Ep29: Mike Southon on how to create a successful microbusiness

In episode 29 of Micro Entrepreneur: the magic of thinking small, I had a great time speaking with Mike Southon. Mike is a serially successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author and one of the world’s top business keynote speakers on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and sales.

Listen below or go to iTunes or Stitcher to Subscribe and download it to your smart phone

This week’s guest

Mike is co-author with Chris West of The Beermat Entrepreneur, The Boardroom Entrepreneur and Sales on a Beermat.

He has spoken at over 1,000 live events all over the world and provided face-to-face mentoring to over 1,000 entrepreneurs.

What we covered in the show:

  • The back story behind the Instruction Set and the Beermat Entrepreneur
  • The most important factor for success (spoiler – it’s all about finding and maintaining mentors)
  • Make a profit and you’re already an entrepreneur! Start there…
  • Choose something that you love doing – there’s always money in it
  • Focus, focus, focus – Start small and see if anyone will give you any money for your product/service
  • Always charge something – test your model and measure it with the money
  • What to do before the logo, the branding or the business plan
  • Setting initial prices – the first sale is the hardest – then others do the selling for you
  • Raising your prices – the difference between price and ‘value for money’ pricing
  • Trust based and outcome based pricing
  • Selling is about hunting, farming and managing your pipeline
  • You have to be prepared to work hard in the beginning
  • Thoughts on 2015
  • Mentoring – helps you with the ‘how, who, why of your business’ and (if you’re lucky!)… a referral

You can find out more about Mike here:

Mike’s website

@MikeSouthon

LinkedIn

Youtube

Google+

About the Podcast

The Micro Entrepreneur Podcast is your place to come and hear me talk about all things business for the micro business owner.  I speak with experts, authors and other micro business owners and what they are doing to build and grow a successful micro business.

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Define your own version of success with these 3 simple visioning techniques!

Ladies, it’s time for a makeover… Get dressed for success.

If I stopped you in the street and asked you to define success, what would you say?  What comes to mind straight away?  It’s said that success is the ability to get up one more time than you’ve been knocked down but I think there’s a little more to it than sheer resilience.  In my experience, resilience is the fuel not the destination.  Success, the end point, in all its glorious Technicolor, is unique to each of us.  So, what does success mean to you?  Or, let me put it this way, how will you know when you’ve got there, crossed the finish line?

You’d be surprised how many smart, achieving women are stumped when it comes to answering this question.  OK, the textbook answer might spill forth, BUT the definition of success on their terms is a different matter entirely.  And therein lies the problem: so many of us don’t know what we’re aiming for or, worse, are in pursuit of an out-dated definition of success.

If any of this is ringing true for you, it’s time for a mindset makeover.  Find a little quiet time and use the three visioning techniques below to guide you:

1. Lights, camera, action:

Assume the role of film director.  The screenplay is your life – or more specifically, your future life.  In the film we’re reaching the final scene, where our heroine (you!) gets the happy ending, the success she’s been striving for in this movie.  Picture the scene in all its detail.  Where are you?  And who with?  What are you doing?  Wearing?  Saying?  Bring the picture to life.  Make it so vivid you start to feel what it would be like to be there.  Now write down what you imagined.

2. Dream it:

Make like the movie above is your favourite all-time film.  You never get bored with watching this one.  In fact, you’re going to watch it over and over – I’d suggest daily – concentrating on feeling the feelings of succeeding.  You’re aiming to make these feelings of success a new habit.  Daydream while you brush your teeth.  Do it for 21 days and you’ll start to see a shift – this way of thinking becomes a new and natural habit.

 3. A new look:

What would you do if you were this person in the movie now, not in some future reality?  What would you do differently?  How would you behave?  So often we’re hard-wired to do what we’ve always done – even if this behaviour is based on thinking that is well past its sell-by-date.  Have you ever heard someone trying to give up smoking say something along the lines of “I’m finding if hard to kick the habit, I’ve always been a smoker”?  For as long as they continue to see themselves as “a smoker”, they’ll continue to smoke.  As soon as they shift their identity to one of a non-smoker, their behaviour begins to change.  What identity have you been giving yourself that’s out-dated?  What do you now want to say about yourself?

Think of all the advice given about preparing for an interview.  Research the company culture.  Dress the part.  Know what you can offer the role and the company.  Show a hunger to develop.  You know the rest… Maybe some of the same advice can be taken when it comes to planning for success.  How might you act differently to get the part?

So, it’s over to you.

Get crystal clear on your idea of success and then play the part as if it’s yours already.  It’s there for the taking…

Heros and Quests: equipping you for success – part 1

Setting up and running a successful business or enterprise is a herculean task reminiscent of the Hero’s journey. In this four part series I’ll take you through a self-development programme in which we will look at how to equip you for success.  We will look at four areas:

1. Archetypes and how to leverage their power for success

2. The Hero’s journey to identify where we are, where we have been and to prepare for where we are going.

3. Thinking about and connecting the trips that entrepreneurs make and how to avoid them

4. Practical, easy and inexpensive ways to support the Hero and her Quest

Part 1: Archetypes and how to leverage their power for success

Archetypes are universally understood symbols or patterns of behavior brought most vividly to life in fairytales and films. Who has not come across the Hero, or the Shadow, or A Damsel in Distress. The archetype hypothesis dates back to the philosopher Plato who thought souls came to the world with an archetype imprint. Later, Carl Jung upheld and further advanced the concept of psychological archetypes by also rejecting the notion that people’s psychological development resembled a white clean slate. Instead Jung favored the idea that individual’s psyche was pre-ordered to some extent with archetypes that acquired strength and became externally manifested through people’s encounter with life. Today we recognize this idea as the nature and nurture influences on shaping how our brains work and who we are. Existence of a specific Archetype can be best deduced by examining one’s behavior. In other words, the archetypes form a foundation that all of us build on with our varied experience in and of life, resulting in different and unique personalities and ways of being. Insights into your archetypes can help you improve the way you operate in business and in life.

