Business Success: It’s Not All About Finding Your Niche and Growing Your List

This past weekend I was involved in a hit and run car accident. As witnesses pulled around me to continue on their day, I started thinking about personal responsibility.

Obviously the person who hit me wasn’t taking any.

Then a flashback to a call with a potential client a few weeks ago (yep, I’d moved the car out of the road by this point) where she said “none of my previous coaches know how to teach and that’s why [her] business isn’t succeeding”.

And on to several business owners who have said, and continue to say, something to the effect of:

  • “I don’t have time to connect with my clients each week”
  • “I don’t have time to read and comment on industry blogs”
  • “I hear your 30-day training is great, but I’m too busy to sign up, read each daily message and take action on it”
  • “Sounds like a great book, but I don’t have time to read it”
  • “I didn’t have time to follow-up with those I met at the event – I’ll do it next week” (note: “next week” never comes)
  • “I’m too busy trying to get clients to create a plan”

You get the idea. Excuse after excuse after excuse. And usually wondering why things aren’t going the way they hoped.

Reality:

  • We’re ALL busy. And most of us think we’re busier than we are
  • Our clients are busy. Our vendors are busy. Our colleagues are busy. Those who succeed learn to manage their time and focus on those activities which will best serve their goals
  • As a business owner, even the owner of a lifestyle business, we occasionally need to make sacrifices – get up an hour earlier, work on a Saturday morning/evening, whatever to finish something we committed to

It’s tough to stay on top of all things, all the time – especially when we combine business with a personal life.

I know this and experience the same and when I’m tempted to make an excuse, I remember something my Dad said long ago: “whatever you accept, you get more of” – start accepting excuses (even from yourself) and you’ll get more of them.

As the market becomes more competitive and clients become more discerning about where they invest their money, you want to ensure that you’re known for the *right* things: providing value and doing what you say you will…in addition to the *what* of what you do.

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My Request to You:

Before we can move forward, let’s clean up anything that needs attention:

  1. Grab your “to do” (or “Action”) list. You know…the *big* one.
  2. Look over it and put stars or highlight anything that “should” have been done by now – starting with things that are owed to clients, colleagues, vendors, etc.
  3. Make a commitment to yourself right now that you’ll assume personal responsibility in all things going forward, knowing that it means you’ll have to say “no” to things which don’t fit or you don’t have time for.
  4. Set aside a day this week to catch up on those things which need catching up on (delegate what you can, do the rest).
  5. Smile and give yourself a reward for getting caught up.

Moving forward…

  • Take time to identify your personal and business values.
  • Each morning think about your top 5 values and act with intent throughout the day.

Taking consistent action and living your life/managing your business according to your values will ensure that you’re on track for a life on your terms. And if those values include integrity, personal responsibility, value, Extreme Client Care™ and constant learning, you’re well on your way to success and the life you envision.

It’s the millions of little things we do and choices we make, every day, which determines our business success or failure.

3 Tips for Starting a Business Blog

A Blog connected to your business website is an important arm of your online strategy in 2012. Blogs are integral in keeping your customers, clients and staff up to date and connected with your business on a day to day basis. Your feature articles and posts can be written by the staff, by other departments and even by your customers. Making use of one of the free blogging platform makes it easy, free and accessible for even the smallest of start up businesses. Here are my three tips for business blogging to get you started.

Once upon a time having a brochure style business website with a catalog was enough of a presence to lure online searches towards your business. In 2012, it is far more productive and a much more efficient return on your investment to make use of a business blog to share your business brand online.

First thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with a free blogging platform like blogspot or wordpress. Now, do you know what your business keywords are? Keywords are the most searched for terms that lead customers to your site and then convert the inquiries into sales? Put your keywords and wordpress together in a search and see what your competition is up to. You should see a list of other blogs that already focus on your niche. Now it is your turn to create your own blog and contribute your effort to the blogosphere.

Now you have done some research seeing what everyone else is up to, it is time to register your own blog. I would suggest you use a keyword and something related to your particular specialization or brand. So it all ties together and you have some brand transfer between your blog and main website.

