Have You Looked at Your Business Plan?

February 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Posted in content, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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Have you built your business plan for 2010? YES! Great! I know it feels a bit like a tired topic but… have you LOOKED at your business plan lately? Are you moving according to your intentions? If not, why not? Where could you use some help? Motivation? Time management? Balance?

If you haven’t written your business plan for 2010 it’s not too late! You can always write a business plan. It doesn’t need to be built on the calendar year yours can run from March 1 to March 1.  Don’t let missing the mythical Jan.  1 cut off date convince you not to create a plan. New and existing businesses benefit from having a plan in place.

Your business plan can be the greatest ally available to your business.  This is your time to dream (you can build a plan that looks out 2 – 3 years, 5 years, 10!). When creating your 1-year plan really think about how you would like your business to look at the end of those 12 months. What changes do you want to make? What changes do you think are possible in 12 months? If you won’t reach the ultimate goal in 12 months what goals will you reach? Add the longer-range goal to your 2-year plan.

Get detailed with your plan. Decide specifically what percentage of income you would like to see come from each activity.

Then determine what dollar figure that percentage translates into. Do the percentages change based on month? What months are you releasing new programs? Remember you need time to create the program.

Once you have created a specific plan you feel good about it refer to it at least once a month. You put a lot of work into your plan, make sure you use it. Take the time to ask and honestly answer a few basic questions

  • Where are you seeing good results and why?
  • Where are you seeing not so good results and why?
  • What are you most challenged with and how is it affecting your plan?

Once you have answered the questions address the open issues. This is a great time for self-reflection. If you don’t know how to address the issues find a coach who can help you. Your plan and your bottom line will appreciate the time and effort you put in to creating a profitable and productive year!

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Does Anyone Know You Are an Expert?

February 19, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Posted in goals, leadership, opportunities | 1 Comment
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We all want to work with experts. We all consider ourselves expert in some area. How do we help our clients, who want to work with experts, discover that we are experts?

Luckily, with the internet, there are any number of venues for building your expert status. You do have to create that status. You can’t simply expect people to know you are an expert. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the way it worked? I have a technical background in Project Management, I’m a PMP, and I find many of us with technical backgrounds just assume everyone knows we are an expert. Not so!

While initials behind your name might be impressive to peers and people ‘in the know’ many people may have no idea what those initials signify. As someone who has a few initials I can put behind my name, CTACC and PMP for example, I know others with those same initials whose skills I don’t consider the same as mine. I’m sure you ALL have examples of your own!

You need to showcase exactly what your expertise is. A PMP is a Professional Project Manager; it doesn’t mean that I am an expert at the end-to-end process. There are some pieces I am better at than others. When you showcase your expertise and build that platform people understand where exactly your expertise resides.

It is no longer necessary to write and publish a traditional book to build your status. It helps greatly to have a book published and there are options like self-publishing and eBooks. Both options are viable and produce good results.

The Internet opens a world of opportunity for those who want to share their expertise with the world. Whether you are a coach, speaker or business owner your potential clients need to believe you are the expert that can help them with their issue.

What remains important as you share your expertise is that you continue to do it in your authentic voice. There is room for every expert and we are not a fit for every client. Individuals can immediately sense if someone is not being authentic. Sharing our expert status helps those clients who resonate with us find us and helps identify those who are better served working with others.

A few ideas on how to build your expert status:

  • • Hold a seminar
  • • Write a blog
  • • Share tips/tricks on social media
  • • Collaborate with other experts on a program

Do your best today

February 17, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Posted in leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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I’m watching the Olympics and thinking about doing my personal best. If you are familiar with The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz you know that he talks about doing your best every day. Every day your best will be a bit different. Any number of elements can impact what your best looks like day to day.

As speakers and coaches being your best every day can cover a lot of ground. When you are in front of a room full of people your best looks very different than when you are working one-on-one with a client. They are different skills sets and depending on how your day is going sometimes one skill set is easier to draw from than another.

Knowing where you are that day can make all the difference.  There are days when I am a much better coach than speaker. At least, that’s the way it feels. It may be that I am feeling more energized working one-on-one with someone, really helping then dig deep. Maybe I just didn’t get enough sleep and know it will be more difficult to feel the energy I need to make a room sparkle.

Whatever it might be acknowledge where you are. If you know you are speaking and your feeling a bit challenged contact that one person that always helps you get your mojo back. I bet you can find it for the speech. You can be your best that day! I’m sure your desire to do your very best will impact the audience in a positive way that leaves them feeling like you have empowered and uplifted them.

