Category Archives: women business owners

Is Your Fear of Raising Your Fees Stifling Your Growth?

What excuses are you using for not raising your fees?

  • The economy is too weak?
  • People aren’t buying anything but necessities these days?
  • I’ll lose more business than I’ll gain?

I’ve heard them all. I’ve even heard them come out of my own mouth in the past.

Watch this Michael Jordan video and then tell me what you think.

“Become Legendary”

What would it take for YOU to become legendary?

I can tell you one thing, it’s not waiting for the economy to recover.

I think there are five specific things that need to happen on the road to being legendary.

While being legendary isn’t my end goal, I believe that the discipline it takes to walk (or run) on that path is what being legendary is really about.

I had to grapple with one of them this week in order to develop the largest proposal I’ve ever written. I knew I could help this corporate client solve their problem, but it took more than a few deep breaths and a leap of faith on my part to put it all on paper and price it.

Here the five things I believe are critical to the pursuit of being legendary our lives and our businesses.

1. Recognize your gift(s)
So often we dismiss as ordinary the very things that make us unique.  Being legendary requires that we honor and treasure our gifts; that we hold them in special regard. We must nurture or they will whither away and die.

2. Be guided by a higher power
When we live ‘alone’, it’s easy to be frightened or swayed from our calling. Whether you believe in God or your internal guide, connecting with something beyond your worldly ego which will respond to stimuli from a place of defensiveness and fear or power (and not the productive kind).

3.  Do the work
Honoring your gifts means putting them to work.  Expressing them.  Doing what it takes to ensure that they fully unfold. This is a step beyond nurturing them.  Doing the work actually fortifies them. Do the bench presses. Study.  Take classes. Use discipline to get better at your craft.

4.  Stretch your limits
Human bodies & beings gravitate to the state of homeostasis (sameness).  Our brain and muscles tend to want to stay comfortable, in familiar surroundings. Step out. Do things you haven’t done before. Do more than you think you can do. Do it before you think you’re ready.

5.  Measure your impact
Another way we stay small is by ignoring the impact of our presence, words and actions.  Start to notice what happens for your clients when you work your magic.  Ask them to describe for you how your product or service has changed their lives.

Implement these 5 practices consistently and you will transform your experience of yourself. When your sense of self expands, so will your self-worth.

When you know your value, your clients will value you more. Find the courage, confidence and pathway to act on the ideas in your head and the dreams in your heart.

Be unstoppable.  Become legendary. Exceed your dreams.

Balance the Drive to Attain with the Need to Sustain

I wrote an article recently about the strength of your will to survive using a decapitated dandelion as an analogy.

cactusflowerkillingcactusSmYesterday, on my morning walk, I spotted another example in nature of the determination of propagate itself. You can see the ends of the ‘leaves’ beginning to brown and curl.  (A more dramatic neighborhood example where the underlying plant was all but gone had already been excavated.)

If you live in the desert, you’ve undoubtedly seen these spires.  They are quite amazing. But if we watch them grow for too long, they begin to sap all of the nutrients from the rest of the actual plant and it eventually dries up and dies.

So what does this have to do with you?

You are probably feeling like you’re working harder than you’ve had to in the past to make sales and grow your business (or even stay even).  While it’s critical to focus on prospecting for or attracting clients, you still have to take care of the basics.

Here are some things you must continue to do while you seek revenue.

1. Document and update your procedures and processes
Make sure your documentation is current.  I recently had to update mine after the computer crash because things/applications didn’t work the way they had in the past. Always be prepared to replicate yourself and your team.

2. Create a delegation plan
Make sure you’re acting like the Captain of your ship, not an oars(wo)man.  It’s tempting to do the ‘easy’ administrative stuff but it can consume your time.  Being busy is a good thing…sort of.  Ask yourself if you’re busy and broke or busy and making money.

Look for work your employees can do. Then give it to them. If you don’t have employees, find things you can outsource to an intern, contractor or vendor.  Use your time profitably.

3.  Analyze your financial records and cash flow
My friend, Ellen Rohr talks about getting to a ‘Known Financial Position’. By that, she means ensuring that your accounting systems are recording each of your transactions accurately.  Don’t have an accounting system?  Get and use one.

While many programs ‘learn’ which accounts individual transactions should be linked to, they are not infallible.  Work with your bookkeeper or accountant throughout the year to keep your records straight. Notice if there are seasonal fluctuations in revenue and expenses.  Develop plans to even them out if appropriate.

4.  Survey your customers
The world is changing and so are the needs of buyers.  Find out how you’re doing serving them.  Make adjustments when necessary.  Ask what their current needs are.  Find out their goals.  This information will help you anticipate and respond to their needs.

5. Invest in your own development and help your staff grow
When budgets are constrained, companies often look to cut out training, thinking of it as an expense that can be postponed.  Think of it instead of an investment in productivity and profitability vehicles.

Think and act long term and your company will be long term.

Are You an Ostrich Or an Eagle in Your Marketing?

ostrich-head-in-sandThe ostrich is the world’s largest bird.  It can run at speeds up to 43 mph.

Contrary to popular belief (and apparently contrary to this photo), ostriches do not hide their heads in the sand at the first sign of trouble. According to the National Geographic, ostriches lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible.

soaring_eagleEagles on the other hand, tend to cause trouble for others.  They get many of their meals from fishing, scavenging or even stealing their meals from other predators.

