Do You Know Your “Why”?

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Do you know what you stand for in the world? Do your clients?

As a solo entrepreneur, you personal brand is very important. Brands aren’t just for big corporations. However, you’re not like Apple, McDonalds, or Starbucks. Your potential clients aren’t looking for a big company brand, they’re more interested in you and who you are.

When you have a clear personal brand, you are communicating to the world who you are, what you do, who you serve, and why you do what you do. As a solo entrepreneur, your potential clients will be working with you closely, so they will look for a strong personal brand when deciding with whom they want to work. They want to know that you’re a good fit for them. Your marketing has to communicate your personal brand to the world so that the right people know that you’re meant for them.

One of the components of a personal brand that many solo entrepreneurs miss is creating a strong “why you do it” statement. This statement tells people why you get up every day to do the work that you do. This is all about what you stand for in the world.

You potential clients need to feel that they can connect with you on an emotional level. They want to know that you see the world the way that they do. If they resonate with the reasons why you do the work that you do, they’ll be drawn to you and not your competitors. This will help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Furthermore, when you are truly connected to the reasons why you do what you do, the people you attract will be ideal for you because they are in harmony with your vision. This is the very reason why your purpose in business has to be more than “to pay the bills”.

In order to find real joy in your work, you have to feel plugged into the kind of change you’d like to see in the world. This requires you to think bigger about what you do. What is your purpose? What really fires you up?

An example might be “I want to help people see their true beauty” or “I want to help people live more vibrant lives”.

It doesn’t matter what service you provide, there is a bigger purpose in what you do, you just have to connect to it.

So, how do you connect to your vision if you’re not sure?

Take some time to think really big about your purpose. If there were no limits, what could you achieve through your work? Write down three possible statements of why you do what you do. If you still have trouble, get help. Ask friends and family that know you well to help you. Sometimes others can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself.

When you feel like your work and your purpose are joined, you will love the work that you do. You’ll feel the power of the change that you can create in the world. You’ll do greater work and your potential clients will feel and respond to your energy.

Now, go and make the world a better place. We’ll all thank you for it.

 

Are You Ready for the Next Big Step?

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I’m currently taking a big leap in my business. It’s exciting, but I feel a little bit like I did as a kid at the amusement park standing in line for the big roller coaster. I’m both excited and a little nervous.

Big steps in your business are never easy. They almost always mean a bit of a leap into the unknown and there’s always a chance that it won’t work out. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

If we want to take our businesses to the next level, we have to do what we’ve never done before. We have to do things we don’t have experience with. It can be a little intimidating.

So, how do you know when it’s the right time to make that leap?

Here are three ways to know when it’s time to take the next big step in your business.

Your growth has stagnated

If your business just isn’t growing or the growth is very slow, it’s time to make a change. There’s an old saying in business that if you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s true. Your business has to make forward progress or eventually it will start to slow down. Over time, that can be a death sentence for your business.

Furthermore, you didn’t start your business to have it just get by, right? Now is the time to take the next big step before it’s too late and your business is already on death row.

The opportunity won’t wait

Bill Gates left college to pursue an opportunity that he knew might not wait until he graduated. The time was right, so he made the leap right then. He was right, and he became the wealthiest man in America.

We live in a time where change happens very quickly and opportunities don’t wait for us to decide we’re ready. Sometimes we have to jump in before it’s too late. This is the reason I’m taking a big step in my own business. I see an opportunity that won’t wait.

I believe there are some wonderful opportunities right now to take a small business to the next level. Now is the time to get in the game.

Your intuition says it’s time

Not to get all new age on you, but sometimes you just know it’s the right time to make a change. Many of us ignore that gentle nudge and go through the motions every day anyway, but you know when you need to take the next step.

The problem is that we tell ourselves that now is not the right time, for whatever reason. Maybe you think you don’t have the money yet, or you should wait until your kids are older and you have more time, or you’ll wait until some other situation settles down. The truth is that there will always be something going on in your life. If you wait until the “perfect time”, you’ll never reach your dreams.

If you continue to ignore that gut feeling that it’s time to make a change, eventually you’ll come to a crisis point that will force you to change. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Believe me when I tell you that it’s ugly. Don’t wait for that to happen. Do it now. Trust your gut.

You don’t have to do it alone

You know those brave mountain climbers that conquer Mount Everest? They don’t do it alone. For every photo of the proud climber on top of the mountain that they’ve conquered, there are the Sherpas, the assistants, and the team in the background that helped them reach the summit.

You don’t have to take a big step in your business alone. You don’t have to feel like you’re stepping off into the unknown. Take a guide with you. Your own personal Sherpa that’s been to the mountain top before and can show you the way.

I love to guide business owners up the mountain. If you’re ready to take the next big step in your business and you’re looking for a guide, send me an email, we just might make a good team.

