Self Sabotaged by Research

Posted by on Feb 24 2015

A woman in one of my mastermind groups posed a question recently: Why did she spend all her time doing research and never actually get on with doing the thing she was researching?

She loved looking up information, finding resources, interviewing people, gathering facts. But taking these facts and applying them to her business seemed to always be put on the back burner.

It’s called “analysis paralysis.” The idea is this: if I could just gather this information, if I could just find that fact, if I could make this checklist a bit longer — you get the drift. As a small business coach, I see this my clients get caught in this trap all the time.

The cause is simple: It’s easier for many people to research than to do the action work because gathering research is often a successful task, while acting on the research is fraught with the possibility of failure, stress, or pressure. We stay in the research mode because it’s safe and we get a lot of positive feelings about having uncovered the information we need.

Don’t get me wrong, research is vital. I’ve seen many businesses fail to thrive because they haven’t done the marketing research necessary to see if people want to buy the service or product they want to sell.

The key, as always, is balance. When you find yourself doing more and more research, then you can bet you’re procrastinating on the “doing” side of things. You have two choices:

  1. Try to figure out why you’re not doing the work, or
  2. Just do the work.

Either choice is valid, but guess what? Choice 1 is still “research!” :)

   

15 comments for now

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Demystifying the Art of Action Planning

Posted by on Feb 06 2015

Do you have an area in your business where you want to grow, change, be more successful? Sometimes it feels like you can’t get there fast enough.

Setting goals can seem intimidating until you realize goals are simply stated outcomes: be more profitable, finish a big project, launch a new service, or help more clients. It’s more than a mere wish list; it’s stating what you want from life.

The trick is to get from goal setting to goal attainment. That’s where we hit potholes and brick walls. Being a planner rather than a jumper will get you results quicker.

Start with Big Picture Goals

Before you jump into details, start with big outcomes you want for your business this year. People often confused goals with projects, and the easiest way to split them apart is to ask yourself the question, “Why do you want to do this? What outcome are you hoping to get?”

For instance, you might say that one of your goals is to launch a new class for your audience. But there’s a reason you’re launching this new class, right? Maybe it’s a free class to build your mailing list. Maybe it’s a paid class to show your expert status and build income. By asking yourself why you want to achieve something, you get to your core goals.

ACTION STEP: Step back for a moment and write down three big picture goals you have for this year.

Brainstorm Your Projects

Now that you have your goals in mind, let’s talk about how to achieve them. There are many paths that will lead you to the same goal, and choosing your projects wisely will help you get where you’re going.

Start by brainstorming all the projects that can help you achieve the same goal (don’t worry at this point about committing to a project, just write down as many as possible to limber up your creative juices).

For instance, say that one of your goals is to build your expert platform. You could boost your blog audience, write a book, teach a class, do more speaking engagements, start a column in a national magazine or website, hire a PR firm, or create a podcast. All of these things will show you’re an authority in your field.

How do you know which projects are the best ones to tackle? Here’s a checklist to help you decide:

  • Which ones inspire and excite you?
  • Which ones align with your personality and skill set?
  • Which ones match the way your audience likes to connect with you?
  • Which ones fit your budget?
  • Which ones are likely to get you to your goals the fastest?

ACTION STEP: Pick one or two projects to work on this year.

You can always add more later, but choosing too many projects will overwhelm you and cause you to lose focus.

Start the year right: don’t overburden yourself.

Tap Your Task List

ACTION STEP: Take one of your projects and begin writing a To Do list of tasks needed to accomplish that project.

Next to each task indicate whether it’s a task you will do or whether you’ll need to outsource it to someone else. Also note whether a task will require a specific resource, like hiring someone to update your website, or taking a class to learn a new skill.

Say that your project is to create a new class. Tasks might include writing a lesson plan, creating worksheets or a student guide, selecting a teaching method, picking dates for the class, setting a price for the class, creating a marketing plan for the class, etc.

ACTION STEP: Organize the tasks into a logical order.

For example, you’ll need to write a lesson plan so you know how long the class is, and what you’ll cover, before you can set the price. You’ll need to write the sales copy before the sales page can be put up on your website.

ACTION STEP: Take an educated guess as to how long each task will take.

Tally up those tasks and the timing for each one, and calculate when the project is likely to be finished. Allow for some “stretch time” in your action planning; you never know when you’ll hit a bump in the road that might delay your project.

Get Moving, It’s Easy

You have an action plan for your project. That’s great!

Now it’s time to start implementing that plan. This can be the place where people freeze. You look at your To Do list and it feels like climbing Mount Everest.

