Don’t Go it Alone

In my last post, I talked about how to know if a project is “DIY or Don’t You Dare”.  One of the reasons so many solo entrepreneurs struggle goingitalonewith productivity and profitability is that they take “solo” to the extreme. They work completely alone without getting the support they desperately need in order to be successful.

Are you wearing all of the hats in your business? If you are, you’re likely spending a huge amount of time working on technical and administrative tasks that are not directly generating income for you. If you’re spending a huge amount of time working on tasks that are not generating an income, you’re wasting time and money.

“Going it alone” is a mistake for many reasons. Not only are you wasting time and money, but you are probably impeding your business growth and putting yourself at risk should any problems arise. For example, unless you are a small business attorney and a CPA, you should have at least two other members on your team.

As a solo entrepreneur, it is easy to get sucked into your own little isolated world. Working from home is great, but it can also be lonely, if you don’t have the support of others who understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. It can be hard to stay focused and motivated. You can’t grow your business without growing relationships, and as I always say, “your pets don’t count.” You have to have some human interaction with people who can support you as clients, colleagues, family, friends, and mentors.

Here’s the solution to “going it alone”…

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Do it Yourself or Don’t You Dare?

I love the enthusiastic “I-can-do-anything” attitude that most entrepreneurs have. But, as with most gifts, it can also be a curse if it isn’t used LaptopWomanScreamingwisely. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

Recently, I’ve encountered so many new entrepreneurs (and even some who aren’t so new) that are spending buckets of time doing all kinds of projects that they really shouldn’t be–projects that they absolutely should leave to the professionals so that they can focus on their real responsibilities (like connecting with real people and growing their business).

I know when you are just starting out in business you may have a limited budget and may be confused about where you should invest your time, energy, and money. Don’t worry, I’m here to clear up the confusion.

Here’s a handy little checklist to help you determine if something is a “DIY “or a “Don’t You Dare”

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3 Reasons Why You DO Need a Website

Have you heard that you don’t need a website?

Guess what. You actually do need a website.  http Address

Can you make money in your business without a website? Yes. Can you make more money with a website? Absolutely!

If you’re just starting out in business, don’t worry if you don’t have your site set up yet.  You can still get clients from speaking and networking while your site is being built. If you’ve been in business for a while and don’t have a website up, you need to worry. It is easier than ever to get  a high quality site up, so what’s stopping you?  If you don’t have even the most basic brochure type of website set up you are definitely leaving money on the table and not making as many sales as you could be.

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Words You Should and Shouldn’t Use in Sales Conversations

The words you choose to use matter. Words are very powerful.  In, fact the words that you use may positively or negatively impact your Mutesales.

You have probably heard at some point that people buy things based on emotion and then justify their purchase with logical reasons.

In every sales conversation, the buyer holds some degree of ambivalence around making a buying decision.  On one hand they want the promised outcome, but on the other hand, it is going to cost them something (money, time, energy, etc), so there is some fear and worry around making the right decision.

Emotions can either pull a potential client towards working with you or sway them in the opposite direction. Every word that you say elicits some sort of emotion, either positive or negative. Because of this, it is important to be mindful of using words that elicit positive emotions toward working with you and avoid using words that evoke negative emotions.

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Sell the Finished Product Not the Bits and Pieces

I’m sure you’ve been told or at least heard the phrase, “Sell benefits not features.” Well, I’d like to take it one step further.  Not only do youtoyparts want to focus on selling benefits, you also need to focus on selling the finished product or end result.  Benefits are only benefits if they somehow support achieving the desired outcome.

I have 3 little girls and one thing that I’ve noticed is how good toy companies are at selling the finished product.  Whenever we buy some toy, whether it’s a doll house or a bicycle, it comes in a package with all these bits and pieces that need to be assembled.  The picture on the box, however, always shows the finished product.  The bicycle on display, is always “road-ready.” Why? Because we buy the finished product.  Toy companies know that they can’t leave it to our imaginations to visualize the potential within all of the bits and pieces, how the bits and pieces fit together, or why we even need all of those parts.  Therefore, they focus on the finished product.

