Business Archives - Page 3 of 12 - Kara Lambert

Category Archives for "Business"

Swimming in a blue ocean

For those familiar with the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Kim & Mauborgne, you will know what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t read the book, and I have and it’s a slog, a blue ocean is where you are out in a new marketplace/industry. Think of Uber vs taxis and when self-check in came in on flights vs heading to a counter. It’s revolutionising an industry with a new way of delivering the same outcome. I don’t want to regurgitate the book, what I want to chat about is what it’s like to be swimming in a blue ocean, because that’s where I am.

Back in 2014, or sometime before then, it became clear to me that Facebook had psychologists on staff and that they were using social psychology principles on their platform; and I wrote about it. I wasn’t working as a social media coach or consultant then, in fact I was working as a proof reader but I had my qualifications and I was managing 2 of my own Facebook pages. So the psychology of social media was a side interest. The following year I wrote about it more and by then I’d started coaching on some ideas around how to leveraging how psychology works on social media.

I was full of self-doubt about whether niching myself to the psychology of social media was the right thing to do. I turned to a business coach who told me not to speak about psychology because it would just confuse my followers. Try as I might, I just couldn’t. I had to be genuine and transparent to my audience that this was what sat behind it all. That this wasn’t just some other cock & bull, get rich quick scheme and that it was solid science. So I stayed true to me and told my truth my way.

By the middle of 2016 it was clear to me that I was alone in teaching Facebook this way and I got scared.

I was plagued by comparison-itis, where I constantly checked in with what my competitors were doing. It was awful. It filled me with such self-doubt! They were doing so much more. They had more clients. They were successful and I wasn’t. They were making money and I wasn’t. I sucked! Or so I believed.

I told myself that it was ok, I was a relatively new business and it was just the fact that people didn’t know me and that it takes 7 years for a business to really take off. But my competitors weren’t 7 yet either?! I looked at their messages and saw glaring holes in what they were teaching. I saw the same bad advice being passed around by various coaches. Heck, I even got on a webinar on how to be a social media coach to be told, “all you need to do is follow Social Media Examiner and you can do this”! I was a failure!

I have to be honest, up until 2016, I had a constant internal battle between the pull of having to teach people what I saw about psychological theories being manipulated and used on social media platforms and the need to get a J.O.B to help pay the bills. The pull to expose and teach the truth was too strong and the needs of my family came first. I kept treading water in my blue ocean.

Now I’ve told you that in 2017 I hired a business coach, not the one I mentioned earlier. Now one session I was in tears over this and she told me that I had to let go of the shore to cross the sea. I had to stop looking at competitors, stop worrying that what I was doing was different, stop trying to sell what I think my clients wanted but didn’t align with the path I needed to take in my blue ocean. So I let go and swam, not drifted, deep into my blue ocean.

It was lonely.

It was stormy.

Occasionally I saw a distant boat or shore (customer).

But I was living my blue ocean, true to myself and my message.

Here’s the thing. The blue ocean is exactly this. Nothing worth doing is ever easy! When you’re out sailing, all alone, no landmarks, out in the middle of the ocean, you’ve got to set your course and stick to it.

 

The other thing to remember and to research is diffusion of innovation theory by E.M. Rogers. The theory sits that until you have at least 16% reach into your marketplace, you will be in the blue ocean. That doesn’t mean that your idea or market isn’t worthwhile, it just means that they’re not ready for you.

You have to be patient and persevere. It pays off. The world will catch up to you or your market saturation will hit 17% and it will start to tip and like a boat with wind in its sails, you will take off.

You will take off, at first it might be a small breeze, but it will make those landmarks close in & that is good. I am taking off, unfortunately it has been as a result of some pretty shocking revelations around Facebook & Cambridge Analytica, all the same I am grateful that these things have opened people‘s eyes to the fact that psychology is part of social media. It has meant that I have needed to speak on how this can be done ethically and I worry that when the majority marketers catch on that there will be a flood of them teaching the psychology of social media without truly understanding the mechanism or more importantly that they are talking about people and not technology. I can see that this will become my new blue ocean, but that’s ok as I’ve now become accustomed to being alone & I’m ok with that.

