The Importance of Kitchen-Tested Recipes

Posted by on Apr 26 2016

When a cook is writing a cookbook, he tests each recipe in his own kitchen to make sure the instructions are 100% accurate. He may also have friends and colleagues test the recipe, as ovens, ingredients and altitude have a sneaky way of affecting a recipe’s success.

Let’s relate this back to selling services and products. Regardless of your industry or area of expertise, have you “kitchen-tested” your services and products? Do you write and speak about what you know based on your real-life experience, or do you merely base it on something you read in a book? Have you tested your ideas yourself and have you asked others to test them too, before bringing these ideas to the public?

Too often I’ve seen small business owners rush a new service or product to market before really testing to make sure it’s accurate. They use their first customers as guinea pigs without warning those same customers that they’re actually testing the product or service for the first time.

Recently I signed up for a class. I was so excited to learn more about this particular topic! The class was through 100% self-paced multimedia online content. Yet, after I paid and entered the website, more than 50 percent of the content wasn’t available yet. Of the content that did exist, much of it was weak and watered down, too simple for most students. Cries of “Where’s the Content?” were heard from all the students.

Had the teacher told us that we were to be guinea pigs, had the teacher told us that the content was not tested and that new content would be rolled out over time, we could have chosen whether we wanted to be testers. In addition, much of the content was not based on the teacher’s real-life experience but on what was read from books. When asked questions, the teacher didn’t have adequate answers. The teacher came off as “not an expert,” bad news for their reputation. I definitely won’t buy another class from them again. Worse, I won’t recommend them to others.

I know when you have a brand new product or service that you’re very, very excited about it and you want to launch it immediately. Just take that little extra time to kitchen-test your ideas before you birth them into the world. It will save your reputation and your revenue for years to come.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Marketing
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Join me! Personal Branding Webinar begins April 20

Posted by on Apr 11 2016

Personal Branding: Stand Out By Standing For Something

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When you sell your services in a crowded marketplace, you have to stand out from the crowd so your customers choose YOU.

In this 2-part Personal Branding webinar, we talk about creating a brand that captures your customers’ attention, and more importantly, their loyalty.

Whether you’re branding your entire business, or a service, product, class or mastermind group, this is the perfect webinar for you.

Here’s what you will learn in this webinar:

  • Define the Three Pillars of Branding for your business
  • Increase your reach and revenue with a strong brand
  • Choose your brand, your uniqueness and what you stand for
  • 16 ways to be unique
  • Determine your Big Promise
  • Craft your positioning statement and your Core Message
  • Choose your image and brand personality
  • Get known and be seen as an expert
  • Where to implement your brand and build your brand and reputation

Come with your ideas and questions, and walk away with a branding checklist to implement immediately!

Join me on April 20! Learn more about the Personal Branding class here: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/personalbranding/

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Marketing, Upcoming Classes

Choose One Project

Posted by on Mar 31 2016

I’m just like you — just like every entrepreneur I know. I have a million ideas and I want to do them ALL right away!

Here’s how that’s killing your business.

I learned an important and enlightening lesson last year that I’d like to share with you. By focusing all my attention, energy, time and resources on One Big Project, I increased my income — and more importantly, I was happier and more relaxed.

I was shocked!

Even though experts had been telling me for years to focus on just one thing, I didn’t want to give up my freedom and creativity. I liked having multiple projects to work on. It made me feel vibrant and alive.

But it also made me feel unproductive, cranky, overwhelmed, and a nervous wreck. And guilty because I was having a hard time completing just one of those projects to my satisfaction. Hmmmm.

Imagine you are driving down a busy highway at rush hour. Now imagine that there are three other people in the car with you, all trying to have a conversation with you. Now your cell phone rings. In between all this talking, ideas pop into your head so you pull out your mobile device to type in some text notes.

Crazy, right? You’ll have a car accident any minute now.

Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing to your business when you try to focus on multiple projects or multiple goals simultaneously.

Multi-tasking Myth

In the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield said, “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once — but there is not time enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.”

Doing more than one thing at once doesn’t get more done and doesn’t make you more efficient. Recent studies by several research teams prove this point.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, when you toggle between multiple tasks or multiple projects, you are using what’s known as the “executive control” process. This mental CEO has to choose priorities and allocate thinking/creativity resources. The more you switch between tasks, the longer it takes to re-focus attention and resources.

David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan said in a recent New York Times article, “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes.” When it comes to your business, mistakes will cost you. Can you afford to lose time or money?

On a practical level, working on multiple projects simultaneously made me feel scattered, out-of-control, and diffused my intellectual and creative abilities. When I slowed down and focused on one major project for a full two months, four great things happened:

  • I felt more in control
  • I was much more relaxed
  • My confidence soared
  • I was able to get the project completed a full four weeks ahead of schedule.

It was as if I had been released from a multi-tasking prison of my own making.

Talk about freedom!

