Don’t Be Consistent (If you want to fail)

Many business owners I speak to tell me they do not get clients from social media. Being on social media, interacting, sharing, liking, following, etc. has not helped grow their business. Like them, I have seen little conversion from my social platforms. But I have had some, so I wanted to know what was the difference between when I did get new clients and when I didn’t and what had changed.

Social media, like any marketing, is a relationship building platform that allows your friends or followers to learn and know more about who you are and what you are doing. This is the same as traditional marketing, that gave touchpoints of information to potential clients on who you are and what you are doing in your business (like having a sale). One of the most used marketing channels in business is networking and one of the most structured networking is BNI, a referral-marketing focused, for-profit organization.

I was in BNI for the first 5 years of my business and was always stunned when people thought that somehow I was going to refer them the minute they joined the chapter. Referrals, like sales, come with a relationship of trust.  As a member they were required to show up every week, make time outside the meetings to build stronger relationships with the other members, and work on building trust (usually by volunteering). But they didn’t understand that the time it took to make this kind of connection was mandatory for building the valuable relationship they were hoping for.

Social media is the same, it requires a commitment to show up consistently, make time outside your standard post to build stronger relationships (be personally online and not just with bots) and be seen as “standing for something” (maybe on video, sharing other people’s stories and events, or actually getting out to connect IRL).

Consistency applies across the board for building a business. Where and when can people find you? If you have a physical location this is easier as your hours would be posted on your store and published on Google. If you do not have a physical location the where and when are difficult and can be frustrating for potential clients. Do you answer email within a few hours or do you have a published phone number? Are you available on messenger or do you monitor specific hashtags online to respond to requests?

Whatever you do, be consistent at it. I started doing videos on Facebook and then got lazy about the time and day I would put out my information. Initially, I was getting great connections, likes, and new followers and then I found my interaction online dropped because I was not showing up regularly. Don’t do what I did, commit to something that you know works and use it to build great relationships so you can eventually help those that need what you are selling.

If you want to fail at your business then stop showing up, stop being consistent, stop doing things that make people trust you – Of course you are not going to do that! Now that this mistake is top of mind, spend a little time to evaluate where you might be making this mistake and then go and make your marketing better.

Building A Business Alone – 3 Levels of Support to Invest In

Not all help is helpful, and some is more than expected. How do you find the best fit for what you want to spend? I know because I’ve paid for support in my business that was less than helpful, I’ve also paid for the support that took me farther than I would have imagined. I’ve created help systems and programs for myself that allowed me to be surrounded by people I looked up to and could help me grow, and I’ve been to those networking events where people are pushing cards in my hand, trying desperately to have me purchase from them.

The help that is available to you is vast and can range from free to a major investment. It can be beneficial or a waste of time, or anything in between. Here are three levels of support, where to can look and what to invest to ensure you are always learning and growing in your business.
Watch this video for the 3-Levels of support (Free – Simple – Complex).

We All Have Shit

Angry Kid with bat
You could be the prettiest, the smartest, the most giving, the most kind, the richest, the purest, the most loving… we all have shit.

Some people will see that shit and accept it. Some will see it and push it away. They may even tell others of the shit you carry, belittling your ‘extraordinary’ gifts and highlighting your ‘less than average’ traits.

The key is to surround yourself with people that see your shit and love you anyway.

They will allow you to rise up above it and reach even bigger goals.

[I hope you will excuse the gratuitous use of the word shit. I felt it was an important to make an emotional point.]

Breaking Down Your Steps to Get Everything Done

I know when I’m overwhelmed it is often because I have more to do than I can picture myself doing. The thought of completing anything new is taken over by the thought of having to complete that which is current, and the things that are past due. Small items of less priority can distract me from what I want to do and ultimately cost me more time and anxiety.

I don’t know if you ever feel this way, but if you have a pile of things to accomplish and you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing all the work then try this strategy and see if it helps you sleep better at night.

