28. June 2012
As I said on Monday, I couldn’t NOT make this a 3-parter. Today, the third and final way that Tolkien’s literary journey may be ruining your business.
I believe that what most fans connect to in this series is it’s epic nature. When you read the incredibly detailed descriptions of different lands and languages or see the wide shots of the beautiful New Zealand landscape, it’s magical.
We all want magical. Epic.
However, if you expect your business to be an action adventure to rival the trip to Mordor, then you may be ruining your business when life is a little more… boring.
Business Can’t Be Exciting All the Time
There are certainly exciting times to be had and there’s nothing wrong with wanting that TV guest spot, the photo shoot celebrity feeling or being on the stage. The problem comes when you want that all the time, especially if you haven’t build up your business to that level yet.
Many gurus will show you the shortcuts and say you can skip paying the dues to fame or celebrity. But the fact remains you will put in the time or invest in other ways if you want exciting opportunities in your business.
For most us, it will come slowly and I believe it’s to give us the room to mature and prepare for a new normal. Think of all those lottery winners who went from scraping by to swimming in cash. With no adjustment period to achieving all their big dreams the result is usually a disaster.
Trust the process, sometimes it’s boring or routine but if you continue to do the work you’ll reach those epic goals.
Does Boring Mean Stagnant?
It’s true that sometimes our routines are boring but only if we’re not growing. Great entrepreneurs are innovating in addition to staying consistent in the routines that will bring them more business and growth.
It’s good to remember the boring parts of Lord of the Rings (like all of book 2) where nothing happens except hobbits get carried around in trees for about 50 pages. For a series about journeys you’ve got to expect a lot of time walking, going the wrong way, turning around and walking some more. Our businesses are similar, often times we will go full speed in one direction and then need to change course. Or just walk in the same direction for what seems to be ages.
Media has trained us to get right to the action and even the phrase “cut to the chase” means just skip the boring parts and get to the adventure!
Growth doesn’t happen in the highlights reel, it’s in the entire journey.
Instead of assuming that if your business isn’t currently epic, it’s not important remember that your whole story and journey is part of the plan. And if you’re currently craving more adventure then build it deliberately into your business strategy to develop. It may not be instantaneous but that’s all part of the adventure.
Don’t Let it Ruin Your Business
The trouble comes when you stop working because things are not exciting enough, which could result in delaying the real results that are around the corner or, at worst, cause you to give up on your business. I love Sam’s speech in the Two Towers when he says, “Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”
So instead of focusing on the boring or tedious and lamenting the lack of epic adventure in your business, hold on to your dreams. Learn to enjoy the whole journey and if you are truly being held back by the tasks you don’t like but do need consider getting some help along the way.Continue reading...
18. June 2012
In the professional business world there are many mentors, coaches and HR executives to teach established standards of professional behavior. And while some rules are unspoken, it’s easier to notice them when you’re the only one at the conference table wearing flip flops and smacking your gum.
There may not be a professional code of conduct for online entrepreneurs and as we are often isolated from one another it’s even more difficult to observe and emulate professionalism in the field. I would like to highlight a few habits that seem prevalent and why it’s so important to reverse this downward trend.
There’s a disturbing trend in online businesses that I’ve observed and experienced lately regarding a lack of professionalism, which I see as attention to detail, being responsible and treating everyone with respect. Of course there are many more facets to a professional mantle, but let’s start with these three.
Are you sloppy in your communication?
Some of the biggest time sucks, by far, is trading emails for information and meetings. Usually just planning a meeting takes significant time, which multiplies exponentially as the number of attendees grows. When you’re communicating be clear and professional in every reply.
What happens is that we often get in a hurry and then sloppy by not writing out a complete thought. Such as when three meeting times have been suggested and the reply is “sure” or “how about 10am?” without mention of a time zone. Just as frustrating is getting a request for a call or information which lacks essential details concerning who, what, when or why.
