Six-Figure Revenue Stream in 73 Days: Can It Be True?

Six-Figure Revenue Stream in 73 Days: Can It Be True?

NOTE: In case you’re wondering, this post is a follow-up to my previous post.

When I started my business coaching practice in 2005, working with entrepreneurs was just about the last thing I thought I’d ever sink my heart and soul into. After all, I wrote in my third grade school book that I was going to be a surgeon! [Wow, George I didn’t know that…now THAT is serious goal setting and achievement!!]

But when I decided at the ripe old age of 17 to become a plastic surgeon, I didn’t realize it was going to be another 15 years before I really was one! (Let’s see: 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of General Surgery residency, and finally, 2 years of Plastic Surgery residency. Yup, that’s 15 years. Sometimes I still can’t believe the time involved.)

Having invested that much time, energy, and school loans into the endeavor, I figured I would either die at the age of 150 while working on a patient in the operating room or tracking down a tennis ball on a blazing hot sunny day. Either exit strategy would have been fine with me. Except these days, it’s looking like the tennis court exit plan is a more likely option.

You see, decades after that fateful entry in my grade school days book, as I neared the end of my first decade of practicing as a plastic surgeon, something inside me told me it was time to leave. I realized that I wasn’t making the lasting, meaningful difference in people’s lives that I had envisioned I would as a surgeon. And life was not nearly as glamorous as I imagined either, especially when I had to deal with the business side of medicine.

By the time our second son was born in 2003, I was in a lot of pain – emotional pain. I was trying to do more and more cosmetic surgery, because it paid much better than reconstructive surgery.

But the reason I decided to become a plastic surgeon when I was 17 was to do reconstructive surgery. So the more cosmetic surgery I did, the less professionally and personally fulfilled I felt.

It wasn’t easy – emotionally or practically, but I knew I needed to get out of medicine. And my ego wasn’t too thrilled about the situation, either.

I had a wife and young family to support. And I didn’t know what I was going to do next. So I spent the next couple of years attempting various entrepreneurial startups, none of which made more than a few hundred dollars.

I Almost Went Back to Practicing Plastic Surgery
As I wandered about, I lost a lot of self-confidence and I felt like a failure. Twice, I considered going back to practicing plastic surgery. I even had a contract waiting for me to perform cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills (to those of you outside of the United States, that’s where all the “celebrities” and “stars” tend to congregate). But going back to something that didn’t feel right…well, it just didn’t feel right.

I Didn’t Think I Had the “Right” Credentials
Before I started working with entrepreneurs, whenever I heard other business coaches and consultants speak about clients with whom they were working, I wished silently to myself that I could work with entrepreneurs. I just didn’t think I had the right “credentials” to work with entrepreneurs; after all, I concluded that the initials “M.D.” after my name stood for “mostly disappointed,” especially given the state of health care in the United States.

Just as I was seriously deliberating about whether to leave the field of medicine, I was invited to contribute to a book called Create the Business Breakthrough You Want, for which I wrote a section about health being the foundation of all wealth. When I told two different business owners about the book, they asked if I could coach them to improve their business operations and profitability.

Within a couple of weeks of working with these two businesses, I realized that I had a knack for seeing the big picture of the business from a 40,000 foot view but could also easily zoom in on finer details, just like the satellite images you see of your house using Google maps.

Once it dawned on me that I knew a lot more about entrepreneurship and how to structure and systemize a business for accelerated growth, I decided to start a coaching and consulting business. My immediate problem was that no one knew me as an entrepreneur or a business coach. My “network” was in the medical field, not in the business world. I had no “list” of prospects or entrepreneurial colleagues or alliance partners. In fact, I had no business cards or website that identified me as an entrepreneur. And, of course, this was long before the advent of social media, so there was no Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to help me get the word out.

I Created an Annualized Six-Figure Revenue Stream in 73 Days
Of course, as a physician, I was never formally taught or trained in how to sell. In fact, one day when I was in a print shop, I made a spontaneous purchase of a book called something like, “Closing Techniques.” Like the majority of books that are purchased throughout the world, this book sat on my shelf for years and was never opened.

Truth be told, I never learned any sales tactics or techniques from this or any other book. I have had a little bit of exposure to “neuro- linguistics programming,” otherwise known as “NLP” but again, never have studied that approach in great depth, either.

Yet, coming straight from the medical field, and with no formal training or experience in selling, I was able to create an annualized, recurring revenue stream of over $10,000 a month within 73 days. And I’ve sustained that ever since, even despite the economy.

At the time, I didn’t think this was such a big deal or extraordinary accomplishment. I was just doing what I needed to do to avoid going back to practicing plastic surgery. It wasn’t until two years later, when I was a guest trainer at a workshop for coaches and consultants that I realized what I had accomplished was almost unheard of in the world of coaching and consulting. Good thing I didn’t know that in before I did it!

No, I’m Not a Freak!
A couple of years after I started my coaching business, I was speaking with a PR person from New York City. When I told her my story, she responded by saying (at least twice), “Well, that’s a great story… if it’s true.”

