Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Surprising Reasons to Start Your Own Business

The motivations for starting a business run the gamut from running away from corporate life to running towards making a lot of money. Regardless where you fall on that line, some of the most common reasons people start a business may set them up to struggle if not down-right fail in this effort.

Be My Own Boss

Many people start a business because they are tired of dealing with the vagaries of working for someone—or something like a corporation—else. Unfortunately there is a serious problem with this reasoning. Take a look at the statement: if you’re going to be your own boss that means you’re still just going to be working a job. A different job than you had before, but still a job. Running your business is nothing like working a job.

Take a minute and really consider: I’m completely serious about this. If you want to be your own boss, don’t start a business. Become an independent contractor, a sales person with a route, or something similar. I’ve done all of these well things and made good money at each one. Most people find that the things that drive you crazy as an employee are much easier to deal with when you’re an independent contractor/consultant in the same arena. And in most cases once a project is completed you can move on to something else.

Starting and running a business so much more than a job. You must become more than an employee or a boss. While I love it and believe with all my heart that anyone can learn to be a successful entrepreneur with the right help, each person must answer the important questions about why and how they want to do this type of venture. I took one of my clients through this process and he found out that starting new business actually wasn’t his top priority at this time in his life. That’s HUGE!

So what is a good reason for starting a business? In truth you need three things to make it a success.

The Three-Way StartUp Success Formula

#1 An usual method or approach: Very few completely new markets exist. Most businesses or services are new combination or updated product to handle an existing problem. No matter your product, service, or focus you must have a unique approach to make it work. Since you ARE unique this isn’t as hard as it might seem. Your unique spin on your business however is essential to your success. Even if you’re doing something as routine as being an insurance agent, you must identify and magnify the qualities that make your business different from others around you.

#2 Spending less capital on the startup: If you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to take advantage of every way to save money on the startup process you can. I’m not saying you should cut corners so much people can’t take you seriously. And over and over again I’ve watched people romanticize starting a business and spend money in wasteful ways. You can spend money in literally hundreds of ways that will not increase your bottom line. Don’t do it! Your money needs to go into growing the business not your ego or other crazy things many new entrepreneurs fall into. (My eBook on just how to do this will be out early this fall if you want to get head start on saving money AND starting your business.)

#3 Unique understanding of your market: This one is perhaps the hardest factor to discover and create. Many new entrepreneurs in service businesses don’t know yet what their ideal customer is like. So this may feel like a Catch 22. That’s one of the reasons I offer The StartUp Genius Online Bootcamp. You CAN start this process effectively while learning who your idea customer is. And the standard methods for accomplishing this often slow new entrepreneurs down rather than speeding up their success.

So when you consider starting your business, start with your best foot forward: realize you are NOT the boss and this isn’t just another job. It’s much, much more. Then add in the three qualities of a successful startup to increase your chances of success. There are no guarantees for a startup. If you dream of running your own business, however, you may be guaranteed regret if you don’t ever do it.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Friday, July 9, 2010

What does it take to create a successful startup?

Startup companies come in many flavors and styles. From solo ventures that power ahead despite the usual odds to dream teams that manage to fail despite the expectations, what do you need to make your startup dream a success?

Here are the key factors for a startup company that will make the bank—or break you in the process.

Ability: Although most people know Einstein’s famous quote that inspiration is 99% perspiration, in reality if you don’t have the 1% spark of some kind of genius there’s nothing build on a goal worth the perspiration. And right now is a great time to take your talent and build on it. Lots of smart, valuable people simply can’t find work.

2010 is a powerful startup environment for this reason. And the same basic idea applies: add to your personal genius strength. Whatever it is about your drive to do this business that is different and unique can be used to attract others with compatible genius you need. In fact, it’s best to work with others who are talented in ways you are not. You can create the phonebook-strength rather than reinforcing only your own abilities.

Entrepreneurial Attitude: Have you ever worked for a company where your co-workers were great and the rules of the company made everyone crazy? Well one of the secrets to creating a successful startup is creating an environment, a way of doing business, which allows entrepreneurial success. Valuing attributes such as creativity, inspiration, discussion, and testing ideas is key to having everyone support you in a powerful way.

Even if you outsource things rather than hiring employees, the attitude you instill into your entire process is still essential. It becomes nearly intangible and in turn gets other people excited about you and your business.

Oddness: The quality of oddness may be the hardest to explain and grasp. The idea encapsulates actions such as choosing and working within an area of the market that is either under-utilized or seen as too risky. You can literally take this in a couple directions. Perhaps you have a truly unique way to work with an existing market or product segment. In fact most innovate products come from updates of something that already exists and taking it in a completely different direction.

An oddity might be doing something this is completely counterintuitive to what’s happening in the market. When you know the rules, break them deliberately and do so in a way that creates success you create a very hot property. And lots of people will observe this and be sure you’ll fail. Is failure possible, of course. It is not however guaranteed.

Instinct: Entrepreneurs and startup companies typically need a lot of help. The question is who do you trust? Too often excitement overrules common sense and gut-smarts. If you’re considering an engagement with someone as a result of your startup, trust your senses. Seems too good to be true? It probably is. Something about this person gives you pause? Resolve that before moving forward. Developing your instincts on who to trust, how much and when makes a huge difference to your success.

