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Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry money home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a … half-successful business owner?

Let’s face it.  That’s where a lot of us still are, half successful.  We start out with a vision of our business where finding clients is easy, they turn out to be so interesting and delightful that our work is sheer joy, and our projects are outstanding.  We hope that as soon as possible we are being handed from one client to the next through our “raving fan” former clients.  We may even still cherish that dream … while seemingly getting no closer to its reality.

If you feel that you are a “half-successful” business owner here are a few tips for the new year:

  1. Do that 2016 strategic plan but go one step further than just writing down your wishes and dreams for your business. Ask yourself “How am I going to get from here to there” and create not just a wish list for your business but an actual navigational plan.  You need a ‘Master To Do List’, a ‘Next 30 Days To Do List’, and a ‘Upcoming Week To Do List’.  And you need to use them to consistently guide your business activities!
  2. Then, be really honest and identify what is going well in your business and what isn’t. Are there things you have been putting off learning that would make your business more successful?  Are there things that you should be doing (more of, less of, start doing, avoid doing, be more consistent at?)  Get those things into your schedule.  Lastly, take a really hard look at yourself as a business owner.  How could you get yourself to a more successful level?  How might you be holding yourself back?  How could you correct those things and GROW into the business owner you want to be?
  3. Next, ask yourself how might you step-up your marketing? I am not talking about working harder, longer, more stressfully. I am talking about working smarter, more effectively, and becoming really results-oriented; no more being satisfied with marketing that gets you very poor responses.  What could you do to make the marketing you are doing more successful?  What kind of marketing would start bringing your target clients right to your door?  When can you start?
  4. Lastly,invest in help if you need it. That doesn’t just mean hiring a consultant or business skills trainer to help you grow more quickly… although that could be something you consider.  It could also mean that you spend a dedicated amount of time, every week, mastering something you need to know and putting it into practice. It means not being lazy about your business development or putting it off to a once-a-year training experience at a conference. It means searching on the internet for resources, studying and using them.  It means that ‘assessing  yourself honestly’ is something that happens constructively every week.

You COULD be better than you are!
You could be swinging on a star!

TCan-I-Help-Youhe other day I was talking to one of my new business owner clients. She is an enthusiastic marketer and actually an enthusiastic person all around. This week she surprised me, though, by telling me, “I think I am going to take a part-time job through Christmas. Even though I am getting encouraging responses to my marketing it looks as if most of my potential clients don’t want to start anything until after the holidays so I’m going to take a part-time job at Target.

“At Target?” I said.

“Yes!  It isn’t very much per hour but it will help staunch the bleed in my savings and I think I am going to enjoy it.  I’ll be one of those people on the floor stocking shelves and saying “Can I help you find anything?”  (You know how much I like to help people and just plain talk!)  I think I will enjoy this job and it is only through Christmas.  I will still have 20 hours a week to keep marketing and finish the current projects I have going. AND BESIDES,” she added, You know my car with the car magnet on it is going to be parked in that big lot for 20 hours every week!”

I left our conversation thinking,”This woman is going to succeed in her business! She has such a good attitude and she doesn’t let anything stop or discourage her.  If there is a roadblock, she just deals with it, moves around it, and keeps on going!”  And her natural friendliness and positive attitude are going to be such an asset in her marketing, she won’t be working at Target long!

MARKETING TIP:  Especially for what people consider expensive services, marketing may not be an immediate sell and that “wait in the dark” as potential clients make up their minds can be discouraging. This is why “Funnel Marketing” (a system of marketing activities that keep interested people close to you until they are ready to buy) is so important.  I happen to know this client of mine has a great grasp of funnel marketing and that the growing group of people who are out there, feeling positive about her and her work, but are not quite ready to buy, all get regular contact from her.  Come the new year, she will be ready and her contacts will not be cold.

I attended the live simulcast of the  Kauffman “State of Entrepreneurship Conference 2015” earlier this month.  The President of the Kauffman Foundation (a leader in supporting and nurturing entrepreneurship in the United States) plus the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration all gave keynote speeches.

Who do they see as the upcoming Entrepreneurs of 2015?

The Millenials:

Millenials are our most educated generation.  They are just now reaching their 40s, the age when most entrepreneurs start their first business.  Many Millenials, however, are also saddled with huge school loan debts making it difficult for them to find the capital to start their own business.  Clever people that they are, they are looking to partner or get mentoring from older entrepreneurs or to invest in very specific education on the business skills they need.

