7 Key Shifts in Thinking from the Entrepreneurial Trenches (Pt 2)

7 Secrets of the Successful Entrepreneur

In part one of this blog series, I talked about how important failure is to success, and ended by saying If you haven’t failed, you haven’t been taking big-enough risks! In this blog, I want to take things a step further and share with you 7 key lessons I’ve learned along my own entrepreneurial journey. From educating yourself constantly to making the commitment to success and accepting how long it might take to see financial rewards, here are  7 key shifts in thinking that are necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur (these tips are especially for the speaker, author, coach, consultant, expert who’s selling their knowledge and expertise):

  1. The most crucial investment you make is in educating yourself. I really notice this when interviewing new team members – those who’ve been freelancers for a while expect to invest time and money to keep their skills sharp so they are able to create opportunity for their clients and land great gigs. Those who have been “employed” their whole career want you to pay for them to learn something new.

    My most successful colleagues all spend a great deal of money on conferences, certifications, mastermind groups, and courses they believe will give them any kind of an edge as they’re growing their business.  They don’t “throw money around” at every opportunity–they are intentional and deliberate, and they aren’t afraid to risk some dough if it will give them an edge. And it pays off.

    As an entrepreneur, it is a must for you to constantly be investing time and money in your own learning (taking a course, hiring a coach, attending a conference, buying a book, enrolling in a training program, etc).  If you’re of the mindset that spending money on your education and / or support is frivolous, or you “don’t have the money,” you’re pushing your success further into the future and potentially creating a more challenging path.

  2. The only person to blame when things don’t work out is “you”–own it, and go easy on yourself. When things don’t go well, it’s easy to slip into the blame game: it’s because of that vendor, or that bad hire, or that jerk of a client, or the market crashing.  As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to manage all the conditions that affect your success. You can’t blame your boss, or your co-worker, or the processes and procedures; huffing “because-they-won’t-listen-to-me” or “so-and-so-didn’t-do-x-so-this-is-what-happens” doesn’t make you successful.  The accountability is radical when you’re a business owner.
  3. Blaming someone else only keeps you stuck. If something isn’t working, at the end of the day, it comes down to something you did or didn’t do.  I find myself constantly solving “puzzles” around creating more success: I need a better system, more education, better resources, a new team member, a different client, a new relationship … I need to find out what condition is missing, or what nuance we need to address.  Communicate better.  Change something.  It’s never, ever, ever anyone else’s fault.  It’s always mine.  I own everything.  That doesn’t mean I don’t hold people accountable–I do.  And you should.  But your success ultimately depends on your ability to bring together the right team and create the right conditions for alchemy.
  4. Business owners need a tremendous amount of courage, and feeling “afraid” is just part of your job. Corporate environments have many nooks, crannies, and “layers” of bureaucracy that give your ego lots of places to hide when the going gets tough – it’s easy to find someone to blame, or to ignore what you’re not ready to face, or to remain oblivious to a shortcoming, or to overlook your need for someone else’s cooperation.  As an entrepreneur, there is nowhere to hide.  Every day, every hour, every minute some days, you must face things that are challenging to reconcile–your vulnerability to failure floats just beneath the surface of your experience.  If it gets too hot in the kitchen, sure you can quit or find another path, but if you are committed to success, you get really good at finding the courage to set your jaw and plow through.
  5. You must value your time differently and learn the art of LEVERAGE. As an employee, you trade your time for dollars in a pretty linear way to make money.  As an entrepreneur or independent professional, you soon learn that there are a LOT of hours that you could potentially work for which no one is writing you a check.  Getting leverage is really the key to success in building a sustainable business — you need others to come alongside you as partners to keep things running smoothly.  A major area for “getting leverage” in your business is in farming out the administrative and accounting responsibilities… it’s easy to want to hang on to these responsibilities so you don’t have to pay someone else, but you’ll soon learn that this isn’t sustainable.  Your time as a business owner is likely worth at least $100 / hour; every hour you spend doing $15 / hour work costs you money and slows your growth.  By hanging onto “menial” responsibilities, you clog up your mental bandwidth with sludge that keeps you from igniting your creativity to serve your clients, find new ones, and to channel the divine into something new and special.