To hear more about how businesses have succeeded, or failed, because of the law of diffusion of innovation, I suggest watching this video from Simon Sinek.

Fear marketing

The other day I sat down with a group of business owners and a number of them said to me that they had an issue with marketing to their customers’ fears. They said that they had paid for marketing advice and been told to market to their ideal client’s fears. But they didn’t like it and in fact, they no longer used that advice. Sound familiar.

This is what annoys me. There is so much information out there which we throw by the wayside but believe it to be true because everyone says it. It’s like learning lemmings. (My Mum would say, if everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?) Ok, so that’s a little harsh but it seems like a big waste of money to pay for advice and not use it because you’re not comfortable with it.

Let’s consider a couple of scenarios.

My toaster broke and I am looking to replace it. Will fear help me in my decision? Generally not. It would be things around the colour, cost, shape, size, how many slices, and if it will toast the tops of my crumpets without burning the bottom. (Boy did I make a poor choice on my last toaster)

I’m looking for a business coach to grow my business. Will fear help my decision? Maybe. In the main though I want to know if our personalities match, if they have had past success, and if they coach how I like to learn. (I made a good choice here)

My kids need to see a physiotherapist. (True story and we found a great one) Will fear help my decision? As a parent, I have enough guilt and if someone tries to tap into my Mummy guilt I’m thinking it’s a low blow. I want to know that they can & will treat kids, they are the best in the area, that their expertise meets my child’s needs, and that my health fund will come to the party in some way.

It’s like saying the only way to motivate a donkey is with a stick and forgetting all about the carrot.

Where does fear sit in my stories? They don’t. I’m pretty confident that I’m not unique in these (especially the toaster one) reasons for making a particular choice. I have to be honest, even the fear of missing out (FOMO) is having less of an effect on people as it is more widely used and people realise that it’s generally fake.

So why fear? It is primordial. It drives our fight or flight reaction, triggering some strong neurochemicals (love that adrenaline kick). It’s what we’ve always done.

I want to crush this as I am tired of business owners being told that things are just one way (Ask me what I think about client avatars) and realising that it just doesn’t resonate personally, fit or work for their business. People are not two-dimensional. We are not motivated by our fears alone, just as what we are is not the only way to define us.

I believe, and teach, that there are five key motivators of human behaviour (on and off line). One of the motivators is fear. Looking into the research, fear is actually a poor motivator. If you use fear to motivate someone, they will comply and follow, they are not making a choice and they are not using their free will. It is also not the way to build trust or grow a relationship. Fear is not an incentive to take action, it’s an incentive not to. Fear is there to keep us safe.

So what I want, if you’ve been told to use fear in your marketing but just can’t seem to do it – I want to applaud you. You’ve made the right decision, to follow your instincts, to listen to your clients, to stick with your values, and to honour yourself. If you’re not there yet and are trying to make it work because you’ve paid for this advice and damn it you will make it work – I give you permission to stop using fear to motivate your clients. If you believe that fear is a great motivator for your clients, I want you to consider how much they trust you and to think about the carrot.

I teach five key motivators to human behaviour. People are multi-faceted and we need to honour that and to meet our clients where they are and not just beat them into submission. If you’d like to learn more, search ‘psychology’ here on the blog or email me at kara@karalambert.com .

3 keys to getting business advice

Time and again I hear the tale of business owners who are confused by the myriad of information out there; in particular, when it comes to running a Facebook Page and identifying their ideal client.

If you have been following my blog for a while now you would know that I’m not a stranger to either of these topics and that I am a little left of centre where they are both concerned.

But I’m tired of hearing about business owners who are frustrated and confused.

There are a couple of issues behind this that I have uncovered over the past months & I want to put them right out there. I want to address the elephant in the room.