I am fascinated by the conversion of our unconscious thoughts and ideas towards conscious thinking for clarity and focus that allows people to be more productive. And I have been using fairytales in my own work to facilitate this process so I would like to invite you on a journey of discovering your archetypes and using them as powerful allies and helpers in your business.

Archetypes and how we can use them to achieve our quest

Archetypes are limitless according to Jung. That said, he had identified four main types:

  1.  Self – coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person – one’s totality
  2. Shadow – the opposite of the Ego (center of consciousness), often possessing the same characteristics as the Ego but which the Ego also rejects
  3. Anima/Animus – feminine inner personality of a male and masculine inner personality of a female respectively
  4. Mask – image we present to the world

Consider how these seemingly unconscious forces may influence and/or control your approach to your business. We will start this exploration by first identifying a clear ‘Quest’ or your goal.

Question: What is your ultimate business quest and why are you pursing it?

You may wish to be really specific here. Ensure your quest has as much detail as possible including likely timescale, who’s involved, what is happening, what is being delivered and to whom etc. Is it to run a multi-million global company? A small business? A franchise? Are you offering a specific service or product?

For an excellent one page workout on this you may with to checkout the Business Canvas based on the Business Model Generation

Example quest

To create greeting cards and other products that inspire and help people connect with themselves and others in a deeply meaningful way using pragmatic life scenarios and intelligent humour.

Also note down how did your quest come about?

Example Motivation for the Quest: I would like to combine my experience as a neuroscientists and coach and spread valuable learning and permission giving for authentic connection and courageous acts that lead to tangible results more widely than just through 1:1 and group programmes.

Ok. Well done.

Let’s now delve into the four archetypes to see how they may be used to help you advance your quest more effectively.

Having named your quest consider the following questions and note down your thoughts and ideas for actions that you may not have considered before.

Archetype Questions to aid you Moving forward actions
Self What does your head and heart really tell you is needed right now for the success of your business? Note down all actions and schedule them.
Shadow What is specifically hanging over you in your shadow? Consider finances, time, logistical issues etc…and note all that apply. If you look at each one of your shadow components notice the following:1. What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
2. What helpful relationships could you tap into to overcome each shadow?
3. What would you need to learn or do to improve?
Note down your action list
Animus If you were a male business entrepreneur on your quest what would things look like? How do your successful male counterparts behave and act? Note down actions that will help you step up your game and guarantee success?
Mask What mask are you wearing most often and to whom? What is underneath the mask? How does your mask and what’s underneath impact how you connect with your clients/customers? Are they more likely to buy into your services/products through the mask or not? Note down specific changes in your behaviour or actions you can take to strengthen your results.

 

Mining the four survival archetypes to help us develop core strength and strengthen our integrity

At any given moment in time and certainly in the life of a business, we are acting in the name of basic survival. What I mean by this is being able to have life, stay afloat and thrive. Both in nature and in business, survival is a fundamental threshold towards growth, expansion and success. So it is useful to consider what survival may mean for you right now. Survival may mean persisting with our idea whether that’s refining the concept or testing it out, braving the odds and continuing under difficult conditions and so on.  Even rebounding from setbacks and crisis is an act of survival.

There are four archetypes commonly associated with survival that all humans are believed to share which can offer us useful ideas we may not have considered either for our products or the approach we take to our enterprise. They are:

1.       Child – the playful, light, fun energy and thinking that aims to delight and elicit best in others

2.       Victim – the energy and thinking that alerts us to the possibility or reality that someone may be taking advantage of us

3.       Sabatour – the energy and thinking that aims to help us discover the various ways in which we create our own barriers to success

4.       Prostitute – the energy and thinking that alerts us towards our self-respect and self-esteem.

These four archetypes are concerned with challenges we must overcome to survive and their role is to help guard us and help us retain our individual integrity against survival demands in a more elegant and sustainable way.

Below is a workout to help you consider these characters as we did above.

Survival
Archetype
Questions to aid you Moving forward actions
Child How could you have more fun working as hard as you do? What would the child in you wonder about and ask? What would they do? Note down specific actions that appear.
Victim Where do you feel hard done by? Struggling? Taken advantage of? What impact does this thinking have on your behavior towards others? List what you need to learn and do to connect with others and act from your best self. 
Sabatour What limiting thoughts and beliefs do you carry within you? What is their impact on you and your business?  What is the sabatour really trying to bring to your attention to help you succeed? Note down what specific things will strengthen your success going forward.
Prostitute In what ways may you be selling yourself short whether that’s how you market your business or sell your product or service? If you valued yourself and your business what would be happening? How does this archetype affect your business model?  Note down your thoughts and ideas for building and advancing your business with high degree of self-respect and respect for others.

 

Summary

I began to experiment with using archetypes to help me understanding my clients and myself as well as mining them for clues and ideas towards increasing our resourcefulness as entrepreneurs and small business owners. Being able to consider them and the insights they bring through their unique perspectives has proved in my experience both enjoyable and fruitful. Considering their ideas, approaches and energies in turn has significantly widened my repertoire of potential responses and ways of perceiving and addressing situations and challenges. Considering these archetypes has given me greater choices in how I respond from a place of strength instead of unconscious weakness.

In part two of this article, we will consider the Hero’s Journey to understand where we are on the path and to aid our planning and preparation so that we increase our chances of success. The Hero’s journey contains a number of archetypes as well, so you will be able to apply what you have learned so far in greater depth.