When I’m feeling unfocused and not able to find my best I take a few minutes to center myself. I sit quietly; try to clear my mind (Yep, I said try, some days I am more successful than others), to connect with my heart, my head and the earth around me. It might sound a bit ‘airy fairy’ but generally, that brings me back to a place of focus. Now I can work with any client knowing I am bringing my best to them.

Accepting that my best every day will differ every day allows me to be flexible in what I approach. For instance, there are some days when I just don’t feel like delving into the detail of a complicated project plan for a new program release. I do feel great energy around putting together one of the courses for that program. If I focus on where I can do my best I’ll work on the course. I can’t ignore the project plan forever but I find I work much better if I take advantage of the energy that is available right now. Most of the time the energy for the project plan comes back once I have spent some solid time working on the course. The result is I do my best on both areas of focus.

Offline and a Thank You

February 11, 2010 at 10:38 AM | Posted in leadership, opportunities | 2 Comments
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I am going to be offline for a few days. Completely offline, no access; unless I got to the local Starbucks and access their wireless network; or send the occasional Twitter via my Blackberry.

I’m going home for a funeral. There is no wireless access where I am staying and getting on to their network is, to put it mildly, mind numbing. This isn’t all bad. I will have the time to consider what I have lost, to recreate relationships with people I haven’t seen in a long time, to focus on pleasant memories and create new ones.

The solo-preneur in me is slightly panicked at the idea of not being able to check my email every day. Yet, I’ve let everyone who might have an immediate requirement know how to reach me. What a box we get ourselves into! I love my work! It’s not really work. I should be able to unplug without dreading the massive number of email I’ll have to deal with or worrying that I’ll miss something important. Nothing will happen in 4 days that cannot be addressed when I get home.

We all need time to unplug, to bond with our families. Without those connections it can be very difficult to be effective in your work and to maintain your passion for your work. It is unfortunate that it is taking a death to get me away from my plugged in world (I need to work on that), fortunate that I get to reconnect with friends and family.

I’ll embrace these few days without an internet connection and focus on healing myself and my family. I’m grateful that you will all be here when I get back.

Namaste

Do you have an advisory board?

February 8, 2010 at 3:32 PM | Posted in goals, leadership | 2 Comments
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I was talking to my advisory board about a business decision I need to make in the next week. One of the best things I ever did was put together my board. When I have a decision I am struggling with, for whatever reason, these are my go to people. They respect me so much they will tell me the truth, ask me to think through all implications of my actions, require that I tell them the truth and hold me accountable for everything I do and say.

What is my advisory board? I quickly realized that as a solo-preneur I need people to support me. When you work in a corporation you have peers and managers you trust that will help you with difficult decisions and choices within you career.  As a solo-preneur you don’t always have people you trust enough to ask for help or who will be honest and forthright with you. Your advisory board is that group of people (call them whatever you want- board of directors, go-to-people…).

An advisory board may become a critical support mechanism for your business. My board is a loosely held together group of individuals I trust. Their expertise lies in various areas and they are all successful in their own right. Some I have been friends with for years others are new friends and mentors. Regardless they are individuals I respect and who want to see me successful.

Your advisory board doesn’t have to be a formal group that gets together on a regular basis and hashes out your business. I don’t think I’ve ever had all of my board in one place at one time. There are 3 people on my board. I don’t take every decision to all of them. I discuss certain decisions with some of them some of the time.

For a while I didn’t have a board- I found myself struggling with decisions wishing I had some go to individuals. Then someone mentioned putting together an advisory board. I never looked back. It’s been one of the greatest most effective ways I have found to support my business.

If you haven’t put together your board I suggest you give a try.

Competitor or Collaborator?

February 2, 2010 at 8:13 PM | Posted in content, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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I’m putting together a program for Entrepreneurs. Some of my competitors are experts in the topics I want to include in the program.

I started to consider how I view my competitors. To be honest, I don’t view them as a competitor per se, rather as an expert with a slightly different audience.  There are certainly enough clients out there for all of us.

I decided it might be a good idea to bring my competitors into my program, to include them on the program as experts. There are some great advantages to collaborating-

• I don’t have to create all of the content.

• My clients get to hear from someone well grounded and well respected for their expertise.

• My program can be shared with my clients and with the experts- expanding the potential participant base.

• The expert gets to share their information with a new audience.

• The expert might have some great ideas and guidance for the overall program.

• I might be able to contribute to something they are building.

    After I sat down and thought about I couldn’t come up with a single reason not to ask the expert if they would like to contribute to my Entrepreneurs program.

    Let’s face it; all they can say is ‘No’. Most people are eager to work with you, especially if they aren’t responsible for all of the logistics involved in a program or conference.