The problem is we look at the whole action plan and automatically think we have to do every single action all at the same time. Our intellectual brain knows that’s not possible, but our emotional brain sees it that way.

ACTION STEP: Look for one action you can take right now. Just one action, no more.

If your task is to write your sales page, your one action might be to write the headline. If your task is to set your price, your one action could be to calculate your costs so you know your class will be profitable.

By breaking project and tasks into smaller and smaller increments, we achieve everything – on time, on budget, and with grace and satisfaction.

   

5 comments for now

Category: Business Strategy & Planning

Where Have All Your Students Gone?

Posted by on Jan 26 2015

Learning StylesDo you wonder why attendance for your teleseminars and webinars has decreased? Here’s the reason and this will help you fix the problem.

What I have seen in the past few years, and what my colleagues tell me they’ve seen as well, is that a large proportion of people won’t attend the live teleseminar or webinar, but will choose instead to pick up the recording and listen to it when they have time.

This “I want what I want, when I want it” culture is becoming the norm, with TIVO, Netflix, Hulu, Kindle, etc. giving people complete control over access to what they want, on their own terms.

How This Affects Free Preview Classes

Say that you offer a special discount or deal during your free preview teleseminar or webinar. Your participants might not take you up on it…not because your special deal isn’t wonderful, but because people don’t listen to the recordings for a week or more. They don’t hear about your special deal until after the deadline has passed.

I’ve found that I need to send a second “Reminder to Pickup and Consume Your Recording” email to the registrants about 10 days after the class, to remind them that they need to listen to the recording that they downloaded. If there is a discount or special offer, I remind them about it in the email as well. (And if there is a deadline for them to take advantage of the special offer, I send that in the reminder email, too.)

Recently I held a free webinar on a Thursday afternoon. I sent an email to participants on Thursday evening, letting them know the recording was available. Within the next week, about 35% of the participants went out to the recording page and downloaded/viewed the recording. Ten days later, I sent a reminder email to the registrations (with a reminder about when the special discount would end), and the other 65% of the participants went out and downloaded/viewed the recording.

The Psychology of Missed Discounts

If you give them a deadline for a discount or some special bonuses for registering early, they often won’t hear about it until much later because they haven’t listened to the recording yet. Then, psychologically, they feel they’ve missed out on the lower price or special deal, and why should they now pay the higher price?

I know it’s not logical, but psychological studies show that if people knew there was a discount they missed, they resist buying, even if they want the item.

The deadline does not motivate them if they don’t know about it. You might consider extending the discount to include the time period after you send the second reminder.

Live, No Recording Options, and Evergreen Options

Don’t get me wrong, I think selling-via-free-classes is still a viable and strong marketing technique. We just have to modify our marketing to take into effect the new culture of on-demand education. That’s why I think we’re seeing so many “live, with no recording available” events…if the student doesn’t attend live, they miss out on the event entirely, as there is no recording. In this type of attend live only event, offering a discount with a deadline date makes sense.

Others are going to a evergreen marketing model where their free education videos/audios are always on a marketing website and people can start and go through the marketing process whenever they want (versus doing a free class on a specific date). This is great if you’re selling a self-study program, audio program or ebook.

How This Affects Live Paid Class Attendance

My colleagues report (and I’m seeing this as well) that attendance in paid teleseminars and webinars is changing, too. Students take the classes when they want, not always during the live event times. This means you could have 100 people sign up for a paid webinar series, and only 45 will show up live. The other 55 will take the class by watching or listening to the recording, according to their own needs and schedule.

I’m constantly reminding students to take the next lesson, listen to the next recording. Some students still access the private student website weeks after a live class has ended.

So you have to think how you will serve this subset of your students who can’t (or won’t) attend live, but still want to learn from you. Make sure the recordings are available for each class session, and send reminder emails to tell them to pick up the recordings by a certain deadline.

I hope these ideas and thoughts are helpful to you as you plan your class calendar for the coming year. The culture of the learner is changing and it’s important that you keep up with their demands.

Have you seen these changes happening with your own classes? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and comments about how your students (and YOU!) prefer to learn.

designlaunchdeliver-checkout-trilogy

   

30 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes
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Think Small and Accomplish Great Things

Posted by on Jan 19 2015

Mary came to me to create big, new changes for her business. How exciting, having a big dream! She had a million ideas and a solid, well thought-out task lists to back up the big plan. Except there was one small problem – Mary’s dream was dying on the vine. By thinking big she was overwhelming herself. She was paralyzed.

Mary asked me, “How do you accomplish all the things you do? Do you have some mysterious time management system that I need to know about?”

Nope. No time management system. No crystal ball. No magic wand. Just one mantra: Think Big and Think Small.