Well, it is a true story. But I’ve found that for a lot of people, it’s too good to be true.

And others think I was able to achieve this level of success so quickly because I’m a doctor.

Well, let me set the record straight here:
Remember, I didn’t think I was “qualified” to provide business advice to entrepreneurs. After all, those two initials after my name, “M.D.”, stand for “Mostly Disappointed.”

Plus, when I started out, I had no business cards, no website, no blog. Social media didn’t even exist then. No business contacts. No success stories. No one even knew me as an entrepreneur.

What I’m saying is that, for most of you reading this, you have advantages that I didn’t have. You have far more assets and technology working for you than I had back in 2005, when I started out. It’s much easier to set up a website and blog. Social media makes it easier to get the instant support of hundreds and thousands of people. You can hire help for five bucks, from anywhere in the world.

Basically, you have more to work with to accelerate your business growth than I did. So no more complaining over there, okay!

I Predicted That Someone Would Best My Record
When I finally did get a website, I wrote a prediction on one of the pages: I predicted that someone – with my guidance, the right strategies, and my documented systems – would create an annualized six-figure revenue stream faster than I did.

And you know what? Shortly after writing that, one my clients created his annualized six-figure revenue stream in 71 days!
Recently, another client who had never earned more than $250/month as a coach, hit the $8,500/month mark on the 99th day of working with me. After ten months of working with me, he’s earning just under $13,000/month.

So see: You don’t have to be me to pull this off! If you set your mind to it, you could do this, too!

I Feel a Lot of Pain (and I Can’t Figure Out Why)
I’ve tried, but I can’t explain this: When I think about how many committed independent service professionals are out there struggling, I feel pain inside me that I haven’t been able to shake off for years. My eyes start to sting and water.

I guess I still feel sad about how we all learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic. But where do we learn about relationships, non-violent communication, or managing your money? Are we supposed to learn it from drinking the water?

I Was Too Idealistic to Know That I Needed to Be Practical in My Idealism
When I started out in my plastic surgery practice in 1995, I was “bright-eyed and bushy tailed.” I was still idealist about being a caring, compassionate doctor, even after a long, tough road to becoming a plastic surgeon.

And within two years of being in practice, I was nearly penniless. No kidding.

The job of my dreams had turned into the nightmare of my reality. I knew nothing about running a business.

My professional “advisors” were recommending that I declare bankruptcy.

So I did the only thing that made any intelligent sense: I fired them. I studied marketing, selling, hiring, firing, how to run an office, anything I could get my hands on to help me with my business. And it worked! I turned my practice around. For better or for worse, I avoided bankruptcy.

I didn’t realize it until a nearly a decade later, that I had become the business guide and mentor that I wished I had back then.

There’s a part of me that still feels sorry for that innocent young guy I was back then, fresh out of training, who only wanted to do good in the world, but struggled mightily with the business side of medicine. And so I feel a lot of pain for those of you who are just brilliant at what you do, but you too struggle with the business side of your craft.

In hindsight, I guess I had to go through all the rough times, as part of my own training to become someone who could help others sort out their gifts and talents, and bundle them in a way that improves others’ lives and generates a profit, sustainable and fairly.

I’m Seriously Ready to Do This, But Only If You Are, Too
Despite my hang ups and attempts to downplay the extraordinariness of how quickly I created an annualized six-figure revenue stream, I’m ready and willing to listen to all of you who have begged, pleaded, harassed, and ruthlessly, yet respectfully demanded that I get out of my own way and share with others how they can rapidly accelerate their revenue to five and six figures, like I did. (Whew, got that out in a single, massive, run-on sentence).

I’ve been afraid that people would see me as only interested in the money. (In fact, one person a while back unsubscribed from my ezine list and asked me why I kept writing about how to make money faster.)

That bothered me because those of you who know me, realize that I’m all about contribution first. And yet, the fact is we all need to make money if we want to continue in business, if we want to contribute to making the world a healthier, more peaceful place to live, learn, and grow.

So despite my hang ups and downplaying of the extraordinariness of how quickly I created an annualized six-figure revenue stream and have been guiding others to do the same ever since, I’m considering creating a sort of “JumpStart” training to show you how I did it. And more importantly, how you can too.

But unless there’s enough potential interest, I’m not going to take this one on. (I abandoned the “build it and they will come” philosophy a long time ago.)

So what do you think…

  • Do you want me to do this?
  • If so, would this be useful for you?
  • Can you think of any good reasons for me not to do this?

I’ve got plenty of other things on my plate. So much so, that I’ve recently de-committed from some really exciting projects.

What I’m saying is, if it’s going to help YOU for me to develop this “rapid revenue acceleration” training, I need you to let me know.

So please take a moment and leave a comment below and let me know what your thoughts are.

To freedom, contribution, and prosperity (supported by rapid revenue acceleration)!

