If You Are Not Sure – Try it On!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t do that”? Some people are afraid to try new things because we don’t know what the outcome will look like when we have never tried it before. Especially when we know it will not be easy. We want people to see us as competent so we don’t want to make a mistake doing it wrong. The challenge with this is sometimes it makes it hard to change. Trying something new means we have to do something we have not done before and that means we are not competent. This is when comfort can over-ride our need to change and we stay stuck.

I remember in the first year of business, when I met Rose Adams, who is now a good friend of mine. Rose had (and still has) the presence of a leader. She is warm and welcoming and always well dressed. I had chosen to be a part of her networking group because of her and a few other strong business women that were in the group.

Rose was kind to me and interested in seeing me do well, so she offered some advice which I accepted gratefully. She offered to go shopping with me to get new clothes. You see, I was still in ‘mommy mode’. My clothes were appropriate for outdoor at the park, walking kids to school, going camping, but not for business. I was very ‘shlumpy’. Rose and I were just acquaintances at that time so her offer was very surprising. I was honoured that this stylish, professional lawyer would take her time to shop with me. There were a couple of conditions for our shopping trip: I was not allowed to buy anything black and I had to try on everything.

Fashionable clothes that fit and look appropriate

Think about these conditions – they were very important because they were to open my eyes to ‘the new’ and what else was available to me. I had worn a lot of black and everything was comfy, jeans & T-shirt – super casual. If all I tried on was the same as what I wore, I would look the same as I had always looked. I had to get out of my comfort zone and try on things I thought looked disgusting, weird, or not me. Of course it didn’t look like me, I never wore it – but it could be me if I changed, and I did. What I found was sometimes the things I thought looked disgusting on me and sometimes they looked amazing, and everything in between. I really had no reference points to make judgements or discussions from. I didn’t know good from bad, stylish from dumpy, my style from someone else’s style. I had to start by trying it on.

The same is for learning what you are best at in your business. What do you love to do? Who do you love to spend your time with? When are you most powerful and where? Can you speak in public, are you a leader, can you create new programs, work one-on-one with your clients, do group events, host a conference, support a NFP, work with a partner.

Sometimes we just have to try something on to see if it fits. Don’t say, “No I can’t do that”, ask, “How could I do that” and then figure out how you can try it on. After all, if it doesn’t fit, you can always find someone else to wear it for you. What you will get is a sense of your limitations and what you can do well. I have used this model to find out I can actually tell great stories from the stage when I thought I was not a story teller, and that I am not the “Richard Branson” charisma leader. We all have our core strengths, and they are all valuable. Using your best strengths (wearing what fits) and learning what ‘look’ is yours will bring you authority in your authenticity because you will feel powerful and comfortable in everything you do.

The Value of Your Reference Group

Last week I was at a luncheon with two friends of mine that I consider very accomplished and focused on the changes they wish to help make happen in the world. We were also joined by 5 other women that turned out to be very similar. How blessed I am to be so often surrounded by such incredibly forward-focused, game-changers with a spiritual/holistic/philanthropic approach to life.

Friends toasting and celebrating together

When I had mentioned this to my friend she said, “it is a mirror reflecting of what you bring to the world.” Interesting as I know 10 years ago this was not me. I know I have grown intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, but we don’t see ourselves the way others do. What I had not seen was that surrounding myself with this level of business genius had raised me up to that level as well.

As the saying goes, we are the combination of the 5 people we spend the most amount of time with. “How true”, I started thinking after my conversation above. I was doing what my 5 closes friends were doing 10 years ago and now I’m doing what my 5 closest friends are doing now. I wanted to be able to affect more change and help more people so I started spending time with people that affect more change and help more people.

Here are two things I have done to get to a place where I get to have lunch with world-changers because I am one of them.

Act ‘as if’

I don’t like the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it”. One of my core values is honesty, so faking it always seemed like a lie to me. I don’t want to lie to my friends, my peers, my clients, nor to myself simply to get what I want. It felt selfish and wrong. But when I read ‘Act as if’ from Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles” and then started seeing the same teaching from others, like Darren Hardy, I realized that there was a significant difference in the semantics of these two statements.