The Boomers

Boomers should be about to retire now, right?  Wrong!  Many boomers are healthy, strong, and not ready for a back seat anywhere.  Boomers have more retirement wealth than previous generations.  They have always shown an interest in being “different” and their risk taking tendencies coupled with their entrepreneural background is sending them into new business opportunities when most previous generations would be starting to slow down.

Encore Entrepreneurs

What’s an Encore Entrepreneur, you may ask?  This is a new name for people who are already retired who want to stay engaged and keep going past retirement  They often choose a second career that parallels one of their passions or interests. Others are finding that the money they accumulated during a lifetime of working is not enough to cover expected expenses in the future and they want a second income well into their 70s and 80s.  Last year, 2014, the SBA and AARP mentored 30,000 new Encore Entrepreneurs in starting a business.

Looks like there will be lots of new entrepreneurs in the coming year!

Best regards,

Dhyan

Remember, when you need help finding clients…
I am here to help you!
Contact me for your free consultation.

 

 

How do you stay in contact with new “business friends” and “potential referral partners” without this taking up all of your time?

First of all you need a decent contact management system.  I don’t care what kind you use but choose something that lets you easily sort the information so that you can put in a “contact this person again” date, which you can sort by, to remind you who this person is and that it is time to re-connect.

There are several ways to keep in touch with people you REALLY think might be able to help you with your business and that you are willing to help with theirs:

  • Of course the best thing is to send them a potential client introductions.. when you can.
  • Secondly, if you meet a type of person they told you they are trying to meet, send a two person introduction out.  “Hi, I think you two should meet one another.”
  • Send a “thinking of you” email:  “Hi, I called in February. I thought we might be good referral partners.  Haven’t found anyone to send to you YET but I just want you to know I am still thinking of (remembering) you.  Has anything changed in your business that I should know about?
  • Send an update on your business and ask for an update from them
  • If you have an event coming up, let them know.  Ask them if they would mention it to their clients.  OFFER TO DO THE SAME FOR THEM AND THEN DO IT IF THEY ASK.
  • If they send out a monthly email or a blog – ask if you can be a guest writer.  Offer the same to them.

When you have a good contact management system, you can set up a tickler file that will remind you to connect again with people you liked and with whom you wanted to stay in connection.  Then schedule a small block of time (every week, every month…?) to do your call backs.

Remember that you are not JUST making a connection with that one person – you are potentially connecting with all the people THEY know in addition to all the people you know.  Your circles of connection will grow exponentially.

Dhyan

Need help in this area?  Contact me for a session!

So who is a good potential referral partner again? 

  • Anyone who has the same target clients you have
  • Is at about the same level of business you are at, or maybe a little MORE established.
  • Someone as interested in getting clients by referral as you are

So let’s say you have done a little Google research and found a person in your city who probably meets your ideal target clients all the time in their line of work.  As I mentioned yesterday, you should look at their website and get an idea who they are and then call to invite them to talk with you.  Hooray!  They are interested in talking to you!  Now, what do you say?

First of all, I always put the other person first.  I don’t want them sitting the whole time I am speaking wondering when it is going to be their turn.  I want them to really listen to me instead of thinking about what they are going to say!  So I invite them to go first in our conversation and then I make sure I ask them four VERY good questions:

  • I’ve looked at your website – can you tell me more about your business?
  • Who are your ideal target clients?
  • If I met one of your ideal target clients and see they need your service, what would you like me to tell them about you?
  • I will, of course, send you clients if I can – but is there anything else I could do that might help you with your business?

o   Who are the kinds of people you like to meet that know your clients?  I’ll make introductions if I can.

o   Are you looking for speaking engagements?  Where do you like to speak?

o   Is there anything else, in addition to trying to send you referrals that I can do to help you?

Keep in mind when it is your turn that not everyone will have it together enough to be as organized about asking YOU questions as you were, but since you asked these, you will have a tacit agreement for you to share the same things:

  • More about your business
  • Who your ideal target clients are… and if you are smart, you will be sure to mention why they hire or pay you (their “problem”) and what it is like for them when they get your final product (your “solution” to their “problem.”)
  • Be sure to tell your new business colleague EXACTLY what you would like them to say if they meet one of your ideal target clients.  Not JUST – “here’s her phone number” – but “I know a _____ who does ______  (“your kind of work.”)  Have you ever thought of talking to someone like that?  S/he could probably help you with _____________.  Here’s his/her contact information.”  (Please note I have been deliberately vague so that more of you can “fill in the blanks” and use this script.)
  • If you have something you are looking for (like speaking engagements, like another kind of business professional they might know, or an introduction to someone you have been trying to meet forever but haven’t found an “in”) – ASK –  you never know if they might be able to help.  I have sometimes gotten better tips from “strangers” than I do from my friends!