Further reading and resources

The archetypes and the collective unconscious by C.G Jung

 Awakening the heroes within: Twelve archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform the world by Carol S. Pearson

 

The Author

To delve deeper into your unique twelve archetypes to help strengthen you and your business please contact me for 1:1 or group coaching programme mbm@maketimecount.com

Author of Get Productive! (Capstone, July 2012), Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier combines logic with emotion to create holistic productivity that can be sustained on healthy terms. As a Neuroscientist and Talent Coach she unlocks top-level performance by helping people fuse heart and mind energies. Magdalena works with scientists, artists, business executives and entrepreneurs, including G8 summit and World Economic Forum speakers and uses her knowledge and insights to help individuals fire on four cylinders. Magdalena’s workshops and seminars inspire attendees to success and have been sought within public, private and third sector. For information about the Journey and Quest Programme and free resources and blog please visit: www.maketimecount.com or Twitter #maketimecountuk.

 

Release Your Inner Strut: The 5 Things Successful Women do in the first hour of waking

The difference between a great day and just another day on life’s treadmill can be found in what takes place upon waking. Do you;

a) Wake to the sound of the alarm clock, immediately resent the sleep interruption, complain to yourself about something, open one eye to see what time it is and then calculate how little sleep you’ve had and therefore how tired and grumpy you can reasonably be?!

OR

b) Wake up naturally before the alarm goes off, think positive thoughts and then rise for the day happy and grateful to be you?

And can you see how the answer you gave will impact the kind of day you go on to have? Luckily, you can train yourself to feel super motivated and start creating those great days, every day.

Here are my 5 quick tricks for releasing your inner strut… before you’ve even had your first cappuccino!

1. The morning mind cleanse
Wake up 10 minutes earlier than normal and have a journal and pen ready by your bed. As soon as you start to come round, whatever time this happens, sit up in bed, grab your journal and pen and just start writing. Don’t try to censor your ramblings they will most likely not make much sense. This is the crucial 10 minutes where you are still partly unconscious and this is why you must start journaling immediately. By free-writing in this fashion while still half asleep you will find that any unresolved drama’s, niggles, neuroses and irritations will find their way onto the page and therefore out of your head. You may also find that new ideas and inspirations start to surface too.  By cleansing your mind this way every morning you will experience a new found peace and freedom upon waking that sets you up for a successful day ahead.

2. Declare the day open for business
Now choose one or two traits that you would like to possess for the day you have lined up. For instance, if you are delivering a presentation you may choose ‘Powerful’ and ‘Captivating’. Decide upon the words that most energise and inspire you and declare to yourself that today you will be those things. Notice how your body responds to the words, you’ll know the best ones by noticing whether they light you up, fill you with dread or have no effect whatsoever. Pick the words that feel just right. For some women the thought of taking on being powerful and captivating may fill them with pressure driven anxiety and so for them, calm and playful may be a better fit.

3. Shower yourself with success
It’s good to notice the kind of dialogue you have with yourself throughout the day. You know, that little voice in your head, the one that’s constantly running? If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s the little voice that just said ‘what is she talking about?’ That little voice can be the greatest coach and friend but more often than not it’s the worst commentator in the world! Whilst taking a shower pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Are you kind and patient with yourself? Do you beat yourself up for the things you haven’t yet done? Or do you rehearse confronting conversations in your head and play out scenarios that always end in drama and will probably never happen?

As you shower in the morning take the opportunity to be the master of your thoughts rather than a slave to them. Reflect back on all the amazing things you have accomplished recently, tell yourself how great you are and celebrate everything that is going well. This will train your mind to think positively and your unconscious mind will spend the rest of the day seeking to find further evidence of your greatness!

4. Dress like it matters
Now you’ve probably heard this one before and it is a dose of common sense, but how often do we really stick at it? Before very long it can be all too easy to just pull on that same old suit or pair of jeans to save time and because we lack the inspiration to really dress like it counts. But it makes a massive difference. Those days where you get complimented by colleagues and strangers alike are the ones where you reek of confidence and are just glowing with Inner Strut. So set yourself up for it every day not just big days. You could even prepare the next days outfit when you get home from work to save time choosing in the morning. And remember, every item counts; when I want to really Up The Strut I wear my favourite red knickers to give me a Scarlett boost of confidence! Your underwear matters as much as your outer wear and my favourite lingerie acts as my personal secret all day and often makes me smile to myself!

5. Share the love
Whatever it is that you want in life will come easily when you start giving that thing away; if you are looking for love then start being loving – everywhere, if you want new business then start giving away opportunities for others to get new business, and you will soon find the results start to show up for you too. Do you wish that your team or collaborators were more motivated? Then be a highly motivated individual yourself.

As you walk to the tube, bus stop or work, smile at people, give them eye contact, greet your local shop keeper like a long lost friend. Help the lady with the buggy, give up your seat and strike up conversations rather than being part of the mind numbingly robotic commuter brigade! As you start to exude charisma and shine your magnificence upon others you will trick your unconscious mind into feeling genuinely charismatic and powerful for the rest of the day.

So, what are you waiting for? Get that journal and pen at the ready, prepare tomorrow’s killer outfit and start thriving!!

What do you do to release your inner strut?  Whatever techniques you use, we’d love to hear your comments. 