The squeaky guru

A mixture of the squeaky wheel and the shining guru. This phenomenon occurs to confound us when we are tripped up by those with big budgets. We get caught up in the marketing circus and the romance of a connection with a leading expert and what happens next? It falls flat. It lacks substance.

There are many reasons why this happens but please realise that you have fallen prey to their funnel and you are but a number on the way to their next zero.

Seem cynical? Perhaps, but beware. Over the years I have seen many businesses tout how you can make six figures but their main aim is for you to help them make theirs. And at what cost?  Consider how much they have paid in advertising and affiliate costs to win your money.  I’ve seen Facebook ad spends from ten to one hundred thousand dollars a month and profit margins that don’t correlate with how much they pay out.

Buyer beware!

The shiny new thing

The lure of a new tool, a new method, a new fix. Anything! Something! All the things!

Time and again I have seen people and tools come and go. Some might realise that it’s not for them. Others realise their life has moved on. Others just fail.

While I have backed a number of new toys for my business, my initial investment was low and my returns have far outstripped the cost.

Don’t fall foul of the celebrity of a new toy. In fact, make sure you look at my article on testimonials as many new toys use celebrity as a way of endorsing their product as the ‘next best thing’.

Be aware that marketers use influencers to market new things and that FOMO is real. Follow your heart and your head.

Free fever

The biggest thing I hear is that ‘I don’t have the money’. So businesses, especially new ones, will flit from freebie to freebie hoping to be able to piece the puzzle together. It’s ok, I did that too. Until I decided to change that.

In 2017 I instinctively knew that it was time to invest in a business retreat. 2016 had been a year where I put my business on hold for the sake of my family and it was time to take the reigns again. After the retreat, the organiser invited me to join their group coaching program. It wasn’t a massive financial draw but it was significant. The thing is that I knew that I needed one person to guide me through growing my business. I needed one person who was in my corner, who could see my end goal and who could give me the tools and encouragement to get me there.

It was one person. Not a number of free calls with various people who saw my income quadruple in that first month. It was that laser focus from one person who has had me double my income year on year since then.

There is no conflicting advice. Instead there is a clear path of growth to steer me to where I want to be. It’s consistent. It’s measured. It’s got nothing to do with their growth and everything to do with mine because I am working with them, they do not need to bring me through their funnel.

Having a constant voice in your corner is reassuring.

While growing a business requires you to be aware of new opportunities, success requires you to go all in on one direction. A scattered approach will only have you feeling pulled in all directions, where as a consistent source of information and advice will see you through and give you reassurance that you will be ok.

When you make a clear, calculated, and consistent commitment to your business you are rewarded. You reap what you sew.

In response to the constant confusion I am hearing, I have pulled my resources into one location. I want it to be easier for you to choose what suits you best. I understand that when you are starting out that you rely on these resources to help you through, but I want you to realise that there comes a point where free actually has a larger cost than benefit.

Email: The fax of the 21st century

Chatting with a friend today, the age old conversation of “what if Facebook disappeared tomorrow” and “drive your audience to where you own the traffic” came up. As always, email is one of the top contenders for this role. But is it really? Has email become the fax of the 21st century?

For those of us old enough to remember; cast your mind back to a time where you would come in to the office in the morning and there would be a stack of faxes on the machine. Some were actually work related but the majority of them were various types of advertising materials from your suppliers. Now what did you do with those faxes? You might have kept one or two from your most used/trusted suppliers but the rest went in the bin. And the ones that went in the bin regularly would often see its number blocked at the machine. Am I right?

Skip forward 20 years and look at your email inbox. You could have the most sophisticated filtering, use a single address for sign ups, you will still get those unwanted emails. If you’re like me they are mostly from SEO companies wanting to get my site ranked on page 1, they are occasionally people wanting me to promote their stuff on my site, and occasionally I get an African Prince rock up. Oh and each day I have 2-3 emails from people or newsletters who I like having in my inbox. Even then, I don’t always read the newsletter.

So my question is, “Is email the fax of the 21st century?” or “Is email an internet dinosaur?”

Why is it that we are told as business owners to build our list, keep it fresh, and that there’s value in the list?