Choose One, Master It, Move On

In his book, “Getting Things Done,” David Allen suggests you create a list of “Areas of Focus.” Start by looking at the areas you manage in your business (you can create a separate list for your personal life). In business you may have these areas: marketing, sales, finances, customer contact, product/service development, operations/administration, long-range planning/strategy, etc.

Next, list all your possible projects in each of these areas. Once you have your full projects list, look them over and ask yourself:

  • Which project will most likely lead me towards my large business goals?
  • Which project will lead me in the direction I want to take for my business?
  • Which project am I ready to tackle now?
  • Which project inspires me?
  • Which project scares me?

Then choose one project that will have the biggest impact on the success of your business.

If the project scares you, ask yourself why. Figure out where you’ll need some help, education or resources in order to complete that project.

In speaking with some of my mastermind group members about this subject last week, they reminded me that you don’t have to focus on one thing for an entire year. Try it for three months or six months, and see what results you are getting, both financial and emotional.

Once you complete a project or master a new skill, then you can move on to the next one on your list. In this way, you can have both things in your life: a successful business and getting multiple things done in one year.

First, choose one project. Finish it. Then move on to the next.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time
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Small Business Fear, Success, and Daily Rituals

Posted by on Mar 07 2016

What makes one small business owner more successful than another? Trust me, it’s not lack of fear.

We’re all afraid of failing, of our offer being rejected, of making a complete flop of a project, of screwing up a business relationship.

What’s the difference between entrepreneurs who are successful and those who aren’t? Successful entrepreneurs have an even bigger fear: fear of what their life will look like if they don’t pursue their dreams.

They aren’t willing to settle for the way things are now. They don’t sit around hoping things will change. They take action. They go out and try things.

They can’t stand the idea of missing out on the big win, or how they will feel about themselves if they don’t put their total focus, emotion and effort into creating the life they want.

Successful entrepreneurs love to feel progress; they like to move forward towards their goals. They don’t wait until they’ve hit rock bottom and are so desperate that they’re finally motivated enough to do something about their situation. Instead, they create clarity about what they truly want and then they take action each day.

Six things successful small business owners do daily:

  1. Constantly ask, “What’s next for my business?”
  2. Understand your motivations and why you want your goals.
  3. Choose one thing each day to focus on and accomplish, even if you only have 15 minutes a day to work on that one thing. Daily momentum is what creates success, not the huge once-a-year breakthroughs.
  4. Only work on projects and goals that you’re passionate about and will lead you to your ultimate goal.
  5. Know that if you follow a set of steps that you’ve outlined for your business or project, that you will achieve your goals. It goes beyond merely “believing” that these steps will create the outcome you want; you know they will at a gut level.
  6. Trust yourself and be willing to make mistakes and try new things. What you’ve done previously had a certain result. Doing that same thing again will simply get the same results. So trying new things is the only way to break out of the pattern of getting the same results over and over again.

Five morning rituals of small business success

Most successful small business owner I know have a quirky morning routine that goes something like this:

  1. Every morning, map out in your mind what you’re going to do that day. Imagine it before it becomes a reality so you can repeatedly “practice” these steps to success. Imagine what the results will look like and feel like once you’ve achieved your goals.
  2. Imagine what “a little further” feels like and enjoy playing this imagination game with yourself.
  3. Tell yourself emphatically, “THIS is how it’s going to be.” This keeps you fresh and motivated, and changes your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. If you see the results in the advance, you condition your mind to know what’s possible.
  4. If you can’t envision what a future success looks like, spend time remembering what past successes look and feel like, reminding yourself that you’ve been successful before and you can do so again.
  5. Don’t just do it once, or even once-in-a-while…envision your success every day. (Twice a day, if you need to!)

You can let disappointment kill your dreams — or you can take disappointment and let it drive you towards success.

People who are fearful of getting hurt, rejected or disappointed never even attempt to reach for their dreams. But successful entrepreneurs know that hurt, rejection and disappointment are part of life. They don’t try to avoid them, they use those feelings to propel them forward.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business

Posted by on Feb 03 2016

It’s getting harder and harder to get your customer’s attention. They are deluged with information, so they scan-click-delete.

Yet they cry out in the night for someone to explain things simply.

The rules of modern marketing have changed, and it’s only going to get worse. You’d better find the most effective, most efficient marketing techniques to nurture your leads and build trust and loyalty with your audience, or you’ll be left behind.

One technique stands out above all the rest – teaching. 

Offering free classes helps you sell your services and products, and fill your mastermind groups and your paid classes and events. But there are tricks to doing is right or you’ll lose your lovely customers in a heartbeat!

Getting to Know You … as a Teacher

Teaching gives your audience the personal interaction with you that’s missing in most marketing techniques. When they get to experience you in a very personal way — whether it’s through a in-person presentation, a video conference or a webinar — it builds a connection that lives on long after the class ends.

Whether at a live event, or through a webinar or teleseminar, teaching helps you be seen as an expert in a very crowded marketplace. It helps you expand your reach — and your revenue. Your students remember you as the person who has the answers.

Best of all, you get to share what you know with your audience, which empowers and inspires them.