Are you striving to lie low and wait for the economic rebound to take hold? Or are you on the hunt for opportunities?  I’m not suggesting you steal from others, but do recommend you become more proactive at seeking out your next client.

Here are some simple actions you can take to create more revenue opportunities for your business:

1. Stay in touch with prospects and clients. Even though they may not be buying from you right now, they are more likely to reach out to you when they do start spending if they remember that you exist.  People are bombarded with messages all day long through the media, email and face-to-face interactions.   If your name, face or logo aren’t in the mix, it will disappear into the background and you’ll lose out on potential future business.

2. Create partnerships with kindred spirits. Find people/businesses that sell to the same market that you serve and package your services in unique ways that others can’t match.

3. Upgrade/update your offer. F ind out what specific problems your market is suffering from right now that you can help with.  Design something new to meet the current trends and issues of the day.

Simple targeted acts can make a big difference.  It’s action that matters.  Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing, said “Consistency and persistence will pay off better than occasional brilliance“.

Take consistent action even if it’s not the perfectly though-out mega plan in your head.

How Inbred Is Your ‘Tribe’?

McCainYou’ve probably heard the phrase, “People do business with people they know, like and trust”.  It makes sense.  When we’re comfortable with people, we’re more willing to hang around them and more willing to fork over money to them believing they ‘get’ us and can help us.

The challenge arises when we get and stay too comfortable, surrounding ourselves with people who are just like us.  It makes life easier perhaps, but also limits our learning.  We get caught up in “Group Think” and we believe the entire world feels what we feel and believes what we believe.

From a professional standpoint, it’s important to hang out with your industry kindred.  You’ll learn more about your craft, be able to tap into the wisdom and experiences of people who’ve walked the trail ahead of you.

But again, if your professional kindred are ALL you hang out with, your perspective will likely narrow.  Your problem-solving abilities could become limited by what’s already been tried before.

What might you learn if you spent time with people from different industries, professions or persuasions?  What new skills might you add to enhance your career?  What new marketing tactics might you uncover for your business? What new and valuable clients or connections might you make?

It’s important that we step outside of our comfort circles and meet and learn from people in new arenas who bring fresh perspectives to our world views.

I don’t know the political affiliations of  many of my friends and very few of my clients.  I tend to avoid having political conversations in social or professional settings.

While I don’t mean to draw lines in the sand, I do want to use the experiences of the week to make a point.  I’ve been a registered Green Party member for about 20 years now.  I do tend to vote along Democratic lines although not blindly.

I have to recognize though that I live in a predominantly Republican state.  My Governor is Republican; my U.S. Senator is Republican.  I need to hear from them.  They need to hear from me.

Today, I represented the Phoenix Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Chapter’s President, at a Meet & Greet for Senators John McCain and Scott Brown, recently elected to fill Senator Kennedy’s vacated seat for Massachusetts.   After Senators McCain and Brown spoke, I (along with most everyone else in the room), gathered around them to shake hands, express sentiments and take pictures.  I had a message I wanted to deliver to Senator McCain on behalf of NAWBO, so moved with the crowd until I got close to him.

There were a few people still between us, yet he reached past them and grabbed my hand to thank me for being there.  OK, I did stand out in the crowd, but I was still impressed that he so intentionally acted to connect with me.

I made my pitch for affordable health care and gave him my hand-written note which mentioned a few other things of import to our association and me personally, snagged the photo above, thanked him and headed for pizza.

Do you insulate yourself from people who have opinions that differ from yours or do you reach out to them and try to connect and influence?  Do you allow yourself to be touched by people who are different from you?  Do learn from your encounters or do you stay with your ‘tribe’ and lay blame on the state of the word?

Reach out.  Take action. Step across the ‘aisle’ and discover new shores.

Focus on the Next Best Thing & Rise Above the ‘Bad’ Times

I heard recently that one of the keys to surviving a downturn in the economy is to focus on the “next best thing”. You may be experiencing a slow down in your sales efforts and, consequently, your service delivery, so take advantage of the break from the mania of the past.

How do you know what that next hot thing will be?

1. You do research.
Read industry magazines. Surf the internet.  Create ‘Google alerts for topics you’re interested in and you’ll be notified any time an article appears on the internet about that topic.  Attend conferences, interview thought leaders. Follow them on Twitter. Scan the horizon for themes.  Study trends.  Then use your imagination.

2.  Train your staff
Once you’ve filtered through the noise and have focused on some up-and-coming ideas, train your staff on them.  (See last week’s article on Maximizing Training’s ROI.)  The more your employees know about the next best thing and the more you encourage innovation, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of the rising tide by tailoring your existing products and services to meet the new opportunities being created.  You might even be able to create new products and services in the emerging field.

3.  Refine your sales & marketing efforts

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘The early bird catches the worm’.  Use your insight into the new trends to re-brand and re-position your company in the industry.  Tailor your messages, update your language to demonstrate that you and your company are learning and moving forward.  Position yourself as living on the cutting-edge.  Your prospects and clients will notice, will see you as the expert and a thought leader and want to learn (and buy) more from you.

What ever you do, don’t waste this opportunity.  Study, learn, create and implement.  Those are the keys to rising above the circumstances; creating and living your dreams.