 

Salli Glover will be teaming up with Nicky Hambleton Jones (celebrity stylist and presenter of 10 years younger) to host an event that is ALL about the Inner and Outer Strut; mixing styling with increased confidence plus a panel of inspirational women who will be sharing their journey’s and success stories with a group of like minded women. Information and tickets can be found here:  http://www.the-motivational-makeover.com

Salli Glover, founder, Scarlett – The Coaching & Training company just for Women.
For your free e-book Motivation MOT please visit www.wearescarlett.com/events.
Or for a full motivational makeover visit http://www.the-motivational-makeover.com

 

 

5 deadly fears faced by successful entrepreneurs

Since all entrepreneurs by nature strive to be completely independent, getting a secure job just is not an option. Entrepreneurs have a desire to live life on their terms, and not have their time dictated by anyone or anything outside themselves. Along with this choice comes several fears that must be overcome to achieve the lifestyle that an entrepreneur seeks. I’ve listed 5 deadly fears that all entrepreneurs face. After overcoming these fears, success just becomes a matter of consistently taking action towards building the life of your dreams.

1. Uncertainty / fear of the unknown

All entrepreneurs realise, especially when beginning their entrepreneurial journey, that unlike having a job, their income is solely dependent on their performance. This creates a feeling of uncertainty with regard to when their next payslip will arrive and how big it will be.

It is only when entrepreneurs begin to embrace uncertainty and face this fear head-on, that they can begin to take action – and action is the antidote for fear. The bottom line is that when an entrepreneur can use fear as a catalyst rather than being paralysed like a rabbit in the headlights, forward progress can be made, prospects can be educated, and sales can be closed.

2. Insecurity / self-doubt

Self doubt and the feeling of insecurity is a natural response to any unfamiliar situation. When we allow self-doubt to dominate our psyche, it leads to hesitation, which can lead to complete immobility. Entrepreneurs know that not every decision they make will lead to the desired outcome, however they are willing to take that risk because to them failure isn’t in their vocabulary. Failure is nothing but a chance for learning and growth.

The best way to overcome insecurity and self-doubt is find a mentor that has created the lifestyle that you aspire to. You can go even further to surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs that understand these fears, yet boldly move forward.

3. Criticism from others

As far as we can remember, we’ve all be criticised our entire lives – from our parents that wanted to protect us from our own naivete, from the teacher that told us to stop misbehaving in class, to the boss at work that said we screwed something up. We are conditioned to listen to other people when it comes to the decisions that we make. It’s not easy to break free from this, however as an entrepreneur it is absolutely essential to listen to criticisms objectively.

True entrepreneurs know the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. They must be humble enough to take actions on the constructive criticisms that will help them reach their goals and shut out the destructive criticisms that are designed to tear them down.

4. Steep learning curve: Training / education

All entrepreneurs know that in order to take action confidently, they must educate themselves on how to have the correct mindset and how to be the best they can in their chosen field. Investing in their education takes a great deal of time and effort. The good news is that if they’ve chosen a field that they love, it doesn’t seem like too much of a burden. This is why it’s important to choose a path in which we are passionate.

It’s also important to mention that it can be easy to get stuck in education mode and not take any action. The best approach is to implement what is learned on an incremental basis. That way the concepts are solidified through implementation and action.

5. Lack of resources / costs:

It’s always good to remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way. From getting a small business loan, holding a fund-raising event, or just bootstrapping by using low-cost creative techniques to get off the ground. The great thing is that there are many opportunities to create or join a business with very little capital.

It may also comfort you to know that having a limited budget is probably the best thing most start-up entrepreneurs could have. Why, you ask? Because it forces us to be creative and innovate. We’ve all heard the rags to riches stories. If you have any doubt that it’s possible to start from nothing, just search the net. A few of my favourite’s are people like Mike and Lavon Craig, Kevin and Stephanie Merriweather, and Jason O’Toole. Their stories are very inspiring – and just about anyone can relate to them.

By embracing our fears and squaring off with them head-on, we can use them to fulfil our purpose and propel us to the lifestyles of our dreams.

Do you think you have what it takes to overcome these fears? Are you an entrepreneur? If so, please do use the comments section below to share your experiences. We’re looking forward to hearing about your successes!

_________________________

About the Author:  Cezar Garcia  is an expert online marketer, trainer, and teacher.  Head to http://www.cezargarcia.com to discover the best ways to generate a passive income from home so that you can quit your job, and continue your journey towards entrepreneurship.

Being the best: 5 character traits for successful entrepreneurs

You’ve made the decision that you are tired of working for someone else. You want to run the show and reap the rewards for yourself. Ever since the credit crisis a vast majority of us were left feeling disheartened.  Such a large group of extremely wealthy people and organizations were left completely unaccountable for a financial downfall that was felt globally. All the while the consumers (you and I) were left to pick up the pieces and pay the hefty price. I have found that some people are unable to even discuss this topic without feeling a rage that makes their blood boil and the veins on their forehead pop out!

Like millions of us worldwide, I was affected by this crisis through the loss of my job. I had just made an offer on my house days before my boss made the announcement that yet another massive lay-off was in the works. This time, our entire building was shut down. I was incredibly disappointed to say the least. Not only was I going to have to say goodbye to my co-workers and friends, but I would have to leave a job I really enjoyed and hope that I would find something comparable for equal pay.

Becoming an entrepreneur

It was around this time that I began my search for ‘the perfect job’. I figured if other people are doing it on-line and making money, so can I. While I fell victim to analysis paralysis, I did eventually make it to where I am today.

There were times I wanted to give up. I realized it was a lot of work. Not hard work, just work! And in the beginning there sure isn’t much of a financial reward. There was no one there to light a fire under me and hold me accountable for my actions, or my inaction for that matter. That job falls on me.

Through the process of launching my internet marketing business I have learned that there are about five key character traits among successful entrepreneurs. By ‘successful’ I don’t mean making millions necessarily.

Every individual needs to define what success is to them.

Basically, if you are doing what you want to be doing, are able to provide for yourself or your family, and are meeting the goals that you have set for yourself, then you are successful in my book.

