Categories
attitude Entrepreneurs Improvement Motivation Personal development Small Business strategic planning

Abolish risk

Summer Release, River Fun in California
Creative Commons License photo credit: moonjazz

Or at least, minimize/manage it.

Today’s guest post from Everett Bogue (posted over at Julien’s place) is a nice little wake up call if you’ve been thinking about making changes in your life (or lifestyle).

One of the biggest things about taking the big step you know you need to take is dealing with the risk involved in making the change.

Here’s one way to abolish risk.

FYI: What he’s really talking about is managing risk, but that sounds boring compared to abolishing it.

Categories
attitude Entrepreneurs Motivation Personal development

Skip a step

It’s just another Saturday morning (well, it was when this first went live anyhow).

What are you going to do with it?

Let’s see if this guest post from Brogan tweaks your plan for the day a little bit…

If it doesn’t tweak you, I say good for you.

Why “good for you”?

Because you must already be heading the right direction.

The rest of em have already started thinking, I hope.

Categories
Amazon Business culture Corporate America Customer service Employees Internet marketing Small Business Strategy

With 1800 employees, Hsieh is still an entrepreneur

Headwaters
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinet

Today’s guest post is an interesting Inc. Magazine interview with Tony Hsieh about why Zappos sold to Amazon.

What makes it most interesting (to me, anyhow) are the discussions about the culture and differences between the two businesses.

I think there are a few take-home items for anyone who owns a business of any size – as well as some tidbits for those who are under the impression that all corporations are evil.

Enjoy.

Categories
attitude Entrepreneurs Leadership Motivation Personal development Small Business

What freedom is

Today’s guest post is from personal development speaker/author Steve Pavlina.

It’s a great message about building a life that should speak to every entrepreneur.

Happy Independence Day!

Categories
attitude Business culture Competition Creativity Customer relationships Employees Entrepreneurs Leadership Motivation Personal development Positioning quality Small Business The Slight Edge

What’s your art?

I was finishing up Seth Godin’s Linchpin this weekend while camping in Plains for a swim meet and thought this was worthy of sharing.

Like others have said, there’s a lot in Linchpin that is common knowledge/attitude to “smart people” and while it resonates with how I feel about business and opportunity (likewise, Dan Kennedy would be nodding his head saying “I’ve been saying this for years!”), it never hurts to refresh those thoughts with words from someone who comes from another angle.

Dan and Seth both present their case on the “being indispensable” thing with a substantially different tone, so it’s helpful to hear it from a fresh angle.

Your art

One thing stuck out from Seth’s version as I got toward the end.

He started discussing your “what you do best” work as your art. I was mentally nodding “yep, yep, yep” and then he really hit the nail on the head.

He said something along the lines of “Your art is that thing you do that no one can tell you how to do“. Why? Because it’s your passion and skill for that work is perhaps not untouchable, but highly developed when compared to almost everyone around you.

My art

For me, it’s the integration of marketing, technology and business process refinement and how they flow to the bottom line. I can talk on stage (or elsewhere) about those things all day long – even if no one is listening.

For example, the programmer and industrial engineering side of my head is what focuses me on the “bugs” in your process (such as the “patient intake” experience I described after my doctor visit last week). When you marry that to the marketing and customer service side of things, it’s easy to see ROI.

I’d like to hear what your art is and how you’re leveraging it to help others.

Categories
attitude Customer relationships Entrepreneurs Marketing planning Positioning Restaurants Retail service Small Business Strategy Word of mouth marketing

Choose Carefully, Be Amazing.

White Breach
Creative Commons License photo credit: erikogan

I was speaking with a wanna be business owner the other day who I *know* has the skills to help people in the market where he works.

When I say “wanna be”, I don’t mean they can’t do it, or won’t do it, just that they haven’t done it.

For the wanna be, something is missing: That first really important client.

That client has to be framed right.

  • It is FIRST really important CLIENT?
  • Or…is it first REALLY IMPORTANT client

I think it’s both – and they aren’t often the same person or business.

That FIRST really important CLIENT

As in first client, and really important because you finally got one. A paying one.

Not your brother in law, your mom’s boss, your church or that community organization that can’t afford anyone else – but someone who actually paid.

They’ll teach you how it feels to have a level of trust granted to you by someone who maybe shouldn’t have done so. Not because you didn’t deserve it, but because you didn’t yet have a reputation that told them you were the *only* logical choice for what they needed.

They give you much more confidence that you can actually do this thing and get paid for it.

And…that’s the one that will likely make you realize all the things you have left to do, learn and organize.

Those of you who have been there know what I mean. Sometime in the past, someone took a chance and bought what you do when maybe, just maybe they should have gone a different direction.

A safe direction. But they chose you instead, and that made all the difference.

That first REALLY IMPORTANT client

What does ‘really important’ mean in a client?

The first one is important because they exist. They prime the pump.

The really important one is the one that solves a fundamental problem you have when you go to sell your stuff to the next person.

They ask “Why should I buy from you instead of anyone/everyone else?” You’re ready for that one. And then it comes, the one that you hate to hear – until you have an amazing response: “Who else do you do this for?”

That’s when you want to say “the United States Senate” (I still remember what that check looked like).