What’s the most powerful way to create your startup? Combine these elements into one thing, one dream, one plan. Any one idea shared here increases your chance for success. Combined you move from addition to multiplication. We’re all looking for more powerful results.

Good luck with your venture—I look forward to hearing what you discover as you work these ideas into your startup.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bootstrap StartUp Secret #5

Watch Your Cash

If you’ve spoken with me in person, you know how worked up I get about the long-term confusion foisted on New Entrepreneurs through the guise of accounting. So I want to make sure you know this key BootStrap secret.

Just about everyone is going to tell you that you’ve got to set up a complicated accounting system when you start a business. If you’re doing a true BootStrap—small amounts of cash, big amounts of heart, and a chunk of your time, you can waste a lot of time and money chasing your tail on this one. As far as the banking and accounting process what you really need is to closely track your cash. How much is coming in? Where is it coming from? How long can you keep the cash that comes in?

Be as detailed and aggressive with the money you spend. Track in great detail what comes into your business as a result of spending money. If you invest in a marketing campaign, create a specific, detailed way to measure the results (coupon, special offer, etc.). The goal here is to know down to the penny how many customers, how many sales, sales of what size happened because of the money you spent.

Money that you do need to spend on printed materials, hard goods (items purchased to be used in the business but not consumed such as furniture, computers, and such) keep track of how long they last, how much you use them, and if you actually get a result from the usage that grows your business.

Do you believe Internet access at the office is essential? It might be. Then again, for your business, it might not be. Your cell phone might be much more important so a BlackBerry and service might be more valuable than an Internet drop into your office.

It’s important to have an intimate understanding of the money moving into and out of your business. Why and how it moves, what are the cash flow cycles? The more of this information you have the more you can actually control and respond to the rhythms and demands of your business.

My wish for you is that you reach a point with your business that the involved accounting procedures become an asset for your business. You will need the ability to combine accounting information by outbound (Accounts Payable) and inbound (Account Receivable)—and it’s really not more complicated than that at this stage of the game.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Bootstrap StartUp Secret #4

Deal Effectively with Feelings of Desperation

Your ability to notice and respond to desperate feelings while you’re getting your BootStrap Start-Up going are essential. Because you really are the key element of your business at this stage, your feelings, actions and choices are the foundation of success—or failure. My clients find these tools consistently helpful, so you can have a head start by using these simple steps for handling these kinds of feelings.

First thing to do: Quickly notice your desperate, helpless or overwhelmed feelings. You may be tempted to just work or power through your feelings. You get short-term benefit for a long-term, undesirable impact. You may end up working in counter-productive directions.

What are your “tells” when you feel this way? Even if no one sees it, you feel it and can find the small cues for your experience. Extra fidgeting? A sudden urge to multi-task? Unexpected craving for coffee or sugar? Cranky for no reason? Whatever your symptom, develop the ability to recognize them quickly.

Take a look back at times when you’ve felt this way and see what you can learn so you’re better prepared next time.

Second thing to do: Make a physical change for yourself. When you recognize the symptoms, do something physical to create a mini-break. In the training business it’s called a state-change. All you do is change your physical position—other changes follow.

Kandy Love, my yoga teacher when I live in Florida said, “If you have a problem do a headstand or a down-dog. It’s got to look different from upside.” And it works! Just like deep breathing, these two poses increase blood flow to your breath. So when desperation comes up, don’t just stay there! A la Churchill, keep moving!

Third thing to do: You might be tempted to just jump straight to this one. Sure, you could do that, but I strongly suggest using the first two steps—you’ll get better results when you use them in order.

Ask yourself, “Is this actually true?” For example, you may feel desperate about taking the step to start your business. Maybe you hear things such as you never could do it before, why don’t you just get a job like regular people, you’re too old, you’ll waste the retirement, you won’t have enough energy to do a business now, and many other internal arguments for moving forward.

One way to find out what’s true is to write down all the reasons the next step is a bad idea. Now, ask yourself if each one is true. What could make each panic point true? What makes them less likely to be true?

You’re going to run into a lot of myths on what it takes to be an entrepreneur and what you have to do to have a successful business. That’s one of the reasons I teach which rules to break when during the BootStrap Your Start-Up Program.

Many of those rules simply aren’t true—I’ve been “breaking” most of them for 20 years now. What matters is looking at whatever fears/rules come up and figuring out if a desperate feeling is a warning you should heed or an assumption that just doesn’t apply.

Your goal is be aware that feelings of desperation are normal for new entrepreneurs. And they don’t have to define if you succeed or not. You have choices when you find yourself in this situation. It’s fast and effective to change your physical orientation such as standing up, moving from your desk to a table, or even taking a quick walk get you out of the loop and stimulate nature abilities to be clear and intelligent.

With so much mythology and long-standing tradition, being able to tell the difference between what’s true for you, true now, or just not useful is key.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Bootstrap StartUp Secret #3

Don’t be Surprised When You Feel Desperate

You might wish or believe that all your feelings about your start-up will be positive. Better to accept they won’t and be prepared when things get bumpy.

I cannot predict when a sense of desperation will strike you. However, I can assure it’s normal and doesn’t mean anything your success or failure. Some feel this way from the beginning. Others find a new contract, raising your rates, or hiring out services trigger the feeling. And some entrepreneurs reach a point of feeling desperate when they are away from the business.