Next, write a short post about your business. And for your second post you can write another few paragraphs about your business this season – what new stock or new products you have or how things are evolving at the workplace. See? You are getting the hang of it already! Be open, honest and a little bit candid or controversial to keep the readers’ interest. Remember, boring copy makes for tedious reading and time poor readers are impatient for quality content.

So now you have launched your blog it is time to offer guest posts to other staff and managers from different departments to contribute. Insist that they write up to 400 words about a personality based experience that involves the business or the brand. Keeping the personal element ensures that there is more to the post than just product promotion – and frankly reading product promotional material is not really that entertaining.

Aim to maintain a consistent presence on your blog – it will keep you readership loyal and interested and sustain their connection to your business and brand. You will find a plethora of resources to help keep you interested and inspired to produce worthwhile content – and remember – fresh original content is what drives a quality blog. As your readership grows you will have a veritable community of loyal followers who all share your interest and offer commentary on your posts. And above all, your business blog becomes a relevant and valuable asset to your business.

Moneyball – How a Baseball Movie Will Help Your Business Grow

This year at the Oscars, my favorite nominee for Best Picture was Moneyball starring Brad Pitt.

Many think it is a great baseball story but to me it is a terrific business story with lessons to help small businesses compete in a big money world. It’s a story about underdogs who had to rethink how to level the playing field against incredible odds.

In 2002, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) had a huge problem. The big money teams like the New York Yankees had lured away his top talent.

By comparison, the New York Yankees spent more than $125 million in payroll in the 2002 season while the small market A’s were limited to less than $40 million.

Beane knew the Yankees and most other teams had an unfair advantage with their big budgets but the A’s new owners refused to spend any more money. They demanded that the team be treated as a business and charged Beane with the task of winning in the Major Leagues with a budget that was smaller than that of nearly every other team.

Beane understood that he could not compete when playing the same game against the big teams and bigger budgets. He had to try a different path of do or die. In a desperate need for a way to compete, Beane went against conventional wisdom and set out to develop his own new unfair advantages with tools that didn’t require a lot of capital investment.

He turned to analytics.

Beane listened to new ideas and hired a 25 year old Yale graduate student who was a master at analyzing stats that were not generally considered top priority in the average scouting process. Ignoring traditional recruiting techniques, the A’s took advantage of more empirical gauges of player performance to build a team that could successfully compete in Major League Baseball. The new team was built with young players and cast-off older players who didn’t fit the norm.

The results?

The Oakland A’s finished 1st in the American League West with a record of 103 wins and 59 losses, and set an American League record of winning 20 consecutive games.The A’s won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent $1.4 million per win and the A’s paid $260.000.

The recruiting game was forever changed.

Like many startup and growing businesses owners, Billy Beane was willing to try an idea that was disruptive to traditional thinking. He listened and hired an expert to assist him in creating a new plan.

Beane lacked the belief or support of his scouting staff, many of the players, the media and even the team’s manager who fought and ridiculed him every step of the way. But he committed himself to it and did not change course.

I suggest that you watch Moneyball movie twice; the first time for pure enjoyment of a fun film and the second time with your finger on the pause button, ready to take notes.

There are many lessons for business in the movie’s dialogue. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • “There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there’s fifty feet of crap…and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game.” (Be honest about where you really are in your business)
  • “Your goal shouldn’t be about players, your goal should be to buy wins.” (Keep the real objective in sight and in mind)
  • “A dollar for a soda?…Welcome to Oakland.” (Don’t blow the value of goodwill by being cheap with pennies…it’s the old penny wise – pound foolish)
  • “We’re not New York. Find players with the money that we do have.” (Be honest and firm. Play the cards you’re dealt)
  • “You guys are talking the same old nonsense; we’ve got to think differently.” (Clean the slate and start from scratch)
  • “The first guy through the wall always gets bloody.”
  • “When you get the answer you want, hang up.” (keep it short and to the point)
  • “We’re going to rethink the game. If we win, this team will have changed the game.”
  • “So what’s my biggest fear?…that a baseball will get hit in my direction.” (acknowledge and face your fears and self-doubts)
  • “The question we should be asking is do we believe in this thing or not?”

How about you? Please share your thoughts and any favorite Moneyball lines. Shoot me an email at [email protected]

May all your hits be homers and you have a winning season!