You’ve Got to be Well-Prepared

Want to run an excellent class to use as a marketing tool — one that students talk about and share with their friends and colleagues?

Start with a brilliant class plan.

Not only will you cover amazingly helpful content, but you’ll be more relaxed and teach it better if you have a plan.

Here are the six steps to designing a class to use as a marketing tool:

  1. Start with what the audience wants to learn. Students don’t care about what you want to teach. They only care about what they want to learn. So do your market research and ask your audience what challenges they have, then design a class around solving those problems.
  2. Write a sizzling lesson plan. Map out what you’re going to say, in a logical order that simplifies the information. Take the information that’s overloading your audience, and sift it into what’s most important, with usable action steps.
  3. Design a red-hot opening. You’ve been in those “salesinars” where the teacher spends the first 20 minutes talking about themselves. Your eyes roll back in your head and you mumble, “When will this teacher ever get to the important content?” Don’t do that to your students — they deserve better for committing their time to attending your class. Start with a big bang: huge, useful content in the first 5 minutes. Then they’ll be saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what comes next!”
  4. Make it interactive. Create discussion questions, tell stories and create exercises so your students don’t fall asleep halfway through. Adult students need you to change the pace of the class every 10 minutes or so. “All lecture” classes are a thing of the past, and there are dozens of teaching strategies that put some jazz into your class design. Remember that there’s a high ratio of lurkers to participants, so learn how to reach both introverts and extroverts and learn how to engage them in the learning conversation.
  5. Set your marketing goals. Whether you’re offering a free class to build your mailing list or you’re introducing your audience to a new product or service, have specific marketing goals for your class so you can measure if it’s working.
  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do, after the class, to continue the conversation. Your class isn’t a one-off marketing technique, it’s part of a bigger marketing plan. Decide how you’ll follow-up with the participants. Consider a post-class email marketing campaign that provides them with recordings, handouts and resources to cement what they’ve learned and remind them of the products or services you offer.

Choose a Teaching Method

Once you’ve designed your class, it’s time to decide which delivery method to use.

Last year I asked thousands of small business owners, “How do you prefer to learn?” From the results of last year’s Learning Survey, I found that people have strong preferences about how they prefer to consume your educational material. (You can get the results of my Learning Survey here.)

There are several effective teaching methods, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  1. Live event – There’s nothing better than meeting your audience face-to-face. Unless you’re strictly inviting a local crowd, timing, weather, and cost can play a role in attendance. If you’re inviting an out-of-town audience, consider making it a full-day event, even if you have to charge them a small fee to cover your costs.
  2. Webinar – The best part about webinars is that there’s both an audio and a video feed, so participants are engaged on two levels. The worst part is that when the technology fails, the whole thing falls apart. Most interaction happens via text chat unless your participants are either on an accompanying teleconference line or they have microphones in their computers (watch out for the dreaded echo!). Webinar platforms are getting more stable, but it’s good to have a webinar back-up plan just in case.
  3. Teleseminar – Teaching via teleconferences has been around for over a decade and it’s an established way to deliver a class. You can have lots of voice-based interaction, but it may be a little boring for those visual learners unless you have handouts to go with your class. If your participants are on the go, it’s easier to connect to a teleseminar than a webinar.
  4. Video Conference and Live Streaming Events – When your audience can see your bright, shining face on their computer screen, it’s the next best thing to a live event. As with webinars, sometimes the technology doesn’t work as planned (make sure you have enough memory in your computer, and enough internet speed on your service so your video is clear), but it’s definitely a strong contender for building rapport with your audience.

Afraid? Don’t Be! Just Teach

I know that teaching may feel intimidating. Start small and remember: you were put on this planet to help other people, and there’s no better way to help than to teach.

You’ll be surprised how much you love it!

Remember:

  • Capture your audience’s attention, and gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Deliver usable content in a logical way they can use immediately.
  • Teach them what you know in a free class, and create passionate customers.

   

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

Designing Your Perfect Week

Posted by on Jan 11 2016

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week working on my Perfect Week. Have you ever done this exercise?

perfect week large

You map out what you want to be doing during the week, by category, making sure the high-priority items get on your schedule first. It helps you set priorities and creates more productivity in your days.

Then, in the future, when you need to schedule something, you see how it fits into your “perfect” week instead of letting your schedule get away from you.

Some people balk at the idea of structuring their days so completely. That’s okay — just as long as you’re clear on what you want to accomplish each week and you have a plan in place for getting it all done. And it’s important that you also have a plan for saying “no” to tasks and people who take you off track of your goals.

For me, the structure is necessary; if I leave it up to “I’ll do whichever task I feel like doing in the moment,” I don’t get all my tasks done. 🙂

I created mine in an Excel spreadsheet, but you could use any word processor, or just a paper calendar to map out yours.

Here’s a blank copy of my Excel spreadsheet so you can try this exercise for yourself! (If you don’t have Excel, you can still download the spreadsheet, then open it in a Google Drive spreadsheet.)

Here’s a blank copy in PDF format if you prefer.

I hope you find it helpful…or at least eye-opening.

   

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

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