No matter when this strikes you, responding effective is important. Failing to do so has serious consequences ranging from becoming an unhealthy workaholic to giving up on the venture.

Desperate Time #1: During the initial phase of launching the business is a common time to feel this way and be tempted to panic. It might be triggered by the process of preparing to publicly declare the business or shortly after. Either way, you want to be aware this is completely normal for a new BootStrap Entrepreneur to have these feelings.

Desperate Time #2: You might be surprised by this one—many people are. Another time a new entrepreneur may feel desperate is the first wave (and any additional waves) of success. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, waves of success run into whatever you learned about business: can’t be trusted, not for people of quality, etc. So success waves can also trigger feelings of desperation.

Desperate Time #3: Another critical situation may trigger feelings of desperation: the business growing to the point where you need to stop doing everything solo. But the thought of handing off any responsibility to someone new is terrifying. What if they don’t do it properly, just like you? You won’t be as in control and that is scary. How can someone else possibly care about the business as much as you do?

You may find other times or situations that bring up feelings of desperation—these are the common ones I’ve experienced personally and coached my clients through. The good news is you’re human and can use your unique qualities (thank goodness!) that come to ahead.

Entrepreneurs have rites of passage, too. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk the road blind. Tomorrow I’ll share some techniques for handling these feelings when they come up.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Bootstrap StartUp Secret #2

Make Cheap-Cuts Not Short Cuts

You read during Secret #1 that I suggest you find ways to NOT spend money over all the methods of spending a ton of money on your start-up. I call these techniques Cheap-Cuts™. Short-cut implies not doing it well—cutting corners that won’t show but bring down quality. This is not good for your business. Neither does just completely believing all the advice you hear.

I’m going to share with you today five of the 50 Cheap-Cuts I teach in the The StartUp Genius Online Bootcamp. These are some of the key places you can make Cheap-Cuts and not hurt your business.

Cheap-Cut #1 Do not create the standard, expensive involved website: While everyone expects you to have a website, the majority of those out there do not get you any business. You see, people rarely buy because they stop by your website and read the “About Us” tab, the “Services” tab and since the “Contact” tab is usually the last one, it’s a very rare Internet surfer who makes it that far to actually contact you. Face it, if they don’t contact you in some way, there is no business—just an expensive, typically useless website.

Cheap-Cut #2 Use pre-designed, inexpensive graphics for your initial logo: You can tap lots of resources for this type of solution. On some sites you pay as little as a couple bucks for a download. Use the graphic in a way that matches what you paid for, and I promise you they are not that hard to find or get, as revealed in the BootStrap Start-up Program. The average business that spends a lot on graphic design in the first 2 years wastes all that money. In 24-36 months re-design is needed and you don’t want to spend on this stuff twice at this stage.

Sadly, many first time entrepreneurs get hung up on this one and then don’t spent the money when it’s time. So skip paying twice. Make do with the highest level you can at the start. When the business has created the money, get an expensive art director and design.

Cheap-Cut #3: Do not buy more stuff :At the beginning you are likely to have more tax deductions than income to count against those deductions. There is no point to wracking up a ton of loss over what is allowed for your level of income. Just don’t do it! Use your existing computer. Use as much furniture from home for your office (at home or not) as you can.

Until that income level goes up to offset expenses and write-offs from these purchases, spending on this stuff means it takes longer to make a profit—which is how YOU get paid.

Cheap-Cut #4 Do not buy new stuff: Like using the furniture, computer and other equipment you already have, if you do need to buy more things for the business, buy used. Every town I’ve lived in has had used furniture dealers. Nice ones, not just Goodwill or Salvation Army. I have a solid oak legal filing cabinet in my office today that doubles a printer stand. It was a steal since it was used. Only $125. There’s no way I could get one new for that price. The unit is going to last a long time and I didn’t have to go into debt having an organized work space.

Cheap-Cut #5: Look into leasing equipment you have to get new: While this isn’t my favorite way to handle problems, you may have a situation where this is absolutely the smartest way to go. For example, a business that truly needs a high-volume copy machine or other higher-end office equipment, look into a full-service lease and compare it to purchasing. Often the monthly price will be a little bit higher with the advantage that you don’t have to pay extra for service calls and parts.

If you are used to taking care of everything yourself at home, don’t let that mindset trip you up for your BootStrap Start-Up. When a high-ticket item is unavoidable for your new business, ask for lease options. Upgrading is often easier and changing your mind can be a lot less painful.

As you can see, you can spend less in many ways. Learning from others experience will make or break your first start-up. Just be sure to ask questions about all that advice you’re going to get. I encourage you to keep reading, studying and checking your options for the most effective ways to BootStrap Your Start-Up.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Bootstrap StartUp Secret #1

Do you want to start a business of your own? Many people do. The most common reason I hear for this not working out is a person’s financial status. Fortunately, you don’t have to be limited by this in most cases. I have personal, repeat experience starting businesses on a Bootstrap Budget™ with success and income as a result..

You see, a lot of the advice out there is all about telling you how to spend your money. I believe it’s more important to find ways to avoid spending money—you want a thriving business not a money monster eating up your cash and savings.