    Another huge shift comes as business owners realize that they aren’t selling 40 hours/week. Most independent professionals have 15-25 hours per week to feasibly sell–the rest of their time is spent on marketing, networking, and creative work to sustain growth in their businesses.  Misunderstand this, and you’re setting yourself up to ride the roller coaster of feast-or-famine: after you finish what you’ve been pouring yourself into for weeks or months, you’re staring an empty pipeline square in the eye.  Rats.

  6. Becoming successful as an entrepreneur is a 5-7 year commitment. As much as I’d love to paint things rosy, the truth is that for virtually all of us, we don’t really start hitting our strides as entrepreneurs until 5-7 years in.  That doesn’t mean we don’t make money starting out–I’ve been fortunate to have “made it” financially since I started my business over seven years ago. However, I didn’t start hitting my stride until around the six-year mark, and frankly, I’m growing and learning every day.  There is so much to absorb and understand, so many nuances with which to become familiar.  The marketplace needs time to really embrace you and trust you and you need time to really trust yourself. This isn’t what people typically want to hear, but time flies and the journey is life-transforming!
  7. A strong entrepreneurial ROI requires a 15-year commitment. Every successful (translate: very wealthy) business person I know has stuck with their craft and honed their skills over years, and their tenacity has paid off exponentially when the commitment turns to double-digits.  Most people I know choose an entrepreneurial path in part because they want their opportunity at a 7-figure income (or more!).  And most of them realize that dream when the tenure of their business crosses into the double digits.

Question:  What important lessons have YOU learned on your entrepreneurial path?

The Heroic Secret of Successful Entrepreneurs – part 1

Image by Renjith KrishnanBe prepared to learn from failure and setbacks

I talked to a long-time friend and colleague today about his experiences as a first-time entrepreneur; like many of our experiences, it’s been full of highs and lows.  The thrill of starting a new venture often leaves in its wake a tattered battlefield of failed experiments, expended-effort-to-no-avail, frustration and disappointment. Then, we’re thrilled by the wins again.

It’s easy to drop into dark periods of second-guessing oneself when the going gets tough.  We wish we would have done certain things differently, “if only” and “why didn’t I” thoughts racing through our minds as we tried to figure out what we should have done, and should do now, spinning ruthlessly around the why-didn’t-I.

All normal.

I still marvel at the vast “shift” one must undergo to really be successful as a business owner.  It’s not something you can prepare people for, frankly.  There are many entrepreneurial paths with unique challenges, yet all of them have one thing in common:  they require you to be mentally tough and have a high threshold for uncertainty to survive.

Don’t get trapped by your own thoughts

I remember listening to Tony Robbins’ Personal Power program and reading Robert Kyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, and marveling at the idea of being stuck in disempowering thoughts. Marshall Goldstein says, “The thinking that got you here won’t get you there,” and I think that pretty much sums up the greatest challenge we must face as entrepreneurs: changing our thinking, a herculean task–talk about embarking on the Hero’s Journey!  Who must I become to complete this quest? has never rang more true than within the context of shifting from employee to entrepreneur.

There are a few key lessons that entrepreneurship has taught me, which I’ll share in my next post.  If you’ve spent any time on this path, you’ll see your own experiences in them and resonate with their truth, I’m sure!  Sharing these lessons won’t keep you from having to journey through them (sometimes over and over again), but perhaps they can pique your attention to maybe look at things a little differently on the next go-around. And don’t judge yourself too harshly for not knowing it all.  When a baby is learning to walk, do the missteps count as failures?  Hardly.  You don’t learn to walk without tripping, falling, sliding, crashing, bumping and tumbling a whole heck of a lot.  There’s no way for a baby to “prepare” for what’s to come.