1. Know The Goal

You likely know how to create a goal. If not, check out this article I wrote on ‘SMARTAR’ goal setting, some time ago. Remember, it must have a measurable outcome and a timeline for completion.

2. Know What You Want To Happen

Brainstorm all the things you know must happen, or you would like to happen, to create a list of items that must be completed to get to your goal. If you think about something that must be created, add anything that you must do to create that one item. Make the list as complete as possible.

For instance, if you need to share an event on social media, you will need to create the copy for each social media platform. You will also need to create images for your marketing and you may need to put this information into your social media scheduler.

3. Do Something Every Day

If you want to make gains on your goal you need to be working towards that goal every day. If you want to avoid being overwhelmed, you need to be able to easily see which priorities you will be working on. At the end of each day, evaluate what needs to still be completed. Put the top 6 priorities in a list for the next day. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to have to do everything. Remember, if you have other tasks, like client work, that is booked for that day, they need to be in that top 6 as well. Having a ‘todo’ list created for the next day will allow you to sleep without spending time working out the priorities of your tasks all night.

What the video

Join me November 20, 2017 for an Open Work-Away Day. Info on my Facebook page, or contact me directly.

When the Cup is Full – Stop Pouring

Green cup overfilled and spilling

In one translation of the teaching of Tao Te Ching, there is a statement that reads, “To keep on filling is not as good as stopping. Overfilled, the cupped hands drip, better to stop pouring.” [Living the Wisdom of the TAO New York City: Hay House  2008]

Growth is important as long as you can manage the components that require your attention. For example, if you are getting a degree or certification, are you able to find the time to focus on your learning or are you just going through the motions of looking like you are learning. Like the cup, you have control over what is in the cup, but once it is full, the overfill spills out, uncontrolled and potentially ruining that which it lands on. Often times we go through the motion of filling our cup because we think we need more, we see something we want and we get it, we look at others and want it for ourselves. Sometimes we just have to stop, take inventory, and see what we have already accomplished.

Check out this video for additional details and three suggestions on how to value what you already have.

Barb Stuhlemmer – Sept 2017

Filled with Anxiety Not Gratitude

Gratitude trumps anxiety. When we are in the grasp of anxious or overwhelming times, it is hard to see how being grateful will make a difference. Initially, it will not feel it is making a difference, but I guarantee that having a grateful lifestyle will help eliminate the feelings of lacking and failure. If being grateful is not part of your daily actions then try it out by following this process.

7-Day Gratitude Get Started Process

Child Praying - GratitudeDay 1 – Write out everything you  appreciate about your spouse, parent, child, or close friend. Make a list of at least 10 things. This must be someone you are close to and love.

Day 2 – Look at the things you have in your home. Think about how it came to be yours. Remember everything with a smile on your face and say thank you.

Day 3 – Say thank you to everyone you meet today. Today you are giving thanks to those that come into your life. If you are unsure of what you are thanking them for, just say thanks and smile.

Day 4 – Look at your work. Whether you are working in your passion or simply working to make ends meet, you have something to be grateful for. List 4 things about your work that you are thankful for.

Day 5 – Go out and view your community over your lunch break. Look for the beauty in every place you visit. See good in every person. Be grateful for the opportunity to live is such a wonderful place.

Day 6 – Look for at least 5 news stories, videos, or events online that show the greatness of people around the world. Look at their similarities and the differences and be grateful for the wondrous variety.

Day 7 – Write out your 100 accomplishments. This may take several days and the goal is to get to 100. Go back in time and list everything YOU think of as a success for you. No one needs to read this so don’t worry if the accomplishment is small and just for you, like for me, the time I learned how to whistle.

Keep Gratitude in your heart every day. Find new ways to be grateful. Continue to add to your accomplishments list and review your accomplishments when you are not feeling great but need to be grateful.

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.

10 Things You Won’t Need in a Zombie Apocalypse

No one ever looks at the bright side of the Zombie Apocalypse. There are so many things you are not going to have to worry about.