Fake it

Act as if

Pretend you are Believe you are
Wear the right costume Dress the part
Use their language Use ‘the’ language
Pretend you know Learn it and ask
Spend to take part (even if you cannot afford it) Find other ways to take part (to be a part of it)
Do it first Get a mentor – do it after them

Activate your brain muscle to start visualizing what it is you want to be and where. The more your subconscious believes it to be true, the more true it will be. Here is an easy example we should all be able to relate to, as we have all been a teenager at one time in our lives.

Picture two teen girls, both pretty and both academically competent, but one believes she is pretty and smart and the other believes she is average in every way. These two girls will present very differently to the outsider. The one girl may be a leader, doing and belonging to groups that the other girl may not even dream of being accepted to. One will be invited, the other will be overlooked. This does not mean one will have a better life, but it will give the one girl more options and more support to attain whichever goal she chooses.

Know you are and you will be.

Give Generously From What You Have

I’m not talking about digging deep into your pockets and handing out your last few dollars. I’m talking about something more precious – your gifts of wisdom, influence, and skill. What can you do to help others around you?

It is easiest to give money, but that will not get you connected to those that will be key to opening doors for future opportunities. If you want to give, then give with your time to something that aligns with your passion and goals. I love business, I love being creative, and I am a visionary, so my easiest give is to be a part of a board or steering committee that has to help with big-picture decisions. When I am at these meetings I am engaged and energized. My energy is contagious and it makes me fun and interesting to be around, so people want to be with me. It is valuable use of my time and I can add value to the group I volunteer for.

I once volunteered where I was not passionate and the work was mundane, repetitive, and combative. I was drained and angry about the time I had to give. I felt used and wasteful with my time. I did not produce great results for the group, nor did I enjoy being there. I can imagine I was not fun to be around and that certainly did not gain me any new friends for my reference group.

If you want to be surrounded by great people, be a great person. Believe you are worth knowing and give generously to the places you feel most connected. Your people are there waiting for you.

What is Balance in Business?

I’ve heard people say, ‘it is important to have balance in your life.’ I’ve also heard some people say, ‘you have to learn how to create balance in your business.’ Recently I’ve heard, ‘there is no such thing as balance.’ Wow, so which is it? Is it important, do we need it, or does it even exist? Balance is a tricky word when it comes to non-physical concepts.

When we think of balance we often conjure a vision of two objects equally weighted or a person standing on one foot.

“A state of equilibrium; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.”1

But in business and life it often means putting up with the things we don’t like so we can have enough time to do what we love. For example working to get 2-weeks vacation. The problem is that doing the negative to have the positive is not balance. Doing what is equally weighted throughout your life is.

“A mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.”1

When we say we are working towards balance we forget that it means every day, all day long, not just after the work is done. It is not putting in three 12 hour days so we can go to our kids play at school. It is not getting 90 ‘no’s’ to hear 10 ‘yes’s’ in our sales calls. So if that is not it then what is it?

It is what Buddha calls ‘The middle way’ – This is the path that walks between the extremes.

So how do we add this to our lives and our businesses? We crave stability and yet we seek change. We want calm and achievable and yet we engage in risks that require a long learning curve and a huge investment in energy.

Ohm Symbol

The key I feel has three parts:

1. Know Your Extremes

The Up

When are you pathologically happy? You know… like being in love. That painful ache of love that drives you to do things you would not normally do and keeps you awake at night. It brings you to tears for fear of losing it and makes you pace in anticipation of your next dose of it.

The Down

When are you depressed, angry, overwhelmed and feeling out of control? These are the times that paralyze our actions and stop us from doing what needs to get done.