If there was one piece of advice I could give you to help you on this journey, I’d tell you to be conscious about what you’re making things mean–commit to finding an empowering meaning for your experiences.  Every successful entrepreneur I know has traveled the road of get-back-up.  If you haven’t failed, you haven’t been taking big-enough risks!

Next week: 7 Key Shifts in Thinking from the Entrepreneurial Trenches

Question: What’s your view of the connection between failure and success? Did you overcome a pivotal moment on your path to success?

Fighting to Succeed in Business: Have you ever doubted your calling?

I'm breaking through!“If the muse exists, she does not whisper to the untalented.” (from the forward to The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Stephen Pressfield)

I’m afraid they’ll find out I’m a fraud.

I feel guilty charging people to do something I find so easy.

This is really hard. . .is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? Why does it feel so natural and easy on the inside, yet so damn hard and gut-wrenching to try to “get it out”?

What keeps you from breaking through?

If you find yourself second-guessing your calling, or frustrated by the dig-deep work you have to do to “keep going” down this path toward actualizing your full potential, boy are you ever in good company. I’ve never met an independent professional who didn’t feel the frustration and the fear that evolving as a business owner inevitably brings. Every client I’ve ever had has privately confided in me fears and frustrations and nagging doubts about the path they’ve chosen. Dare I say, nearly every strategy call I’ve ever done (hundreds) has included a confession of sorts that revealed the frustration, the angst, the private pain of the beautiful soul on the other end of the line.

And it seems that the most volatile, frustrating moments appear when it’s time for the client to sit down and write or create products, content, or offerings intended to serve the masses.

In The War of Art , Pressfield reveals, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers (or painters, or musicians, or creatives of any kind) don’t, and that secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance (emphasis added).

Your biggest block: Your own resistance

Ah, resistance–that internal “block” that keeps us from moving forward or taking action. The whispers of fear, the lies that tell us we won’t succeed or that we’re frauds or that today-isn’t-the-day or this isn’t our time.  For those among us who are called to share their gifts with the world, to blaze this unique trail to uncovering their bliss, resistance is an ever-present force that must be confronted with courage as we trust in the call of the Universe for us to give, to expand, to grow.

So what does resistance look like? From The War of Art:

“First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves. . . . If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own.

“. . . If you find yourself asking, Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist? Chances are, you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death… The more scared we are of our work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work.  The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”

I’ve often said that for independent professionals (people who are packaging their knowledge and expertise as authors, speakers, coaches, consultants, etc), growing our businesses can be some of the most intense spiritual work we’ll ever do. So how do we “overcome resistance?”

My friend, Scott Jeffrey, reminds us of a beautiful metaphor for understanding the nature of our true selves (that includes the giving of our sacred selves). In his blog post “Approaching Spiritual Work,” he explains, “Numerous spiritual teachers. . .say that the sun is always shining; we need only remove the clouds. The clouds represent our psychological and spiritual work. The sun is the Light that we are (the Self, with a capital “S”), only realizable when the clouds are removed. Our clouds are many: negative emotions, poor habits and tendencies, false identifications, addiction to our minds and thinking, and so on.

“Examining, understanding, and dissolving these clouds represent the core of serious psycho-spiritual work. That’s why it’s work. Once this is accepted as given, we can approach our darker side with courage, forbearance, and patience. Then, situations that trigger our negative emotions, for example, become opportunities to develop instead of reasons to feel bad about ourselves, getting discouraged about our ‘lack of progress’.”

The battleground for overcoming resistance is in our minds, in undoing our crappy programming and embracing our responsibility to give the world our best and make a difference. Go easy on yourself. This journey isn’t for the faint of heart. Your destiny is assured; the sun is shining bright. May courage take you all the way!