So how do you create a BootStrap Start-Up? A BootStrap Start-Up uses your existing resources and abilities as the pivot point for a powerful beginning. Instead of requiring lots of new equipment and skills, your best bet for your first business is to start with the thing you already know best.

I’d like to share a person example to illustrate. A number of years ago I started my goofiest business so far. I wanted a business that didn’t involve spending hours at my computer and on the phone.

This new business had to get me out of the house and outdoors. After considering some options, I realized there was no professional pooper scooper business in the county where I lived. So I went for it. Most of my friends thought I was a crazy. I already had a successful consulting practice.

The business was crazy in some ways: how many people will actually volunteer to pick up puppy poo for money? For me, however, specific factors existed to make in perfect and not crazy:

· I had real-world experience as the daughter of a breeder and cleaning up after the dogs was one of my jobs at home until I left for college.

· I needed very little specialized equipment: $25 for the little box shovel and rake, a $2 plastic bucket for bleach water, and a couple bucks for bleach.

· I spent $50 for an introductory membership to an international associate of pooper scoopers

· I knew that I needed and how to get the individual regulations on my own

· I already owned a small pickup truck

· I knew people on the HOA of very expensive neighborhoods who were likely clients

Happily, this kind of slightly off-the-wall business is just the kind of thing you can easily bootstrap into surprising success. The risk is pretty low and the potential is often surprising.

What happened--Are you curious what can be accomplished scooping puppy poo? In three months I had enough clients to make $3,000 extra a month and was interviewing high school kids to help out during the busy summer months.

Best of all in less than a year my only competitor who worked in a couple other counties decided to expand her business and bought out my client list for over 300% of the cost to start the business.

This is a great BootStrap Start-Up Success. I highly recommend this type of business for your maiden voyage into professional independence. Many people find there is a lot to learn along the way. Why not start with something possible, accessible, and with as little risk as possible?

The key to a success BootStrap Start-Up is looking at your existing resources and experience with a different perspective.

What have you done in your life that you’re really good at that might never have been a profession or business for you before?

What physical resources or equipment do you already own that could also serve you in a business capacity?

Do you have unique connections (like mine with the HOAs) that can open doors for you ahead of others?

Most of the people I’ve met have at least two of the three factors. Don’t let your BootStrap Success Factors go unrecognized. Tap them for a business that’s well designed for you and success.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Friday, May 28, 2010

How do you stay true to yourself in business?

Have you ever signed up for a business training program and find yourself mysteriously adjusting your business model and objective to what you see model by the instructors?

If you recognize this experience, be assured it's normal. And fortunately it's not even an unhealthy pattern--it's very human. You also want to be aware that this is part of the process you want to pass through rather than stay there.

You've probably heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery. There's another reality you want to notice: Imitation is part of how you learn. One of the ways you master a new skill is by modeling it--doing it exactly like you've seen demonstrated.

The process starts with enthusiasm, desire and motivation. As a result, you put on the new information like your favorite new outfit. And you wear it and wear it and wear it. You probably did this as a child--or you've watched your children go through that time in their life when that one piece of clothing is essential minute to minute.

What happens eventually?

That items wears out or the person finally grows out of the habit. It's same for learning a new skill or concept. The fastest, easiest way to learn it is modeling exactly what you see. Soon you begin to feel that it doesn't quite fit any more, or it's gotten too worn out, etc.

For a new business owner, the biggest risk is that you spend so long wearing the concept or skill you learn from someone else that it pulls your business and your energy off the center of your intentions. The way to avoid this isn't a big secret. It's just not discussed.

Your Values are the key to completing this process successfully. Just as people review their intentions or affirmations on a regular basis, keeping your values in mind on a daily basis is key. You can quickly compare the details of the new concept or skill you're learning to the essence of you and your business.

When the time comes that it's no longer a match, you can set aside the garment that was a brilliant hand-me-down from someone else and take the best parts with you to integrate in your business, your abilities. Staying true to who you and why you do your work at the same time.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What does bad advice for your start up look like?

You can find more advice than you actually need about starting a business. In fact, you might find it overwhelming: so much you could read, learn, and study, not to mention everything you feel you MUST do to get started on top of all the information.

So how do you know which advice to pay attention to and which to dump? One of the key skills I teach new entrepreneurs is how to make decisions as if you'd already done this a few times. That way decisions can be made based on the skills from real experience, not just all that advice out there.

And when I find someone who "gets" the fact that not all advice is useful, it really excites me. In fact, I'm so excited by what Dr. Goodwin wrote I've asked to interview her for the Online Entrepreneur Bootcamp that starts July 1, 2010.

Dr. Goodwin wrote a great article, "Ten Tips to Ignore When Starting a Business." I highly recommend investing the few minutes it will take to read her article. Get ahead by reading this brief, pithy piece and get her wisdom for yourself. Her ten tips to ignore (as quoted from her article) when you're starting your business are:

1. Career freedom means starting a business.
2. Don't worry, be happy.
3. Visualize success.
4. If you can dream it, you can do it.
5. If other people can be successful, you can too.
6. You will probably fail.
7. If you feel energized about your goal, you will be successful.
8. You can always go back to what you were doing before.
9. You have had a successful career so far and you'll figure out to be successful now.
10. You will be fine; you just need more confidence.