The five most useful character traits for success are:

1. Drive

When you are driven, you are very motivated to succeed no matter what. You are compelled to action and maintain momentum because you can clearly see where you are going. If you are driving your car and you become hungry and see a restaurant up the road, are you going to stop your car before you get there? Of course not! You know what you want and you won’t stop until you reach that restaurant so you can eat and not be hungry any more.

2. Focus

When you are focused, the things that you desire come into clear view. You are able to complete tasks that need to get done without giving in to minor distractions or pitfalls. You concentrate on the goals that you want to achieve so that they remain in focus on a daily basis.

3. Patience

When you are patient you are able to wait for your dreams and goals to manifest, and don’t give up on them just because they don’t happen overnight. A patient entrepreneur is capable of delaying gratification. You understand that things worth having are worth waiting for.

4. Determination

When you are determined you have made the decision that nothing will stand in the way of you and your goals. You keep pressing forward even in the face of adversity. Much like being driven, you are motivated to succeed no matter what. With determination AND drive you become an unstoppable force.

5. Discipline

When you are disciplined you have the strength to get up every day and do the things that need to be done in order for you to achieve your goals. You are able to block out distractions that may seem like a good idea at the time, but ultimately only serve to delay or hinder your growth. Being disciplined can result from a beautiful combination of drive, focus, patience and determination plus the maturity to realize that you, and ONLY you, are accountable for your actions. When this realization is made, discipline is almost second nature.

Look to your future success

What does your financial future look like? Do you have the desire to lock down your security? Are you ready to take charge of your life and career? Whether you are looking to launch an Internet business or already run your own company, remember these five character traits, apply them daily and success can be yours.

Has applying these character traits helped you to become a successful entrepreneur?

___________________

Author: Liz C Bradshaw. If you would you like to receive more information on Internet marketing and how you can be successful, download Liz’s free guide here: http://www.bradshawmarketinggroup.com

Want to make your business more profitable?

What business are you in?

Actually, I already know. And in just a minute, I’ll reveal my secret on how I know – along with 3 simple steps you can follow that will help you improve your business profitability.

But to begin, let me explain two things:

First, is that small business success is not a card game. There is no trick. You must do the right things consistently all the time to guarantee your survival, success and profitability. Decades and centuries of time-tested entrepreneurial history and background proves this.

Second, above all the many hats a small business owner must wear in order to launch, grow and climb into the clouds of profitability, there is absolutely one area of focus that matters the most. In just a moment I will divulge to you what that is and give you three specific action items you can implement to optimize your marketing and profitability results.

Let me explain by adding a little context.

I have been a small business marketing / management consultant for many years and have consulted with literally hundreds of companies in all types of industries, from start-up to sizeable, operating locally, nationally and  internationally. These client companies operate in both the service and product distribution sectors and represent a broad range of diversity in experience, education, management, and leadership skills.

Whenever I begin a new consulting relationship, I always ask a few pointed questions to quickly dig into the heart of what the health and success opportunities are of the business at hand. You see what I’ve discovered over the years of looking on the insides of all kinds of businesses, is that there is a common thread of success among the very profitable companies and their owners.

Conversely, there is also a common thread of failure in the companies that are struggling and who are living in the land of mediocrity.

The fact is, that businesses that succeed have figured out and mastered this number one skill set necessary to flourish while failing or faltering businesses have not completely grasped just how important this essential responsibility is.

What’s unfortunate is that many times small business owners wait until their business is sputtering and running out of gas before they reach out for help which often times is already too late. Depending upon the client and their character to focus on, develop and follow this number one skill set will depend upon whether they open the door to their future survival and success.

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. So after a brief question and analysis of their business, I ask one very pointed question:

What business are you in?

Predictably they will tell me that they are an Internet Marketer, Accountant, Dry Cleaner, Mortgage Broker, Real Estate Agent, Medical Supplies, Insurance Agent etc.

At that point, I make very direct eye-to-eye contact. I disagree with them and instead express to them that they are in the “Sales Business” first and foremost. Always and forever.

You see what I have found over and over again with small business owners is that they are usually very expert at being an expert in their specific type of business. But what they’ve never mastered is the single most critical skill that will keep their business alive and give it the greatest chance for growth, profitability and success.

That skill set is to study, practice and execute effective sales skills. The bottom line is that no matter how great you are at operating your business, it will never succeed without the right type of customers constantly being introduced into your buying stream.

That means prospecting and selling… Continually.

All the time.

Everyday.

Dedicating a portion of your time to sales whether it is online, offline or a combination of both.

Now this seems hugely fundamental doesn’t it? Yes, it does. But let me ask you a question and be honest with yourself… do you really do it?

Selling – do you put enough of your time and effort into:

  1. Thinking through a well thought out sales plan on how to find your ideal customer target/s?
  2. Designing the sales scripts and collateral marketing materials full of features, benefits and competitive advantages that will persuade a target to be a prospect, and a prospect to be a customer or client?
  3. Practicing (yes, I said practising) your sales speak at such a level that you increase your conversion percentage?
  4. And finally, do you spend a significant amount of your time prospecting and closing sales as a matter of the highest priority to have more than enough profitable customers?

You need to understand that the Small Business Administration will tell you from historical research that the number one reason for such incredibly high small business failure statistics, is because of under capitalization, or not having enough money to last long enough for the business to take hold and carve out its place in the competitive market.

And they would be right. But from my experience, the real world honest brutal glaring truth is a lack of skill and emphasis by the owner on prospecting for and closing new customer sales. This is the one single thing that any business needs most.