    I believe sometimes we forget we can learn from competitors. We occasionally slide into that barren space where we believe another businessperson, speaker or coach is only out there to take away our business. The reality is I have never met someone who only wants to take business away from me.

    Simply asking a person to contribute as an expert can change the way they perceive you. No longer are you that ‘other’ entrepreneur trying to take their business away. Now you are a peer asking them to share their expertise.

    It’s a great feeling when someone asks you to step up as an expert, particularly if it is a peer.  We all benefit when we work together- our clients in particular benefit from others experience.

    Find ways to collaborate with your competitor, build a bridge that leads to creating a village, together.

    Walking my Talk

    January 31, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Posted in change, gratitude, leadership | Leave a comment
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    It has been one of those weeks! A week that makes me wonder why I EVER thought being in business for myself was a good idea. And yet, I have NO desire to go to work for someone else.

    This week has made me live all of the rules I preach to my clients. Monday and Tuesday my email was down.  Wednesday I spent 3 hours at the doctor’s office while my partner got stitches. Thursday I spent all afternoon visiting and counseling a good friend who found herself suddenly in the hospital. Friday I tried, somewhat successfully, to get caught up. And here I am on Sunday still catching up from the week.

    I have really had to walk my talk this week! Every day I had to find ways to be in gratitude. Some way to appreciate good things going on in my life when it felt like there was so much chaos. I focused on my healthy family, pets and the work I did manage to get done every day.

    Sitting in the doctor’s office and visiting the hospital led to a whole new level of gratitude and appreciation. How lucky I am to have a family that is generally healthy and happy!?

    Because I am a solo-preneur I can arrange my day to help out my partner or a friend.  The ability to manage my day is a blessing. It’s one of the greatest gifts of being your own boss.

    You need to maintain your focus when you are working on your business. Being an entrepreneur requires a certain level of focus and dedication. Managing your time and arranging your day to work for you is tremendously important. I found a few hours each day that allowed me to work without being disturbed.  I maintained focus on items that had a due date, so I didn’t miss my timelines, and on items that are driving revenue for me.

    I’m using social media to build relationships and it does help to drive revenue but I chose to focus on other revenue venues. That’s something you need to be able to determine. Of all of the priorities you are focusing on, which are really driving revenue and which can you let drop for a few days without losing momentum.

    If you aren’t sure which areas are which take the time to do the analysis. If you are unsure which items create the most business for you contact me.

    Luckily my partner and friend are both getting better every day and I am getting caught up. I’m still thrilled I’m a solo-preneur; wouldn’t change that for the world!

    Social Media Strategy

    January 26, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Posted in content | 2 Comments
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    How do you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media? Even your blog (if you have one) -does it have a point, a focus? If you are just out there spewing quotes from everyone else how much of an impact are you making?

    This was a hot topic at a recent seminar I facilitated. Some of the attendees were very proud of their 10,000 Twitter followers. They should be, it’s quite an accomplishment to have all of those folks following you. Then I asked how much business they were generating from those 10,000 people. Most of them couldn’t tell me even IF they were generating business from social media. Others had a few people contact them but nothing fabulous.

    A common theme- most of the individuals using social media didn’t have a strategy. If you are content to simply put random information out on a sporadic basis and are not concerned about bringing in clients and making business connections then keep doing what you are doing.  Have a great time!

    If you are interested in building your business using social media I have a few suggestions:

    • Focus on a few sites at a time- you don’t need to be on every site, pick the sites that speak to you and that you will regularly update
    • Regularly update your status- by regular I mean at least every other day, I suggest updating a few times a day at different times of the day; It doesn’t have to be onerous. Simply update what you are doing, retweet or repost an interesting fact, article, blog that someone shared with you. I see so many folks that simply place quotes from other people on their status update and they do it multiple times a day.

    The whole point of social media is to be social, build relationships, share relevant, interesting information. I don’t want to read someone else’s quote, I want to know what is going on in your head. How else am I to build a relationship with you? To determine if I know, like and trust you? (the Keys to getting someone to purchase- they must know, like and trust you)

    Don’t misunderstand, the occasional quote is a good thing, it does help me to understand what inspires you. But I really want to know what you are thinking.

    • Post relevant information- Recently someone posted details about just how sick they were- frankly, that was information I did NOT need to know. If you are using social media primarily to build business relationships focus on posting relevant information. Mix it up, tell me about a seminar you attended, about a revelation you had and share ideas to XXXX (insert ideas relevant to your business).
    • You can always mix in information about what’s going on in your life – for instance, my internet provider has been down for about 4 hours, so I Tweeted that I had to find things to do that don’t require the internet.  Or let us all know about where you are going for your 20th anniversary. Just be mindful that you are building business relationships.
    • Share your successes and congratulate others on their success.

