Category Archives: women business owners

How to Know If Your Business Loves YOU

There are several prerequisites for having a business that loves you as much as you love being a business owner.

It’s tempting to delude yourself into accepting less than you deserve because you’re so enamored with the concept of being a business owner.

The reality of it can be a much different story.

When we live in a state of delusion, we’ll accept less than we deserve. We put up with and tolerate behavior that is not conducive to our well-being.

So how do you know if your business is being true to you? How do you know if it’s putting you above all else? How do you know if it would take a bullet for you?

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

Establish criteria and expectations that will allow you to lead a lifestyle that inspires you.

1. Schedule vacations

Without proper planning, you could end up working throughout the entire year. When you do your business planning (you DO do that don’t you?), decide how much time you want to take off and then block it out on your calendar. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go (although that helps), you just need to commit to when.

2. Work in your sweet spot

Most people go into business because of a passion or area of expertise thinking that’s how they’ll spend most of there time. Then they realize there is so much more that’s required in running a business. When you’re new you may not be able to afford all of the help you need, but before you think you CAN afford it, start outsourcing tasks you hate or aren’t good at. Doing so will actually free you up to be more creative and thus afford you the time to work on things that will generate more sales.

3. Value your time an expertise

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Focus on sharing your gifts with others for recompense in addition to the pure joy of it. Don’t undervalue your knowledge and passion. People need your unique perspective and want help from someone who knows more than they do.

4. Work with people you adore

This is definitely one of the big perks of being in business. You get to choose your ideal clients. This is particularly true if you’re in a service business. You target the kind of folk you want to work with. You don’t have to make an ‘offer’ to everyone if you’re not interested. Or, you could add a premium to the price so it feels more palatable to you. I don’t strongly recommend that option. It’s one thing to charge more for work you enjoy less. It seems almost mean to do it for such personal reasons as not liking someone. Just say ‘no’ and move on.

5. It pays you well

I remember talking with a graphic designer 20 years ago when I first started my jewelry design business. I sold hand-crafted earrings and necklaces at Art & Wine festivals in northern California. As we were chatting about my new business (I was very excited), I revealed how much I paid in entrance (booth) fees for the more popular shows. Her reaction was “Oh. I guess you’re happy to just break even.”

I looked at her in dismay. “No”, I said. “I almost always make a substantial profit. And on those occasions when I don’t, I know it’s an aberration and I don’t do that particular show again (unless it was just rained out which was a rare occurrence).

Pristine Beach East Zanzibar
Image via Wikipedia

That jewelry business paid for a 3 1/2 week trip to Tanzania for a safari, a week in Zanzibar and a week in the ‘bush’ with the Masai. It was a great way to start off in the business world. And even today, my pricing reflects the value I provide to my clients not just the minimum to ‘break even’ and cover the bills.

So, if your business loves you, you’ll enjoy your work and your clients. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy live.

You’ll be valued by your clients and you’ll be paid what you’re worth.

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Why It Pays to Focus on a Niche & How to Find Yours

Most business owners resist the thought of honing in on a tight target market. They fear they’ll be missing out on potential sales if they don’t go after every possible sale that could be had.

And with the current state of the economy, they feel particularly justified in doing just that.

The problem though is that when you go after everything, you water down your marketing efforts. It’s like trying to paint a fine masterpiece for your living room with a spray paint can.

People don’t know who you are and what you specialize in.

Before I dive into the tips for today, I want to clarify a few terms. I’m often asked, “What’s the difference between a target market, an ideal client and a niche?”

According to Entrepreneur magazine, a target market is “a specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services.” An example of this might be ‘women business owners’.

Your ideal client is a subset of your target market, perhaps defined by demographic and psychographic data. An example might be women business owners over 40 years old in professional service industries, particularly those that require licensure from an industry or professional board or certification process who are looking to increase the revenue coming into their companies.

Your niche is a combination of 3 things:
1) The people you serve
2) The situationally specific problem you help them solve
3) Your specially branded Signature System that provides the solution to their problem.

When you’re clear about who you are best suited to serve, you’re able to get inside their head, understand their worries and concerns. You’ll know what they crave and yearn for. You’ll have the confidence to talk with them clearly and concisely about how you are uniquely suited to help them navigate their way throught their challenges to their desired outcome.