First Steps

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One of the first questions that I ask a coaching client is, “What is the biggest question that the people that you serve ask themselves when they first discover that they have a problem?”. Then the next question is, “What would be their first step after they ask themselves that question?” If  you were to take your prospect all the way back to when they first realized that they had a problem, what situation were they in?

For instance, if you’re a fitness coach, maybe your prospect had a visit to the doctor and found out his weight was life threatening. If you’re a real estate agent, perhaps it was an unexpected career change when a couple realized they needed to sell their home and move. If you’re a financial adviser, it  could be the birth of a child when a couple wonders if they’ll be able to save enough for college.

Once you have a handle on the situations that cause your prospects to then go look for a solution, you can now ask yourself, “What’s their biggest question at that moment?” So, if we go back to our examples, the man at the doctor might ask himself, “How will I lose the weight?”. The couple that needs to move might ask, “How can I sell quickly and for the most money?” The new parents could ask, “How can we make sure we’ll save enough in time?”

Now that you know what their biggest question is, what’s their first step after they ask that question? Would they go home and do a Google search? If so, what words or phrases would they use? Would they ask other people that they know? If so, who? Would they look for meetings or groups to join? Would they read certain magazines? Would they search YouTube for instructional videos? What search terms would they use?  You really need to understand how they go about looking for a solution so you know where you need to show up.

This will also give you amazing clarity on the type of content you need to create (blog posts, webinars, audios, videos, etc.) that will address those questions your prospects are asking themselves.

Now this does not necessarily mean that these people  are ready to buy your solution right now. Some may be ready, others won’t be ready just yet. So, you should have a plan in place to be able to reach out to those that are ready to work with you immediately and to nurture those that aren’t quite ready to buy from you right now, but will be ready in the future.

If you have a plan to lead and nurture these prospects, it will create the momentum in your business that you need to finally get you off of the roller coaster ride of an unsteady flow of clients. So, do you have a plan to reach out to prospects that are ready now and in the future? If not, I can help you put one in place and get you on the path to a waiting list of clients.

 

 

Do You Trust Yourself?

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Stephen Covey in “The Speed of Trust” talks about how trust is critical in business and in your personal life. Simply put, costs go down and things happen quicker when there are high levels of trust. It takes a lot less time and money to acquire new clients when they trust you. However, trust isn’t just about whether or not people trust you and you trust them, it really goes deeper. Covey says that “trust flows from the inside out”. This means that trust starts with you and whether or not you really trust yourself.

So, what does it mean to trust yourself? Self trust is all about the confidence you have in yourself. Do you believe yourself when you make commitments? Are you making promises to yourself that you don’t keep? If you want others to trust you, you have to inspire trust in them. This begins by keeping the promises that you make to yourself. However, we break promises to ourselves a lot. We say we’ll start that diet Monday, we’ll commit to walk a mile a day, eat better, blog every week, write that report, book more customers, get the help we need, but we break those commitments. We say to ourselves, “Who’s it really hurting?” “Life happens, right?” “I’ll get it done later”.

Here’s the thing. Before others can really trust you, they have to see that you’re credible. You have to become a person worthy of trust. This means that others have to see you fulfilling promises to others AND yourself. An amazing thing happens when you fulfill commitments to yourself. Your confidence will skyrocket. People will be able to see and feel that confidence and as a result will trust you more. Goals that you set will be achieved and your business and life will expand as a result.

Now, how do you learn to trust yourself? Start by setting new goals. What goals do you need to set in your business and in your personal life that if you were to keep them would make a dramatic difference a year from now? Break it down. What needs to happen every day or every week without fail to make it happen? Make a commitment right now to stop disappointing yourself and fulfill those promises you made to yourself. If you think broken promises to yourself won’t affect the people around you, think again.

Finally, get the help you need. It is just too easy to put your goals aside to address whatever crisis seems to be happening almost every day. There’s always something taking your attention. Consider getting a coach or at least a really good accountability partner to help keep you on track. All kinds of excuses and “stuff” comes up when it comes to fulfilling the goals you set for yourself. You need someone to keep you accountable and moving forward.

If you’re not sure what you need to do to fulfill your goals, you need a system. Consider investing in yourself and your future by getting the education you need, and if getting your business booked solid with ideal clients is one of your goals, I’m here to help.

 

Generating Good Word-of-Mouth about Your Business

Word-of-mouth, whether it’s done verbally person-to-person or electronically over the internet, has a significant impact on the success of your business.

What people are saying about your business is  important because others will be influenced by the opinion and experiences of those that have had  interaction with your company.

Word-of-mouth also has great influence because it’s timely. It occurs  when people are most interested in what you have to offer. Think about if you were interested in  finding a good hotel in a city you were planning to visit. Your interest in a hotel is now at its highest, so  you might go online to check reviews and what others are saying about hotels in that area. You might  also ask for the opinion of someone you know that has been there recently.