    Those are just a few of the ideas I share with my clients to help them build a profitable social media strategy. You can build a successful strategy. If you’re not sure how I can help. Get in touch with me.

    Your Red Cardinal Rising

    January 21, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Posted in goals, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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    I was walking downstairs when a loud crash startled me. I looked out the window to see a beautiful red Cardinal lying on its side on the porch. Apparently, he had flown into the window and knocked himself senseless. I sat beside the window trying to decide if I needed to hold a Cardinal funeral or if he would come around and fly away.

    Mr. Cardinal tried to push himself on to his feet, he flopped around for a bit, laid still, tried again. He finally got back onto his feet. Then he stood there not moving except to blink. He was so close I could see the individual feathers, how the colors melted in to one another, and the fold in his eyelid when he blinked. He stood there for 15- 20 minutes, sometimes closing his eyes for 4 – 5 minutes at a time.

    I started to wonder what he was thinking about. From a physical perspective he certainly could have been stunned, cartoon stars running a circle around his head, he might have had a concussion. And he had the fight to get back on his feet.

    I’ve been there before. Thinking something was going to happen, flying blissfully along only to have it ripped away completely. It feels like you’ve run into a window. You can be stunned. Standing their blinking, trying to figure out what just happened. Just getting back on you feet is a bit of an issue.

    I think most of us have had this happen at some point in our business. It’s easy to feel stunned when something doesn’t go exactly as you had planned. Like the Cardinal you need to get back on your feet. Take a few minutes to regroup, shake the stars out of your head.

    Those who have taken some kind of hit, gotten back on their feet, found another way and triumphed exemplify true character and courage. Leaders do this every day. You can do this.

    For every one of us that seemingly disastrous moment will look different. What is a disaster to you is a bump in the road to me and vice versa. You don’t have to do it alone. Friends and peers can provide support and encouragement.

    Get back on your feet and take one step at a time. After a bit that ‘disaster’ won’t look so awful, it may actually feel like a gift. A gift that has allowed you to use courage, cunning, leadership and character to reach your goal! Think about all that you have learned from that moment.

    I sat watching Mr. Cardinal. Slowly he started to turn his head from side to side. He moved around to face the front yard. With a loud chirp he flew off!

    I’m not arrogant!

    January 18, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Posted in leadership | Leave a comment
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    How well do you know yourself? Do you know how your actions and words come across to peers, your audience, and your family?

    Self-awareness can be a difficult skill to master. Even the most self-aware can, occasionally, use a reality check. How people perceive you can make a tremendous difference in your success as a leader and a businessperson.

    What you perceive as helpful questioning during a meeting your peers may perceive as arrogance. Your attitude with subordinates or folks you are working with may be perceived as aggressive or over confident. Your quiet reserved manner may be screaming cold and uncaring to those around you.

    How self-aware are you? I discuss this with clients frequently. Particularly when it comes to how we use our words. I was purchasing a Congratulations card this weekend and here’s an example of what one said-

    Congratulations!

    I hope you’re proud of yourself.

    I don’t know about your father, but mine said, “I hope you’re proud of yourself.” most often when I had really messed something up and he was making a point. It wasn’t said in a favorable way. When I read that card I almost fell over! Based on my perception of the statement I would never give that card to anyone.

    You have to ask yourself how your words are landing with the individuals to whom you are speaking. Your tone, inflection, facial expression and posture make a tremendous difference in how your words are received.

    The concept is similar to your appearance. You certainly wouldn’t show up in a corporate attorneys office with shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops on- not if you expected them to take you seriously. (Ok, maybe on casual Friday, but I doubt it.) You dress appropriately for the situation.

    Your behaviour must be appropriate for the situation. If you would like people to believe you have their best interest at heart your words, tone, and expressions must all mirror that interest.

    If you’re not sure how self-aware you are ask a trusted friend or peer to be honest about how you are perceived. Be prepared to get feedback you might not be prepared for initially and don’t ‘shoot the messenger’. Knowledge is power and once you know how you are perceived you can look at how your behaviour might be creating that perception.

    I use a great tool with clients that really helps to hone in on how your peers, friends, co-workers, and subordinates perceive you. It allows us to identify areas for growth and areas of strength.

    Take a look at what you are doing and ask how those around you might perceive your actions. Be your authentic self. Raise your self-awareness, choose to behave the way you want to be perceived and good things will happen.

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