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How NOT to Get Repeat Business

I’ll be blunt here.  A lot of marketing strategies I see are down right unethical.  Sure, they “work.” And by work, I mean they manipulate Sleazy salesman pointingpeople into opening up their wallets and buying things.  They will help you get sales in the short-term but they don’t help you build a loyal and intelligent client base who loves doing business with you over and over again.

In contrast, manipulative marketing strategies and high-pressure sales tactics fill your business or practice with desperate people who buy out of fear. This often sets up a very “co-dependent” type of  business relationship.  I’ve seen this more times then I can count in the business coaching industry.  It is no wonder that helping professionals feel so icky when they think about marketing and sales.

The good news is that marketing and sales don’t have to be slimey acts against your prospects and clients.  In fact, when done correctly, they are  great services that you do FOR your clients and prospects. 

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Don’t Flake Out on the Follow Up

Over the years, I’ve met a boatload of women entrepreneurs that spend a lot of time networking each week and speaking to different groups and organizations only to wind up with a less-than-ideal number of clients. womanatbar

If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, you might know that I consider speaking and networking to be high-octane marketing strategies. High-octane marketing strategies are strategies that quickly result in leads that turn into paying clients. So why do I see so many service-based business owners struggling to get clients this way.  The answer is simple: lack of follow up and follow through.

Imagine this …

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Don’t Worry About Beating the Competition

If you’ve been in the business world for longer than 30 seconds, you’ve probably heard a lot about how you need to differentiate yourself from the boxing business womancompetition or even “beat” your competition.  In fact, many business owners spend a lot of time thinking about what makes them different from their “competition.”  I’ve encountered numerous sales people who have tried to sell products and services by beating the competition to a bloody pulp.  You see this a lot with political ad campaigns, but it happens in the business world, too.  Instead of focusing on their own benefits and results, they are focusing on the other party’s weaknesses to make them look better.

It’s no wonder so many people struggle with marketing and sales.  I can’t think of any mission-driven entrepreneurs that would categorize themselves as a sleazy salesperson or mud-slinging politician.  This “beat the competition” mentality is just not aligned with business owners who’s main focus is truly helping people.

Selling is serving, not a boxing match.

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Tips for Creating a Business Plan You’ll Actually Use

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking to members of the BrightFire™ business community about writing a business plan.  Having a solid business planbusinessplan will definitely help to boost your sales because it focuses your attention and actions towards achieving your goals.

However, it has occurred to me that most business owners usually fall into at least one of three categories when it comes to business plans:

  1. They never create a business plan to follow.
  2. They write a business plan but they never refer to it.
  3. They have a business plan but they aren’t sure how to use it to grow their business.

Writing a business plan is useless if you don’t use it.  The whole idea behind writing a business plan each year is to actually have a plan that allows you to accomplish what you want instead of flying by the seat of your pants.

A lot of entrepreneurs actually love winging it, but growing a business does require some strategy.  You don’t have to create a super long and boring business plan to be effective.  It can be thirty pages or one page–whatever it takes for you to get a workable plan down.

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Are You Wrapped Up in Your Work?

Are you “wrapped up in your work?” Before you answer, I should explain that I’m not asking you whether or not you are a “workaholic.”  Instead, I’m womanwrappedasking if the work that you do creates an insulated barrier between you and your prospects. Do you spend a lot of time networking and talking to prospects but they don’t seem to grasp exactly what you do and what you help people to achieve?

If so, this is a sign that you may be wrapped up in your work.  Let me explain further…

In order to be successful at closing more sales (or even generating referrals), you have to be able to talk about your services in a way that inspires people to do business with you.  The problem is, when you are wrapped up in your work, you tend to have a self-centered way of speaking about your services, rather than a client-centered approach. Selling is all about serving, so a self-centered approach is not an effective way to inspire people to work with you.

Many service-based entrepreneurs are wrapped up in their work because they are extremely passionate about the work that they do.  This passion is priceless! When channeled outwardly, it allows you to help more people! When channeled inwardly, it creates that insulating barrier I was talking about earlier.

So how do you know if you’re wrapped up and what should you do?

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