George

P.S. I don’t do very well at all over here, isolated in front of my computer screen, staring into cyberspace; I thrive on getting your input and advice. So please share your thoughts. I’m excited to hear them.

What would happen if you stopped taking your gifts and talent for granted?

What would happen if you stopped taking your gifts and talent for granted?

Have you ever had people say some version of this to you? “Wow, you’re really good at ‘so and so’” or “You ought to do ‘such and such’ with that!”

In your attempts to act humbly, you try to downplay it. Maybe you say something along the lines of “Oh, that’s nothing. I can do it in my sleep.”

Seriously, I think you know what I mean…

And that’s unfortunate, because you know what? The “nothing” you can do in your sleep is probably one of the greatest gifts you could ever share with others.

It’s just that you tend to take that gift for granted. So you mistakenly assume that each of the other 7 billion people on the planet has the same skills and gifts you have, too.

And you’d be totally wrong.

You see, like it or not, most of us are so self-centered that we assume the rest of the world perceives things like we do. We presume that others should think, see, hear, and act like we do.

One of the many undesirable consequences of this way of thinking is that we tend to shield our brilliance from the world, because we think everyone else shares that same brilliance. And instead, we tend focus on the things at which we think we’re not so good.

I know it sounds kind of bizarre. You may not agree with me, but I think it’s also selfish.

To be straight about it, I’m afraid that I have been totally wrong. You see, there’s something REALLY IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE that I’ve been hesitant to showcase. Not that I don’t see value in it; it’s just that I never really saw it as a big deal. And I didn’t want it to be taken and used in wrong ways.

Let me put it this way…
If five people tell you that you’re a horse thief (and these are people whom you respect and trust), then there’s only one thing to do: Buy a saddle.

In my own life, there have been countless people (definitely more than five) who have recently been “ganging up” and “harassing” me to share the “things I can do in my sleep.” In essence, they’re rooting for me to share my greatest gifts with the world.

So you might say, after a great deal of resistance, I’ve just bought a “saddle” and that means really big changes in my business. And that means really big things are in store for YOU (if you’re ready and willing to go for a ride)!

But to get “seated” in this saddle and go on this ride, I’m going to need your advice and input. And I’m hoping you’ll ride along with me. Because from what I can tell, it’s going to be a really wild ride! But more on that next time. (I need to take some time to collect my thoughts).

To freedom, contribution, and prosperity,

George

P.S. I’ll be back with more details in a couple more days. But until then, think seriously about the skills, gifts, talents, and wisdom you might be holding back on, simply because you think it’s “nothing” and no one else cares about it.

If you’re willing, please share it with us in the comments, so I don’t feel like I’m the only one here who does this kind of nonsense!

Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

You know you’re really good at what you do. You offer tremendous value. You make people’s lives better. Maybe you even help them make more money.

Yet chances are pretty good that for the sake of getting business through the door, you’ve been tempted to take on clients at ridiculously low fees. Or worse yet, you’ve agreed to work with clients that you knew from the start were a train wreck, just waiting for you to help make it happen.

There you have it: The perfect recipe for instantly turning the business of your dreams into the nightmare of your day.

How does this scenario sound instead?

What do you think about working exclusively with clients who appreciate you, who value the expertise you bring to the table, and generously (and gladly) pay you for it?

I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like the makings of “business nirvana,” where you work exclusively with “high-end” clients. You see, high-end clients are those whose values, business mission, and vision inspire others, including you as their consultant or coach. These clients take action and produce results in the real world. They’re simply fun and energizing to work with.

The curse of low-paying, lousy clients: Is there a cure?

But even with great clients like this, far too many service professionals end up undervaluing their worth. And so they end up under-charging. Or worse: Repeatedly giving away tremendous value for free.

Let’s take a look at this more closely. The “Client Profitability and Resonance” dashboard, shown below, displays a hypothetical roster of clients, based on their level of profitability and “resonance,” that is, whether you have good chemistry with the client (or not).

Starting in the left lower-quadrant, these are clients who aren’t very profitable to work with and they have the worst “chemistry.” In the short- and long-run, you’d best AVOID these clients at all cost.

In the left upper-quadrant, these clients are profitable, but the chemistry with them isn’t great. They are HIDDEN LIABILITIES because these types of clients tend to be less appreciative of your business and more likely to dump you with barely a moment’s notice.

Moving on to the right lower-quadrant, these clients with whom you resonate well, but they aren’t as profitable to your business as they could be. No matter how fulfilling it may be to work with them, you’d do well to UPGRADE these clients to higher levels of profitability.

Finally, in the right upper-quadrant, you have your HIGH-END CLIENTS, the clients who are the most rewarding to work with AND the most profitable.

Which quadrants do your own clients fall into?

If the majority of your existing clients are NOT in the “BEST CLIENTS” category, there’s room for upgrading your business model and best practices. That includes raising your fees and being a lot more selective about your clients.

A High-End Client Tractor Beam?

If you’re ready to give up hourly fees, chronic underpricing, working with borderline clients, and giving away tons of free consulting and coaching time, I can to show you how to work exclusively with high-end clients AND get paid based on the value you provide.

