20. August 2012
Recently I shared a video where I showed my utter frustration with seeing so many talented entrepreneurs who are trained, brilliant and filled with passion for their fields but who are not sharing those gifts with the world.
I have seen and experienced just how frustrating it can be – coaches and mentors say that you need the right brand and business plan, a fully optimized website, business cards, social media plan, landing pages, custom shopping cart, professional video studio… and the list goes on.
While I recognize that each of these components makes up the bigger picture of a successful business, I kindly call bullshit. I’m sure you’ve seen the infographic claiming the internet is made up of “marketers selling marketers” and for the most part it’s true!
But I ask : do you really need all that extraneous stuff to announce and sell your offers?
Especially if you’re just getting started, your ideal clients don’t always care that your business cards match your logo and you Twitter page background. They just care about how you’re going to help them reach their goals.
So if you’re not getting out there by launching in a big way there are three common reasons:
1. You’re scared and can’t get past the fear to launch.
Many people assume that a fear of failure is paramount but I also see a deep fear of success as brilliantly identified in this quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
No matter what the fear may be, if it’s keeping you from moving forward with decisive action and you need a little push.
2. You’re selfish and want to be the student for as long as possible.
I believe in lifelong learning but also wholeheartedly understand that the best way to learn is to put your knowledge to action and teach. It’s an incredibly intense process to put yourself out there and teach what you know, admit what you don’t and guide others to success.
It’s much easier to play the part of the student but once you get caught in that mode it’s very hard to break out – there’s always something new to learn and I’ve seen talented entrepreneurs avoid launching their businesses for years because they’re still “not ready.”
Understand that if knowledge exists on a scale of 1 to 100 and you place your knowledge level for a particular skill at 30 then there’s plenty of clients in the world with knowledge ranging from 0 to 29 who can learn from you. And the sooner you begin to teach and put your knowledge into practice the faster you’ll accelerate your own skill level.
3. You’re stingy and don’t want to put yourself out there and share.
Personally, I don’t think this is often the issue internally. Most of the entrepreneurs I know, whether healers or coaches, trainers or marketers, are driven by the desire to support others. So what does this apparent stinginess boil down to? I think it comes back to a common fear of being too braggy or showy as you’re sharing what you know.
But the problem is that you look stingy when you have so much expertise, skill and knowledge and you’re not sharing it with those who are struggling. Because the truth is there are thousands of people out there who are stuck – they may understand that something’s not working and might have and idea of the outcome they want but they’re absolutely lost figuring out how to get there. And you have the answer but you’re not sharing it.
No matter which of these reasons is holding you back, there is just one single solution: launch. As I shared on Friday, it’s time to get off your assets and make a big splash. To stop putting yourself through class after class and take some action.
So I challenge you to launch and don’t let selfishness, being scared or stinginess hold you back any longer. Learn more on Wednesday with my absolutely free “Get Your Show on the Road” Launch Teleclass:
I would love to see you there. Full details here.Continue reading...
16. August 2012
Let’s start by the very basic understanding of a launch by asking a few questions. How do you know McDonald’s has a new menu item? Why do you know there’s a big Labor Day car sale at the dealership in town? How do you know that a marketing coach is promoting a new event?
It all comes down to the same reason: you know new offers are made when they are launched to the public. Otherwise it’s very unlikely you’ll just show up in the right city on the right date with the right amount of money for the conference you wanted to attend.
Launching is all part of the sales process, making your audience aware of the things you offer. When done correctly, launches build excitement, grow your leads list and fan base and can bring in thousands (or tens of thousands of dollars).
What does a launch look like?
A launch can be as simple or elaborate as you want – or I should say as needs to be to make your sales goals. Typically with higher priced products and services and more detailed launch may be necessary but if you have an audience who is regularly buying and primed for the next service then the process may be shorter.
Launches typically include an announcement, emails, a sales page, an online ordering page, possibly a free call or preview event, and a deadline. Now all of these are variable and can be done many ways but the most important one for this topic is the announcement.
Here’s the problem… most people never announce when something new is available (and I’ve been guilty of this as well when business is full and time is pressed!). Unless your audience is psychic you’re not going to have the awareness of your programs or the sales you envision until you tell them. How else would you know if the price is right, the offer is compelling and your audience is ready if you don’t ask?
I see far too many entrepreneurs giving up on offers that were never properly promoted! A launch is a way to put your offer out there, make sales and tweak the process. This time you launched on a Wednesday, next time try Monday. Maybe your launch had one price point, next time offer two. This launch may have been basic, no frills or extras, so next launch add bonuses to encourage fast sign ups.
It all seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Then get your team involved so they can support you and earn their keep!
Here’s a brief list of the ways your team can support your launch:
If you don’t have a team or even a VA who can help keep you sane check out the free video series5 Days to Finding Fabulous Help for Your Online Business on this page. It’ll give you my hiring system for getting the help you need and can afford for your business.
And if you need support with your own launch and you want to do it right with a plan then I invite you to join me for an upcoming free training. All the details will be released soon but if you want to ensure you get all the info you can sign up below for access. It’s my hope that by taking you through the launch process it will become less intimidating and help you get your offers out there!