2. Know Your Ohm

Spend a little time to capture a list of times when you were happiest – when you were most calm – when you felt at peace with your world, your relationships, and your life. It should be a place that makes you smile and fills your heart with a warm remembrance of something worth repeating. It took no effort to achieve it and no payment to experience. It just was a place and time that gave to you exactly what you needed. Understanding what you see as your place of bliss will help you understand your ‘middle way’.

3. Understand Your Why

This may take longer to identify, but anything you start with will be better than having no ‘why’. Try using these questions to help you unearth this truth for you.

  • Why do you love working with the people you work with?
  • Why do you love helping the clients you get to help?
  • What about your product or service gets you excited?
  • What about what you do makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning?
  • How do you feel you are able to affect change in your client, community, country, world?

Now try these three suggestions:

  1. If you know when you are at your extremes (out of your ‘middle way’) you are not balanced and your family, clients, and friends will be able to sense it. Ask others if they think you seem at peace with your business right now.
  2. If you find yourself fighting for every minute of happiness and you really are not present when you get those moments of respite, then you are not in your ‘middle way’. Look for times without extremes.
  3. If you cannot answer the questions to why you are doing what you do, you may be living someone else’s dream. Think of who else you might be living your actions as and then ask the questions again as if you are them. See if you can answer the ‘Why’ as someone else. It is very hard to be your most amazing self and add value to others when you don’t know why you are doing what you do.

Use these tips to help you stay in a place of calm, where you can regenerate your energy easily, add value to others, and feel happy about the life you have chosen to lead. You will be more productive, your days and your duties will feel lighter, and you will be present for the times you are not working in your business. Think of how your kids will respond when they know their mom or dad is truly able to spend a day with them not worried they are missing out on something else. Imagine how you will feel when you know you have not missed out on something because you have time to do all that needs to get done.

 

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.

 

How To Make Less Risky – More Confident Decisions

If you have ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’ve thought of that idea before. I could have been rich like that guy.” If you think you could have made money off an idea you had because you see someone else making money off of it, you are right. You can still likely make money off of that idea, but now you have an excuse not to do the work. The main difference between the person that does make money off an idea and those that feel they missed out, is the decisions that were made around what had to be done.

Everybody Dreams – Few Do the Work

Women Thinking

If you want to see a significant change in your business or life, like more clients, more income, bigger target market, larger territory, a new product line, more employees, more notoriety, etc. you have to be willing to decide on the change that must take place and then do the work. Decision making is a core entrepreneurial skill and you MUST learn to be good at this so you can take action when action is required.

As an employee, you were given tasks to complete and core responsibilities to manage. Your decisions were defined by the level of leadership you held.

  • New to the position? – do the work you are given.
  • Manager level position? – decide on events and issues that will affect the people that work under you and how you will respond.

Now that you are a business owner you are responsible for all aspects of your business. You must be able to make decisions easily and with clarity for the benefit of the business and all the people it will affect.

Confident decision making seems to be a weakness of women business owners in particular. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a successful business owner tell me she have identified a specific need for her business and then, after speaking to her non-entrepreneurial spouse, had decided that it would not be a great idea. The spouse, out of fear for a future they cannot perceive, will always default to a safe response, as only money = security to a non-entrepreneur. Money should always be a factor in your decision making for business but not the only factor.

Perspective without a view can hamper good judgement and stop growth. If the person making decisions in your business does not have full view of the big-picture, their perspective will now benefit the growth of your business. Either give them all the details or stop asking them for their advice.

Below are three factors that will help you with decision making. If your business decisions are clear about these three factors then you will start making less risky, more confident decisions.

1. What is Your Business Goal?

You should always be working towards a goal in your business and life. If you have no set goals (and that does mean it MUST be written down) you will not have the motivation to continually do what it takes to make your business work, especially when things are tough. You should have one ambitious long-term goal, a mid-range goal (1-2 years to complete) and several short term goals that support them. For instance:

Long-term goal To have a successful national membership program with a minimum of 500 members country-wide.

Mid-range goal – To create a national program that has monthly meetings in 5 main cities across the country, with 25 members per city, paying a yearly memberships of $200 each, by 2016.

Short-term goal – Launch the first chapter by May 2015 with a minimum of 15 members.

Ask Yourself – How does this decision affect my goals?

2. Know Your Business’s Mission

My mission is to help business owners feel empowered to successfully implement big ideas in their business so they can make a difference to others in the world. When I look at decisions that I have to make for my business I first want to make sure it is in line with what I want to do, who I want to do it for, how I will provide that service, and why I want to do it. If my decision does not support my mission then it is likely a shiny object that I have been distracted by.

Ask Yourself – will acting on this decision further the goals I have set to support my mission?

3. Know How to Calculate Your ROI

Let’s talk about the money. Sometimes it is hard to spend the money required to make more money because all we can see is the expense. I know, I have this same issue. It also does not stop me from making key decisions in my business that will help propel my business growth.

Write down your answers to these 4 questions.

  1. What is the Cost? – This is the obvious number to look at.
  2. What can you change that will make you more money if you do this?
  3. How much money can you generate from this change in your business?
  4. How else can you pay for this?

The last question is the key to making more money. Looking for opportunities to reduce or eliminate costs is the best way to create an easy path to confident decision making. I recently heard a story about Richard Branson starting Virgin Airlines and how he reduced the risk of the expense of purchasing a Boeing Commercial Airplane. He made a deal with Boeing that they would purchase the airplane back from him in a year if he could not make the new airline company work.

In 2013 I was creating my event plans for 2014 and I knew I was going to be spending a lot of money on locations.  I made an arrangement with a business centre to become my sponsor for the year. My clients were their ideal target market. I got the locations for free, they got online advertising with the programs and the opportunity to speak directly to my clients at the events.

Check-in

Does your decision further your goals; Is it in line with your mission and can you make enough money by investing your time, money or energy required to implement this decision so you can continue to grow your business

After passing these three check-points you can now look at your ability to fund the idea and make a less-risky, more confident decision.

Growth Through Osmosis

Osmosis is a scientific term referring to a process where atoms or compounds pass through a membrane from one body to another usually caused by a differentiation in concentration.

REALLY! What the F… does this have to do with Business?

We do what we do what we do… day in and day out. We will often look at our business and life and think, “I have to find a way to make a difference.” Every once in a while we go to an event or a networking meeting and we get motivated or inspired to move, but then we get back to our office and go back to our routine and we do what we do what we do…

The reason why we are so motivated or inspired after an event is the energy we get to experience from others in the room. This energy is in the form of conversation, knowledge, learning, value systems, opportunity, and likely several others things that we experience while exposed to the group.

We have an invisible membrane that allows us to function efficiently and stay safe. It keeps our routines and our path on track. As an employee we can safely stay in our membrane and do our work and collect our pay. In business what we quickly find is performing the routine of what we do best is not enough to continue to grow our business.

When we move into a group of people we can sometimes feel drained. If we are the highest concentration of knowledge and energy in the room with the desire to move while others look for safety in the day-to-day, then we are the one giving the energy and doing the lifting.

When we are in a room of like-mined people, all with different skills and abilities, with diverse experience and knowledge, with goals and desires, we are uplifted by them and share energy back and forth, depending on who needs what. When we go back to our routine we look for ways to hold onto it, but quickly go back to our known levels and find the inspiration leaks out of us again.

So what happens to a cell in science that is next to something with a concentration so high that the compounds rush in uncontrolled? The cell bursts because it cannot stretch quick enough to contain the new volume. It is the same for us in business.

When we are in the presents of greatness, like maybe having lunch with Sir Richard Branson, we are overwhelmed by the opportunities that could be ours. The concentration is too high and we cannot take on all the available energy in the form of knowledge as we cannot implement from our current level of knowledge and ability. We can either brush by the greatness, admire and see something smaller that we can do, or we can step in and buckle down for an incredible download and an overwhelming ride of growth, which may make or break us. Not impossible, but not easily sustainable.

So what is the key to retaining the momentum?

If we are surrounded by others that always have something we want, something we need to learn, something of value, we are always in the position to feel the differentiation, to increase our concentration of ability and knowledge, to be a receiver for the new and the wanted. Be with people that are willing to continually seek out the ‘new’ and develop their own abilities and bring it back to share with you. We can grow through the osmosis of learning from a room full of people that are willing to learn and share.

Surround yourself with like-minded people so that you can take sometimes and give others. You will continually grow each other, hold each other accountable, and keep each other in the momentum.

 

 

What Does Running A Campaign and Marketing A Business Have In Common?

Business owners have something in common with politicians and that is the plan that must be in place to successfully market your business or self. Here are 5 comparisons.

Politics

Business

1. Brand

The brand of a politician is how he or she is personally perceived by the voters. Do you want to look like a corporate expert, a friendly neighbour, a caregiver, a dedicated professional, a wealthy provider? There are many different ways to show your worth and your position with your image. The brand of a business is how clients perceive corporate value. Is the business fun (Coke), creative (Apple), cutting edge (Imprint Energy), trustworthy (Johnson & Johnson), service oriented (Zappos), corporate (Manulife Financial), etc. Your brand will identify you to your clients and what their purchase experience might be like.

2. Plan

 

Running for a political position has a known end date. Everything that happens in the time leading up to that end date is focused on the engagement of the voters. Having a plan on how to get in front of as many voters in a way that allows them to create a relationship with you so they will want to support you with their vote is the ultimate goal. Your business will have campaign after campaign after campaign to continually engage your customers in an ongoing relationship. Each campaign has to have a plan on how it will be implemented with the dates and times of each engagement, launch, meetings, and sales call. As my coach would say “rinse and repeat” to ensure a continued loyalty of current customers and an attraction for new sales.

3. Location

 

The politician may ask, “Where do I expect to meet my voters? Wherever that is, that is where you need to be. At their front door, at a debate, on a website, in a video, on TV, at a coffee shop. Be where your voters are. This is exactly true for businesses as well. If your clients belong to a specific association you should too. If your clients are likely to be at a large tradeshow or conference, you should too. If your clients expect to come to a store, call for sales, or purchase online, they should have that option. Be where you clients are.

4. Message

 

Politicians run on a platform, meaning they have a message they stand behind. It is focused on the challenges and problems they recognize need to be addressed and the structure and support that is in place to make the solutions possible. They promise some level of support and great politicians in a good government often have the chance to implement the change. As a business owner you have more say in the direction of your business. The message of a business is the promise of service, experience, and quality or the product that is being sold as a solution for the needs of the customer. The message must be targeted to the person that is the ideal client.Like a politician, a message that does not speak to their constituent will land on deaf ears and they will not get the votes. Your message will not get you sales if you do not use the language that attracts your ideal client.

Have you seen a trend in the above points? They are all keys to reaching your target market and your ideal client. If you do not know your target market you cannot create an effective campaign or business.

5. Target Market

 

The Candidate must know their voters. It is impossible to appeal to every constituent that can vote for you so you must know who it is you most align with, you can most help, and who you really want to serve. If that person does not live in the area you are running in, you are likely in the wrong election. Businesses must also know their clients. I recommend creating an avatar (detailed description/image) of the ideal client. This way everything you do for your business will be for them. The business will have more in common with the customer and it will be easier to build trust.For instance, let’s compare two world-class products, the iPhone and the Samsung Android. The iPhone does not appeal to my purchasing needs, not because it isn’t a great product but because I don’t use a MAC. On the other hand Samsung’s products speak directly to my needs. Both Apple and Samsung know their clients so well they speak directly to their needs, not just a push to sell. The result is, they sell more

You are not the only person in the world doing what you do or selling what you sell. If you want to attract more clients start with a description of your ideal client, build a powerful, memorable brand, and then plan where you will reach your client and what your message is that will get heard by them, so they will purchase from you.

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.