Has the email list become internet folklore?

Is the email list an entrepreneurial right of passage?

Has building an email list become a business to do and to not do is taboo?

You might know that a bit over a year ago now I stopped emailing my list each week and opted for monthly. Since then I have had less decline in my list when I email than before. It’s logical, I’m appearing less. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being that weekly unread fax on the machine just waiting to be binned.

In 2017 I attended Inbound and heard an interesting theory that keeping email simple, like you would to a friend, is more successful. So I have. And it works.  But I don’t email my friends once a week. That would annoy the crap out of them & anyway, what would I say? It’s not like that “call Mum/Grandma on a Sunday afternoon catch up”, email is unilateral – just like a fax.

I know there are people who say, well if you deliver good value then email is still a great way to market. The problem is that the vast majority of emails nowadays don’t deliver great content. In fact, do we actually need another way to deliver content. And regardless of content quality are you still not another one of those emails landing in their tray taking up space that could actually be from a friend or client? Just like those faxes.

I’ve long believed that regular email was a dinosaur, but don’t dismay (or for those waiting for the twist, here it is) I actually do see value in building a list. (So please don’t flood my inbox with emails saying how wrong I was)

I have started using my list as a Facebook Audience. There is value in that list. The people on that list chose to be there, they choose to remain there, and they chose me to have a relationship with. So when I’m looking to promote something, I might email my list, but I will send out an ad to the people who look like those on my list. You see, they fit the same mould as my list members and that means they are more likely to like my stuff, like me, and potentially buy from me.

So my email list has value, my emails – well they’re still a fax I hope someone decides has value and takes back to their desk to read or better still, pin up on the coffee room wall to show to others in the office & refer to later.

The shoulds of marketing

Oh I love them! You should have an email list. You should email your list daily, weekly, monthly. You should run Facebook Ads. You should have a Facebook Group. You should do Facebook Lives. You should do webinars. You should scrap free consultations. Should. Should. SHOULD.

Ok, so some of those things are smart business. Some of those things are good marketing. But they miss a few key points. (and I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of shoulds)

Here’s the thing. If you do/don’t want to do something in your business. It’s your business. No one can tell you what to do.

I’m a firm believer that our businesses are extensions of ourselves, we put so much blood, sweat and tears into it! Why wouldn’t it be deeply connected to us.

I’m one to buck trends but I have to be honest that I still get the wobbles. Here’s an example.

I keep seeing Webinars announced. Don’t get me wrong some people get great results from using webinars as part of their marketing funnel. Personally, I can’t stand them. I know it’s going to be a few minutes of personal history, a tiny bit of learning, then a lot of pitch. Generally I can’t attend due to time zone differences and there’s no recording because they don’t want you to skip to the meat. So I’m stereotyping and there would be great ones out there, don’t message me the links, but they all follow the same formula, and it’s a formula.

So I asked my audience if they liked webinars and they said they loved them. Great! My audience loves them and I don’t. What to do? Honestly, I’m still stuck in webinar purgatory not knowing what to do. I don’t want to have another one of ‘those’ webinars.

That’s the thing! I don’t have to. Just because I should, just because some of my audience have said they like webinars – doesn’t mean I have to.

What I do have to do is acknowledge that by not doing them, there is a lost opportunity and associated cost. By doing them my way there’s a risk that I won’t get the return I would have had I followed the formula. If I do one according to the formula, there’s a risk it will be ingenuous and I will lose out.

That’s what I want you to know. You don’t have to just because someone else tells you to. You do have to realise that everything comes at a cost, action as well as inaction has a cost. I just know that if you do something not aligned with who you are, people will see through it.

What I don’t teach about aligning motivators

I talk about aligning what motivates people when teaching businesses about social media. I use it because at the end of the day, social media is about influencing a person to take action through a form of technology. It’s not about the technology first and foremost.

Aligning motivators helps you talk to the people you want to work with and to inspire them to take action, but there’s another thing it does is telling you who not to work with. I’ve seen in the past weeks that people are worried about difficult clients and how to work with them.