1. Axe Body Spray

Everything about you smells delicious.

2. Manners

People are buying from you no matter how you treat them because you have what they need.

3. Marketing

There is no competition so why bother. They need you so they will find you.

4. Books

Why improve? You are already at the top of the intellectual ladder and no one else is getting smarter.

5. A Plan

Thank goodness you will not need another business plan… ever.

6. An Accountant

What are you paying taxes for?

7. Sales

If they want it they will have to pay full price for it. After-all, they were lucky to be able to get it in at all.

8. Vacation Pay

Who are your employees going to complain to anyway? Tell them they are lucky to have a job and to get back to work.

Red rope barrier on red carpet

9. Customer Line-up Cordon

Line-ups are unnecessary because who can wait?

10. Good Management

Because great customer service doesn’t matter.

Of course, the zombie apocalypse is still many years off, so until then remember that Great Customer Service ALWAYS Matters. Hire good people, have a marketing schedule, treat your customers with love, and plan for your success.

Summer Selling – What Else Can You Do?

wine on the beach enjoying summer

Summer feels like a time of year that you cannot get much done. So many people are away on vacation or out enjoying the time with their kids who are off school; basically slowing down. But if you are looking for sales in the summer you cannot slow down, so what else can you do? Here are three ideas I have for you that I have experienced over the last few weeks.

1. Beach Time

If you have access to a great outdoor space then invite some clients to join you for an afternoon event. Add food, great content and learning, and amazing networking. Invite some other experts and add a panel or Q&A that includes them. Make sure you charge enough to cover your expenses and you are highlighting your business. Introduce an offer or let people know you will be calling them to chat about doing some other things together and helping them with their needs.

One of the networking associations I belong to (with a membership of about 150 people) hosted an event for 12 people (first come – first served). You had to be quick to get a ticket and it was worth it. It was hosted at the directors cottage on Georgian Bay. We sat on the deck sipping wine, networking, learning and getting great support for our businesses. The cost at $55 was not excessive but it also was not nominal. She made a little money and supported her members in a unique way, which created a desire for next year. In addition, she did not have to leave the cottage to host an event down in the city, saving her enormous amount of time and extra costs.

2. Think Small

If you do events during the year you know how much time they can take for things like:

  • getting sponsors
  • selling display tables
  • finding a venue
  • selling the tickets
  • arranging food, accommodations, media, etc.

If you want to do something in the summer but you know you just don’t have time to create something big then think small. A small room that sits 15 would create a great atmosphere for learning and sharing. Keep the event to a 1/2 day or less so people can still plan their summer fun around it and add something fun to the program like summer punch tasters or a summer dress code.

This past weekend my friend Beatrice Johnston hosted a Brand building event in Toronto. She was visiting with another friend who had access to a small professional room. The event was from 11 am – 2 pm and was full of great content with a promise to follow up. She used Eventbrite to create the event page and sell tickets. She filled a small room of ideal clients. She left with an open door to follow up with each person and keep in touch. Since we all paid to be there she was not out of pocket for the event.

3. An Extra $2500

Could you use an extra $2500 this summer? My good friend Cindy Ashton had some time in between setting up her new national TV show, “Cindy Uncorked” (launching this fall on the Women’s Television Network) and getting sponsors, to do some coaching for a select few entrepreneurs. She really doesn’t have much time, but she loves to help entrepreneurs have a voice with powerful communications so she created a short $500 program with specific results for 5 people only. It’s an easy purchase for someone looking for those results and an easy marketing setup because it is only a piece of any of her full programs. It required a sales page with a video, the shopping cart for registration, autoresponders to send out the information after the purchase and her time, set in time slots of her choosing.

I loved this so much she gave me permission to use the idea to offer some extra time for my clients and came up with the Growth Explosion offer. Go ahead and copy my template if you want to try this for yourself.

There is still time to get something on your marketing calendar for the summer. Do it now and get more sales while everyone else is taking it easy.