Tag Archives: Business strategy

Turn the “Scorching Hot Sweet Spot™” in Your Business or Career into Cold Hard Cash

One of the biggest complaints I hear today is that people aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. Whether they are a corporate professional looking to move up the ranks in their career or a business owner looking to land more lucrative clients and contracts, they’re struggling to distinguish themselves in an authentic and profitable way.

Recently, I’ve honed in on what it takes to turn what I call “The Scorching Hot Sweet Spot™” in your career or business into cold, hard cash! Once you’ve mastered that process, you’ll attract better clients, gain more recognition in the office, feel way more confident, set yourself apart from the herd, stop worrying about the competition and earn more money.

It’s a simple model. Think back to your high school algebra or logic class to the phrase “Venn Diagram”. The Scorching Hot Sweet Spot is at the intersection of 3 concepts:

1) Your expertise and passions
2) Your customers needs
3) Your offer, well-timed

 

 

Your expertise and passions
It’s critical you know what you’re really good at and it’s likely that you don’t. If you’re like most people, you undervalue what you know. When something somes naturally to you, it’s easy to assume that everyone is good at it too. Nothing could be stronger from the truth.

Take a trip down memory lane and ask yourself what you loved to do as a child or teenager. Recall the kinds of things people have asked your advice on over the years. When you’re clear about your expertise and focus your business or career around the expression of that expertise, you’ll be effective and experience less struggle. Work will feel graceful and full of ease. If you aren’t aware of and don’t effectively market the value of your skills, you’ll sound like everyone else when competing for clients or jobs. You’ll seem like a commodity and be easily replaced by someone with a lower bid.

When you focus on what you’re passionate about, you’ll also experience a feeling of fulfillment and joy. Time will fly by because you’re doing what you love.

Your customers’ needs
People will pay good money to someone who is perceived as being someone who can help them solve their most urgent issues. You have to know what keeps them awake at night and how your ‘magic’ will let them rest more peacefully. If you aren’t aware of their problems, your marketing messages to them will sound like that Charlie Brown teacher “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah”. They don’t care how cool your process is. They only care about their pain and getting rid of it.

Your offer, well-timed
You must have a specific methodology you use to help solve those problems. That’s your “offer”. Having a trademark system in place gives you more credibility and positions you as an expert. Even if you’re an employee, you probably have a certain way you go about solving problems. When you can describe and name your process, it’s value goes up. It’s one of the steps I take my clients through in my VIP “Monetize Your Niche” and “Be Dream Job Ready” private consulting days.

The second component of this is the ‘well-timed’ part. You could have the most compelling solution but if it fixes a problem they’re not having now, you likely won’t get the sale. You must learn to recognize the buying signals that foretell a prospect is ready to take action.

When you clarify these three concepts and implement new activities in your business, you’ll be on the way to pushing more cash in the bank!

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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Manage Your Top Line & Your Bottom Line Will Take Care of Itself

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  Apple Inc. CEO St...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of itself.”

I heard Steve Jobs say this in a previously recorded video that was resurrected shortly after Steve announced his resignation as CEO of Apple Computer.

I worked for Apple for almost 8 years – during the time that Steve was not there.  I heard stories of his genius and his temper and experienced first-hand, the most fun and innovative culture I’ve ever worked in.

His statement “Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of  itself”, really resonated with me.

I’ve been focusing recently on what it takes to land larger, higher-paying clients and the positive impact that can have on a company‘s profitability.

Steve cited 3 things that must be attended to in managing your top line.

The 3 things are strategy, people & products.

Here is my take on how to focus on those 3 critical elements.

1. Strategy
A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business.

A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out.  Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy.  Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.

Focusing on strategy charts the course for the organization. It helps yes/no, go/no-go decisions get made in the short term. Positioning and pricing are outcomes of strategic decisions about what markets to pursue and how.