Remember this kind of conversation is not molecular biology!  The “script” is very simple and you will get loads of good information – including things you can do right away to look for clients or build your business that this person has just suggested to you.

How do you stay in contact with your new “business friend(s)” without this taking up all of your time?

I will write about that tomorrow!

Dhyan

Need help in this area?  Contact me for a session!

How do you approach a stranger who might be a great referral partner? Straightforwardly!

I prefer phone calling but you can also send an email.  Keep in mind that with an email you put at least three interactions between you and actually talking with this person (- you email, they say yes they’d like to meet, you have to compare calendars – much quicker by phone.)

Remember that you are contacting him or her “out of the blue” and that the other person will be trying to decide if you are a scammer or a telephone marketing person before anything else.  So tell them right away who you are and why you are calling. Don’t even do your 30 second commercial here – 30 seconds is too long for you to get to the point!  Try something like this:

Hi, my name is Jane (or John) Doe, I’m a (your profession here).  I found you on Google because I was looking for (genealogists, photo restoration people….. etc) and your name came up. I’ve looked at your website. I think we have the same target clients and that we might be able to send business to one another.  Would you be willing to spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with me so you can tell me more about your business and I can tell you about mine? (Then set up a time.  You might want to mutually send some information before the call.)

What should you say when it is time to talk?

I’ll write about how to get the most from this kind of conversation tomorrow!

Dhyan

Need help in this area?  Contact me for a session!

Why should you be interested in meeting other “memory saving” professionals in your community?

Well, for one thing they have the exact same target clients that you do!  That means if you would like to get referrals from business people whose work directly crosses the path of your ideal target clients, other memory saving professionals fit the bill a higher percentage of the time than, say, your local insurance agent, the Mary Kay consultant down the street, or an appliance repair service… all of which you are likely to meet at any small business networking event.

Who are all the memory-saving professionals? 

  • Personal Historians
  • Oral Historians
  • Video-Biographers
  • Family Story Writers
  • Genealogists
  • Memorial, Anniversary, Birthday or Special Event filmmakers, photographers & storywriters
  • PhotoBook or Narrated Slide Show Creators
  • Photoshop & Photo Restoration Professionals
  • Digital Transfer Experts
  • Scrapbook Professionals
  • Professional Organizers (especially down-sizers and curators)

Did I leave anyone out?

It is easy to find these people.  Google any of them + your city or community name.  They will pop right up.  Look at their websites to find out a little about them before you call someone: Have they been in business a long time?  Do they have a marketing savvy website?  Does it look as if they are actively seeking business? – Then they are good candidates for you to talk to.

Want to know what to say to a stranger who might be a great potential referral partner?   I’ll write about that tomorrow!

Dhyan

Need help in this area?  Contact me for a session!

I just attended an hour-long webinar of tips from two well-known published and self-published authors who also do business coaching with writers:  Debbie Weil and Debbie Reber.

I want you to know they averaged “mentioning stories of work with a particular client” or saying “when I work with my clients…” about one to two times every five minutes – each!  Did they over do it?  No, I didn’t think so.   The average attendee might not have noticed at all.  I notice because I spend so much of my consulting time working with people who are afraid to self-promote and are timid about crossing some invisible “marketing line.”   They are afraid if they cross this invisible line people will think they are “obnoxious” and wouldn’t hire them if they were the last person offering their service on earth!  Pretty daunting self talk!

When I work with MY clients – I always tell them there are two agendas for any public speaking.  The first is that the audience wants to get good information from people they like.  They want to enjoy the presentation.

Did the webinar from the Two Debbies fulfill that agenda?  They sure did!  I got lots of good tips from these two published writers on what kinds of editors there are, how to find, select and work with an editor, what are the pros and cons of sending in a book proposal and looking for a traditional editor vs self publishing.  Plus they talked about the writing process itself – tips from actual writers!

I’m all jazzed to get to my writing projects This Afternoon!

The second agenda you have to attend to when you are doing public presentations is your own. Debbie and Debbie also attended well to this agenda.  Did I leave with a clear idea of what services they offer to people like me?  I sure did!  If I ever need/want/can afford a writing coach will I consider one of them?  You bet!

So be clear about both agendas when you plan your presentations.  Yes, you want people to go away singing your praises for providing a lot of really good and helpful information but you also want want them to consider working with you.  And they can’t or won’t do that if you don’t let people know what you do, why and with whom.