I invite you to be my guest for the “Paid Sessions That Sell: How to Get Paid to Get High-End Clients” webinar. This complementary webinar is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th at 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).

To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

If you’ve ever experienced frustration in getting clients to start working with you, or ended up working with clients who don’t pay you what you’re worth, this webinar will open up your mind to an approach that I think is just ground-breaking. And it’s not just because you get paid to prospect. It’s ground-breaking because you learn how to:

  • Eliminate all “tire-kickers” (who simply waste your time)
  • Select only high-end clients to work with
  • Markedly increase your conversion rates (in some cases, 75% – 90%)
  • Set your fees (and get paid) based on value and results produced
  • Get PAID while you prospect!

To your freedom, contribution, and prosperity,

George

P.S. I used this very approach over seven years ago to create an annualized, six-figure revenue stream in just 73 days, when I started my business from scratch. And it’s not just me: I guided one of my clients to create his annualized, six-figure revenue stream in 70 days!

P.P.S.I’m excited to share this approach with you because it’s so powerful and effective for cultivating a solid connection with your prospective client, winning new, high-end business, and ultimately, providing outstanding value to clients at all stages of your relationship, even from the very beginning. To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

Alan Got Ripped Off

Alan Got Ripped Off

Several days ago, I picked up a voice mail on my phone from a someone I hadn’t heard from in over 9 years. He said on his message that he just wanted to touch bases.

I called him back last night, expecting to start a game of “voicemail tag,” but was pleasantly surprised to get a live person on the line! I know Alan from a number of criss-crossing paths. We first met when we were both taking the same series of personal growth and business training programs. Like me, his background is in the health care field. And for years, I’ve be a subscriber to the newsletter that he writes on the topic of health and wellness.

While it was fun to catch up, one thing he mentioned along the way just stunned me…

I asked his about a wellness program that he developed several years ago and how that had panned out. While he had done well with the program, he told me that a couple of years ago, he sought to expand his product and program offerings. On the recommendation of another colleague, he hired a “marketing consultant” to help him with his website and online promotions.

While I don’t understand all the details, this particular marketing consultant didn’t produce the results he was expecting: An updated website, educational videos, active online promotions, and so forth.

When Alan took steps to terminate the working relationship, something went wrong. Somehow, the marketing consultant took the end of their collaboration as permission for him to take ownership of the content that he had taken years to create.

This marketing consultant created an independent web site, including videos that he had been asking for, branded the material with his name, and began marketing the content online. And since then, he’s kept all the revenue for himself.

This story pains me, because such a situation was entirely avoidable. Alan didn’t understand the fundamentals of collaboration. So he hired, and eventually, partnered with someone without asking the right questions and establishing a durable working relationship.
He didn’t address critical issues, right up front, such as:

  • Who controls the content and owns the copyrights from what gets co-created?
  • Who controls the strategy and management of the collaboration?
  • How will profits (and losses) be distributed? Equally? Unequally?
  • How will we resolve disagreements?
  • Under what circumstance and how will we dissolve the collaboration?

In fact, most people who associate in working relationships with others don’t think to ask such questions; they’re too excited to get on with the “fun stuff.”

It just so happens that tonight, January 17th at 5 pm Pacific, I’ll be co-leading a “Collaboration Catalyst” teleseminar with partnership and relationship expert, Dorene Lehavi, PhD.


During this complimentary 75-minute session, you’ll learn:

  • How to select and choose good collaborators.
  • What to make sure you include in your working agreements.
  • What to do when things aren’t going well with your business associates.
  • And much, much more.

As you might imagine, I basically begged Alan to join us, before he contemplates getting involved in another business partnership.

I hope you will, too, so I don’t end up writing about your business collaboration horror story.

Okay, I’ve said my piece and feel I’ve done everything I can to encourage you to become informed about the power and pitfalls of collaboration.

The Wrong Way to Start a Business

The Wrong Way to Start a Business

Based on true stories (names changed to protect the guilty)…

Helen: James, great to see you again!

James: Helen, it’s been a long time! What have you been up to?

Helen: Oh, lots of things! But the biggest news is that I’m working on a potential large-scale project with a software development company. They’re having trouble with employee morale.

James: Wow, that’s interesting because I’ve recently worked out a powerful method of selecting the right people for selecting team members and leaders. And then getting team members to work well together. It’s called the “I-Factor Method.”

Helen: “Really? That sounds great!

James: Yes, it really works well and I have stats, testimonials, and case studies to back it up. My only problem is there’s just one of me and I don’t have the time or energy to handle all the work.

Helen: Well consider your problem solved. I’ve been using an approach that I call the “Fruit Fly Factor.” This approach is revolutionary; it allows the users to essentially clone themselves and leverage their time and energy.

James: No kidding. Well if we could put the “I-Factor Method” together with the “Fruit Fly Factor,” we’d be sitting on a gold mine!

Helen: Yeah, that’s a great idea!

James: Let’s start a business together!

Helen: Yeah, lets!

James: Let’s shake on it!

Helen: Deal!

Helen and James both burned a lot of midnight oil, trying to get their business model off the ground.

They were so excited about this new business idea, that both of them took their attention away from their existing businesses. So now cash flow was a big problem.

But after a year of struggling to agree on marketing plans, their marketing message, and compensation formulas, Helen and James were barely on speaking terms.


Yeah, I know. This scenario sounds overly simplistic, doesn’t it? But the sad reality is this type of scenario plays itself out, in various shapes and forms, on a daily basis.

Last year, I wrote an article about the power of collaboration, through the experiences of young children working on a project together: Is the “Competitive Advantage” Really An Advantage? The Case for “Collaborative Advantage”. It turns out that that younger children were more effective in working together than the older ones. As adults in business, the problem is that most of us don’t understand where to start, what to consider, what to ask, or how to proceed, when it comes to working with others, either formally or informally.

So whether working together in a formal partnership, a joint venture, a consortium of businesses, or some other form of collaboration, most of these undertakings are doomed from the start.

Most people get so excited about their ideas and about working together, that they missed key steps of laying a solid foundation for their collaborative efforts.

And one of those key steps is writing out your agreements. Agreements are simply statements of what you are committed to achieving, how you will work together, who is responsible for what, and so forth.

Not exactly the first place you’d think to start. It’s just not as exciting as working on your product development, or going out to market your services. But in the absence of agreements, chaos reigns.

In my own business experience, I’ve been burned more than once through lack of agreements. And so have some of my clients (before they started working with me).

These experiences fueled my quest to figure out how to successfully collaborate with others, formally and informally. Fortunately, I came across the work of Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D.

As a specialist in supporting healthy, happy relationships, Dorene has used her background as a social worker, therapist, and coach to help countless entrepreneurs and business leaders achieve success—in spite of seemingly insurmountable differences with their business partners, colleagues, and collaborators.

Based on our shared commitment to ushering in a new economic era based on connection, collaboration, and communication, Dorene and I are both on a mission to support entrepreneurs in learning how to work with others, synergistically and in ways that ripple benefits far beyond the business itself.

If you are considering or currently are working on a joint effort with one or more other people, we would like to share our combined experience, ideas, and insights for how to get started on a solid foundation.

Join us on Tuesday, January 17th at 5pm Pacific Time for the “Collaboration Catalyst” teleseminar.

 

During this 75-minute session, you’ll learn:

  • Why working with others is the business model of the future.
  • The single most important place to start when considering working with one or more individuals or businesses.
  • How to select and choose good collaborators.
  • The three essential elements you need in your agreements, the absence of which will guarantee failure.
  • And much, much more.

Who can benefit?

If you are currently involved in one or more of the following (or planning to be), there’s a good chance you’ll learn things that could mean the difference between outrageous success and costly failure:

  • Partnership
  • Joint venture
  • Strategic alliance
  • Consortium
  • Working on a team

P.S. If you’re sick and tired of working as a “Lone Ranger,” with or without a “Tonto,” be sure to join us. What we have to share will open your mind to another world of practical options!

P.P.S. Even if you’re not interested in learning about working more effectively with others, I invite you to read the article I mentioned above what young children can teach us about the power of collaboration. Here’s the link again:  Is the “Competitive Advantage” Really An Advantage? The Case for “Collaborative Advantage” 

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 3

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 3

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about the practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1 and Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2. I wrote about the first six, which are listed below, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.

 

 

  1. Time and Productivity Management
  2. Storytelling
  3. Marketing
  4. Selling
  5. Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
  6. Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. Written Presentation Skills
  8. Visual Presentations Skills
  9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  11. Turnkey Systemization

Today, I’m going to describe the remaining three critical skillsets:

  1. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  2. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  3. Turnkey Systemization

Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
Today, there are more resources than ever before in the history of mankind for obtaining information: the internet, Amazon, Audible.com, TED talks, and so on.

But all the information in the world has never made any difference. A few years ago, I wrote a blog called “Information Is Interesting, but…

My point of the post is that information and knowledge are NOT power. That’s a myth. Information is, well, information. It’s what you do with the information that makes any difference at all.

Here’s my advice when it comes to reading books, listening to podcasts, viewing videos, and attending workshops, seminars, and trainings: Ask yourself, “How can I practically apply this information?” What do I need by way of resources to be able to apply this information?”

And if you are a provider of information, ask yourself: “How can I make the information, knowledge, and wisdom I have easier for others to learn and implement for themselves?” While I don’t have a specific resource for you here, try adopting this mantra:

“Information is interesting, but application means everything.”


Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills

A lot has been written about “team-building,” “leadership,” and “networking.” But in this section, when I refer to “team-building, collaboration, and network development skills,” I’m referring to a new paradigm, one yet to be created and innovated.

A while back, I wrote an article called “The Collaborative Advantage.” In the article, I described how collaboration among kindergartens was more effective than the attempts of high schoolers to work together.

If you recall the adage that “necessity is the mother of invention,” we now have the presence of compelling necessity for mothering invention. And in the emerging “new global economy,” it’s the responsibility of entrepreneurs such as ourselves to innovate new solutions for solving the multi-faceted problems that we face today.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a practical recommendation for a resource that blends “team-building, collaboration, and network development.” But I’m currently involved in a collaborative project where we’re developing a program designed to catalyze various models of collaboration. If you’re interested in learning more as we progress, I invite you to add yourself to the Collaboration Catalyst Special Interest List

Turnkey Systemization
A lot of people, including “gurus” write and talk about business systems. But it’s a “wastebasket,” nebulous term that has lost its meaning.

I’m curious: What’s your own definition of a business system?

This is my working description of a business system:
A business system is a collection of steps, procedures, and processes. (In case you’re wondering, a procedure is a collection of steps and a process is a collection of procedures). In addition, a system provides a framework for producing reliable, repeatable results. A system must be documented with enough detail and clarity so that someone with a baseline level of experience, skill, knowledge, and expertise can follow the system and produce acceptable results. The system must be readily accessible and documented with sufficient detail that minimizes the effort required to learn the system and for developers to support the training on the system.

Still with me? So here’s the problem. When I ask most entrepreneurs what percentage of their business is systemized, they don’t really know, but a lot of them have told me it’s upwards of 50%. And when I’ve asked these numerous people where the system documentation resides, they sheepishly point to their heads. Enough said.

“Turnkey systemization” means that you’ve documented the critical aspects of your business – the areas that are most critical for the sustainability and profitability of your business.

I’ve read a lot of material about the theory and concepts of systemization. But I’ve rarely seen any programs that truly teach you the “how-to’s” of systemization. Unfortunately again, I don’t have a readily available resource to recommend here.

However, I’m currently involved in a collaborative endeavor where we are currently developing a “Turnkey Systemization Toolkit for Entrepreneurs.” If you’re interested in being one of the first to hear about it, once we’re ready to release it, put your name on the Special Interest list here:

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In case you missed it, here are the links to “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1” and “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2.” I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on “Practical Entrepreneurship.” If you have any other areas that you think are practical skills that entrepreneurs need to develop, please post a comment and let’s share in our collective wisdom.

Keeping Your Business in the Black on Black Friday

Keeping Your Business in the Black on Black Friday

From today until the new year, will be inundated with sales and special offers from retailers. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the different deals.

When it comes to your business, it can be easy to rationalize purchases that you have either deferred or, perhaps, not even considered before. The problem is, you can end up with things that don’t serve your needs, because you didn’t put a lot of thought into the purchase.

Throughout the year, especially now, I use a decision-making matrix that I applied to business-related purchases, especially large ones.

Here’s how it works. I first ask myself the following questions:

Will this purchase…

  1. Directly increase revenue and profitability?
  2. Decrease expenses?
  3. Directly enhance productivity?
  4. Improve safety/avoid injury?
  5. Enhance professional satisfaction?

Now criteria #5 is a “soft” one; if this is the only criterion that my contemplated purchase meets, but I don’t make the purchase. But if the purchase needs one or more of the preceding four criteria, then the purchase gets a “green light.”

I found these criteria to be very helpful for keeping me from making an impulsive purchase and wasting a lot of time and money in the process.

You may have other criteria by which you make your purchases and investments in your business. I’d like to hear some of those; please leave them in your comments below.

In the meantime, if you apply the simple criteria to purchases you make today and moving forward, they’ll help to keep your business in the black.

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Last week, I wrote about what I think are practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. I wrote about the first four, which are listed below in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.

1. Time and Productivity Management
2. Storytelling
3. Marketing
4. Selling
5. Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
6. Verbal Presentation Skills
7. Written Presentation Skills
8. Visual Presentations Skills
9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
11. Turnkey Systemization

 

Today, I’m going to describe the next four critical skillsets:

  • Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
  • Verbal Presentation Skills
  • Written Presentation Skills
  • Visual Presentations Skills

 

Business Financial Management, Including How to Read Financial Statements
If you’re going to run any business, ultimately you have to become profitable. That means you have to learn how to manage business finances. A great place to start is by learning how to read business financial statements.

When I started out in the business world, I had no idea what a P&L was or to do with a Balance Sheet. My accountant and other professionals tossed these terms around as if I should have been born knowing this stuff already. It took me a while to figure out that a “P&L” or “Profit and Loss Statement” was the same thing as an “Income Statement.” And it’s one thing to understand the “lingo,” but another completely different thing to figure out what the numbers are telling you.

Once I set out to understand the “lingo” and how to interpret financial statement, I ran into further frustration: Many of the books on the subject were either poorly written, assuming the reader understood “financial street talk” or skipped fundamental steps, or they contained frank errors in their explanations!

Out of my own frustration with this experience, I created a plain English training on the basics of understanding financial statements. I’ll dust it off, if there’s enough interest. Just enter your email address here to let me know you’re interested.

 

Pricing Based on Value
I’ve written a lot about pricing over the past few months. Whether it’s a product or service, most entrepreneurs don’t understand how to set their prices and fees. The key to pricing starts with clarifying the value – the specific outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences – that you provide through your services and products. Then flip that around and ask yourself, “What are the outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences that people won’t get if they don’t use your products and services?”

Read more about pricing based on value here.

Verbal Presentation Skills
If you want to inspire support and enthusiasm for your vision, you’ll need to be effective at persuading people in seeing what you see. If you study the great leaders of the world, regardless of personality and style, have mastered the ability to motivate using their words. Just do an internet search for Martin Luther King (“I Have a Dream”) or Ronald Reagan (“Challenger Disaster Address”).

I know that a lot of people join Toastmasters to learn how to present. While I don’t have direct experience with this organization, I’ve heard good things about them.

But there’s so much more to being effective in your speaking, whether it’s one-on-one or one-to-millions. Singers and stage performers call this “stage presence.”

From a practical standpoint, most entrepreneurs aren’t going to study acting or singing in order to become more effective in their speaking. So you know where a great place to learn verbal presentation skills? From a radio talk show host. Really.

You see in radio, you don’t see people’s faces. So when you’re on the air, you have to be really tuned into the nuance of your voice – tone, volume, inflection, delivery cadence, pauses, breathing, and even body posture and gestures.

If you’re interested, I happen to know a great radio talk show host, Wayne Kelly. Wayne co-hosts the Wayne and Jayne Show in British Columbia. It’s not listed on his website, but if you contact him through http://www.onairpublicity.com/, he can help you develop a powerful “on-air” presence that will serve you in any and all conversations and presentations.

Written Presentation Skills
Most writers are not born that way. At least in my career, I haven’t seen a single newborn baby who could write. So get over it, if you are saying to yourself, “But I’m not a very good writer.” Writing clearly and in a way that compels the reader is a skill that can be developed. Now there are different types of writing, but here, I’m talking about writing compelling marketing copy and education-based marketing material.

Writing well means telling a story that engages the reader and pulls them along. Joe Sugarman, the mail order maverick from the 70’s and 80’s, was an early pioneer and master of marketing by telling stories. Here are a couple of great places to start: Triggers: 30 Sales Tools you can use to Control the Mind of your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade

and

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to Write Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters and Mail Order Entrepreneurs

Visual Presentation Skills
I used to think that all you needed to be successful was good verbal and writing skills. But the advent of high-speed internet becoming more ubiquitous has made it important to be able to communicate your vision through online presentations, video, and slide-sharing.

When it comes to a resource that lays out the essentials of what you need to know, I recommend Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.

Next time, I’ll write about the remaining practical skills that every entrepreneur needs to have:

  1. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  2. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  3. Turnkey Systemization

Until then, let’s hear from you. What other practical skills do you think are critical to the success of an entrepreneur?

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

As the job market has shriveled up, more people have become “unplanned entrepreneurs.” You may be one of them. I think this is a good thing. And also a bad thing.

The good thing is that people aren’t waiting around for our governments to provide solutions to problems that are multifactorial and complex in nature. Personally, I’m counting on the entrepreneurs of the world, not our governments, to see us through and beyond our current circumstances of financial, social, and political chaos.

The bad thing is that most entrepreneurs, planned or not, don’t really understand what they are getting into. They think to themselves, “I’ve got an idea for a product or service that’s going to change the face of the planet; let’s start a business!”

The other night, I was speaking with a couple of students from my alma mater, Brown University. They are part of the Brown University Entrepreneurs Program. With the preceding observations in mind, we discussed ideas on how to better support students who are either interested in learning about entrepreneurship or already have an idea that they want to bring to market.

A number of support programs for entrepreneurs have sprung up across the United States.

I took a look at the course descriptions and curricula for some of the programs offered at Brown. And while the material is interesting, my overriding concern was that a great deal of the material wasn’t immediately practical. This reminded of being in medical school again: One of my professors was either arrogant or ignorant enough to say “We know that half of what we’re teaching you is totally irrelevant information; we just don’t know which half that is.” I mean, come on, does knowing the total cross-sectional area of capillaries in the human body make me a better surgeon? I guarantee it doesn’t. But it was on one of my exams that I passed.

So here’s my gripe: I figure if you’re going to invest time, money, and energy in learning, wouldn’t you want to invest wisely? Wouldn’t you want to invest in gaining practical knowledge that you can apply to produce results?

If you’re a “yes” to these two questions, I’ve put together a short list of fundamental, yet critical skills that any successful entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire for (listed in no particular order):

  1. Time and Productivity Management
  2. Storytelling
  3. Marketing
  4. Selling
  5. Interpreting Financial Statements
  6. Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. Written Presentation Skills
  8. Visual Presentations Skills
  9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills

This week, I’ll address the first four skills; next week, I’ll address some more.

Time and Productivity Management
I don’t make any claims to being a master of time and productivity management. But I have have studied this area extensively and have a lot to say about it. I’ve studied the bestseller by David Allen, “Getting Things Done” and “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman. I’ve even hired various personal organizers to physically descend on my office space. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s time management software. And I’ve read lots of different books specifically on getting organized. But all the reading in the world hasn’t made a single bit of difference for me. And it won’t for you, either.

The problem most entrepreneurs have is that they don’t have a system, a true repeatable process, for identifying what to focus on what matters most and how to process and organize “stuff” that comes at you every day.

Personally, I’ve developed a workflow that I’ve synthesized from a variety of different resources. Perhaps one day, I’ll create a comprehensive training on this, but in the meantime, here’s are some resources from my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Hagen, that I’ve found extremely useful and practical: http://elizabethhagen.com/home-office-organization-products (men, just ignore all the pink in her material)

Storytelling
No I’m not talking about “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stories. I’m taking about story frameworks. Storytelling predates the written language by thousands of years. So the human mind has been wired to tune into stories. Effective storytelling has the power to influence people and shape the world. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. (I Have a Dream speech) and John F. Kennedy (Man on the Moon address). Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story

Marketing & Selling
Marketing and selling are two distinct skill sets that use different parts of your brain. Marketing is simply educating others, promoting your platform, your beliefs, your vision. The goal of good marketing is to attract potential buyers who are looking for what you have to offer and are ready to buy now. Now there are a ton of resources on marketing. You just need one to get you organized and pointed in the right direction. If you’re in the service-based business, I recommend The Fast Track Marketing Club for Independent Professionals http://actionplan.com/fasttrack

Created by my good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton, this program gives you a comprehensive, yet practical approach to marketing. This is the very content that helped me to overcome my own allergy to marketing and selling, years ago.

In contrast, selling is simply helping your potential buyer clarify their needs, wants, and desires and then guiding them through the decision-making process to arrive at solid plan of action. Of all the resources out there, I highly recommend SNAP Selling, written by my friend and colleague, Jill Konrath. SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers

I’ve attempted to give you a primer on some of the key skills I believe are important to your entrepreneurial success. No doubt, there are lots of other skills to develop. Next week, in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2, I’ll address the following skills:

  • Interpreting Financial Statements
  • Verbal Presentation Skills
  • Written Presentation Skills
  • Visual Presentations Skills

And I’d love to see your comments on other entrepreneurial skills that you think are important.

Do You Think You Can Change When Change Matters Most?

Do You Think You Can Change When Change Matters Most?

As we get closer to the end of the year and you’re looking forward to your new year’s goals for your business, ask yourself this question: How is your business working for you?

Like most of us, there are things you like and things you don’t like. There are things you wanted to accomplish – and did. And there are things you wanted to accomplish and didn’t. Then of course, there are the unintended outcomes, some good, some not so.

Let’s get back to the original question: “How is your business working for you?” How you answer this question depends in great part on your underlying beliefs. Said differently, the way you see your business and the world around you are directly connected to your own beliefs.

Your Beliefs affect your Thoughts. And your Thoughts affect your Feelings. Your Feelings affect your Decisions that you make and your Decisions affect the Action you take and the Habits you form.

If you want different results in your outer world and in your business, you’ll need to shift the elements in this cascade.

If you change your belief about something, you can ultimately alter your habits and what you do. But sometimes changing a belief is much harder than just saying it. Sometimes it’s better modify your actions, even if you don’t believe it’ll matter, at least not right away. In time, repetitive action will then affect your decisions, then your feelings about something, then your thoughts and ultimately help you change your belief. So working in either direction works: First change your beliefs or first change your actions.

Here’s a more important question for you….

Could you change when change matters most?

Most of us do believe this. But the fact is, most people will NOT change when change matters most. The book, Change or Die by Alan Deutschman, goes through the psychology of why people won’t change EVEN when change matters most. He describes about a study on people who had heart bypass surgery. Two years after their surgery, 90% of those people did not change their lifestyle. They were still smoking, still drinking, still overeating, still not exercising, and still not getting rest they need.

And these are the people who knew if they didn’t change their beliefs and habits they could die.

In Change or Die, Deutschman presents 3 keys to change

  1. Relate- form new emotional relationships that inspires hope and sustains hope
  2. Repeat- the desired actions-it helps you to learn, practice and master the skills that you need to change
  3. Reframe- these relationships give you new ways of thinking about your situation and your life

So ask yourself this question now: What would you like to happen in your business in the next 6 months or so?

After you answer this question, go through the three keys to change:

  1. Who can you form healthy, supportive relationships with to support you?
  2. What are the critical actions you need to take to produce your intended outcomes at the end of six months?
  3. How can you surround yourself with unconditionally supportive people and networks to a) hold you accountable for moving forward and b) remind you of your dreams, hopes, and aspirations, even if you forget them when the going gets tough?

Remember, you do have the power to change and you do have the power to make a difference. Now take these three keys to the kingdom and go get it done!