Acting as if everyone has the information in your head is presumptuous and somewhat rude. It is important to give context because people are busy and overwhelmed already, so few will take the time to contact you for clarification which may leave you wondering why no one is responding.
No one is perfect, but do you act as if you are?
There’s not a single one of us who has not missed a meeting by mistake, been late delivering on something or made some other faux pas in business. What happened is not nearly as important as how you respond.
Many people default with an excuse which leaves business professionals sounding like whiny college students. “My appointment ran late,” “You didn’t remind me,” “My roommate turned off my alarm,” or “I got busy with something else.” It’s hard to tell which excuses come from which group but overall the message is the same – it’s all a version of “not my fault.”
Stand out from the crowd as a consummate professional and own up to your mistakes by taking responsibility. You may choose to provide some context for your situation but quickly shift to making amends instead of blaming the wind, your internet provider, a faulty alarm clock or someone else talking too long.
Taking responsibility not only shows humility but respect for the other person.
Respect is more than a song
Treating colleagues, employees, clients and even competitors with respect is a cornerstone of professionalism. Respect has many facets but my favorite description is simply treating others the way you want to be treated. You may not be a student of the Law of Attraction but over and over again I see that like attracts like. If you want clients who show up on time and prepared for calls you must do the same. If you desire a business where clients pay on time without haggling then you must provide the same to your team.
Respecting other people’s time, talents and opinion goes beyond the words, it must be something that you practice every day. We all know that actions speak louder than words so consider how you’re responding and interacting with those in your business. Unconscious action (or inaction) may be telling others that you lack respect for them which will diminish your professional standing.
You may be wondering, how do I know if unprofessional behavior is hurting my business? I’m sorry to say it can be hard to tell – especially as many will not call you out for it but instead walk away. What is considered professional behavior varies based on your industry, location, culture and so much more.
If you’re wondering if you are acting unprofessionally and maybe losing respect, clients and leads because of it, I suggest finding a mentor in your field who can give you an honest, outsiders opinion and suggest changes that are appropriate for your business.Continue reading...
4. June 2012
I’ve encountered far too many business owners who are resigned to staying small in their reach and influence because they believe it takes too much to reach the next level.
If you haven’t read Michael Gerber’s the E-Myth Revisited then I highly suggest you pick it up. This passage in particular points to the place where most entrepreneurs get stuck and need support to push through.
Every Adolescent business reaches a point where it pushes beyond its owner’s Comfort Zone – the boundary within which he feels secure in his ability to control his environment, and outside of which he begins to lose that control.
For most of us that breaking point is where we cannot do it all ourselves – all the tasks, checklists, launches, finances, meetings or clients and there’s no one else we trust to manage that part of the business. The result is either working until we’re physically exhausted, sick of our business and ready to quit or taking the brave step to admit more help is needed and finding resources to grow beyond the Comfort Zone.
Trying to do it all on your own is the primary growth inhibitor of most online businesses.
It’s because of the mindset of this stuck entrepreneur, who is immensely talented but mired in details of business and doesn’t know how to get support, that I operate my business. I support the entrepreneur who knows help is needed but doesn’t know where to start.
I’ve written about support plenty in the past because I don’t believe you can create systems that run the business for you – you need people too. The more I shared I kept hearing “but where do I start?” And just like Michael Gerber teaches, I decided to back up and create a complete system for you.
Another catalyst for this program was reading a post from a former client on a public forum that bashed the team for some mistakes. I believe it’s time to stop blaming and shaming the people who come into our lives and business to help us grow and take responsibility for our leadership failures. Every time I look at my business with any amount of frustration I force myself to take a step back. Was I clear? Did I hire the right people? How much training time did I dedicate?
I wanted to teach this awareness and consciousness because, at some point, we’ve all been in the place of that shamed employee and no one liked the feeling. The challenges are different in online business so I want to help you create and environment that honors and respects the contributions of each person without you becoming a servant to your staff.