Need a how-to guide for working through your resistance? I’ve created a three-part blog series on creating solid content that includes some great strategies for finding your break-thoughs.  If you’re looking for some good reading, I love Byron Katie’s Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life and Patricia Carrington’s The Power Of Letting Go: A Practical Approach to Releasing the Pressures in Your Life.

Tips & tricks for more clicks on your blog

Social Media is getting a lot of hype, and if you’re like my clients and me, understanding this medium and knowing how to leverage it can feel overwhelming.  Social Media “experts” are a dime a dozen, and let me tell you: few people really know what they’re talking about.  Leveraged properly, social media can be a fantastic way to grow your influence, your list, get more clients and accomplish all sorts of cool things.  Toni (@tonibirdsong)and I have a few podcasts coming soon on this, but in the meantime, I want to offer a framework to help you understand social media as an important business-building medium.

I read a tweet the other day (wish I could remember who so I could give credit) that said “Social Media success is based on knowing how to relate.”  Yes, yes, ding ding!  The simplicity of that flipped me out — knowing how to relate. In life and relationships, we connect with others through the things we have in common, through empathizing, encouraging, sharing resources and generally being supportive.  Twitter and Facebook success, in particular, is driven by this premise.
Social Media success is guided by the basic principles of relationships:
  1. Show interest in others (engage with others around their conversations)
  2. Be courteous and show gratitude (Thanks for RT [retweet], responding kindly to engagement from others)
  3. Support the successes of others (RT, congratulate, engage)
  4. Provide advice, content, perspective that is genuinely supportive and useful (blog content, tweets, quotes, opine on relevant news, etc)
  5. Curb the hard-selling (social media is based on pull marketing – you “win” by being attractive, not forcing your message down throats)

Content marketing (leveraging your expertise into content like articles and blog posts) is an integral part of a successful social media strategy.  Creating great content requires effort, both intellectually and creatively, and it requires some savvy that for many of us, isn’t intuitive – we’re gonna have to do a little brain stretch to learn this stuff.

The biggest challenge I have personally is I want things to be perfect – but perfect is the enemy of consistency when it comes to pretty much all social media efforts.  We are all flying by the seat of our pants, trying to make time for social media while serving our clients, improving our offerings, creating new offerings, networking, speaking, putting out fires, and so much more.  Perfection comes with time. As you make progress, you make things more and more perfect.  Like training for a race, you don’t expect to be able to run a well-conditioned 5K the first time you train.  You start where you are with the goal of getting moving.

The deeper we get into the social media, the more we learn and we’re seeing some nice results for our clients.  I promise to share our nuggets with you as we go!  If you want help executing your plan, I’d love to talk to you.  If you want to do it yourself, I hope this information serves you.

And please: tell me what headline-creating strategies work for you in the comments!

How to Write Magnetic Headlines – This statistic POWERFULLY drives home the importance of headlines in this post: On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your blog post, and determines whether your content gets read. This post sets up a fantastic 11-part series on creating great headlines – love it!

15 Ways to Rework Your Next Blog Post Title – This is a really, REALLY fantastic post with some easy tips for helping you get “in the zone” to create a powerful blog title:

  • Communicate a Benefit
  • Create Controversy or Debate
  • Ask a Compelling Question
  • and more! Plus good examples.

Read.this.FIRST! All gems.

How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers into Your Blog – It’s really important to understand the very versatile way that your blog titles will appear across the net.  This post points out that your title will appear in:

1) Search engine results,

2) RSS feeds,

3) Links from other bloggers,

4) Social media sites, and

5) On your archive pages (depending upon how you format them).

“In each of these occassions the title can be the only thing that people see and the sole thing that people make the decision to visit your post on. Write a boring, complicated or confusing title and it doesn’t matter what you’ve written in the post – very few people will ever read it.”

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas that Work – This post really delivers on its promise of giving you great formulas for your titles.  A couple examples:

1) “Who Else Wants [blank]?”