7. June 2012
There’s a house down the street from my own that has undergone a major transformation in the past 2 years. The owners began an overhaul and created a nice porch, raised yard with a retaining wall and even slate finishing around the garage.
And yet, every time I drive past I cringe because, once you turn the corner, you can see that the siding hasn’t been completed around the side and back of the house. It’s still covered in Tyvek which doesn’t protect from the high winds we get and without siding can lead to water damage of the structure.
They may think it’s a secret that the backyard is unfinished and messy but anyone driving by who looks, knows.
It got me thinking about how many entrepreneurs focus all their attention on the forward facing appearance. Our websites and graphics, business cards and booths, even our own appearance is given top priority. But it’s all a facade if the back end of our businesses are falling apart and rotting away.
While it may seem silly to think about, I wonder if this homeowner lost steam, that once he put so much work into the front yard (I used to see him working out there daily), he lost the energy for the back. Or maybe they ran out of money and other things in life became more important.
It happens, life happens. But at the end of the day if you halfway build an asset then you’re always going to struggle. For my neighbor he’ll struggle to sell a house that isn’t complete or damaged from years of missing siding. And in the meantime he sees every day what isn’t done and it probably weighs on him. Especially if the rest of the family is prone to nagging. For your business it may mean losing customers because your systems are not complete and they leave you disappointed, hurting your reputation and your income. Or it’s just that same nagging feeling that things have not been done right and you’re waiting to be found out.
The good news is that to fix this you don’t have to build like William Randolph Hurst and have a mansion with gold tiled swimming pools. Start small. If you don’t have financial systems meet with a few planners to find out what you need and sign up with a merchant account. If you need better scheduling and management of your private clients begin working with an assistant who is well organized (click here to find out how).
No matter what your backyard secret is now is the time to take action because like my neighbor you don’t know when the storm will blow or when you’ll be host to a large party. Knowing that your entire business, front to back, is well maintained, running smoothly and up to date is comforting and enables you to move forward with confidence.Continue reading...
1. June 2012
Have you ever experienced a vacation that you looked forward to for months but wasn’t relaxing at all?
Even the planning process of a vacation can be stressful, combine that with packing, traveling, unpacking and you need the time with family or friends, to relax, unwind, sleep in and enjoy unscheduled days.
But then, you’re checking email constantly and worried about your business. If you find it difficult to unplug from work mode and enjoy a vacation – or never take a break for the same reason – then you need to make a change.
Just a short time ago I booked a trip to New York to see more of the city and visit friends. But every day I found myself out of vacation mode and back into work mode!
I completely take ownership of having not properly set boundaries with my clients and was also unwilling to say no when work beckoned me – even if I was rushing to catch my train or spending time with a 12 year old hearing about her day.
One day I found myself squeezed into a corner at the Natural History Museum, charging my cell phone and laptop and trying to answer emails. I stared up at a fossil of this prehistoric turtle and thought to myself, “what am I doing?”
I hope you don’t have to ruin your vacation to recognize what I did: if you don’t have systems and structures in place then you can’t take a vacation, go visit or museum or board a flight without chaos following you.
This is not about replacing you so you become irrelevant – you may still be the linchpin of your business. But if your company cannot run without you for a few days you do not have a business, you have a job. And your boss is crazy.
Also you can never get the flu, be with a loved on in the hospital or get seriously ill yourself. Don’t even think about traveling the world or starting a family. Not exactly the life of freedom you envisioned?
Systems for your business don’t just ensure delegation happens so you can take a break but gives you freedom to leverage your time and work with more client now.
So if you’re planning a summer vacation, staycation or just need help in your day to day I have a free resource for you. It’s my 5 Days to Finding Fabulous Help for Your Online Business video series and in it I give you my system for hiring, training and retaining the ideal team for your business.
Just fill in your information below and you’ll get immediate access.
Come on now, no one wants to bring their clients along on vacation and email should not be your number one concern when traveling. You work hard and deserve rest, relaxation and all by knowing that your business is running smoothly in your temporary absence.Continue reading...
24. May 2012
At the tail end of hurricane season last year I found this amazing story of how one company has created a system so comprehensive that it is recognized by the Federal Government. The amazing thing is that this is no bank, institute of higher learning or government entity.
It’s the Waffle House.
For those of you unaware, Waffle House is a regional chain of 24 hour restaurants serving up inexpensive breakfast fare frequented by travelers, broke college students and loyal locals.
Located in mid-Atlantic states targeted by hurricanes, the Waffle House franchise has made an amazing system around recovering from these natural disasters. So much now that the Feds use the reopening of restaurants – or “Waffle House Index” – in an affected area as a metric of how badly an area was hit.
Even better, they call this plan a playbook, “its hurricane playbook explains how to reopen a restaurant and what to serve if there is gas but not electricity, or a generator but no ice.”
You can read the story in its entirety here but here are some of the brilliant aspects of this plan:
The best takeaway here is that it’s not just one manager in one location who figured this out but company wide to over 1,600 franchises. It’s likely that this idea or practice started small but management, seeing the potential, allowed it to take hold and grow so that the entire company is now known for their emergency preparedness, responsiveness and capability.