There are many reasons why this lack of emphasis happens but often it has to do with being afraid or hesitant. Afraid to be rejected, to have someone say they don’t like your product or service, or your pricing etc. Or, it may be you’re too busy being busy to zero-in on the first most basic duty of any successful entrepreneur.

But the basic truth of small business marketing is that you must see yourself as a “Sales Business” first and foremost above all else and act like it or see yourself struggle and likely march to the front line of becoming a business failure statistic.

So now let me repeat with emphasis the answer to my original question of what business you are in. YOU ARE IN THE SALES BUSINESS first and foremost and without enough sales you will go out of business.

This… is the single most important skill you must engage in daily if you want to make your small business more profitable.

3 simple steps that will give you greater sales focus and actionable results:

1) Set goals, key action steps, activities and milestones:

Each small business owner should have a specific monthly sales goal written down together with an action plan on how to achieve those goals. It works best when you break them down into weekly and even daily tasks. This makes it easier to measure and manage your results at key milestone intervals and helps you be more accountable. Nothing will happen if you don’t hold yourself accountable.

2) Role play practice:

Do you really want to practice your sales skills on your ideal customer prospects? Well you do get better when you are live and in action with real potential customers but my experience is that you will achieve your best results if you practice role-play ahead of time. This allows you the opportunity to work the bugs out and understand how to overcome objections. Better to make mistakes in a practice environment than with a great potential customer.

3) Milestone Progress Evaluations:

Periodically at pre-determined intervals take time to stop, process your progress and evaluate your successes and setbacks. Then make adjustments, improvements and recalculate your goals as appropriate. Also, use this time to energize your enthusiasm for the importance of sales as the vehicle that fuels your success and profitability.

As a final note, remember there are a number of marketing strategies you can use to introduce new customers into your buying stream. I encourage you to test all of them that make sense to you and your type of business and find and implement the most effective that works for you. My favourites are low or no cost strategies. But that’s a different article.

_____________________________

By Kevin M. Clark  . Kevin M. Clark is a past Entrepreneur Of The Year Award Winner and is the author of “Kevin M. Clark’s Guide to Marketing Your Business Online. Go to http://MarketingHotWire.com and claim your Free copy of this highly acclaimed new book and unleash some of Kevin’s most powerful marketing strategies. But hurry, this offer is available for a limited time.

Is your success too much of a drama?

Breakthrough self-doubt in pursuit of your goals or dreams.

Marissa’s dream didn’t just shimmer in the distance. Instead, she was standing on the cusp of living it and experiencing truly authentic success for the first time.

For the past few months, we had worked together to clear the wreckage from her failed business and many false starts down wrong paths. With a clear vision and renewed sense of hope, she then began to take small, but tentative steps in a new direction. As she did so, she began to experience a sense of flow and momentum toward her ultimate goal, too.

But then the “voiceover,” which sounded suspiciously like the voice of self-doubt, played loudly in her thoughts.

Like a piercing bullhorn, it warned of “potential” dire circumstances if she continued down this new, yet unfamiliar path. That her looming (but still unachieved), success meant she’d soon need to leave her husband, say good-bye to her family and move across country. In short, she’d end up alone and likely poor, too.

So rather than keep the spotlight on her dream and mute her self-doubts, she shifted gears and focused on whether or not she needed to end her marriage instead. “This,” she said in no uncertain terms, “is something I need to make a decision about before I can move forward with anything else.”

And just as with every other potential success in Marissa’s life, drama arises and is left unaddressed, derailing her newly burgeoning dream. I call this “success drama”. 

None of us are immune to such occurrences either. In fact, we often encounter them at some point in our desire to improve, change or transform a specific aspect of our lives or move into greater success.

Caught in the gap between who we used to be and who we can be—or even who we are becoming—a success drama’s purpose is single-fold: To keep us distracted from our newly, emerging sense of potential.

Because what’s really happening is we are changing life sizes. We are smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis. On the one hand, our “old, but familiar identity” is being challenged—the very one that has kept us playing small and our lives even smaller. On the other hand, we are becoming larger and expanding our sense of what may be possible for us and for our lives.

Only rather that deal with our changing identity, we point our fingers at the people or situations in our lives that are “holding us back.” We mistakenly believe that after we fix or address these issues only then can we refocus and take action that creates forward movement toward our goals and dreams.

Yet in all our pointing, we fail to notice how three fingers point back at the real cause of our drama…and that’s us. The truth is our success drama is entirely self-created and what it needs is an intermission. Without such a break, we may miss the potential for a breakthrough, including one that leads to living an amazing and successful life.

5 Tips to breakthrough success drama :

As such, if you find yourself in a similar situation, give your drama an intermission. Spend an hour to go over or implement one of the five tips below. They are designed to help you better and more skillfully navigate your way through both the identity crisis and keep perspective on the change process:

Tip #1. Don’t change the question.

When you first start to pursue a new goal, you initially ask the question: How can I _____? But once you start to take actual steps toward the goal, you mistakenly change the question to Who am I ______?

Go back to asking the first question as it provides an answer that can lead you forward. The second question only creates status quo.

Tip #2. No loose lips.

Caught up in the excitement of making change, you may want to share your goals and dreams with friends or family. You may also want to reach out to them for support, too. However, it’s possible your change may shine an unwelcome light on the size of their (possibly) small lives and identities. As a result, when your life changes sizes and grows larger, they may try to keep you small and your dreams downsized.

In order to minimize the chance your loose lips will sink your success, draw a circle and in the center of it, write down the names of “safe people” who can support and hold a vision of who you want to become. On the outside of the circle, write the names of people with whom you need to keep your lips sealed until the identity and dream have grown stronger roots.

Tip #3.  Doubt the doubts.

Remind yourself that if you don’t shrink the doubts about who you can be, the only other choice is to shrink yourself. And if you think about it, that’s not really a viable option.