So after hearing many entrepreneurs struggle with the issue of hiring and being unable to see their own contribution to the outcome I created a video series out of my personal hiring system. It goes beyond the step by step to give you a foundation of putting the business and yourself first while creating that positive environment that will attract the best team to you in record time.
It’s 5 Days to Finding Fabulous Help for Your Online Business and it’s absolutely free to you. There are 5 daily videos with assignments, resources and a guide to create the right environment to bring support into your business – whether you need 3 full time employees or a VA 2 hours a week.
Just fill in the boxes at the top of the page to get started with day 1 video today and commit to growing your business past your Comfort Zone with a proven system.Continue reading...
17. May 2012
Yesterday I was privileged to have a great impromptu mastermind session in downtown Sacramento with a talented colleague and in the midst of our discussion I declared,
“You absolutely have what it takes to build this business and make a huge impact.”
Even though I believe that with everything in my being I got the following response (which is common among most talented and smart business owners):
“So many people tell me that…. but how do I know?”
It’s hard isn’t it? The self doubt is pervasive and even when we know we’re passionate and talented there’s still that nagging feeling that it’s not enough. Never enough. This was a lesson I learned in February, surround by 5 wonderful women in my mastermind group who have supported and encouraged me through the rough times.
Especially for a generation that spent the first 10 years hearing “you are a unique, sparkly snowflake” and then the next 15 years unlearning that to hear you’re not that special or talented and should just get a job, mortgage and be happy. Entrepreneurs are often accused of having egos that are rivaled only in the political field. After all – how could someone charge $1,000 an hour? or $10,000? What makes your product worth 20% more than your competitor’s products?
For many of us, it’s not about the pricing but the stated value – by saying “my time is worth this much” we’re declaring that we are in fact worth it and that’s when the doubt sneaks in and begins to whisper “are you sure?”
Here’s what I said last night:
There’s approximately 7 billion people on this earth. And not a single one of them has lived your life, walked in your shoes and had your experiences. Some of them may your skill or talent to the same degree. None of those 7 billion has your same passion, drive, ambition, connections, vision and opportunities . Each one of us has a handful of things we really care about and a bunch of things we don’t. Your unique blend of caring, diligence and drive isn’t common. That’s how I know you can make a big impact because no one else could make this impact like you can.
This makes me think of a nurse who, when called to a patient’s room on an emergency call, doesn’t ask am I qualified, why me, what if I can’t do this? but instead knows that she has the training, experience and skill to do the work, is confident but may still ask for support and trusts that she’s on the right floor, in the right department on the right shift. Just like a nurse who knows she can make a huge impact by serving the clients she’s meant to serve we are also called (less obviously than the call button in a hospital) to serve.
(I should note that a close female cousin is a nurse so she’s the one I think of here – obviously there are male nurses in the field as well)
But in this example, the nurse isn’t running down to admitting to work on insurance forms or trying to perform surgery. The nurse isn’t focused on the aftercare plan or billing either. There’s an entire support network specialized to support the client, in this case a patient, throughout the process because the nurse isn’t called or trained as a billing representative.
I have to remember this when I’m asked to contribute to a business that is not my ideal client or work on a project that I’m not excited about. Derek Stivers summed this up brilliantly with his post No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! Or no. Remembering that other people have those passions, talents and skills is important because now we don’t have to do it all.
So when you are faced with those doubts, from yourself or others, and the question is “why me, what makes me capable?” I challenge you to remember this: 7 billion people on this planet need you to say hell yeah to your passion and serve as only you can.Continue reading...
14. May 2012
Let’s talk about passion.
All throughout our lives we’re told what we have to do, what we should do and what we need to do. Personal preference and even skill are not concerns. As we age we begin to seek appropriate substitutions for those things we fail at doing or simply dislike.
The mechanic who changes the oil in the car. The plumber who fixes the leaking faucet. Even the barista who brews a perfect latte.
It’s true that many people are simply doing a job but the ones who are truly in their passion are obvious. And, if given the option, I’d prefer to work with a passionate person over a just-doing-a-job person any day.