Dr. Goodwin introduces a common challenge in the startup arena: mythology! The number of myths about starting a business and succeeding may be higher than those told in ancient Greek history. In many cases, these myths are embedded in your personal and social consciousness. What you believe about success and business influences your choices, behavior and results.

I find the doctor's willingness to point out some of these myths inspiring and valuable. If you haven't already opened up her concise article, read it now. Just click here. I guarantee you will be glad you did.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue Roth

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A wakeup call on the importance of NOT spending money

Anyone can discover the difference between growing a business and actually making money.

I've met, and even done a class with a met PJ Van Hulle. Her interactions with me have all been above board. I don't have a personal axe to grind. And she's absolutely right:

"After being forced to declare bankruptcy in the real estate crash, PJ Van Hulle, The Prosperity Queen, has learned first hand that MAKING MONEY and KEEPING MONEY are two entirely different skill sets and has become more passionate than ever about providing people with the financial education they didn’t receive in school."

PJ nails this challenge. And if you don't have experience with lots of money coming in to YOUR business and your pocket, it's a whole new game.

At the same time, this is a great opportunity to highlight WHY I am so strong in teaching you to question all that advice that tells you how to SPEND your money. If you're not taking any of it home, if none of it is going into retirement and other protections, it's time to learn something new.

I want to thank PJ for how she's been honest and great with me personally. And for her honesty about the challenge of the difference between making and keeping money. May her path to mastery of these lessons be as gentle as possible.

And for you, please stop, look, and listen. You can insist on learning these lessons the hard way. Or the easy way. I of course with for the easy path--then you can learn other lessons and come back to teach us what you've learned.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From Little Funding to Fortune 500

You've "heard" me talk about companies that started with not much money and still made it. Or those that started during another depression and are still around.

Today, I'd suggest you drop by Business Pundit and check out one of the articles there. You can see that I'm not the only one talking about these things.

When it comes to loans, business finance and many other things. you probably feel it's easier to just not deal with it. Fortunately, that doesn't have to mean you're dead in the water.

Find out who they are and where they are now--I'm sure you'll recognize these businesses.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

P.S. In case you're wondering...most of these were not started by business geniuses.

Spend Less, Make More: Get Great Graphics for Less

Happy Tuesday!

I've got a great tip for you today--a specific way to spend less on your startup. You see, being a StartUp Genius (TM) means spending less and making money faster.

When it comes to quality graphics, this can be a big challenge. You don't want to just look cheap and cheesy. But spending a couple grand for complete custom design during the first 6-24 months is a waste of money.

So what's a savvy StartUp Genius to do?

Check out great, competitive sources. The market for great images is highly competitive. Some folks participate in "clearing houses" where you can get great deals on images for your marketing materials, your book, or your printed business materials for small prices.

May favorite source so far is Dreamstime.
">Dreamstime.com. I'm recommending them today for a couple different reasons.

  1. You get more choices than you can imagine!
  2. You pay based on the size of the image you want to use rather than a single flat fee.
  3. Each purchase includes a certain number of impressions and ways you can use it.
  4. The images are very high quality.
  5. You only need $10 to get started
  6. You'll find this service is easy to use.
I don't make a lot of referrals or recommendations. I'm picky about what or who I put my name on. However, in this case, I've used Dreamstime for my own needs. It's been easy, very affordable and I've gotten great results.

That said, if you want affordable, high-quality images that just don't look like everyone else, check them out. I had over 50 different images to choose from AFTER I narrowed down my search.

Enjoy--it's a fun place to wander around.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

P. S. Yes, they give me a free design if you decide to be a customer. Since I haven't used up my initial $10 in the past month, you can see my recommendation is simply about getting you to a great resource. I'm not going to retire off any "free image bank!" And it's too good to keep to myself.


Friday, May 7, 2010

The Benefit of Your Values in Business

Have you been out in the blogosphere? Listening to the news?

In many arenas the idea of value continues to be a hot topic. Maybe you wonder how weaving your values into your own business can make a difference. Let's take a quick look at some of the ways aligning your values with your business creates benefit.

  • Energy: Many business owners end up in a situation where a close alignment exists between skills or abilities and the business they chose. However, your abilities are not what create passion and energy for your work. This comes from an entirely different relationship. Feeling burned out? Overwhelmed at work? You may be focusing on abilities and not values in your relationship to your business.
  • Fulfillment: One of my best friends worked for a very wealthy man for years. She watched as his company launched a very successful IPO, his family bought a real mansion (17 bedrooms!), and experienced many more monetary blessings. At the same time, it was clear that the money was never enough. Similiar to energy, fulfillment or satisfaction must be met by deeper needs and desires than simply accumulation.
  • Convictions: If your work is not directly connected to passion and values you may find it much easier to nudge the line in what is or is not okay methods for succeeding in your business. Your values lend power to holding the line for your convictions--when business is simply about business and nothing more, the motivation to maintain that line when it's tough is much lower.

No matter what you choose to do for work, the very first question is does it match your values--what matters to you most. Without that clarity you experience everything from it's hard to stick with something to being willing to just do a half-hearted job.

What can you do today to more closely align your values and your work?

Wishing you success & heart,
Heidi Sue

Monday, May 3, 2010

Do you want to start a new business? Think about your options

Happy Monday, all!