Thinking Big is about dreaming and strategic design; it answers the questions, “What do I want?” and “Why do I want it now?”

Thinking Small is about tactical planning; it answers the question, “How do I accomplish it?”

Great things are accomplished through thinking in small steps.

Anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight knows you do it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time. Anyone who has attempted to do a 30-mile hike knows it’s simply a case of one foot in front of the other.

People with big business dreams often forget these well-known truths about how to tackle big things.

Mary became frustrated because things weren’t moving fast enough. She was ready to give up her dream because there was too much to do and she didn’t know which task to do first. When she did start a task, she abandoned it if it took longer — or was more complicated — than she thought it should be.

We live in a world of instant gratification.

It numbs us to what’s really important: to live the big, juicy, vibrant life you desire. We’re afraid that thinking small and taking small steps forward because we equate it with being small and having a small life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter how much you try, you can only really do one thing at a time.

You may think that multitasking makes you more productive, but studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces your ability to accomplish tasks. So instead of trying to do five tasks simultaneously I’m advocating this approach: put exquisite, conscious effort into one task at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.

How do you know what small step to take first?

You have been gifted with four pillars of life the day you were born: your intellect, your emotions, your intuition, and other human beings. Start by asking yourself, “What one small thing can I do, right now, that will move me towards my big goal?” Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come to you immediately; have patience and allow the answer to bubble up to the surface.

If the answer still doesn’t come to you, ask other people for help.

Talk to supportive people who fully understand your big dream and can help you to look at the small tasks you must do to accomplish the goal. Write down the tasks or draw them on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Write in pencil so that you can re-arrange it until it truly feels right to you. Then do one small task at a time.

I’m encouraging you to do both: Dream Big, Think Small, and you will succeed.

   

3 comments for now

Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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2015 Conferences for Small Business Owners

Posted by on Jan 13 2015

Need to get out of the office and mingle with real humans face-to-face? Consider attending one of these conferences to hone your skills and network with others:

Growth Conference
Sponsored by: Entrepreneur magazine
February 2015

ICON
Sponsored by: Infusionsoft
March 2015

Social Media Marketing World
Sponsored by: Social Media Examiner
March 2015

The Marketing Nation Summit
Sponsored by: Marketo
April 2015

Authority Rainmaker
Sponsored by: Copyblogger
May 2015

America’s Small Business Summit
Sponsored by: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
June 2015

Blogher Conference
Sponsored by: Blogher
July 2015

Podcast Movement
July 2015

Content Marketing World
Sponsored by: Content Marketing Institute
September 2015

Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference
Sponsored by: Women’s Business Development Center
September 2015

Inbound
Sponsored by: Hubspot
September 2015

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Are You a Jumper or a Planner?

Posted by on Jan 06 2015

There appears to be two types of small business owners:Those who jump right into running their business, and marketing their products and services, with little or no planning.

And those who plan a strategy — and a service or product design — before they ever dream of offering it to the public.

Is one better than the other?

Yes and no.

Planning often allows you the time to brainstorm and think through possible scenarios before you commit your time, energy and money into your business idea. Ninety-five percent of the time, I advocate planning, especially if you’re starting a new business or launching a new product or service. The time you spend with research and working through possible alternatives, as well as the time you spend thinking about how you might handle worse-case scenarios, will reap huge rewards later on.

On the other hand, over-planning often leads to inaction. A phrase I love sums it up: Analysis Paralysis — the inability to move forward on a project because you feel you don’t have all the facts, and are unwilling to move forward until you’re 100% sure of success. (Every small business owner will tell you that there’s no such thing as being 100% sure of anything.)

When is jumping okay?

Jumping is okay if you’ve already got a solid business foundation underneath you. This means that your finances are in order, you’ve already got a working business model that brings in reliable income and steady administrative processes that support your next great adventure. Jumping is okay if you’ve done as much research as you can and have a good sense that your project is viable, even if you’re not 100% certain of its success.

There is a place for jumping in the world of small business. Jumping allows you to be flexible, and to ride the wave of enthusiasm and passion. Jumping allows you to be 85% sure and then go for it. Good Jumping is action, combined with knowledge, courage and trust.

When to put planning first?

When you don’t have a lot of wiggle room for things to go wrong, planning is crucial. Planning is a must-have when you’re protecting the reputation of your business and your brand (do you want to be known as the owner who constantly crashes and burns?). And when there are a huge number of moving pieces — and you want to eventually put all those pieces into a repeatable system, then planning is essential.

In the end analysis, a combination of planning and jumping is required of all small business owners. The key is to find a balance point.

   

10 comments for now

Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

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