Let’s consider the flip side for a moment. As a productive member of society, I’d prefer to be working on the projects I’m passionate about. Any day. Every day.
While I have many interests and hobbies, I have 3 primary passions. They are:
When I work with passion #1 & #2 it looks like creating Playbooks on business systems
When I work with passion #2 & #3 it’s teaching via this blog and in mainstream media
When I work with passion #1 & #3 it takes the form of implementing in an online business
I’m most excited when I get to coach private clients – it’s the best when passions #1, #2 and #3 coincide and I’m able to teach by educating on the processes that work, create custom playbooks and implement systems in online business. In fact, working with one of my awesome private clients who is managing over 60 developers, building websites and applications for clients around the world and strategically growing an international business has been a joy.
It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a joy to work in my passion. This is the work I can do all day, every day and is, ironically, something many people hate to do on their own.
There’s a common judgment of online coaches I hear often, that they’re all just making money off each other to spend money hiring each other. And I’ve found it’s also true in offline businesses too! The plumber uses the mechanic’s services so the mechanic can buy a coffee and the barista gets paid to serve the mechanic so she can afford to fix her leaky sink. Those jerks.
Specialization is the economy we live in and it’s no different for online as it is for offline businesses. For the same reason I’m reluctant to hire the copy writer/SEO expert/Wordpress designer/marketing expert/life coach/graphic designer, I would also not go to my vet, ask for a cup of coffee, tire rotation, cell phone plan and a taco.
By getting clear on your passions and how you serve, you too will be in the place to focus your attention and signal to others what you do, how you serve and what you believe.
Personally, I believe in supporting the growing online business that needs systems and organization to manage all the moving pieces and is willing to work in collaboration to implement solutions now. What’s your passion?Continue reading...
12. April 2012
While it may seem counter intuitive, I can attest that being highly capable at figuring things out can be problematic. In fact, being incompetent can be an amazing blessing in your life and business for 3 primary reasons.
It’s nice to hear compliments when you’re good at something and as it feeds your ego it’s harder and harder to overcome. Sometimes this breeds a false sense of security that you can do it all and we end up behaving like toddlers screaming “I can do it mySELF!”
When something comes along that you cannot do, whether that be graphics, scheduling, fixing a tech bug or just doing all the things without support, the first inclination is to fight. We all love bootstrappers, the stories of people who made something out of nothing and figured it all out along the way. But remember, success does not happen in silos – everyone gets support. Which leads me to point #2.
Even when I’m able to “do it myself” it’s rarely an individual endeavor. Thanks to the internet and the Google, I have an entire support community to help me figure stuff out. So why are we so reluctant to turn to each other for help or – worse – hire someone? It’s ego again. When you find yourself incompetent you have the choice to stubbornly push forward or create a community that can support you.
For entrepreneurs there’s another reason why we need to be open to accepting and hiring help: it’s exactly what we ask our own clients to do! Sure our customers could do their own branding, web development, billing, create their own fitness plan but as experts we are selling our experience. So when there’s incompetency see it as an opportunity to hire another expert who loves to do what you can’t and build a community around your business.
The entrepreneur who is doing everything herself is not fully leveraged. The start up phase is the time when you’ve got to wear all the hats and keep everything moving forward but that cannot be sustained long term if you’re going to grow. Instead of looking for ways to learn something yourself (that you’re not good at in the first place) remember that setting your ego aside and hiring a support community will enable you to spend more time on your genius.
You’ve probably heard of the “zone of genius” and those are the things that you do best. No one else can replicate the magic you create. So stop spending time on your “zone of suckage” and “zone of kinda good” and move fully into your genius.
So when you’re looking at the week and day ahead and there’s that task which you are procrastinating on finishing, dreading starting or just plain hate to do: embrace the incompetence. Find a way to outsource and build your support community and spend that time growing your business, serving more clients and sharing your message. Embrace your weaknesses and use them as a leverage point to take your business to the next level.Continue reading...