Here are 3 easy steps to get started.
1) Get clear on why your clients need you (and it’s probably not for the reasons you think).
Without this clarity, your marketing will sound like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon movies, “Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah”. No one will hear you above the noise and you’ll really miss out on earning what you’re truly capable of. When you have it nailed, people will flock to you because your marketing will be extraordinarily focused on JUST THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

2) Come up with a “platform” that distinguishes you from everyone else who does what you do.
Let’s face it, there are tons of graphic designers, financial advisors, attorneys, insurance agents, mortgage brokers, realtors, business coaches, professional organizers. you need more than a nice business card and a catchy tag line to set yourself apart. When you are trapped by being viewed as a commodity, you’ll never be able to rise above the herd; you’ll struggle with raising your prices and run yourself ragged trying to ‘reel in’ that next customer.

When you find your voice, it will pierce through the marketplace din to be heard by the people who most need what you have to offer. They’ll seek you out, already being sold on your service. Referrals will flow to you more swiftly because people who don’t even need you will recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

3) Make a choice of a niche that is crystal clear and easy to communicate.
Building on the first two points, when you know who you serve and how you specifically help them, you can be WAY more confident (but not pushy) when you speak with prospects. Your marketing will sound like you’re ‘playing their song’ and will draw them to you and position you as the best possible solution to their problem. If you falter on this step, you’ll remain one of the ‘also ran’s, working hard to close deals and wondering why you’re having such a hard time.

I want you make sure this doesn’t happen to you! If you know this would make a difference for you, grab this free training I did over the weekend and/or join us for the upcoming Niche Breakthrough Secrets program where I’ll help you finally step into the spotlight with a unique message that makes your marketing compelling and allows you to market less and still fill your practice or programs with the perfect people for your business.

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What’s Your Exit Strategy? What’s Your Stay Strategy?

Whether you own your own company or work for someone else, it’s critical that you have an exit strategy.  Unless you plan to work until you die, you need to start taking actions NOW for how you’re going to gracefully step out and how you’ll spend your time once you do.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with executives, professionals and business owners (primarily women) who have dreams of life beyond their current circumstances.

They envision being well compensated in a job or business they love, having the respect and credibility from peers, bosses or clients they believe they deserve and having the time and resources to pursue their dreams.

They all, however, were dealing or putting up with circumstances that were literally suffocating their souls, extinguishing their dreams and leaving them feeling exhausted, sad or even worried about their future.

The one thing they each were lacking was – can you guess?…

CONFIDENCE!

At some level, they didn’t feel fully equipped to have their dream life NOW.  They felt at the effect of others around them who seemed to hold all of the power.

From my perspective, it seemed there were three key ingredients that, if implemented, would make all the difference in the world.

1. Self-definition
Because it felt to them that others were more powerful than they, that they were unable to truly define, and stand for, who they are and what is important to them.

They felt stuck in the roles they had been given to play and looked longingly toward the future when they would finally be happier.

My advice to them (or you if you find yourself in a similar situation): be true to yourself.  This is your life and it won’t last forever.  Know what makes you happy and what doesn’t. Don’t buy solely into other people’s dreams and expectations that are counter to who you know yourself to be.

2. Self-determination
Once you’re clear about where you stand, it will be easier to let others know who you are and what you need.  Without that, you’ll continue to feel frustrated, hopeless, resigned, depressed and afraid.

My advice to them and you: don’t wait.  Be clear and public about your needs and goals NOW. Make requests.  Make demands when necessary.  Make life go the way YOU want – now.

3. Focused action toward their goals
It’s one thing to dream big, it’s quite another to make those dreams a reality.  When you’ve defined yourself and your direction, the path before you will become clear.

It still requires you to take action.  Seeing the path and having it in front of you is not the same as walking on the path.  Rita Mae Brown defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”

Action is required. Action builds confidence.  Action gets results.

My advice to them and you: Take action.  Identify one thing you can do like making a request, taking a class, telling someone “No”, researching your passion or getting help to make it happen.  No one can or should try to do any worthy effort alone. And living a big life is definitely a worthy effort.

So what does this have to do with an exit or stay strategy? Start working on your exit strategy now.  Don’t wait until ‘the time has come’.  You’ll be scrambling then.  And it may come sooner than you expect.  Plan now. Act now.

Make sure you have a stay strategy that isn’t just going along for the ride.  Use your self-definition and self-deterimination to make your current life/career/business more to your liking now.  Again, act now.

Your life is in your hands.  Make sure you’re living YOUR life, not someone else’s.

From Overwhelmed to Overjoyed in 5 Simple Steps

A lot of people these days are trying to do more with less which leaves them feeling a bit anxious and stressed. It’s critical that we invest time in making sure we’re living our best life and that often requires that we take a more proactive approach in directing it.