I just started reading a new marketing book this weekend--I love getting new and old stuff into my thinking. This is a program I bought from someone else, so I'll finish the whole thing and use some of the ideas before going too far into the product results.

HOWEVER! The author reminded me of something I've known a long time and is still little talked about. If you're considering a new business, this an important idea to wrap yourself around.

Many people choose a network marketing opportunity as their entre into running their own business. You can get a lot of up-side from this kind of start-up. Unfortunately, you can also end up with a lot of downsides.

Here's the problem: retailers know that the minimum markup (stop, take a deep breath and really get this) for a decent product is 100%. If you're selling anything that you cannot mark up the price AT LEAST 100%, you're working way to hard to make money. I guarantee you that any store you shop in has this as their lowest bench mark.

My friend was a buyer for a large department store. Most of the things she selected for the store could be marked up 300%-400%. Furniture is marked up this much as a minimum. When you shop for groceries mark up is even more important. The percentage of money a store makes on produce is shockingly low (5% is not uncommon) so they HAVE to make it up on other products. Soda anyone? I worked a couple of fast-food gigs in high school--didn't we all? Back then the cost to make a soda for a customer was 5 cents.

My point here is that most network marketing opportunities don't hand you a 100% profit on what you sell. It goes to other people, other things, and other channels. Unless you are one of those people who can build a quality (aka producing) down-line fast you can easily end up in a loosing situation. Of course, lots of people know this lesson very well.

As you look at your product or service, factor in ALL of the expenses to offer it to clients (time to create, design expenses, web hosting, marketing, etc.) and then add a 100% increase to the cost of the product. You may think this is cruel and unnecessary. Even if you add this much increase, you won't end up taking home 100% of that number. Unexpected things happen. This minimum mark up protects you from loosing money, going out of business, or spending money you don't actually have on the business.

Check competitors prices: and figure out how to make your price work for your success, not just as a loss-leader (a giveaway to get a client). You, your family, and your employees will thank you.

Wishing you success & heart,
Heidi Sue

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Niching Doesn't Work"

Thanks Suzanne! More room on the non-Niching Bus!

You typically hear in many marketing circles that the first thing you need to do is identify your niche. This terminology of a ‘niche’ doesn’t work for me because it feels very much like, “Find a group of people to sell to.” I’ve found that a better way to identify these people is to ask, “Who needs me most?” We all have a gift to share, so ask yourself “Who needs me and my gift the most?”

This concept is part of what I call ‘authentic marketing’ because it’s got to come from your heart. It’s got to be client-based and heart-centered for it to really work.

When you look at who needs you most and you can recognize what your ideal client is, it’s very important for you to be aware that you shouldn’t work with everyone.

I was once at a networking group and someone asked this gentleman, “So who’s an ideal client for you?” and he answered, “Anyone breathing.” That’s so not the case. If you agree with the fact that you have a unique gift and if you try to use that gift to serve everyone, you’ll quickly see that it’s just not possible. It’s simply not possible.

First of all, you can’t do your job well when you try to spread yourself that thin. You just can’t do everything, you can’t please everybody and you don’t have the skill set and the energy to try to spread yourself that thin.

The second part is that if you can focus on what your real gift is, combined with the people that your gift can be served by, that makes you really powerful.

It’s important to understand these prospects, these people who need you most, and to develop yourself as a perceived expert. Being an expert in your field is something that you really want to work towards not because you want to know it all, but because it is a way that you can make your clients feel comfortable and confident with you.

I have asked clients this question before – “If you need brain surgery and you’re given the choice of two doctors, and one doctor does brain surgery only and he’s really great at it, and the other doctor does hip replacements, knee replacements, and some brain surgery, who are you going to pick?” It is so obvious.

When I ask that question, it’s always obvious to the person I’m asking, but we don’t do that with ourselves and within our own businesses. We tend to ignore the fact that if we were looking for anything else for ourselves – from plumbers to brain surgeons to a designer – we would look for the best of the best that is specific to the area that we’re working in.

We need to really relate that to ourselves, strive to be the best of the best and develop the skillsets and connections necessary to be considered an expert in our area. Then focus on, “Who needs me most?” which will be a more useful guide in developing our businesses than stressing over finding our ‘niche.’

When you spend time delving into these areas as they apply to your business, you too will move past any fears about marketing in ways that feel uncomfortable for you, and into authentic marketing that naturally attracts your ideal clients and builds your business.

In success,

Suzanne Evans
Helping Profession Expert

Tel: (917) 385-1385

P.O. Box 1073
Maplewood, NJ

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Affiliate Slime Upgraded to the Zombie Zone

I highly recommend this article. Nathan captures another perspective on launches gone insane.

image of thumb emerging from soil

Want some tips on how to do it differently? Click Here.
Heidi Sue

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feed Your Head--With New Ideas

I frequently experience tech-envy. Like right now I really miss having a SmartPhone. I was an early adopter years ago when they first arrived. These days, as much as I'd love to have one and believe it would be crazy convenient, my existing phone works just fine. And I've gotten annoyed about eWaste, so I'm sticking with the boring, basic one I got a few years ago before ramping up my Biz Chick self again.

Today, however, is my first experience with CHAIR envy! That's an entirely new experience. (Guess I missed the ruckus over these units last year. Oh well.) You see, I know first hand that keeping your perspective and thoughts fresh is one of the most important things you can do to build your success as an Entrepreneur. Even if you are doing a business that isn't specifically unique to you, you want to have a unique perspective and message regarding that familiar business.