We all tend to rate the  opinion of others that have used a service higher than any amount of advertising or marketing from  the business. While it may seem that you can’t control what others say about your business, there are  things you can do to put the odds in your favor.

  1.  Make them part of the processProvide a way for your customers to communicate with you whether through Facebook, Twitter,  or some other means. Listen to what they say and provide appreciation for their feedback. Take  suggestions into consideration and make changes if necessary.Although you may not want to hear  things that are negative about your business, it’s important for you to know about it so you can correct  it. It is also important to know what you’re doing right. Customers will rally around a business that  listens to them, supports them, and makes them feel like they are contributing.
  2. Help Them Tell the Story of Their PurchaseGive your customers a way to share their story with others. Have them share their photos on your social  sites. Give them a way to tell an interesting story about their interaction with your service. Post these  stories on your website. Get creative.Potential customers will care more about the results that were  achieved by others and the good experiences that they had with you than the features of what you  offer. Make it easy for them to find.
  3. Don’t Force ItWord-of-mouth should be spontaneous. While you should be making it easy for your customers to  share their experiences with others, don’t make it uncomfortable. You can’t force people to share  even when they have a positive experience with you.A couple of years ago I had a very positive result  from some work that I hired a company to do. I was pleased and they were proud. I was more than  happy to provide a testimonial, but they wanted me to play a bigger part and be featured in ads and  other marketing material. I didn’t want to do that and they didn’t want to take no for an answer. It got  uncomfortable and the positive experience I had started to fade. Ask them once; provide a way, and  then stop.
  4. Don’t Try to Tell Them What to Say
    If you try to control what others say about your business, you will fail. I see it online all of the time.Someone posts a negative review of a company and then a representative of that business will respond  with anger, criticism of the poster, or worse yet they will resort to name calling. I get it that sometimes  things go wrong in your business that’s not really your fault. However, the truth is no one really cares.Your customer just wants things to go smoothly. It’s your job to make that happen to the best of your  ability. When you work on it, there is usually an answer that will make a negative customer experience  positive again. Do the best you can to make every customer experience positive and let the word-of- mouth script itself.

How to Create Fiercely Loyal Customers

If you don’t already recognize the benefits of building bonds with your customers, here’s a sobering statistic. Most companies lose 10% or more of their customers each year. Acquiring new customers to take their place can cost five times more than the cost of keeping current customers satisfied.

Furthermore, the profit on retained customers tends to increase over time through subsequent  purchases, referrals, reduced cost to service, and the likelihood that they’ll buy more premium priced  services. You can’t afford not to keep your customers happy and loyal.

Here are the four ways you can increase customer loyalty:

1. Listen to Your Customer
You should provide a way for your customers to provide you with feedback and you should be plugged  in to what they’re saying at all times. Whether it’s through your Facebook fan page or a special club you  create, you should be offering a place where your customers can communicate with you and you can  communicate with them. Quickly respond to questions and comments and thank them for any input  that they give you. You can reward their participation by making them the first ones that you contact  about any special deals and keeping them up to date about any changes. It is also a good place to be a  customer advocate by answering questions that they have about your industry.

2. Develop a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs like airline frequent flyer programs provide rewards for customers that purchase frequently. Customers that are loyal to you should be given perks that wouldn’t be available to all of your customers.

You don’t have to be a big business to start a loyalty program. You can offer special access, discounts, or complimentary services for your best customers. It doesn’t even have to be a  formal program. Remember to keep track of your customers and what they purchase as well as the number and type of referrals they send you. Then you can reward them appropriately.

3. Personalize It
Strong bonds are created when you personalize your communication with your customers. Technology  makes it easy to create and keep a database on your customers with as much information on them as you can gather. Any offers you send to them should be customized. Use the information that you have on them to send offers that they would be interested in, based on their previous purchase activity and interests.

You can also personalize any emails or letters that go out. Really, there’s no excuse anymore to ever send an email or letter without your customers name on it.

4. Make it Hard to Leave
The truth is the harder it is to leave, the less likely we are to switch companies.
For instance, think about  your bank. We now have direct deposits going in to our bank account, drafts coming out, ATM cards,  debit cards, and the list goes on.

It makes my head hurt thinking about what I’d have to go through to switch to another bank. So, unless something goes wrong, they’ve probably got me for life. I don’t even  shop out what other banks are offering.

You’re probably the same way. It’s time to start looking for  ways to make it more trouble than it’s worth to not do business with you. I don’t want you to hold your  customers hostage (think cell phone contracts) I just want you to make it so much easier to do business with you that they don’t want to switch to another company. In our business, we can keep extensive information on our customers so that when they call, we already know their preferences. We make it  easier to do business with us than another company. When they call us, we already know their likes and  dislikes and what’s important to them.

Now is the time to start planning and developing ways to keep your customers happy and faithful. When  you focus on customer loyalty, your business will start to thrive.