Grab a piece of paper and label one column, ‘Doubts’ and another column, ‘Shrink Myself.’ Make a list in each column. This exercise should help create a perspective shift that helps you shrink your doubts…and without a doubt.

Tip #4.  “Decision Date” the calendar.

If your success drama is primarily influenced by the “sudden notion” that you need to make a decision about something unrelated specifically to your goal or dream, put a note on your calendar to revisit it in thirty days.

Then return immediately and confidently to pursuing your desired changes, goals or dreams while trusting you are not ignoring the decision, but merely delaying the need to take action on it for right now.

Tip #5.  Practice a little sacred idleness.

The change process consumes and requires a lot of energy. In addition, when you grow it can sometimes create growing pains that may need a little recuperation time. What may seem like a desire to abandon ship is often a sign that what you really need is to rest and renew or practice a little sacred idleness. An hour’s activity that is one hundred percent goal free and focused more on relaxation or fun rather than productivity may be just the thing to carry you forward to the finish line.

The day I put the start into startup

It is 8.45am on a drizzly and soggy Saturday in June, (got to love the British summertime!) and I am sitting, shivering, on the doorstep of a trendy west end restaurant. Clutching my bag of props and laptop I await the arrival of a staff member to let me in. This is it. It’s D-day! Why do we always give ‘firsts’ a war reference? Maybe it’s Do-or-Die Day! I take a few moments to gather my thoughts and reflect upon the journey so far.

The start up honeymoon 

I settled on the idea of running a training and mentoring business just for women about a year ago and I recall the clarity with which the original vision came to me and the way it warmed the cockles of my heart. I had created a process for tapping into the true source of purpose and passion and had tried it out on myself first. It had been liberating: I, Salli Glover, would become the Super-Heroine of Women changing the world! What followed were a couple of months of absolute euphoria as I ran around town sharing my great idea with anyone that would listen and began to research the market need. It all stacked up: The Government were on a mission to have more female representation at board level; Harvard, McKinsey, Deloitte and Bain were all extolling the virtues of women in leadership roles and business. Even the Queen got hot on the trail and changed a 300 year old law ensuring that the first born inherits the thrown – even if, wait for it, it’s a girl!

I was in heaven during that honeymoon period, I had a head filled with romantic notions of sell out programmes, women living outrageously delicious lives, employing my team of super-savvy female marketers and PR girls as I took up with the Big Boys in government and business and showed them that this indeed was the way. Bless me.

Beware – starting up can delay start up!

So I did what any sensible woman on a mission would do and I sought the help of experts. Many experts. Way too many experts. I’m not really sure what happened to the months of February, March and April, we could have had a freak tropical heatwave and I’d have been none the wiser. I lost my way, turned into a child of the cyber forests, got eaten by cookie monsters, tweeted and twitted and heard things about spiders that I still don’t understand, and I think if I had stayed there I may well have never come back from the void.

In amongst all of that noise and overwhelm and information overload, there was a little voice whispering to me from the echoes of my soul; “just get on with it Salli” and the occasional “stop fannying around” for good measure. I ignored her of course. I mean, couldn’t she see I was TRYING? Had she no idea how much there is to be learned? You can’t just START goddamit! What about brand positioning, and online presence, and building a list, joint ventures, content marketing, there’s blogs that need to be written, lead conversion to be considered and for goodness sake where have you been woman? That rush hour traffic to Successville is not going to drive itself to my website. Oh no, SEO, Google analytics, keyword search tool. Just make it STOP, please, someone just make it stop. To be honest there were days the noise in my head became so loud that I questioned whether I was launching a business or developing bipolar.

And so, concerned that I may well be certifiable, I brought myself back from the brink, and into the real world; where the real people live their very real every day lives and have real conversations with people who have actual faces. It was like The Awakening; suddenly the world had colour again. I noticed birds and trees for the first time in months. Even the rain made me feel alive. I reconnected with Women, starting contributing to them and their causes; I smiled a lot more and most importantly of all got realigned to my WHY. Ah, yes, my original purpose: To inspire Women to create a world that works for everyone. There she is.

 Just get on with it!

Now this may sound like a personal breakthrough, hurrah, I’ve reconnected with my purpose and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow suddenly appears. But no. I knew there was something else going on with me, beneath the perfectly acceptable shop front with the sign saying ‘gone learning, back some day’. I was interested in the truth beneath the truth. I was interested in that little whisper calling to me ‘just get on with it Salli’.

And there it was: I was hiding. Hiding from just getting on with it. The more I had focused my energies into a whole new realm of ever changing rules and strategies the farther away I had gotten from my real burning passion – to teach. To share stories and move people and take them on a journey. And in doing so I had also forgotten to take them on my journey. A lesson well learnt.

Enjoy the start up journey

Taking people on the journey with you is a Must. I have found compassion, support, collaboration and the best forms of advice since doing so. And people love the authenticity of a Woman on a mission who isn’t pretending to know it all; at no point do I declare that I have all the secrets to a ‘millionaire mind’ or gloat over my 6 figure sales breakthrough, and my customers and collaborators alike appear to respect me all the more for it. I make no apology at all for being a startup, and my brochures may not yet be glossy and my venues may not yet be exclusive but at the same time my early adopters are aware that they are reaping the rewards of this by virtue of not being charged extra for all those luxury trimmings. I have also been told that my startup status makes me more accessible, more real and in reach than if I was a big hitting industry name. In short, they can relate to me and I to them.