You might even manage to be able to say a name like Donald Trump, The Bellagio, the Dallas Cowboys, The Diaper Bank of Tucson, Wachovia (well, back in the day anyhow), The American Red Cross, IBM, Microsoft, the New York Yankees, Apple or Pixar.

Mention a few of those – or the equivalent in your market – and suddenly, you’re the one being pursued.

Credibility. That big product champion. The quote from Bill Gates or Steve Jobs about the work you did.

The testimonial that makes them raise their eyebrows and say “Come on in”.

The Whale

That’s what the wanna be is missing: the “whale”.

In Las Vegas, a whale is a gambler who comes to town to drop big money at the tables. Six figures.

In the business world, a whale might be a Bill Gates, a Trump, the US Senate, or it might just be an influential local client. Someone that the rest of the community respects.

They’re an influencer in their market, or better, in *every* market…and that person likes what you do.

Every business needs a whale, whether they’re a local or a national one. They need a product champion, a killer testimonial. Someone that you can mention and say “See what I did for *them*? I can do that for you too.”

Maybe Gates or Jobs are a stretch, but maybe not. They have to buy from *someone*. Why not you?

Bill Gates has a plumber. What, you aren’t good enough? Whales come in all sizes. They’re people too.

Landing the Whale

For the wanna be, that first client might seem like a whale. If you’re going to work hard as you can to get that first client, why not make it one that would be an ideal match?

Focus on a client that’s an absolutely great match for what you do. Go after them with everything you have. I don’t mean be obnoxious and cold call them at 10pm. Instead, position yourself to answer that important question…

“Why should I buy from you instead of anyone/everyone else?”

Once they’ve taken that chance, transform them into a great champion of your work…by doing your best work.

Start with one. Be amazing. And then…Wash, rinse, repeat.

Categories
Advertising Entrepreneurs Management Marketing Positioning Sales Small Business

100 insights from young entrepreneurs

Day 257: Love Life When Not On Vacation
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

Lessons get learned two ways, mostly:

1) Via advice offered in hope that it’ll save you some money, time, pain, etc. Often, these lessons were learned in a different way by the person offering the advice. Usually they learned it…

2) The hard way, by making the mistake yourself and feeling the pain first hand.

3) Give me a minute, I’ll explain this one…

Method #2 seems to stick better, even though method 1 (the easy way) tends to be far less expensive.

Method #3

This is the method where you point out a group of folks who may or may not have had the lessons taught by method #1 but appear to have chosen the hard way.

That’s OK though…because they clearly figured out a lot of things.

100 CEOs talk about things they wish they knew when they started their business.

Notice the ones that crop up again and again?

They speak of preparedness, how much time / money they spent on marketing, how they didnt expect sales to be so hard, how its far more important to pick out a market that needs a solution (and provide it) rather than to make something and then search around for a market for it.

That’s why we spend so much time talking about positioning, knowing your customer better than anyone else, doing more than everyone else, thinking about customer needs, and so little time talking about things like how to compete with a lower price.

Give the list another read. There’s some gold in there.

Categories
Customer relationships customer retention Entrepreneurs Internet marketing Marketing Positioning Restaurants Retail service Small Business Strategy Technology Web 2.0 Word of mouth marketing

Don’t miss a chance to connect

Today’s guest post from Jeff over at BrickandClick.com has great timing, as I’ve discussed this very topic with two different clients in the last two days.

I love it when I can find someone else to do the nagging for me (as he laughs maniacally).

Seriously, Jeff’s talking about making sure that there’s an opportunity to tell your clients that they can connect with you via Twitter, Facebook etc by making it obvious to them that you even *exist* there to begin with.

Simple, obvious, yet easy to overlook. I just thought of one prominent place where I’m not doing exactly that.

See, it isn’t just you.

Go see Jeff’s take on the subject.

Categories
attitude Business culture Creativity Employees Entrepreneurs Motivation planning Small Business Strategy

Is it the recession or is it you?

Normally I don’t do two guest posts in the same weekend from the same person, but Lisa Barone’s “It’s not the recession, you just suck” resonates with a number of things I’ve been passing along to you over the last few months.

As such, I thought I’d let someone else in the PickYourselfUp Choir sing the lead this time.

Here she is.

Look at it this way… if McDonald’s closed, you wouldn’t starve to death. Why would allow a business closure or layoff to starve your career?

GOYA.

Categories
attitude Business culture Competition Entrepreneurs Leadership Motivation Restaurants Retail Small Business Strategy

Standing around on the Moon

Forty years ago tonight, two guys stepped on the Moon for the very first time (as far as we know, anyhow).

They did so not by accident or happenstance, but because of an explicit choice (and a challenge).

One of the things that always intrigued me about President Kennedy’s speech was his use of words when he suggested that we go to the moon:

“We choose to go to the moon…”

Choose.

Not think about, mull over, ponder or consider, but choose.

It’s an important word. It means get off your keester and take action – one of the most important things you can do.

Make a choice to improve your business, to start one, or to start another one. Make a choice to do something that will completely transform the success of your business. Ask yourself “Why not?” if something pops up and tells you that you can’t do something, or that it wont work.

You choose to sit around or you choose not to, which reminds me of an old acronym: YCDBSOYA

YCDBSOYA is an acronym for “You cant do business sitting on your ass”.

Decide. Make a choice. GOYA.

Do it today. Choose to go to the moon, business-wise.

Maybe even further.