when you are thinking of joining a mastermind group to get the support you need to grow your business.

Three things to look for:

  1. Is there an opportunity for great communication and sharing?

When you join a mastermind group you need to feel comfortable to share your struggles and issues. When you are asking for feedback, you want to feel you are in a place where you can be safe to describe the things and feelings that are holding your back in order for your team to help you move forward. You will want a team that can help hold you to your vision and will join you in rejoicing in the value of the ideas you bring to your business.

When you give feedback to others in the group you want to feel comfortable to share your ideas, experiences, and education. Make sure that the people in your mastermind group are open to receiving your expertise without pushing back or deflating the value of all gifts given.

Everyone has the right to be correct in their business, but everyone must be open to the possibilities and opportunities that will come with the interaction of the group.

  1. Am I a fit for the group?

When committing to a group you want to know that the people in the group are a good fit for your needs. If you are newer in your business you will be focusing on the basics of operating a business, things like:

  • Do I need a business licence?
  • Do I have to charge taxes?
  • Where do I need to market my business?

When you have been in business for a few years but not yet generating a sufficient profit to pay you what you are worth, then you will be focusing on different aspects of business like:

  • Attracting more clients
  • Hiring contractors
  • Managing time
  • Increasing the income of the company.

Business owners of successful growing companies have other challenges, such as:

  • How to let go of control
  • Who to hire
  • How to manage the people and departments.
  • How to structure a large company
  • Going public or getting venture capital investment

Finding the group where you and the others in your group are working through the same challenges and stages of your businesses will give you more opportunity to help others and they will have more opportunity to help you. Being in a mastermind group where everyone is ahead of you in business will leave you feeling ineffective as a support for their business and being in a group where you are farther ahead then the others will drain your energy because they will need more from you than you will need from them.

  1. Does the group have systems in place to ensure compliance and commitment for each person?

Whether you purchase a seat in a group or you start a group of your own, you should have a program with rules and expectations that the participants must agree to. Group dynamics can sometimes lead to difficult situations where one person may feel left out, someone is disrupting the meetings, one  feels entitled to more then the others, or a person does not feel heard and stops participating. At the very least you will need to ensure these three things are in place:

  • An agenda – what a person must prepare and what to expect from each meeting.
  • A contract – between the person and the group, stating the person’s commitment to the group and to their own involvement.
  • Behaviour expectation – acceptable and unacceptable –what can happen if a person does not follow the rules.

Don’t stop at one type of support. The more you reach out to learn the more you will understand what you can do with your business and the more opportunities will open up to you.