2) “Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]” and

3) “What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]”

How to Craft Kick-Ass Titles & Headlines – My favorite part of this post was the distinctions to help you understand what type of title you’re creating: 1) Self-Interest: The best headlines are those that appeal to self interest. They offer the reader benefits that they want, and they can get from you, 2) News: Humans are pre-disposed to seek out what is new and different in their environment, eg. NEW, CHEAPER IPHONE CALL PLANS RELEASED, 3) Curiosity: Appeals to our curious nature, eg. LOST: $1 BILLION DOLLARS

25 Action Words for Creating a Newsworthy Headline – I often hear myself telling my clients to switch up their copywriting so that their writing in active voice (rather than passive voice) with strong verbs to inspire action. This is a great list of strong, ACTIVE verbs to use in your headlines.

I’d love to hear your best headline strategies in the comments!

Best-kept secret for converting more prospects to buyers

We spend a lot of time thinking about how to articulate what we do.  Our goal? To get people interested in doing business with us.

But if you’ve been in business for any time at all, you’ve probably learned that talking about yourself rarely results in someone wanting to do business with you.  (I explore this in 4 Strategies for Booking More Business.)

My friend, Don (@DonCooper) posted this tweet:

Tip: Every time you ask a question, you get a point. Every time you ask a question your prospect can’t answer, you get ten points.

YES, that’s such a great way of framing the power of an effective prospecting conversation (Mark LeBlanc calls it a “meaningful conversation”). You’ve heard me talk in other posts about how important it is to know your customer and connect powerfully with them. The most effective way to do this by listening well.*

Have you forgotten how to listen?

I don’t know that you can really “teach” someone to listen if they don’t naturally have this predisposition.

Listening well, frankly, comes from a holy place: your heart. We listen because we’re interested, we care; we want to make a difference. What we *can* teach each other, or more aptly, remind each other, is that when you’re prospecting or networking, you don’t need to focus or “worry” with pitching people on your services.

You just need to listen, really feel into your prospect’s situation, empathize.  And asking good questions is key.

“Have you thought about it this way?”

There is a lot to the art of asking good questions. Tony Robbins (@tonyrobbins) is the pro on this one . . . I highly recommend his weekend event, Unleash the Power Within.

Ultimately, good questions inspire your prospects to look at something they hadn’t considered before, or to view their problem in a different way.

Stumping the prospect by asking a really powerful question can be a game changer. And so can asking questions that really make your prospects dig and think about their situation differently right there, in the moment.

Breakthroughs are on the other side of great questions

I often reframe a problem my client is experiencing with their breakthrough in mind: your problem means you’re doing XXX right.  You’re on the path to XXX, which is great! The next level requires you to figure this out–this is a good problem to have!

Many times, our challenges are calling to the hero within us, showing us where we need to step up in our lives (remember the powerful question: Who must I become to complete this quest?) Reminding who you’re talking to that their “problems” are gateways to bringing out the best in them can be a really powerful reframe.

What if this were God, the Universe, or the  Spirit’s way of calling to your courage so you could break through?  What if this didn’t mean you were failing, but you were on the brink of a breakthrough?

So, for example asking, Have you considered . . . ? or How does believing XXXX serve you? can bring an unconscious pattern to conscious thought.

Similarly, asking, What if you tried XXXX? can awaken a perspective in your prospects that has lain dormant.

Applying your expertise to their specific challenges and asking questions to help them realize how they are stuck (rather than you telling them, which they are likely to resist) is also a really powerful way to help your clients.

Question:  What questions do you ask your prospects to help them see that they need your help?

Why your website doesn’t generate more leads

In my last two blogs, I talked about the importance of building trust through your website and the real value of quality content. In this blog, I’m going to discuss a distinction that might sound counter-intuitive at first, but which is absolutely crucial to designing an effective website: The primary purpose of your website is not to tell people about you and what you do; the primary purpose of your website is to connect with people who are searching to solve specific problems that you are uniquely-qualified to help them resolve.