2. People
The best strategy in the world will fall flat on it’s face without competent people to carry it out. Implementing strategy requires a multitude of interdependent decisions to be made. Discerning judgment (a human skill) is a combination of intellect, knowledge, values and intuition. Having the right people in the right positions doing the right things right, can make a strategy come to life and catapult a company to wild success or oblivion.

3. Products
The third leg of this stool is comprised of the products an enterprise offers. Great strategy and great people can make the most of mediocre products. But great products can overcome (at least for a while) weak strategy and ordinary people. Of course, it’s hard to produce great products with mediocre strategy and people.

Apple likely wouldn’t have designed and produced the iPod, iPhone and iPad without great people. But there was a time, pre-‘i’ era, when those great people churned out lackluster ‘also-ran’ products.

When all great components are present, revenues rise because the company is delivering what the marketplace wants. great people make wise decisions about marketing, research, manufacturing, administration and financial matters. Great products continue to be delivered positioning the company as innovative with a commitment to quality.

Profits rise.

Jobs brought a unique perspective and vision to Apple.

So the questions are, What do YOU bring to your firm?

What’s YOUR strategy? Do you have one?

Are  you staffed with the right people in the right roles doing the right things right?

Is what you’re offering a match to the market as it is today or tomorrow? Are you even in touch with market needs or are you developing offers in a vacuum and wondering why sales are lagging?

As I’m finishing up this article, I see a tweet that Apple’s stock hit an all-time high today: $411 and change.

Clearly the strategy Jobs espoused is taking the company in the right direction.

Make sure your three legs of this business stool are sitting on solid ground.

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How to Accelerate the 3 Stages of Business Growth

For the last several months, I’ve been constructing a model for building a highly successful business.  Based on what I’ve done to build mine over the years and harvesting the wisdom of brilliant mentors I’ve studied with, I’ve outlined a comprehensive, yet simple model for success.

The model extends well past theory and includes 7 practical steps business owners must take if they want to thrive and enjoy life rather than being consumed by the ‘job’ they’ve created for themselves.

Today, using the metaphor of how bamboo grows, I’ll share with you the 3 stages you must master to enjoy massive business growth.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, spurting at times, almost 4 feet in a single 24-hour period!  At the beginning though, it appears to be growing (on the surface) quite slowly.

There are 3 stages of bamboo (and business) growth: sleep, creep and leap.

1. Sleep
During the first year of a young bamboo plant’s life, most of its energy is devoted to

laying a strong foundation via the root structure.  Plant shoots peak out above the ground and underground rhizomes shoot out horizontally.

2. Creep
As the foundation builds, the plants continue to grow but most of the ‘work’ is still being done underground.  The roots branch and spread even further.  They provide water to the leaves and the leaves use sunlight to produce food that the roots need to expand further and stock up on energy for next year’s shoots.

3.  Leap
Once the foundation has developed (and this may take years) the above-ground plants grow rapidly.  Each year, as the stand of plants matures, the diameter of each new cane that develops, is generally larger than those that were ‘born’ last year.

So, as with your business, the huge bamboo stand of plants isn’t built in a single year.   But once the foundation is laid, growth seems almost miraculous.

Here are a few of the steps you must take to enjoy miraculous business growth.

In the Sleep phase, you dream.  You envision and clarify your ideal clients, your ideal work day and your overall ideal day.  Without this step, you’ll feel unfocused, frustrated and stressed.

You also clarify what you’ll be offering to the market place and how to best distinguish you and your business from all of the other vendors with similar offers.  You work on branding and understanding exactly how people or companies benefit from working with you.

You define your ‘product mix’, create revenue goals, set prices, deterimine sales channels and schedule your major marketing activities.

In the Creep phase, you launch your marketing efforts in a focused and aggressive manner.  You identify what you need to run a successful business from an internal perspective and from an external marketing perspective.  You implement your marketing plans and measure your success.  If you skip this step or do it poorly, you’ll feel scattered and leave money on the table because you miss opportunities that are right there in front of you.  You’ll use the wrong approaches and waste precious time and money.

