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Do Not Make These Startup Mistake’s (Pssst. I did!)

A few years ago I taught a business boot camp at a local university. It was for people who had business ideas, but weren’t quite sure how to go about implementing them. It was a “how to.”

Everyone in the class had the similar needs:

  • They had an idea and wanted to grow it into a sustainable income.
  • They’d set aside some money to get started but weren’t sure if they had enough.
  • They had a plan. (Kinda-Sorta)

What they didn’t have was “The fourth bullet point.”

How do I make this real? -How does it go from being an idea to a reality?

Here is some of what I shared with them.

You don’t have a business if you don’t ever sell anything. You have a hobby!

Let that sink in for a minute.

Okay?

I’m going to ask you do something that will require a leap of faith on your part. I’m going to warn you that you are going to have to do this over and over, because like your favorite guilty pleasure – It ain’t going away any time soon: Fight the urge to believe that God, The Universe, The Angels and all the Saints are going to do the heavy lifting for you.

I know, I know! you are full of passion, desire and enough energy to supply power to a small country.

Maybe even The Universe.

Know what I mean Vern?

Who do you share it with?

You don’t know. So you fret and worry and wonder just what the heck you got yourself into. Who is going to buy my stuff?

When I started my business I decided the whole world needed me. I mean, why not? I confused love with need.

The whole world may have loved me but the whole world wasn’t buying from me.

They never have and they never will. I am a really great guy but not everyone needs what I offer.

Without your ideal client you have nothing to sell because if no one needs it why should anyone buy it except for the people who “get it.”

“Oh, John, please. This is cruel and unusual punishment. I have no clue who my ideal client is. I’ve tried and tried….”

Look in the freakin’ mirror for gosh sake’s. Read your journal and don’t burst out laughing when you read the things you wrote.

  • What turns you on?
  • What can you NOT live without?
  • What resonates with ya?

People don’t buy a product or a service. They buy us. They buy honesty, integrity and relationships. They buy YOU because you believe in your product or service. You cannot live without it.

Let me share an example with you of someone who nailed it by sharing themselves with their readers. It’s a blog called Defining Yellow written by Kourtney Benson. It’s all spelled our plain and simple and you know almost immediately if you want to follow her. A picture is worth a thousand words. When you click on Defining Yellow I’d ask you to read her ABOUT ME page and her PURPOSE Page.

When you are finished ask yourself if you know who Kourtney is, what she does, and why she does it. Kourtney wants to work with people like herself. That’s who she surrounds herself with. She’s very direct about who she is. So much so, that I wrote and asked her if I could share her blog with you guys.

Forget about your competition.

Don’t research them, don’t spy on them, don’t lie awake at night wondering and worrying about how they are doing exactly what your doing and worse yet that they are brighter and way more good looking than you are They are not going to steal all your customers!

Your business is different from anyone else’s . It’s your DNA. There will never, ever be anyone who is like you in the past, the present or future. The imprint you put on your business is one-of-a-kind!

You are not they and they are not you! Wanna know why?

Your competitions needs are way different than yours and I gotta tell you that many of the shipwrecks I see from new startups come from trying to do what they’re not prepared to do. It’s like going from your church softball team to the major leagues in fifteen minutes.

I know, I know, As one of my sons put it so eloquently: “Why are you stepping on my dreams?”

The people you choose to serve don’t want something from you they can buy ANYWHERE. They want what you and only you bring to the table. That’s the person you want to attract.

Your competition, the people who you worry about? They aren’t worried about you. They’re too busy being themselves. Follow their lead!

Start small and start now.

Once you’ve gotten the “have to’s” out of the way – legal requirements, insurance etc. it’s time to begin planning.

The first question you might ask yourself is “How do I know what I need?”

That’s where knowing and understanding who you your ideal client is – the one your business will serve and what their needs are.

Their needs. Not ours.

Let that sink in as well.

When I fist started my business I was working with a company that hired me to coach it’s management team. They had me on a monthly retainer which made it a really sweet gig. One morning the COO was telling me about a move he was going to make. I told him I didn’t agree with his decision. He told me he din’t really care if I agreed with him or not.

After the initial sting subsided and I worked through what he said I realized he was right. I was looking at things from my perspective, not his. He was doing what he felt was best for him and his team. It wasn’t my company and while my service was appreciated and valued, I wasn’t part of the team.

Let me put it this way. You have a water leak in your basement. You call a plumber and the plumber fixes the leak. You thank the plumber. You don’t want their opinion on how to remodel your house and when they give it to you it just does not resonate.