One of the most common mistakes I see when meeting and working with entrepreneurs who have had a business a while is they've lost the ability to see and consider through fresh eyes. This is a deadly flaw for any business. While I advocate choosing a business you're passionate about and is connected to your values, the real point of what you do is your customers. Whatever form that takes. And when an Entrepreneur stops attempting to see through the customers eyes or flat out asking them for their opinion, the result is a cancerous business. You may find that it's a slow-growing form or a fast-growing disease, and the end result is the same.

That's why reading, studying, listening to training that moves you is so important. Fortunately, my partner David is also an avid reader. So I would probably have to fight him to sit in this chair. Heck, we probably need two. Take the best of sitting to read AND storing your books, magazines, and other items in a handy way...and you've got down right brilliance.

Whether you get one of these chairs--please invite me to see it in person in you do--or simply visit the public library, make a plan today for time and focus for feeding your head, your reality with new ideas.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue
Heidi Sue

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Does Success in Reverse Look Like?

Have you paid much attention to some of the colorful details of how Richard Branson made his way to success? While I don’t endorse specifically breaking the law, Mr. Branson clearly understands the value of doing things in the unexpected, unendorsed way.

Early on he signed music groups that were controversial and others were unwilling to take risk on. From odd music (have you checked out Baa, Baa, Black Sheep) to obscure musical styles, Branson stepped into places that others were not willing to explore. In fact, professional music probably would’ve told him NOT to take these risks and go to these places to succeed.

And you can see how well it has worked for Branson and Virgin brand, right?

So what places, people, and directions that you are seriously interested in that people consistently tell you won’t work, is the wrong direction, or a bad idea?

Here are a couple of quick tips to figure out if this is true, or not…

· Search the Internet for competitors: if you find none or a lot, those who think it’s a bad idea just might be right. If you find only a few, you could very well be on to something.

· Imagine who might want to buy this “bad idea”—and then go talk to at least 30 people who have the need , problem or pain that this bad idea could solve. Find out if the customers you imagine are actually out there any where.

· Answer this question: “What is the gap, lack or need that will never be filled if I don’t go after my ‘bad idea’?” Then hit the Internet again and see what else is out there and how much different is your idea? When your idea is very different from what you can find, the success potential is huge AND it’s going to be a lot of work to get there. If your idea is some easier, you’re looking at less work to get it in the market and more work to sell enough versions to make a good amount of money.

Once you done all—yes all!—of this investigations you’ll have a baseline sense of where you’re at and if you want to pursue this specific idea. Or put your creativity back on and come up with more ideas.

Here’s to the rule breakers! Tradition has value and so does operating outside the box.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Go in Reverse to Succeed--Start a Business During the Recession

Starting your business in a recession may seem counter-intuitive. In some ways you’d be right. In others, however, you’d be completely wrong.

One of the things I enjoy doing is seeing when different companies were started as reported on the Wikipedia listings. A quick scan of the years from the Great Depression will show you how many turned into Big Dogs that we all know. I realize your dream may not be founding the next megalithic international conglomeration, and I can relate. That’s not my thing either. What this does highlight, however is that even the worst of times can be a good time to start your business.

One of the reasons this is true is most of your competition is pulling in, doing less, getting smaller. When you find creative, inexpensive ways to promote your business, you can actually acquire customers for less money that during a growth cycle. Statically, the clients who come to you during a down market are very loyal.

In fact, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas report indicated that over 8% of people who were looking for jobs during the 2nd quarter of 2009 employed themselves: they started a business. Owning your own business has the potential to be like beginning to the famous story: it can be the best of time, it can be the worst of times. And many people, myself included for over 20 years, prefer to make our own version work that rely on others to maintain employment status.

So why do you hear so much about how many businesses fail and how hard it is to start you own business?

This question gets right to the heart of the matter for me. Typical business experts and advisers are steeped in the perspective of the wisdom of Large Business. From structure and organization to priorities and timelines, most of the advice you can get is driven from the definition that being like and getting to Fortune 500 is success.

Imagine if Warren Buffet had simply followed the standard advice about investing and managing money? He has completely revolutionized this reality for those willing to listen.

One of your challenges as a Bootstrap Entrepreneur in this market is NOT thinking and doing like the established methods. Even Einstein told us that the thinking that creates a problem isn’t going to solve it. One of the easiest ways to make this work for you is to go in the opposite direction from all the advice. Most people are going that direction...consider going in reverse.

If you’re considering starting your own business, or you know it’s something you really want to do but aren’t sure how to proceed, take a survey of the standard advice out there. And there’s a ton of it you can get for free!

Once you’ve gotten grounded in the typical stuff, you can be looking for ways that match your heart and dream that allow you to do it in a different way.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Values: The Trust Antidote

This week I've shared ideas on how to change the selling process. I've suggested things like: "Stop doing it", "Don't close" and other things most people are tired of experiencing as part of the process to get what we want or need.

I realized that all of this continues to tie into the idea of value. What does it really mean to each person?