The thing is that aligning motivators makes you distinctly aware of what your motivators are, one of which is your values. So there is strength there. When we get clear on what our values are and what motivates us, not only do our most aligned clients appear, but something else happens.

We repel those we don’t want to work with.

Imagine this, you’re talking about what motivates you, you’re clear, you’re out there with your message. You will draw people to you who resonate with this. The brilliant thing is that you will also push away those who don’t. They might think it’s all crap. They may think that you’re woo woo and wishy washy. They might think that you’re not a serious business owner (I was called that once, meh). Brilliant! Perfect!

Don’t waste your time.

Move on to those people who are drawn to work with you, who align with your motivators. Why? They will light you up. They will remind you why you do what you do. They will be easy to work with. In fact, working with them won’t feel like work at all!

Don’t you deserve that? Doesn’t that sound nicer than dealing with difficult clients?

Now if you’re tempted to take anyone because funds are tight…. DON’T! They will take twice as long and end up costing you. Stick to your motivators and your message and magic will happen.

Growing your business

So often I speak to business owners about their ideal business, their dream business. They know exactly where they want to be but they’re stuck. They think it’s an all or nothing thing. Life isn’t black and white nor is it all or nothing. So what is the most common issue I see with this thinking and how do you get around it?

More often than not, business owners want to grow their business, put on new staff, open a new premises, but they’re worried that they won’t have the continuing income to achieve it.

Many businesses think that they need to save up or otherwise have the money/work behind them before they can expand. That’s just not the case.

Outsourcing

This is probably the easiest one to do.

Looking to put a staff member on? Try outsourcing various jobs rather than putting one person on. This way you will also learn what you are prepared to have someone else do and it will teach you, incrementally, what it’s like to have someone else do the work for you.

The most common barrier put up to outsourcing is the cost. I encourage business owners to focus more on what they can get done with that time they’ve ‘bought’ for themselves by outsourcing rather than the cost of the job itself. Look at what you will earn in that time. Think about how long a task would have taken and look at what you could earn in that time. Now how does outsourcing feel?

Contracting

Similar to outsourcing, is using a contracting company to ‘outsource’ the work.

Many business owners I know are looking to put on another staffer and so using a contractor can be a great way to increase staff on an ad-hoc basis until your business grows to the point where you can put someone on more permanently.

Using a contracting company can mean that you’re not responsible for a person’s entitlements, like you would staff, but you generally pay a higher rate in lieu.

Part-time/temporary work

The next stage up from a contractor would be to put someone on temporarily or part-time. Using a temporary position can mean getting you through the busy periods without worrying about what you’re going to do when things slow down. Using part-time staff means that you have more flexibility of knowing that they’re staff but that they will work for a minimum number of hours in a period, which can be increased under negotiation.

The great thing is that this incremental upgrading approach can also be used for expanding premises.

You might look at hiring a room on an ad-hoc basis, then move to a set time/day each week/month/quarter, and then expand that time. You can then consider a more permanent or larger lease as your business grows.

The thing to remember is that this is all incremental, can be expanded, and there’s no cut or dry approach to expansion. Every business is different, you have different circumstances, what worked for your competitor may not work for you (may not have worked for them either and they could be hiding it).

In the end, look at your numbers, consider these options, and realise that even these decisions aren’t set in concrete and you can change them. As awful as it sounds you can let staff go or break a lease, there are always ways to change.

Why I track my finances and you should too

So you may or may not know that when I was certain that consulting & coaching was the way I was headed, I projected my income out 10 years. Bit of a pipe dream? Maybe but that wasn’t my intention.

I looked at my numbers over a six month period and saw that I had almost doubled my business in that period, so I took the number and multiplied it out – year on year.

So yes, I know it’s ambitious but hey there’s nothing wrong with ambition!

So why did I do it?

Where am I headed financially?