In the Leap phase, you work on leveraging your success. You work ON your business not just IN it.  The focus here is on time mangement, automating and systemitizing. You document and delegate, work to continually delight your customers and build internal financial metrics and controls.

You also start to convert your ‘secret sauce’ into products that you can use to build revenue that is not dependent on you actively working with clients.  You build raving fans, referrals, affiliates and perhaps joint venture partners. You enhance and expand your online marketing efforts. NOw that you’ve got your systems in place, you aggressively drive traffic to your website to generate qualified leads.

During this phase, you’ll probably encounter more leadership challenges so you’ll also work on improving yourself while managing the issues of leading a team of employees or contractors.  You may even decide to pursue bigger, better and more well-heeled clientele.

If you don’t Leap successfully, you’ll survive but miss out on the mega-growth that you probably dreamed of when you first launched your burgeoning empire.

While I’ve laid out these 3 stages sequentially, you’re almost always working on some aspects of each of them.  At various phases of your own evolution, you make focus on different aspects of this model. You may elect to restart the process at stage 1 if you decide to revamp your business.  You may jump in at Stage 2 if you love the clients you have and the work you do, but the model isn’t generating enough cash.

And as you grow, you’ll need to work on Stage 3 to Leap into an even more prosperous future and create the lifestyle of your dreams.

7 Keys to Being a Brilliant Leader

Many people think that leaders are born, not made and that if they aren’t officially a Manager, Director, Executive Directory, Vice President, President or CEO, that they are really a leader.

I beg to differ.  Leadership is a set of specific behaviors that can be learned.

Here are seven keys I believe are critical to transforming ordinary people into extraordinary leaders.

1. Evoke the emotions of others
True leaders inspire people.  They touch their hearts on issues that are important to them.  They raise hope while acknowledging and accepting the human frailties we all possess.  Leaders make people connect the change they are striving to cause to their own needs and desires.

2. Believe in people
It’s hard for us to see skeptics or critical, negative people as leaders because they don’t do anything proactive to make us feel good about ourselves.  On the other hand, leaders see the rough diamonds buried in our hearts and bring them to light so that WE can see them too.

3. Have a compelling vision and be passionate in expressing it
Great leaders see a future that is dramatically different than the present we live in and they don’t keep it a secret.  They articulate that future and tell us WHY it’s important that we move toward it. They know they are on the right track even when the rest of the world is still asleep to or in denial about the problem.

4. Never give up but stay flexible
Leaders with big visions are often seen as crack pots or zealots before the masses catch on to the imoportance of their platform.  Expect to encounter some resistance at the beginning, but don’t give up on what you believe in.  Do however, stay present to new developments and trends and what’s on the minds of the people in your burgeoning ‘tribe’.  Find common ground with them an incorporate what you can into your vision, but don’t dilute it too much by trying to please everyone. You won’t.

5. Be an exemplary model
The increased visibility that your leadership will generate will put you in the spotlight. Keep your hands clean.  Don’t be tempted by your growing power and influence.  Also, don’t avoid leadershp if you have a shady past.  If you have truly repented, take ownership for your humanity and mistakes.  Share what you’ve learned from your errant ways and promise to stay on the straight and narrow.  And then stay there.

6. Demonstrate integrity
Keep your word. Be consistent in your actions.  Do what you say you’re going to do.  Tell the truth. Make decisions your mother, spouse, children, grandmother would be proud of.  Live as though your life will be played out in the media because it might actually end up there.

7. Ask for input and help
Don’t try to get to ‘the promised land’ alone.  You can’t. And even if you do, it won’t be very gratifying. As you enroll others in your vision, identify key people in your cause and solicit their opinions and help.  The more people you have actively engaged and on the bandwagon with you leading others as well, the easier your road trip will be.

Do these things consistently and you’ll find yourself living a fulfilled life, making a difference and leaving the world in a better place than you found it.  That is your purpose so go live it.