Design your website to address the needs of your potential clients, and to connect their needs with what you offer by:

  • Resolving frustrations
  • Finding tactical solutions (step-by-step)
  • Finding and booking the right speaker
  • Learning and Growing (by reading high-quality content)
  • Hiring a coach or consultant

In their search to resolve their issues, your prospects need to come across content that connects with their problems, frustrations, needs. Your website should focus on THEM and their reality, and strategically connect them back to you and what you offer. If your existing homepage greets prospects and describes who you are and what you do, then it’s time to crumple it up and start again.

When designing your website, keep your focus on your clients

I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but no one cares who you are. They don’t care who I am, either. That is, they don’t care until I’ve built considerable rapport with them; that’s when they’ll want to know more — and I should have a page on my site that educates them.

One final website design tip: strategic menus

I’ve established a new “protocol” or “best practice” as it relates to building sites for my clients. We use the main menu to focus on what my client’s prospects are looking for: it might identify the title(s) they organize themselves by, or it might call out the action items they are going for when visiting the site.

For example, for one client, we have a main menu with three options aimed at identifying the three main distinctions of the client’s target market:
Leaders | Leadership Teams | Leadership Bench
For another client who’s a practitioner, our menu items are:
Can Dr. Andrew help me? | How does a treatment work? | Book an Appointment

We put this main menu just underneath the header in the traditional place you expect menus to appear. Then, we have a secondary menu that starts in the upper right corner that includes links to content that’s more “ego-driven,” so to speak. In this second menu, you’ll have links like “About,” “Contact Us,” “Meeting Planners & Media,” etc. If someone is specifically looking for this content, they’ll be able to locate it easily, and by putting it in the secondary menu, you’re leaving the main menu more visitor-focused and useful for your clients and prospects.

With time, intention, and great content, you can build a website that will really support the growth of your platform. It likely will cost you more than $1,500, but it’s worth the investment if it’s built right.

Hit me up with your questions in the comments below . . . I’m happy to help!

The secret ingredient for getting more leads from your website

In my last blog, Read This Before You Design Your Website, I discussed what your website should do for your business and how your budget should look when building your website. In this blog, we’ll look at the value of trust and how your clients will be more likely to opt-in to your site when they trust you.

There is one variable that makes “selling” the services of an independent professional different from selling widgets:  TRUST. Before people are going to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on your services, they are going to have to trust you significantly.

Here are three ways to earn trust from your prospects and clients:

  • Your prospects trust your clients, if they know them. Leverage your client list, client’s logos, and client testimonials; and you can obviously have your trusted clients and colleagues refer people to you, transfering the trust and goodwill they’ve built to you.
  • Your prospects trust your consistency. This one is huge, and I touched on it in the blog post about networking. When you are still around month after month, year after year, with good relationships and a solid reputation, people will obviously trust you more.  It’s important to be consistent in your efforts, whether  networking, blogging, or speaking.
  • They trust your expertise. That book you’ve written, or those blog posts you put up consistently, week after week, contain content that proves to your prospect that you know what you’re talking about. (This is precisely why I encourage my clients to GIVE IT ALL AWAY. Don’t hold back your “best stuff” because you want people to hire you to get it; it actually works the other way around.)

Your website is the perfect forum for connecting with people’s pain, frustration, hopes and dreams, and for showing them that you really know who they are, what they struggle with, and how to help them break through.  Don’t expect to get people to sign up for your expensive programs as a result of visiting your website — their buying process likely doesn’t work that way. This one distinction can revolutionize your thought process in building your website and email marketing strategy.  I hope you wrote this one down.

Want to know if your website is a good trust-builder? Sign up for a strategy session!