As a new business owner I had no idea where I was headed financially. I knew I needed to bring in more money. I knew that I wanted sustainable growth. But I had no idea what that looked like for my business. So I went back to the numbers I had and used those. Let’s face it, the past is a good indicator for the future.

By projecting my income out 10 years I also knew that there were going to be points where I was going to have to change and perhaps bring new offers into the business – just to achieve the desired growth.  It gives me time to train and develop, things which take time.

To acclimatise to the financial position

Ever think of a dollar figure and get a little scared by the enormity of the number? What if you looked at it every day and you could see how you were progressing towards it and how far you’d come?

So you dream of hitting 5-figures, 6-figures, or 7-figures with your income, right? Because I’ve projected out my income (and I track my progress against it), I can see exactly when I’m set to achieve that figure. I look at my chart most days and I can see those multiple figure incomes coming. I can also see that I’m set to achieve some earlier than anticipate and that is an incredible feeling. I remember when a number seemed unachievable and now I’m shooting past it.

Repeated exposure to your goals creates a more concrete imprint in your mind making it more likely to be achieved.

To keep myself on track

Yep, there are times where I get in a rut. Bills are coming in or forecasted and the income is just not going to cut it. Tracking my income I can see where these things are and I can see with relative certainty where the horizon is for a surplus. It’s nice to see a way out knowing the money is coming.

The other way it keeps me on track is that it pushes me to achieve more, to reach next year’s goal this year, to innovate and grow my business sooner, to stop procrastinating on an idea, to try. Seeing my goals and watching them draw near motivates me to achieve more.

To anticipate business changes.

Projecting and tracking my finances means that I can see where I am likely to need to bring in an accountant or to outsource other functions of my business. By having a financial plan, I can see where I need to make business changes in the future  or if I need to make them sooner.

To celebrate

This is my favourite thing. I am keen to celebrate success. I enjoy knowing that my hard work has paid off and I recognise that. Let’s face it, not many of us are in the business of making money for money’s sake. So having and tracking my finances means that I can also see that I am achieving and therefore I can celebrate. How I celebrate differs, but it’s never extravagant. And don’t worry, sometimes celebrations are put off on account of a lack of finances that month, but because I track and project, I know when I will be able to celebrate and with what.

So I encourage all business owners to project and track their income. Project out a number of years and track at least weekly. ”Keep an eye on the pennies and the pounds will follow.”

If you’d like a copy of the financial tracker I use, you can

So you may or may not know that when I was certain that consulting & coaching was the way I was headed, I projected my income out 10 years. Bit of a pipe dream? Maybe but that wasn’t my intention.

I looked at my numbers over a six month period and saw that I had almost doubled my business in that period, so I took the number and multiplied it out – year on year.

So yes, I know it’s ambitious but hey there’s nothing wrong with ambition!

So why did I do it?

Where am I headed financially?

As a new business owner I had no idea where I was headed financially. I knew I needed to bring in more money. I knew that I wanted sustainable growth. But I had no idea what that looked like for my business. So I went back to the numbers I had and used those. Let’s face it, the past is a good indicator for the future.

By projecting my income out 10 years I also knew that there were going to be points where I was going to have to change and perhaps bring new offers into the business – just to achieve the desired growth.  It gives me time to train and develop, things which take time.

To acclimatise to the financial position

Ever think of a dollar figure and get a little scared by the enormity of the number? What if you looked at it every day and you could see how you were progressing towards it and how far you’d come?

So you dream of hitting 5-figures, 6-figures, or 7-figures with your income, right? Because I’ve projected out my income (and I track my progress against it), I can see exactly when I’m set to achieve that figure. I look at my chart most days and I can see those multiple figure incomes coming. I can also see that I’m set to achieve some earlier than anticipate and that is an incredible feeling. I remember when a number seemed unachievable and now I’m shooting past it.

Repeated exposure to your goals creates a more concrete imprint in your mind making it more likely to be achieved.

To keep myself on track

Yep, there are times where I get in a rut. Bills are coming in or forecasted and the income is just not going to cut it. Tracking my income I can see where these things are and I can see with relative certainty where the horizon is for a surplus. It’s nice to see a way out knowing the money is coming.