When we don’t do that, we work on other people’s priorities and end up feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Women in particular feel the stresses of juggling family, career and self. Work life balance is completely missing and it seems there is no way out.

One of my fundamental beliefs however, is that “We all have more options than we generally see and more control than we tend to take.”

One way to take that control is in implementing the RENEW My Life System: From Overwhelmed to Overjoyed in 5 Simple Steps.  Here are those 5 simple steps.

1. R=Reveal & release the obstacles on your path
This step is critical in figuring out what is really bothering you and weighing you down. You are probably clearly aware of the more obvious ones, there I’ll bet there are many more that have become mild irritations that you don’t even notice anymore. Do an assessment and Clean Sweep of the domains of your life (relationships, work/career, physical environment, etc.) and get really clear about exactly what needs to be dealt with.

2. E=Elect and claim the future you desire and deserve and make it happen
When you are caught up in the daily grind and treadmill of life, your dreams end up languishing on some mental bookshelf collecting dust and growing weak or dying altogether.  You must reclaim those dreams and believe that they are truly yours.

Your limiting  beliefs get in the way, so it’s important that you do what it takes to stay positive, focused and committed to reaching your goals and knowing that you do deserve the life you envision.

3. N=Nurture your mind and soul with empowering beliefs and behaviors
You have heard on airplanes how important it is to put on your oxygen mask first when traveling with children. The same is true for you in life on the ground.  Put on your mask first.  Do the things that bring you joy and courage. Stop wishing and complaining. Take action!

4. E=Eject the things that no longer serve you
As you become more focused on your own life goals and what’s really important to you, you will become less tolerant of the situations and people around you that are inconsistent with your renewed vision for your life.  Find the courage and make choices that will bring your desired life closer to reality.  Make requests of others.

Eliminate distractions and tolerations.

5. W=Win at the game of life
Set yourself up for success. Focus on what’s really important. Start delegating. Keep growing. Invest in activities and programs that will help you develop more power, confidence and mental muscle.

When you use these 5 RENEW steps, you’ll find more work-life balance and joy.  The overwhelm will diminish and you’ll be happier with your life, family and circumstances.

Do You Relate to Your Business Like It’s a Slot Machine? 5 Steps for Increased Sales, Revenue & Profits

Having spent the weekend in Las Vegas, I had a chance to engage in one of my favorite forms of Las Vegas entertainment, playing the penny and quarter slot machines.

I just about doubled my modest $25 ‘investment’ and kept myself thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours. By Las Vegas standards, that was a good ROI.

It got me wondering about the allure of slot machines.  I think it has to do with the suspense of the ‘hunt’ and the thrill of the win. It’s a similar dynamic.

“How do I find my best prospects?”


“What does it take to win them over?”

If you treat your business like it’s a slot machine though, you could be suffering from some serious problems.slotmachine6

1. Feeling like you’re not in control
2. Trying lots of strategies but unsure which ones will really work
3. Worried about if and when your big payout is going to happen

Here are 5 ways to win at business and improve your sales, revenue and profitability.

1. Focus on your core strengths

Many people suffer from the I-have-lots-of-strengths-interests-and-abilities syndrome.  I grapple with this one sometimes myself.  You may find that you’re afraid to focus because you’re worried you’ll be leaving dollars on the table.

Actually, the opposite is true.  The more you focus, the easier it is for people who need you to find you.  So define what you do best and organize your business around that.

2. Know who you best serve

Similarly, many of my clients are reluctant to select a target market thinking that they’ll make less money if they don’t do everything all of the prospects in the world need.  Again, not true. Trying to serve to many people will keep you scattered, spreading your efforts too thin.

It’s easier to find specific groups of people and it’s easier to market and sell to them because you can say all of the right things that will grab their attention.

3. Listen to your clients & prospects

In order to grab their attention, you have to be speaking their language and this requires that you know what they’re talking about.  A lot of business owners make the mistake of creating products and services JUST because they’re good at it without knowing if the market is at all interested.

4. Understand their pain

When you listen deeply to your prospects and clients, you can learn what keeps them up at night.

You’ll get a visceral experience of how they’re suffering and where you can help.  You can better empathize with them and show your concern for their situation in a more authentic way.

5. Offer solutions to conquer their pain

Once you know the things you excel in, who most needs you and what their problems are, you’ll be able to offer them the perfect antidote to their dilemma and they will thank you for it while eagerly snapping up your products and services.

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be more strategic about your business, you’ll stop dropping coins in any random slot machine and your payout of more and bigger sales will just happen naturally.