Read this before you design your website

Read this before you design your website

Spend your money wisely when building your website

Building a website seems like a really important thing to do to grow your business . . . and boy, do I hear the stories of buyer’s remorse and other frustration from colleagues, clients, and prospects who spend gobs of money on their websites (oftentimes, their entire marketing budget), only to realize later that their websites just sit there, don’t really get them business, aren’t flexible to keep up with the ever-changing web and social media landscape, are expensive to maintain, don’t attract new leads or sales, etc.

Your Website’s Most Important Feature:  Quality Content

The real bummer comes when people realize the most expensive part of building a website, if it’s done right, isn’t the cool design (though good design is important)–it’s creating great content that’s optimized well and structured to compel visitors to take some sort of action. Before you hire your next web developer or commission the design of your next website, consider what you want your website to “do” for your business.

Here are a few ideas about what your website should do for your business:

  • Generate new leads
  • Nurture your relationship with fans/prospects
  • Support offline efforts (like booking speaking engagements, supporting PR efforts, etc)
  • Sell products
  • Support strategic alliances and affiliates

Make sure your website educates, informs, and is helpful to your visitors

Often, your website is targeting many different “buyers” at once: meeting planners, program chairs, media editors, strategic partners, and prospects for your offerings. Consider the needs and expectations of each of these buyers to ensure you’re making it easy for them to find the exact information they’re seeking with as few clicks as possible. Understand the buying process of your intended audience. People seek “help” with their problems when they hit key “thresholds” personally or professionally. It’s important that you know what those thresholds are, what kind of “help” they are looking for (do they want tips, to buy a book, to hire a consultant/coach, to buy into a program or seminar, etc), and what kind of trust you’ll need to inspire for them to choose you over other options in the marketplace.

This is a great opportunity to talk about your social media and blogging plan. In the How Should I Market Myself? program, these strategies fall under “Grassroots Marketing,” the foundational strategy in the marketing triad. It’s really important that your website serves as a platform that integrates your showcasing and networking efforts, giving visitors who are wanting to learn about your expertise and to educate themselves the opportunity to connect with all your social touch points. Toni and I will be doing some podcasts on social media soon . . . this is Toni’s genius and I’m excited to share her in-the-trenches expertise with you!

Because the online landscape is changing so much, so fast, I highly recommend using WordPress to build your website. It’s very, very user-friendly and has a huge open-source community of programmers who create mostly-free plugins to integrate cutting-edge functionality to your site’s design. Pretty much every VA (virtual assistant) I’ve ever talked to is familiar with WP, so you can easily get support in the form of trained admins –at this stage of the game, you can’t go wrong with WordPress. I also recommend building your custom templates with a framework like Thesis or Genesis –they really optimize your sites well for search, all built-in (they also employ lots of best-practice programming).bu

How to add more revenue streams to your business – Part III

In my first two blogs in this series, we covered how your content is like rocket fuel for your business and what kind of content you can create to showcase your expertise. In this blog, we’ll look at ways for you to create your own breakthroughs and push through writers block to leverage your content to grow your business.

Prepare Yourself to Create Your Content

Creating content consistently is like training for a race – you’ve got to condition your muscles to endure.  You’re not going to leave the house and run a marathon the first time you go for a jog … in fact, if you try, you’re going to end up so discouraged and frustrated that you may not make out of the house again for the second jog. Finding and following a plan that will grow you toward the marathon (or book / training program / etc) is key — you’ve got to pace yourself so that each session feels manageable and builds on what you’ve created in the past, taking you closer to manifesting your “big goals.”

There is no “pat formula” for creating content … what works great for one prolific professional might not work for you.  Here are a few ideas to try on for size, though, to help you find a framework and strategy that may work for you.