The other way it keeps me on track is that it pushes me to achieve more, to reach next year’s goal this year, to innovate and grow my business sooner, to stop procrastinating on an idea, to try. Seeing my goals and watching them draw near motivates me to achieve more.

To anticipate business changes.

Projecting and tracking my finances means that I can see where I am likely to need to bring in an accountant or to outsource other functions of my business. By having a financial plan, I can see where I need to make business changes in the future  or if I need to make them sooner.

To celebrate

This is my favourite thing. I am keen to celebrate success. I enjoy knowing that my hard work has paid off and I recognise that. Let’s face it, not many of us are in the business of making money for money’s sake. So having and tracking my finances means that I can also see that I am achieving and therefore I can celebrate. How I celebrate differs, but it’s never extravagant. And don’t worry, sometimes celebrations are put off on account of a lack of finances that month, but because I track and project, I know when I will be able to celebrate and with what.

So I encourage all business owners to project and track their income. Project out a number of years and track at least weekly. ”Keep an eye on the pennies and the pounds will follow.”

If you’d like a copy of the financial tracker I use, you can download it here.

The courage and power of the ask

So over the Christmas New Year break I’ve had some time to do some searching and learning. It was a time where everyone was setting their intentions and words for 2018, read my response here, and I was busy learning about one word – Ask.

Growing up I was told to help, make myself useful, don’t be a burden. So that’s what I did. The thing is that that doesn’t completely line up with running or growing a business. So I had to make a change.

It was while I was reading the book Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love and Life* by Margie Warrell that I came across her chapter on Asking. I’d just finished Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone* by Brené Brown  and so it was a good transition. But geez Louise did that chapter shake me. I was afraid to ask for what I wanted in business and as such I was playing safe and small. Sound familiar?

The chapter (14 if you’re wondering) Margie’s book talks about asking for what you want and Brené writes about being vulnerable. And that’s the hang up. Other than the years of programming. That’s the issue, to ask we must be vulnerable.

So often we don’t ask for fear of rejection. So instead we say no for the person. But it’s not just asking for the sale that I’ve being working on. Here’s the thing.

Ask for what you want for your customer

The first instance where I used this, I put out a post asking for people to opt in to my freebie. But I did it differently, I told them the things I wanted for them. I asked if that is what they wanted. I asked them to join me to receive it.

That was a powerful post. In fact, in the week that it remained active, meaning it was still getting responses, I had 120 people sign up in under 24 hours and this was in a busy Facebook group of 26 000 members. This was without any paid traffic. I was blown away. In fact I went on to gain 170 sign ups, just because I told them what I wanted for them and I asked them to join me.

I learnt that by asking for what I wanted for them, I showed them that I had listened, I cared, and I was not afraid to say it.

Ask as a follow up

I admit, this one was harder. I don’t follow up. I find it icky. If I don’t hear from someone, I assume that they didn’t like my offer and so I don’t follow up. I don’t ask.

So this is slightly different from asking for the sale, you’ve already done that. This is a check in after. I used to feel that I was being a pest or a bother, I mean let’s face it if they’d liked my offer they would have taken me up there and then. Right? Wrong! Why do you think that their a programs and businesses that follow you up when you click away from a website when you’re checking out. It’s not always that you got cold feet or a change of heart. Sometimes you just get distracted, life happens, and you never get back to it. Sometimes, you need that ‘remember me’ poke to get you back on track.

So I’ve been asking. I’ve been listening. I’ve been using my courage. I’ve been quietening the voice in my head that says, “they didn’t really want you”. But more importantly, I’ve been realising how pointless not asking has been, because more often than not that fear was wrong and all I had to was ask because the people were waiting.

Note: ‘*’ denotes affiliate links to Amazon where a tiny portion of your purchase is returned to me. And by tiny I mean not enough for a coffee. But I thank you all the same. x

Why I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions or Word of the Year

So it’s coming to the end of 2017 and people are looking towards 2018. New Year’s Resolutions are sooo 2010 and over the past 3 years I have been setting a word for the year.

Guess what!

They’re about as useful as Resolutions.

I totally understand the appeal of the word. Resolutions take a lot of thought and they’ve gotten a bad wrap over how they don’t work unless you continuously reinforce them through repetition and inspired action.

So this is where the word of the year comes in.

The idea is that it’s an overarching theme for your year. A theme to inspire action, to drive activity, and to move you through 2018.

Yup.

Not enough for me.

I need something a little more tangible.

I need to see facts and figures.

I need concrete milestones to drive concrete action.

Sound familiar to you?

When I spot and think about it. I spent 5 years working in Quality Assurance. Essentially looking backwards and reviewing action. We had concrete targets to achieve, but our main function was to learn in retrospect and to use that to improve the business going forward.

And here was I wondering why Resolutions and Annual Theme Words weren’t working. It’s no wonder when I have been programmed to look retrospectively and use concrete data to drive progress.

And I know that I can change behaviour. But humour me for a moment as I explain why and how this approach may suit some more than the 100% forwards projecting approach of Resolution and Theme word setting.

In my business, I project my income. I have a projection out for 10 years (now down to 7 as I haven’t made it rolling). It’s based on the first 18 months of growth in my business and now 3 years in, it’s still working. It’s planning for forward growth based on past performance.

I track my income against these projections. I know how much my expected income will be for the remainder of the current year & I know that I will exceed my growth target for this current financial year. You see, I’m a big believer in the saying, “What gets measured gets managed”.

This is planning based on concrete evidenced performance.

In fact, I’m now planning out my income for the following financial year, taking into consideration my expected growth.

So how does this impact on my ability to set a Resolution or Theme Word? Surely I seem strategic enough that I can find a suitable one.

Seems not!

Looking back, as you can see I do, I’ve found that they’ve not been effective. I’ve achieved, I’ve grown, I’ve evolved but not because of a Word or Resolution, but because of activity.

So what am I doing in 2018 and forward instead of yearly Resolutions & Theme Words?

I’m planning more. Through my coaching, I am conducting quarterly planning and projecting and part of that is a word that summarises the activity for that quarter.

So for the first quarter of 2018, I am launching the online version of my Organic Facebook Course. Something I’ve wanted to do for 2 years now; taking my successful face-to-face course and making it available for people outside of where I live. I’m also headed to a Social Media Conference in San Diego, another thing I’ve wanted to do for 2 years.

So my first quarter 2018 is about ‘Action’. Moving on things that I have wanted to do and for various reasons, I haven’t.

Now some will say that this is just the same as setting a Yearly Theme Word or New Year’s Resolution. I would say that it’s retrospective. I’m looking at what I will be doing first to achieve my financial goals and then considering a word which fits that activity. Not a guiding principle to drive my activity.

I think this is key.

For these to work you need a key motivator first. Personally, it’s my financial goals. (Don’t worry, money is not my only motivator, it is a tool to achieve my life I am setting for myself.) For me to achieve the flexibility and family balance, increasing my income is key as it reduces the pressure on my husband and gives our family the flexibility we desire.

So I hope this has helped some of you who may not resonate with New Year’s Resolutions or Yearly Theme Words.

If this is you & you have no idea how to get to this place, then I’d like to suggest the following:
1. If you don’t know what your dream business looks like, read the following blog and download the free workbook for it; then
2. If you don’t forecast & track your financial position, read the following blog post and download the Excel sheet I use; then
3. Grab a sheet of paper and write the months for the quarter you are about to head in to (at writing that would be Jan-Mar 2018) & then write what your top 3 business activities are for the period, what your financial goal is for the period, and the one word that represents those activities. Stick it where you can see it while you work.

I have to be honest, popping this up in my line of sight helps. It helps keep me accountable. However, the main thing that helps is having someone to be accountable to – for me that’s my coach. If this sounds like your missing link, then please book a complimentary discovery session with me where we can chat about how I can help you achieve more in 2018.

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