So it turns out there was no need to hide. That fear of being exposed as the fraudulent, inexperienced, new kid on the block was irrational, as all of our womanly fears tend to be. Paradoxically it was coming out of hiding and being raw and honest that won people over more in the end. I wish someone had told me this information in February (was there a freak heatwave by the way? I really have no idea). Then maybe I would have just got on with it and the little voice in my head could have bugged me about something else instead, like my split ends or how far behind I am on planning my imminent wedding…

 

As I sit there on that cold doorstep pondering my navel I have another realisation which makes me smile and glow all at once: St Martins Lane, heart of the Theatre District, and a much loved teenage haunt of mine. As a Cornish girl I had dreamed of appearing in the West End one day and would often wander up this road past all the hustle and bustle of lovies and theatre goers in total awe of the bright lights and the big city. In the end it turned out I didn’t get on with the ‘fakery’ of that world and so here I am, just little old me, sitting on a step in the West End, about to give the performance of my lifetime: As Salli Glover, just being me.

The event, contrary to little Miss Bipolar’s fears did not in fact crash, burn, self destruct or implode and was a roaring success, leaving me with only one question: What took me so long?

So, if you’re wondering whether you’re ready to get going or not, take a little advice from my little voice: Just get on with it! (And do try to enjoy the ride, freak heat wave’s are a rare commodity and not to be missed).

 

Not enough time? That can be good for your productivity!

When you run your own business, there is always so much to do. It seems like as entrepreneurs, our work is never done. There’s not enough time to do all that we need to, want to and feel we ought to do.

Not enough time to market to new clients while serving existing ones. Not enough time to keep on top of all the admin and accounts as well as getting products out of the door. Time for social media, to stay on top of current trends and ahead of competitors. Time to work on the business as well as in it. Not to mention time out of your business – with family, home life, social life and health – to rest, recharge and refresh.

Right now, as I’m writing this article, I have a newsletter to plan, a workshop to prepare, calls to make, invoices to send, all with a poorly three year old asleep on my lap!

If only there was an extra hour or five a day, would that make life easier? Or would we just end up working 17 hour days with just as much stress, busyness and overwhelm?

‘Not enough time’ has almost become our mantra. What if we can use it to our advantage? What if not having enough time can actually be good for our productivity?

Here are three reasons why:

1. Parkinson’s Law

Have you ever had all day to get something done, and find you still rush it all in the last half an hour?

Parkinson’s Law says that our work will expand to fill the amount of time we make available.

Which means, if you give yourself half an hour to do something, you’ll get it done. If you have four hours to do the same thing, it may well end up taking four hours.

There’s something about a short deadline that focuses the mind. Something about being timed that gets us moving quicker. I often find that the days when my diary is fairly full and I only have small windows to get stuff done, are the days when I am focused and work fast.

In contrast, when I think I’ve got all day, the temptation is to take all day. These are the days when I am much more likely to faff around, procrastinate and get distracted. I slow down and get caught up in the lull. My day gets swallowed up with bitty jobs, distractions and delays. Oh, and I do indecision, big time.

What about you? When you’ve got all day to do something, do you attack it with the same vigour and urgency, or do you spend four hours perfecting something that would otherwise take half an hour?

Perhaps in honing our focus and boosting momentum, ‘not enough time’ can actually be a catalyst to productivity rather than an obstacle.

 

2. It gets you creative and asking ‘How?’

We say we don’t have time, but we all have things that we make time for.

Let’s face it, however hectic a day we’re having, if our best friend or a family member had an emergency and needed us, we’d find a way to help wouldn’t we?

There would be things we would drop, timings we would reschedule, commitments we would negotiate, and people we would ask for help. We would make time, because we deemed it important.

Once you decide something is important enough to make time for, you stop telling yourself that you don’t have enough time, and you start asking how. How could you fit it in? How could you get it done within that time frame? You start to get creative and resourceful in seeking solutions.

When I was given the deadline to write a book in 40 days, after my initial reaction of ‘Gah!’ I started asking myself, “ok how would I do it? How could it be done?”

 

3. It gets you asking the uncomfortable questions

Answering ‘how’ can involve some tough decisions and asking some uncomfortable questions, like:

What’s the point?

Instead of the exasperated, perhaps defeatist way we usually say this while throwing our hands up in the air, asking this question straight up can give you a clarity of purpose. Purpose that gives you direction and definition, to separate actions from activity, opportunity from distraction, and business from busyness. So seriously, what’s the point for you?

What is non-negotiable?

Knowing your point and purpose, what absolutely has to happen in order for you to get there? What items on your to-do list are mission critical in relation to your goal (not someone else’s!) What are your non-negotiables?

What’s dispensible?

If something’s got to give, what would that be? At her Harvard commencement speech, J.K. Rowling explained how not having any money, job or opportunity actually helped her to write her Harry Potter books:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

Not having enough time pushes you to identify and strip away the inessential so that you can direct your time and energy on what matters most. So what’s dispensible for you? What would you drop if you had to?

Where am I dispensible?

I confess, part of me quite likes being needed and busy (ahem). Given enough time, I’d probably be quite happy doing everything myself. When it comes to the crunch though, I need to honestly ask, “What would carry on without me?”

Where are you dispensible? What can be done by other people? Where can you enlist help, outsource or delegate? What if you let someone else do what they can do, to free you up to do what only you can do?

Does it have to be done now?

One of the biggest causes of overwhelm in entrepreneurs is an abundance of brilliant coupled with the temptation to tackle them all right now.

Not having enough time can give you the opportunity to distinguish between what needs to happen right now, and what can wait for better timing.

 

So is ‘not enough time’ the bane of an entrepreneur’s life? I don’t think it has to be. If it’s going to be a fact of life, let’s use it to our advantage to boost our focus, momentum, creativity and productivity.

What do you reckon?  I’d Love to hear your thoughts – do share them in the comments below.