You may not have a physical location that’s in danger of being hit by a hurricane. But there are some predicable “emergencies” for online businesses. Have you thought about them? Prepared for them? If not, grab your copy of the Play a Bigger Game Business Playbook on this page and start thinking of how your business can create systems to serve your clients, even in times of crises.Continue reading...
7. May 2012
When I talk to entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed with doing too much in their business, the conversation often turns to hiring an assistant to lighten the load. For those who have worked with a team in the past, there are often horror stories galore and legitimate fears to overcome. Last week I shared in the first of this series how you can get clear with a list of tasks and then write the appropriate job description to find the assistant you need.
Today let’s take that a step further and test, or vet, the applicants that will come in when you clearly define your business and share your opportunity with the world.
First, there are a few reasons that I suggest using a service such as oDesk (the one I use) to secure a VA. You’ll have more candidates and typically more qualified candidates when you’re fishing in a pool full of people who want jobs. Besides, you’re busy and need help so why add the job of posting your position all over the internet to your to do list? oDesk enables support professionals to log their hours manually or, as I prefer, while doing the task including screenshots of their computer. This ensures you’re paying for the time they spend on task, not watching Lord of the Rings on Netflix. A service will also manage the payment account and, in the case of oDesk, allow you to set the price you’ll pay per hour and hours per week so there’s no risk of a task going hours beyond what you’re willing to pay.
As your VA demonstrates skill and responsibility you can raise or life the hour restriction.
Test Before You Hire
I’m a big fan of testing because in most situations the only way you’ll know how someone will respond is to put them in the situation. Of course you don’t want to give dozens of people access to your website admin panel or database so here’s the next best thing to testing capabilities. Instead of simply outlining the principles I want to show you exactly how I test and evaluate candidates.
When a candidate responds to your job description your first response to them should include a test. Here’s the email template I use:
Hi (first name),
Thanks for applying for the position, I have a few candidates to look over and so I’ve put together some additional information and a request. Please send it back soon as I’ll be making a decision in the next day or so to get started with someone.
*note the timeline is in the very first paragraph. This is the first test and eliminates all the candidates who write and send a response weeks later.
Immediate Tasks include:
(insert tasks from Job Description)
More data will be given on how to accomplish each of these tasks and the time to deliver the projects is not yet determined. I will not, however, expect this to be done without training or in just a few hours.
*note the second test here, hours are undetermined, training is expected and flexibility is required.
Later/Ongoing Tasks include:
(Insert larger projects)
If these tasks sound doable and something you are interested in learning I have two requests.
*here I’m giving an expectation of growth, indicating this position is long term. The ask is whether or not this is feasible and leads directly into a request.
1. Choose a single article from this site, read it in full and write me 2 tweets (140 characters, no need to add the link): www.kellyazevedo.com
Send me back the title and link of the article you chose and the two tweets (to review if you’re unfamiliar go to www.twitter.com and you’ll see the messages)
*the first part of the request relates directly back to the job description where I ask for candidates familiar with Twitter. This test allowed me to immediately eliminate half of the applicants, such as ones who wrote tweets but did not indicate which article they had read. Any applicant who chooses two articles and writes one tweet for each is also eliminated. The applicant who wrote me two paragraphs as “tweets” was also eliminated from the pool.
2. When you send back the tweets give me some times you are available in the next 48 hours to meet via Skype for 10 minutes for a quick interview. I’ll reply via Odesk with a time and my Skype ID so we can connect.
From there if it’s all good I’ll set you up with the first task and some guidelines and we’ll get started.
*in this part of the response I’m adding on to the test to find someone who pays attention to detail (also a skill listed in the job description). Candidates who did not include times to meet or failed to respond within 48 hours were also eliminated as possible hires. While it was not explicit, I should note that the candidates I interviewed also included their Skype ID making the interview process smoother. That attention to detail and anticipating the next question helped put them ahead of other candidates.
I do move very quickly in my life and business and have clear but not unreasonable expectations of my employees. I will most likely hire 2 or 3 people to start and see how it goes for the long term.
*this part is optional but I felt that since the first tasks would be coming within 72 hours of posting the job offer it was critical to identify the company and potential candidates as willing and able to move quickly. I tamper this expectation by letting them know I am not unreasonable and clarified further in the job interview that communication was essential to this element of working together. Finally, the note that I would hire 2 or 3 candidates put a little competition in the process and encourages the ones I hire to continue to do their best work.
Before hiring your VA you’ll have a sample of their work know whether or not they can follow directions and know that you’re hiring someone who understands your style and business before a single hour is paid. Assistants are just like any other professional field, you have to be specific about what you want and what you don’t or you’ll be disappointed.
Many of the horror stories you hear all track back to one major underlying problem: communication. In this system I hope you’ve seen how clear expectations, communication of desires and fair expectations can help you find the right assistant for your business.
Make sure to read Part 1 here : Hiring Support in Your Business with the Right Job Description
Part 3 is coming soon: Using systems to track results and avoid problemsContinue reading...