Start with what you know. Leanr along the way and when you are starting out lead with the best version of yourself and forget all the horse hockey you’ve been reading about.

Be you.

Start small, start now

3 Tips to Use in Avoiding the Guru Syndrome.

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I am not a guru hater. I genuinely respect the folks who have worked long and hard to build a business for themselves so they can enjoy the life they set out to enjoy and be recognized as the very best in their field.

My problem has never been with the guru’s. As a matter of fact, most folks we refer to as guru’s run like holy hell from the title. In it’s place, they talk about hard work, long hours, ups and downs and how there was more than once they were ready to throw in the towel. The “guru’s” I’ve met are caring people who willingly help other people and really don’t care for the title. They see themselves learning about every facet of life just like you and I.

They have an insatiable thirst to get it right right and always remind us that just because it worked for them………….

Yeah, we don’t wanna hear that, do we?

The problem, my dear grasshopper, is not them. It’s us.

We don’t read past the headlines. We turn a deaf ear to “No guarantees it will work for you just because it worked for me.”We are still looking to click our heels three times and be in the mystical and magical land where everyone hangs on our every word, writes us massive checks and lets us perform with the favorite artist of our choice. ( I always wanted to sing with Sinatra.)

And that’s okay.

It’s okay as long as we separate the reality of our lives from the reality of their lives.

Lemme share for a few if I may.

When I can’t sleep at night, I close my eyes, and I conjure up a fantasy I’ve had since I was 10 years old. I am a pitcher for a major league baseball team and not only am I amazingly successful, there are whispers that I am the G.O.A.T. – Greatest of all time. People love me, they adore me and when I face a batter I conjure up an image of facing a super star I never really liked. A No-Good-Nick, a villain.

I strike him out. Not only do I strike him out but I make him look terrible when he swings and falls in the dirt. Oh yeah, my average fast ball speed if about 110 mph. Everybody wants me.

I am heading towards 67. I never could get the ball to travel the distance to reach home plate and I am terminally uncoordinated. But I gotta tell ya, when I hear that siren song, the call from the mists that suggests it’s not to late, there is a tug inside of me I have to resist.

Maybe I could…………..

I am quite sure someone out there would try to convince me that I still could reach my goal and if I made a pittance of an investment, with them, I COULD get to the Hall of Fame. I mean just read the testimonials! Aging and deluded males everywhere are salivating at that one, last, chance at greatness. The one that escaped us so often in our youth. A chance at redemption. We see the faces of all those naysayers and people who sneered at us, and we open out hearts, minds and most importantly our wallets. Field of Dreams, The Rookie…….

Damn! I almost convinced myself.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

It’s called marketing. It’s is not a dirty word or evil practice. It was not created by Satan himself. Marketing, my dear ones, is the way we make money, Dough-Re-Me. The stuff we pay our bills with and enjoy our lives with.

You know!!

I’m going to share some tips on navigating the mine field, because if you’re like me, you have fallen prey to dumping a bunch of cash in the hopes that it will lead to the promised land and instead you get a bunch of YouTube videos and a concierge who hosts a monthly get together that’s usually titled a master mind or group coaching. Often those aren’t live. You feel cheated and robbed and you are no closer to getting what you want then you were before your credit card provider is asking you if you’d like to increase your credit limit.

Then we’re ashamed. We’re supposed to know it all, supposed to avoid those traps, those get-there-overnight pitches. It’s a terrible feeling. We fell prey and worst of all it “Ain’t their fault.” It’s ours. We drank the Kool Aide.

End of sermon.

Here are three things that can help all of us begin to break that cycle of compulsion and make better use of the resource we have available to us.

Nothing in the realm of your business or practice requires an immediate decision. Well maybe if someone has a gun pointed at your head but otherwise you’re being what’s called “squeezed.” Those offers are designed to raise your pulse and blood pressure a bit and make you decide it is now or never. Some of them even have a doomsday counter. It’s a digital counter that tells you that there is only a precious bit of time left before this once-in-a-lifetime offer expires. After that you’ll pay a king or queens ransom. Take a step back, breathe and put some space between the hype and your needs.

I’ll use an old school term sleep on it. If it still sounds good in the morning……… That takes me to tip two

Listen to your intuition. I worked with someone years ago who told me, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it’s probably a duck. If it feels right for you, investigate further. If it just doesn’t resonate with you ask yourself WHY? Everything and I mean everything is not for all of us. That’s where you’ll hear the term ideal client. There are some folks who’d like you and I to believe that everyone created from the beginning of time is their ideal client. They can contort their process to fit your needs. It’s not a lie. They paint with a broad brush and suggest you and I fill in the blanks and often we are stuck with nothing more than we walked through the door with. Listen to your soul. The cool kids lunch table is not all it’s cracked up to be anyway.

Check them out – Make sure they can deliver what they are promising to deliver. I could sit here all day telling you horror stories both personal and ones I’ve heard over the years.

The internet provides us with great opportunities. We can work with people we otherwise wouldn’t have come in contact with. The internet has turned the corner market into a grocery store on steroids. – So many choices. And then, there is the down side.

Then there are the people that take our money and either woefully under deliver or we never hear from them again. They label themselves as experts and guru’s and leaders in their field, they send us a two page PDF, get our email address and proceed to barrage us with the good old once-in-a-lifetime offers. It’s marketing by attrition.

For every 1000 names we add to our list, 100 of those people will open and read our email. Of those 100 roughly 10 people will click through. That means, they’ll go to the next page or link. Of those 10 people only 1 person MAY take advantage of your offer. It sets up like this 1000-100-10-1. It’s the internet marketing version of the advertising we get in our snail mail. – Mass marketing.

Question for you: What do you do with most of the stuff that you retrieve from your mailbox? Yeah, me too.

Okay I’m going off on an uber tangent here but I thought you should know. Ya know?

Where was I?

If I see something that perks my interest I start asking around. I do research. If you are a provider worth your salt, Google has your entire life on file, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. As far as testimonial’s go, I try to avoid them. I ask every client I work with to provide me with a testimonial at the end of our time together. I put it in the coaching agreement.

Lemme ask you something? If you send you a testimonial and it says You stink do you really think I am going to publish it? Seriously. What we see are filtered.

Okay Mr Bright Eyes what should I do? Glad you asked.

I send an email with at least three questions about their offering. The one question I always include is a request for analytics. I want to know what percentage of their clients benefited from working with them or studying their material.

I’ll give you an example:

I still do resumes for people. Many years ago I began tracking how many of those resumes resulted in a person getting an initial interview. 91.6% of the resumes I created resulted in an initial interview. I offered empirical proof.

I ask the question: Who do you know that I know? Then I reach out to mutual connections asking what their experience was.

Okay you get my point.

You may have tips of your own and if you’d do I’d live to hear from you. We’re all in this together.

Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering my email list is way less than 1000 people. when I send out a posting, according to MailChimp the open rate is roughly 35%. The alleged average for my profession, coaching and consulting is 12.9%. My click through rate is at 10%. I keep my list manageable.

One last thing: I have not posted for a few weeks mostly because of a personal illness – our grandson gave us a new years gift of Day Care Disease and we had a death in our extended family. I thought you’d like to know

Namsate

Building Your Business One Relationship at a Time

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I met Kevin about a month after I decided corporate America and everything that went with it wasn’t my thing anymore. I’d started a business coaching and HR consulting company.

If you’ve followed any of my posts, here, or elsewhere, you know that banner outside my front door would read “I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground!”

A friend told me about his boss who he thought could use me. He’d started his business ten years earlier. In the interim he’d built a pretty successful practice with a couple locations and had his eyes set on a few more.

Kevin was one of those people who knew what to touch and when to touch it and if he didn’t touch it chances are it wouldn’t work anyway. During our first meeting he readily admitted that he had no people skills and spent a lot of time in conflict with his team members. They stayed because the wage was good and he offered performance bonuses that weren’t a mainstream practice in his industry at the time.

He mighta been a jerk but he was smart jerk.

We met for coffee one morning and he was“professionally polite.” He told me he didn’t really have a need for my services and gave me a“Thanks for stopping by and have a nice day! Why are you still here?”

Yeah.

He started calling me every now and then, though. He’d ask a question or suggest we have lunch and pick my brain. I never thought much of it because the calls were far and few between. When I’d give him a suggestion I might get an email that said “Thanks for your help. Your advice worked out well for me.”

That was about it. Until one day…………..

The phone rang. It wasn’t Kevin. It was one of his managers. She asked if was I available for lunch?

I coulda told her I was busy, I mean I ain’t a social service agency but Kevin and I had established a relationship by then and BTW, I could have told him “pay me or quit calling me.”

There is a reason I didn’t.

My intuition told me there was some value in establishing that relationship. It could lead to other opportunities. Kevin was and is a leader and well respected in his community and sans the lack of people skills our values, both personal and professional were in alignment.

Marketing Messiah Russell Brunson said in a recent podcast. “Five good friends beats a hundred thousand subscribers any day.” I saw him as potentially one of those “good friends.”

There has to be a relationship first though. I mean I can teach my fourteen year old grand daughter how to sell something but learning to value people is something that takes time.

Anyways………..

When I sat down he looked across the table and said “I guess I need to start paying you, huh?

That relationship lasted almost 9 years.

If I drew one of those things that resemble a family tree he would be the trunk and the twelve or so referrals he gave me over the years would be the branches on the tree. He invited me to speak at a state conference for his industry as well as conduct his management retreats. He introduced me to a whole bunch of folks and even had me interviewed by a trade publication he was on the editorial board of.

Trust is not something you pour water on, stand back and watch it sprout in fifteen minutes. It comes from a cultivating a relationship and that, my friend, takes some time.

I coulda turned away after my first meeting with him or stopped taking his phone calls.

A number of people told me he was taking advantage of me being a newbie.

That, would make me just like everyone else. I ain’t, like everyone else.

I do have people skills and I do understand what it is like to run a business and be a coach and try to figure out stuff all on my own and I know that before I write a check I am gonna make damn sure the person I am writing it to knows what they are talking about. In the beginning Kevin would call every six to eight weeks and ask if I had a minute to talk. It was a test and when I passed that test I was given another one so that by the time he had a real issue he knew the value of my services because he’d seen tangible results from the issues I helped him with in the past.

We don’t create trust on the golf course or at the tapas bar. It comes when people SEE our integrity in action not just hear us blather on about it.

The relationships? It’s why we do what we do anyways. Ain’t it?

What “New Marketing” Really Means

Can we talk?

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the “new” marketing for some time.

Why?

I know some really honest people, chock full of integrity, not so much concerned about earning seven figures as they are getting paid for the value of what they share with the rest of us and as importantly making a contribution. Remember that passion and enthusiasm that got you started?

Then, there are the others.

I thought they’d largely vanished. They are the folks who still poke and prod, get up in our faces and suggest that we never really belonged at the cool kids lunch table anyway. They’ve located our pain and they have the answer.

I had an experience the other day that caused me to write this post.

YouTube videos are my friends. Any time I’m stuck I’ll do a search and viola, there are a host of experts willing to share their thoughts with me. Some of them have made me look like I knew what I was doing , especially when it came to fixing things around the house

The other day I was interested in learning how people were using YouTube videos as a way to build their email list. After a few abortive tries I found one that looked pretty interesting. I hit pause, went for a cup of tea, settled in and punched “resume.”

The content was exactly what I was looking for and I even registered to receive the free gift the presenter offered if I’d share my email address.

I did. I know the drill. To get something you have to give something. No problem.

I knew what was coming next. It’s called the squeeze. You have my attention, you’ve plied me with all sorts of free stuff, now it’s time to reach into my pocket……….. Again, I do not have a problem with this.

It’s called sales and it is not a dirty word.

I read the landing page I was sent to. Again, good stuff. But………….Not anything I needed right now. I book marked it for future reference. Just in case.

Now, people respond to rejection one of two ways:

When I get notice through my provider that someone didn’t click though or left in the middle of reading something I’ll respond by telling them I’m sorry they aren’t interested and one last time in an appropriate way, share the benefits of what I am offering. I close by telling them I hope they enjoy my newsletter or blog or whatever it is they gave me access to their email for.

See, that email address is gold. They may not need the program I am currently offering but down the road something may be of interest to them and they may investigate further.

(Did I tell you one of my motto’s is “Measure progress with a calendar not with a stop watch!”)

The second way of responding to rejection was how I was treated. I received an email that suggested I’d never reach my life or business goals as long as I made the choice not to enroll. As a matter of fact, I was told I was now part of the 99% who didn’t want to work hard and make commitments. It was my loss.

The cool kids lunch table was getting father and farther away.

But ya know what? That’s how they wanted me to feel. They wanted me to feel hurt. They wanted me to lift my tear stained eyes and admit I had it all wrong.

They were my hope and salvation.

There was still time to act.

Let me ask you something?

How do you want to be treated?

Do you want a thank you, see you later, hope we can connect down the road and if not no worries.

Or

Do you want to be told you’re a quivering mass of failure who’ll never amount to anything.

The old way of marketing suggests I find your pain and exploit it. The new way of marketing suggests I find your strengths and passions and celebrate them.

There might even be a happy dance involved.

New Career Creations blends the disciplines of business, career and life coaching to assure their clients have the best opportunity to be successful in all areas of their lives and careers. We partner with you to create those possibilities. A Heroes Journey is published on Tuesday at 7:30 AM CST. You can contact us at John@NewCareerCreations.com