And by the way… do you give “great” presentations but are not getting enough clients for the labor and time?  Contact me to talk about it for 15 minutes.  Let me give you a few tips and see if our working together might result in more sales for you.  This is a self-promotion!  : )

I came across an article in Science News that I found very encouraging. The headline was “Pianists learn better by playing.”

“What???” I hear you say, “Pianists?”  Read on! : )

In a study by McGill University in Montreal and The National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France, 20 skilled pianists were asked to learn 12 simple melodies either by listening to them or playing them. In later tests, the pianists were better at spotting a single errant note in a recording of the melodies in a piece they had PLAYED rather than just heard. Playing the song activated parts of the brain that handle movement. The article concludes: “Physically doing a task sears its memory into the brain in a special way.”

What does that mean to us? It means if you have crafted a 30 second commercial AND ARE SAYING IT DAILY, studied the networking questions AND ARE USING THEM WHENEVER YOU CAN, know how to respond to interest and ARE PRACTICING seeing how far down the “sales pipeline” you can take ANY conversation with a person who expresses interest (without seeming “pushy” or “sales-y”) — If you are PRACTICING your skills you are much more likely to master them and REMEMBER THEM in the right situation!

Good to know!

Dhyan

Why am I stuck?

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK?

A month ago my strategic business partner and I both came to our weekly meeting feeling depressed about our businesses plus overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, and just plain stuck.  We thought it was interesting that we were both feeling the same thing on the same week.  It actually helped us step back and look at our situations from outside the feelings.

Here’s what we decided to do:  We made an agreement that by our next meeting we would both have analyzed our situation and come up with solutions and steps.  By stepping back and defining exactly what was happening we stopped the cycle of just plain being IN the problem, and started looking for ways out.

It worked!  Not only did we feel better immediately, but our energy and enthusiasm about our businesses returned and by the next week we were both moving forward again.  I have to admit that my strategic partner came up with a format for analyzing her situation that was better than mine so let me share it with you:

THE PROBLEM:

Write down the actual problem or problems.  To do this you have to STOP, step back from your life for a few minutes, think, and write.  Is there more than one problem working in combination? Do this process as a list…. not an essay.

Here are some sample problems:  Erratic clash flow.  Money spent before work is done.  Undercharging.   Being busy but not productive. (OR) Too busy to think of and make course corrections.  Not marketing consistently. Doing marketing that brings in more ‘interest’ than actual paying clients.  Falling into black holes like spending too much time each a day on Facebook or your email.  What exactly makes YOU feel stuck inside your business?

Now identify this:  What is it in your situation that virtually assures you are going to stay in this rut?  Write that down too.

All of the above is THE PROBLEM.

THE VISION:

What would it  look like if you were out of this problematic situation? It is important for you to write down what you want your situation to become. I do five hours of marketing per week and that nets me 30 hours of paid work each month.  I have developed a routine where I get the top priority things done each day and then work on things of a lower priority.  When I look at the mental “pie chart” of my business time I see that I want and need to shift the sections.

What’s your vision?  What would your business life look like without “the problem(s)?”

SOLUTIONS:

Now, you need to brainstorm like mad.  Look at your situation as if you are seeing it from the outside. What do you  actually need to do to get out of this rut?  If you have detailed the problem the solutions are going to be pretty obvious.  This is the place to think hard about how to get from where you are now to where you are in your vision.

For example, here is one of my own favorite ruts:  I get so busy working with clients that I don’t have time to work on my strategic goals.  The SOLUTION, obviously, is to use even better time management than I do, and block out some big chunks of time for writing.  I need to do this asap! I need to look at my upcoming calendar and find that time.  Then I need to embrace that writing time as if it is my best friend forever!  Because if I don’t – guess what – problem continues!

THE IMMEDIATE STEPS:

This is a ‘ To Do’ list. Now that you have your  vision and the solutions in mind, you need to make a list of immediate steps you can take to start moving yourself out of “the problem.”

You may have just written something above that is going to take you several months to completely shift.  Still, what are the immediate next steps?  Alternatively, it may take you a week to change your situation.  Great – how will you do that? In either case, what are the steps?  Write them down… and then go out and get started asap!

FINAL COMMENT:  You have probably heard that classic definition of insanity:  “You continue doing the same thing but expect a different outcome.”  By following the steps above you can get out of the debilitating emotional part of being in a rut and move yourself, step-by-step, to the much better place. Yea!

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