  • Dedicate a significant block of time (2-4 hours) every 4-6 weeks to create a month or two of content rather than trying to fit in writing sessions once or twice a week to create next week’s content.  (This can be particularly helpful to people who have a really demanding coaching or travel schedule.)
  • Set aside the same block of time weekly to write and create, and safeguard that time as if you’re meeting the president.  Creating your content is not “secondary” to your “paid” work; it’s the most important work you will do on a weekly basis to develop a sustainable, financially-solid career.
  • Leverage jott.com or a similar tool to capture your ideas and thoughts as you speak them. Jott will actually transcribe your voice notes. There are also other similar tools out there. The transcribing is particularly helpful, as it gives you written content to work with/massage when it’s time to create your final deliverable.
  • If you’re experiencing challenges getting momentum, schedule time with a coach, ghost writer, or other professional to get the writing going. It’s like scheduling time with a personal trainer: committing to a pro both financially and with your valuable time can often create the leverage and discipline you need to break through.

If your schedule seems gridlocked and you need to find more time, check out this slideshare from my friends at CultBranding.com — no matter how “busy” you are, you can free up time to focus on what’s important if you make the commitment:

Got Time?


As my friend Mark LeBlanc says, Done is better than perfect. I’ve got a client that says, Perfection is a ghost. Your goal in creating great content isn’t to compete with Michelangelo’s David – it’s to serve, educate and inform your ideal customers, ultimately building trust, growing your influence and inspiring people to take action–all of which will grow your bottom line.

For some good recommendations on improving as a writer, check out Scott Jeffrey’s post, On the Craft of Writing.

How to add more revenue streams to your business – Part II

In my last blog, we discussed the value of creating content as a powerful trust-builder for growing your platform.  There are several ways you can leverage your content to expand your influence:
Free Content

Leveraging your content into free resources is a great way to funnel traffic to your website, connect with the prospects on your mailing list, and showcase your expertise for decision-makers.  You can create:

  • Blog Posts
  • Video Blogs
  • Articles (for submission online, publication periodicals / magazines / journals, publishing on your website)
  • White Papers / Special Reports
  • Podcasts
  • BlogTalkRadio.com Radio Show

Content for Sale

You can also package your content into products that people can buy, which is a great way to create passive income:

  • Books
  • Workbooks
  • Audio / Video Programs
  • Training Programs

Connecting with your Market: From the Stage to the Page

It can be mind-bending to transition from allowing your expertise to flow “naturally” in live situations (speeches, training sessions, coaching sessions, conversations) to intentionally outlining and packaging the content so your expertise can be useful without your “physical presence,” especially for professionals who are not used to organizing their thoughts into a linear format.  There are lots of ways you can tackle content creation:

  1. Interview others to tell their stories. Interview people who have experienced breakthroughs or significant achievements aligned with your platform / expertise to help the reader glean gems, truths, and/or lessons from their stories.  You can package these interviews as audio, Q&A, or articles with quotes from the person you’re interviewing.
  2. Be interviewed by reporters, strategic partners, or even your team members. Having others ask you intentional, poignant questions aligns you with the flow of your intuition “in the moment,” which is likely highly-developed and will elicit your expertise and its gems fairly easily.
  3. Develop an editorial calendar to guide you. Block off an afternoon to brainstorm and mindmap your ideas. Organizing a brain dump of topics or concepts can give you a format to follow so that when you sit down to write or create, you’re not having to “dig so deep.”  A good editor might be able to help you with this process.
  4. Keep a notebook close during calls, meetings, talks, etc so you can capture your best ideas. Oftentimes, your “brilliance” comes out in impromptu dialog with individuals or groups who are tapping you for support and advice.  By grabbing your thoughts (and the patterns/steps you outline for others) as they flow, you’ll make it a lot easier on yourself when it’s time to write or create your content.
  5. Honor and align with the ebb and flow of your own creativity. When the spirit moves you, WRITE or CREATE — set other things aside so you can capture inspiration as it comes to you in the moment, when it’s easy and almost effortless.

In my next post, we’ll talk about strategies for creating content to help you “get over the hump” so you can start creating.