I ran into this head-on this week. Couple weeks ago I had my brakes repaired. As sometimes happens with an older car (7 years old) fixing one thing reveals another problem. While I wasn't thrilled to learn that my Baja needed more work despite being pretty low mileage, they gave me a quote and I decided to bring the car back after a few days so I could coordinate a carpool solution.

My car went to PepBoys on Sunday night. Monday morning I discovered I had a call authorizing the work. This didn't make sense to me since we'd already had this discussion.

Well, I had just started a trust roller-coaster. They came back and told me the price about almost $250 more than originally quoted. When I balked at the increase, the oddest things came up for the difference. And one thing in particular turned out to be completely unacceptable.

I COULD save $60 off the new, higher quote if I didn't want to pay extra for the warranty. Okay, what did that mean? I had to BUY peace of mind for the parts and workmanship for 12 months. I only got 90 days for free.

Excuse me? You're going to have my car for a day, take about $700 of my money, maybe more, AND after 90 days I'm SOL?

Well, you can probably guess what I said. I told them to put the wheel back on and I'd find someone else who would at least stand behind their work for a year.

This is a problem that is true for our culture right now at every level. Even at the most affluent levels of society, trust is pretty much shot. Time Magazine reports on the study that being wealthy and elite doesn't improve trust (click to read the article).

That's just one of the reasons it's time to stop selling. Stop traditional marketing behavior and a bundle of other things. The most important thing you can do is to do business from your values, your heart and your soul. Demonstrate that you are someone people can trust.

Until trust is part of the equation and potential clients agree they have a need that includes willingness to act, there's nothing to be done.

Value and Trust--the ultimate success combination and the Antidote for market exhaustion.

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Sales Secret: Don't Talk Price!

One of the most common mistakes you can make when having a conversation with a potential client, or even an existing customer (remember…not more sales, no more closing!) is to talk price. I see people do this all the time. This is one of the easiest rabbit trails someone can take you down where you are likely to get lost.

Regardless of the temperature of the economy, most people bring up the question of price way too early in the conversation. If your potential client brings it up, be sure this is a pre-signal that they want to end the conversation. You’re being prepped for a good excuse and brush off. When you bring up price before you’re clear about customer need and desire for a solution, you’re running your own pattern (one of a couple) that will make sure the conversation doesn’t succeed.

Please understand, in today’s world for many people right now money really is an issue. When you’re looking for work after months, can’t afford to fix your car so you can get to work, or choosing between food and insulin…money is a real concern and not just an excuse. And in my experience this past year, people who truly want help and find themselves in this problem are usually upfront about their struggles in 1:1 conversations. So when it comes up for other reasons, note that reality and choose to respond in a different way.

What is that different way? Change directions. Don’t engage in this conversation unless both of you are clear about what this person needs, you have something that’s a match and that they this potential customer has a meaningful level of commitment ot make a change. Without these factors, price really doesn’t matter. So change directions from price and ask a question about the previous factors.

“What else do you need to know?”

“How would you describe success?”

Of course, you can also make up your own questions that relate to your service or product. Unless a client or potential client is clear about a need and motivation, there’s no point talking about price.

So let it go. Most of the time when price comes up, it’s out of sync with a positive conversation that builds relationship and success. Spend more time on other topics. The time and way to ever talk about price is when both of you are crystal-clear that moving forward is the best answer. Until that moment, the price conversation is pre-mature. So don't talk price--not until after all the other questions are answered.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue Roth

Monday, April 12, 2010

Secret #2 No more closing--succeed by opening!

Do you hear that phrase, “closing the sale” and cringe? Me, too. Personally, I feel like I’m cat with my tail in the door and it’s slamming closed before I can twitch past the door jamb.

This is another area where tradition and let’s face it, self-serving instructors, have worn everyone one out. Just like the long-standing “divide and conquer” tactics employed by many businesses, the ideas behind closing simply don’t fit any more.

How many times do you think you’ll got more business from someone if you “close” them?

Do you like how it feels to be closed or to close on a client?

In reality, the best “sales people”—and I use that term loosely because they aren’t actually selling—are all about keeping things open and flowing. The difference between closing and opening comes from a specific change. (First, get on board with the fact that you’re not selling any more!)

Closing implies that once the deal is done, it’s over. Sign on the dotted line so the Lounge Lizard (who can be male or female) gets a commission. And badda boo badda bing, it’s over. You’re screwed. (Well, how it seems to me anyhow.)

You want to know the truth? Any business or professional that wants to stay open long-term knows that this is actually just the beginning. Getting the contract, the first payment, whatever it is only means someone has trusted you enough to get started with you. It does NOT mean you’ve got a happy customer.

Even the big dogs out there struggle to get this one right. It’s one of the easiest places for you to shine as your small, responsive entrepreneurial self. The initial sale is truly just the opening. It’s buying the ticket to the show. The audience is not yet satisfied. So forget about closing. First of all it’s not actually true: nothing is closing. Second, if you want to make fewer new client-contacts (they take the most energy and cost you the most money) let that first exchange of money be the opening overture to a long, beautiful relationship with a client. Commit to accomplishing Long Term success!

What do you think? Are you ready to stop closing, or even feeling that you need to close a sale? Give up the pressure. What really matters is being open to continue the conversation. That is the most important thing for you as a business person.

There you go…a selling secret that sounds crazy--make your life better and increase the likelihood of success.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue