Being “Camera Ready” Gets You More Business: Even if you don’t plan on being on TV

Camera filming in TV Studio

“I don’t want to be on TV!”

“I hate speaking in public.”

“I find it so hard to think of something intelligent to say.”

These are a few statements I’ve heard (and said) over my career and in my business. As a business owner one of the key things we learn is that we have to speak to people, all kinds of people, if we want to sell. It does not seem like we need it when we first start. We’ll just talk to our clients, they’ll get us. After all they want what we have. We already have a common language and something to talk about. The challenge is that to get to our clients we have to be seen. Even if it is just our product that has to be ‘in the public eye’, like on TV, we still have to be seen by all those along the path that get us there.

When I was younger I was so self-conscious about being in front of people that I didn’t even want to invite family to my wedding. The thought of standing in front of all of them, the people that love me, was terrifying. I went from that to a TV show host and it took some time. Like anything in life, we are not born experts. Even child prodigies have to practice to be great. I had to learn how to say things that were intelligent and how not to be too hung-up on my imperfections. I had to learn how to be and act in front of people so my message could be heard and stop saying no because I felt I wasn’t ready. I chose to step up and do things that were extremely uncomfortable to take my next steps in learning and be better at everything I did. It stopped me from feeling deflated when I failed.

Being ‘Camera Ready’ is a term from film and TV that implies that the actors and stars are prepared to do their job. Well your job requires you to be in front of people so you should be camera ready too. Here are three tips I’ve learned along the way that you can practice.

Wear Your ‘People Pants’

There is a joke in our house that goes like this” I’m almost ready to go, I just have to put on my people pants.” If you’re like us, we like to get comfy when we are at home: lounge wear, gardening jeans, shorts, and pajamas. But before we go out, before we are going to be in the presence of other people, people that don’t yet know us and have a first impression to make, we put on our ‘people pants’. This also means you need to put on make-up, brush your hair, add jewelry, etc. to create a look you want to be seen in. I guarantee the day you go out in track pants, with stains or holes, is the day you see that person, you know the one, the person you have been trying to reach. And now you either hide or you give them an impression you are going to have to work hard to overcome. One day I left the house to walk my daughter to school and a news journalist was getting opinions from pedestrians along the sidewalk. I live in a quiet neighbourhood; nowhere near where you would expect to see a TV camera crew. I was grateful for ‘people pants’ that day.

Practice Your Spiel

If you want to sound intelligent you have to know what to say and that requires practice. Just because you made the product does not mean you will have something of value to say about how it relates to the trends of the day or a well-known competitors alternative. You may understand it but saying something that sounds intelligent is different than saying something rehearsed or rambling on-and-on until you get your entire knowledge base discoursed. Intelligent thoughts have an easily understood  composition of ideas. People will be able to understand you and they will want to listen, not run away. If you want to have something to say that people will want to hear you need to practice.

When I had left my last employed position to stay at home with a sick kid, I decided to sell Pampered Chef products. I had never done sales before and believe me, this was a trial by fire type way of learning. My up-line director was Canada’s #3 sales person making sales in the high 6-figures and she had something to teach me, which was to practice. I wrote out what she said. I wrote out what I wanted to say. I read about the product. I learned about my clients. I practiced my language at home on my family. I practiced in my car alone. I practiced at meetings. I was still shy and self-conscious, and I knew I needed to learn this, so I did. When I started my company I created the brand and the language to go with it and then I practiced. Every time I introduced myself I tried on different ways of describing what I did and for whom. I kept what got results and changed up the rest. I became competent at talking about my expertise and the business around it.

Practice what you want to become powerful. Don’t just script it and save it, make it a part of your language so it will be easily understood and delightful to hear.

Stop Saying No

This is funny because I am often telling people that they need to say ‘no’ more often, but when it comes to our fears eventually it is time to say ‘yes’. It is now your time to start saying ‘yes’ to the invites on a the radio show, to speak at a luncheon meeting, to be a guest on a TV show, to do a video testimonial, etc. The video testimonial is where I started to really break out of my ‘self-conscious’ shell. At the end of a great event the leader would ask people to give a testimonial about their experience and in return they would link the video to their business website. For years I would walk right past. One time, weeks after an event I got an email with a link to a testimonial a friend had given. She was smartly dressed and came across as competent and likable, just what I wanted my clients to see in me. I realized I was passing up opportunities for people at the events and others outside the event to see my expertise. The next event I was at I stepped up and gave a testimonial. It was so much harder than I expected. I looked great but I didn’t know what to say that did not sound like a plea for clients. I watched, made notes, and practiced over the next few events, including giving testimonials myself.

Eventually one day I heard someone else say about me, “she’s good at that, so calm and natural. I could never do that.” Wow, I was there. My image, my language, and my presence had finally caught up to my ambition. I haven’t stopped since; learning, practicing, and doing. I find I usually say ‘yes’ first to my fears and then evaluate the relevance to my business afterwards. If it fits my marketing goals I do it, even if I’m scared, because I know I have the three things that will make it easier – my presence, my language, and my confidence – and you can too.


In support of The CEO Elite Advisory Boards for small business.

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.

Your Message Affects Your Money!

First impressions should make people want to get to know you better.

A TV show I have enjoyed in the past is “What Not To Wear” on TLC. It was a show that had people nominated for a makeover. These people were hoping to do some great things in their life, like be a lawyer, run a global charity, have a successful business, or simply be accepted in the circles they were trying to be a part of. One thing that was common about these people was that they almost all would say, “I don’t want to change, people should like me no matter what I wear.” This is true, except as humans we are programmed to make judgements about situations, events and people to ensure we are safe, comfortable, and connected.

If your business language creates a first impression that screams ‘SHAM’, you say things that make others uncomfortable, or your vocabulary does not attract or appeal to your clients and others you wish to be connected to then it’s time to take a look at what you are saying/writing and make it create the right image for those whom you want to receive your message.

First Impressions

First impressions help us determine if we are going to be safe, comfortable, and feel connected. In the history of our evolution our brains have become wired for the ‘Freeze, Flight, or Fight’ reaction. We see or hear something and we have to evaluate immediately if we were going to be safe. We still have this unconscious reaction to new environments and new people, hence the reason why we still tend to make judgements about people we meet, when we first meet them. Although I would not recommend to anyone to make decisions on a first impression it is still important for you to create an image that makes people willing to connect with you again so a decision or a sale can take place. After all, we don’t purchase from people we don’t trust, so having a language that builds trust, especially on your first contact, is imperative.

First-impression Touchpoints

Where are your first-impression touchpoints? These are the places prospects are likely to experience you for the first time. Is it your website, your Facebook page, at a networking event, a video on YouTube, or an ad in a magazine? What does it say about who you are and what you do? Your first impression about you and your business has to say two things:

  • I am trustworthy, likable, and worth knowing
  • I have something of value that you might want

If you want to know if this is true of your message, have someone from outside your inner circle, preferably a client or prospect, evaluate the language they experience.

  • Do they feel like they would want to connect with you or your business? If so they should be excited to have met you or experienced your message.
  • Is your message clear or is there something missing they expected to find or understand about your or your business? For it to be clear they not only have to understand what you are saying, but must be attracted to your message. If they are not, your language is not targeted to the people you want to attract as clients.
  • Do they know what to do next? If you meet them at a networking event do they know what their next step is to stay connected with you. If they see your message in a magazine is there a clear call to action that they will actually act on? Do they want you to connect with them or do they want to simply have a way to stay connected. You need to know what the best way to continue this new relationship will be and have that message ready too.
  • What can you do for them right now that will also build on the trust? If you give first you will create a comfort level that will open the door for future conversations. Remember to give without expectation of reciprocation. This true gift is a language of its own that speaks directly to our unconscious mind.

Your first impression is not a time for sales, it is a time to start a lasting, positive relationship .You might think, like the nominees of the TV program I mentioned earlier, that people should love you for what you do, but until they know you they need to like you for what they see and hear. Since they really don’t have a lot to go on yet your first contact should be a rich, warm experience full of value. The next time they experience you, like in the email, they will be thankful for knowing you instead of fearful of what you make be asking of them. With trust comes the opportunity to have your conversation around money.

 

More Products from What You Are Doing Right Now!

If you know your pricing is correct then making more money in your business can be achieved two specific ways: sell more or charge more. Charging more is a discussion for another day. Selling more product can seem daunting. What else can I sell? Do I have time to create something new? Do I have the skills needed to do something different? A way to make money in your business is to focus on what you have done or are doing right now. If you have been in business for a few years you likely have previous products and content you may be able to use to create value for your clients on top of, or within, your current offerings. Here are three ideas you can start with.

Past Content

We often create a large amount of content for our clients; like video, audio, and written content, as well as content we have created for our own use inside our company. Here is one example that may give you some ideas of what you could add to your own products.

When I started hosting the Power of Leadership 5 years ago (back when it was called the EClub), I wasn’t thinking about how I would accumulate the recordings of experts and their teachings over the years. Time often gives us a great deal of options that we only see as the single focus. In this case, I saw a monthly 1 hour expert call. When I realized I had over 50 hours of recordings from some of the most successful small business owners in North American I started thinking, “what else can I do with this?” I had recordings stored away and inaccessible to those that really needed it. I had hours of prep work and interviews invested and was still investing and no way to ensure the experts’ brilliance was available in an ongoing way. This made me think about creating something that would be easy to use and valuable to my clients. So I created a product that gave unlimited access to all past and future recordings for $47. It is digital access so I don’t have to monitor it (except to upload new calls) and people can download and listen to any call at any time.

Bundle & Packages

If you have ever given a webinar or online training, you can use some or all of the content created for a new product. In fact, it would be best to create products with the intent of reusing the content for a digital product.

For instance, I gave a 5 week online program call “Profit and Play”. It was a detailed program on business development which included group calls and group coaching. I put the group calls and exercise work into a digital product and offered live group coaching calls to go along with it. I only needed to deliver the content once for the program and then it was delivered via weekly download. I reduced the amount of time I had to put into delivering the program and was still giving people the insight and support they needed to grow their business.

Add Value

Use any past product, part of a product, or content to add value to a new product and entice more sales. You have seen this done very successfully by many experts. When you purchase their new product they add in access to something else.

e.g. Register for my 3-day program by ‘specific-date’ and get immediate access to my ‘X-program’.

You can even use your past content to add to your marketing reach by offering it to someone else’s product launch.

e.g. Purchase my new book today and get $1000 in free gifts. (which includes a gift from you)

If you have physical product sitting on a shelf because it is not selling as it once did, make it a ‘value add’ for your newer products. This helps with current sales and also helps you clear your inventory and balance your accounting. It is much better than having to count the product every year when you do your end-of-year inventory

e.g. Buy two and we’ll through in one of our best selling products at no extra charge.

Now that you have some ideas, get your mastermind group together and brainstorm what else you can be offering to create more money in your business sales right now!

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?

 

Working at Home Can Negatively Affect Your Sales

If you are like me and you work from home and have kids, the summer can be a really tough time to get work done. AND just because you don’t have kids does not mean you are not affected by the “I work from home” virus. I say it’s a virus because it takes time for the routines, both the good and the bad, to set in and the symptoms of what you do show up. The symptoms of bad habits at home can be costing you clients.

What often happens when we work alone from our home is we find ourselves  doing work that is not for our business, we  feel alone with our work, we  do the same unproductive work over and over, and we sometimes  become  emotionally deflated or physically drained, even when we are not doing anything physical. If you want to make your home office a highly productive space look at adding these 4 items to your work day.

 Do the Hard Work First

The home office can be a very distracting place. If you want to be highly productive, do the work that is highest on your priority list first. If there is something you don’t like to do, then get it out of the way. Do the hard work first. Don’t procrastinate with an excuse that something, “must get done first” especially if you know it can wait. Don’t lie to yourself that your blog must get out when you know a sales call must be made, an invoice delivered, or a contract must be written. Do the work that brings in the money. It is not the sexy work. It is not the most fun work (although I have a few successful friends that would say sales is fun work). It is often tedious and uncomfortable. Do it first and then do the rest.

Get out

Changing your energy will help you stay focused. There has been research that I have read showing that humans can concentrate for a short period of time and be extremely productive. Beyond this time (which is about 90 minutes) we start losing our ability to stay focused. To reset your “focus-meter” you need to get out of the energy you are currently in. Set a 90 minute “productivity timer” and when it goes off, get up. Move away from your desk and physically leave your office. Stretch or do a short amount of exercise. Kelly McGonigal, PhD and author of The Willpower Instinct, suggests taking a ‘green break’ and going outside. It does not have to be for long, as short as 15 minutes, to recharge your “focus-meter” and get you back into your full-powered focus again.

Another way to get out is to take your work to a different location. Try working at a coffee shop or at the library. This is especially helpful on days when your kids won’t leave you alone and you have a deadline.

 Connect with New Minds

Stop working alone all the time. I didn’t realize how important it was to talk to others about what is and isn’t working. This is true for both business work and personal things. When we share what is going on we get feedback from others. We get to hear insights that may be new information for us or known information with a different perspective. It is impossible to make changes in our businesses or our lives without new insights that lead us to new discoveries, routines, actions, and ideas. Get out and have a lunch or coffee every few days or weeks. Attend networking events. Read a blog, new articles about your industry, or a book. Follow or hire an expert/mentor to get insights you did not have before. Join a mastermind group. Go to a Meetup meeting or attend a Google Hangout for a discussion on a topic you love. Don’t get stuck in an old mindset. Always be learning and growing.

Make Your Working Space a True Workplace

Is your office also a place for your entire family? Do the kids feel they have open access to your workplace, even when you are working? You need to set some boundaries for yourself and for your family. If you don’t have a separate room for your office and you need to share the space then when is it your “workplace” and when is it a “home space”? Try to physically block off your work space from the home. If you have a door on your office, then close it when you are working. If you don’t have a door then make a decision when your business is open and put up your office’s “open hours” sign so everyone, including you, knows when the space is an office. Let your kids and your spouse know when they can interrupt you and when it is important that they don’t (e.g. when you are writing or on the phone). Set your 90 minute “productivity timer” outside your office so when it goes off you will have to get up and out of your office and your kids will know you are available for them.

Don’t let your home space stop your productivity. Make your office a true business space. Give yourself time to focus and time to regenerate. Connect with amazing people to grow your business relationships and your mind. And finally, don’t put off the work that makes you money. There are many successful 6-figure and 7-figure businesses that operate out of the owner’s home. This can be you too.