I'm an EMyth Certified business coach who helps business owners get more control over their business and their life. I work with owners to make changes so the business supports them in living the life they want to live. I also help them strengthen their leadership skills so the business can grow to its full potential.
None of us have all the answers. But when you’re in a leadership position, you might feel the pressure to solve every question.
Many business owners fall into this trap. They think because they’re in charge, everything falls to them and only they can fix it.
I call that the “Hero with a Thousand Helpers” business model. That’s where you - the owner - know all and call all the shots. Then you send your minions to do your bidding. It fits nicely with the pop culture mythos of the entrepreneur as a visionary hero. But for actually running a successful business, it. Just. Doesn’t. Work.
A leader, on the other hand, focuses their energy on marshaling the resources to accomplish a goal.
They may be very good at doing the work, but they understand the business will do much better when they leverage the talents of others.
To be a better leader, resist the urge to be the office’s Magic 8 Ball; you don’t need to have an answer for everything! In fact, to be a good leader you should be equal parts problem-solver and listener. We have to accept there are limitations to what we can know and what we can do.
Practice your stand-up and stand-back intuition.
When you are confident and know what to do: Stand-up
Lay-out steps to get to your solution
Implement your action plan
Oversee each step
Reevaluate and repeat if necessary
If you’re ever unsure in a situation: Stand-back
Admit you don’t have an answer yet
Listen to all sides
Ask for help/consult someone else
Come up with possible solutions
As a business owner, your default mode is probably Stand-up. Work on getting to a much more even mix of stand-up and stand-back. Even when you know the answer, standing back first can - and often does - lead to a better solution.
Once you get in the habit of recognizing when to answer and when to defer, you will be a more efficient problem solver.
Now that you’re comfortable admitting you don’t have all the answers, you need to get comfortable asking for, receiving, and using feedback.
Let’s start with the where.
You should get feedback from multiple sources - your team, your outside advisers, your clients, and people in your support network. Every concern and comment should be heard and considered, whether it comes from someone at the base or top level of operations. Not only will this make your team trust and respect you and motivate them to be better workers, it will stimulate your thinking with different perspectives.
When people feel valued they are more likely to improve their own performance. Think of it like a mirroring exercise; if you demonstrate you care about those around you and the company, others will follow. And feeling that they are part of something - instead of just the hired help - does wonders for engagement and commitment.
Next, let’s think about how we use that feedback.
Incorporate the feedback you receive in a meaningful way.
It doesn’t help to gather a wide range of feedback if you don’t incorporate it into your leadership style. In fact, asking for someone’s perspective and then ignoring or dismissing it will do long term damage to the relationship.
That’s not to say you should always do everything anyone suggests to you. You shouldn’t. But there is often the kernel of a good idea in a suggestion that may not work as is. At a minimum, you should always acknowledge the person for their input, and where appropriate, explain why you chose a different path.
We can do all these things and still not grow as a leader if we don’t want to.
You may think of course I want to be a better leader, but there are subtle ways we can sabotage our own progress.
Frequently, it’s our pride that undermines our progress. Too often, people aren’t willing to admit they aren’t the best at what they do, or there’s something they don’t know. Those are the people that stay stuck.
The people who really are among the best at what they do are always looking to improve. Whether they’re elite athletes at the top of their sport, or successful business leaders, they seek input from coaches or advisers to get just a little better each day.
So when we get feedback or we’re asking for help, it’s not a sign of weakness or failure. It’s a sign of strength. It’s a commitment to ourselves to do better today than we did yesterday.
When people suggest you do something differently or better, it is not a condemnation of you or your worth. It’s feedback to help you adjust course. When you can receive it that way, you’ll be a more effective leader.
Sharks, the dark, and talking in front of people. What do these all have in common?
They are all things the majority of people list as their greatest fears.
But since you won’t be running into any sharks in the office anytime soon (unless you somehow find yourself on NBC’s Shark Tank) let’s focus on that last one: public speaking.
As a business leader, there’s no getting around speaking to groups of people. Whether you’re leading a team meeting, presenting to an important client, or keynoting a major industry conference, these tips will help you come across as the cool, calm, collected expert that you are.
1. Understand why public speaking makes you nervous.
What is it about speaking in front of an audience that makes us all a little queasy?
You’re not going to solve your leaking roof problem if you don’t know where the leak is coming from. The same goes for public speaking. Once you get to the root of what scares you most about public speaking, you’ll be able to tackle it.
Take a minute and think about your reasons for being nervous about speaking in front of a group. So you know you’re not alone, here are a few I hear frequently:
All those people are looking at me
I might make a mistake
I have to be smart/funny/insightful/inspiring
You are only going to get better if you practice. Take every opportunity to practice speaking: from talking to your cashier to someone new at a party or even with friends and family.
You may think that just sounds a lot like talking, something I do every day. And you’re right!
There really isn’t a difference between public speaking and conversation—it’s all communication!
Here are three specific things to practice. They’ll enhance your point and make you come across as knowledgeable and confident, whether you’re speaking to 1 person or 100 people.
Strong eye-contact. Making eye contact is engaging and draws the other person into the conversation with you. You’re not going for a staring contest. Holding eye contact too long can dial the creepy factor up to 11. Four to five seconds at a time is what you’re going for.
Slow down. We always speed up when we’re nervous, so learn how to take a deep breath and slow down! You’re going for an average pace of 100 to 125 words per minute. Also, pause. Especially after an important point. A few seconds of silence will feel like an eternity to you, but it will feel natural to the audience and give them time to absorb what you’re saying.
Inflection. Vary the pitch, tone, and volume of your voice to emphasize the points you are making. Speaking in a monotone is a sure way to fade into the background noise quickly.
I promise, if you practice the art of conversation often enough, a big presentation or networking event will feel just as natural as a conversation over coffee.
Like a seasoned football coach, check the replay!
Try filming yourself giving a quick five-minute speech or presentation. It might feel strange, but trust me, seeing is believing when it comes to accurately judging our effectiveness. When we watch ourselves, we are able to see what our audience is seeing.
Your “nervous tells” that make you come across as less assured or any “filler” words you over-use (“um,” “yeah,” “like,” etc.) will all be revealed in the footage.
While this isn’t always the most fun exercise, it will help you see where you can improve some of your public speaking habits. So pop some popcorn and remember to be not too hard on yourself!
4. Monitor Posture
A lot of confidence comes from body language.
Make sure you assess your posture as you give any talk or speech. Rounded shoulders, weak eye contact, and too much fidgeting give off signals that you are unsure about what you’re saying.
Remember what your mother told you and stand-up straight! It’s such a simple correction, but when you utilize “power poses” you will come across as more informed and approachable.
5. Take a class or join a club
Toastmasters exists for the sole purpose of helping people be better public speakers. There are chapters everywhere and should be your first stop if you decide to get serious about upping your speaking game.
Improv comedy or acting classes are also a great way to challenge yourself to get out of your shell.
And bonus - they are fun! We rarely allow ourselves time to be silly. Classes like this can get you back to your imaginative and creative roots. Plus, they will give you invaluable critical thinking and teamwork skills that you will directly translate into your public speaking.
If that seems like too much, you can always try a club organized around a subject that interests you - like a book club or fitness club. This will put you in a space that you feel inspired by and will be more likely to converse with those around you.
It is easy to smile when we’ve just won a big new client or sales have doubled. But can we still be gracious in the face of defeat?
Learning how to face failure is essential to running a business. None of us will have perfect careers. Most of us will rarely have perfect days. There will always be things that throw us off our game - and there will be games we lose.
But what matters is how we get through those set-backs.
When something goes wrong it’s easy to say, I’m stupid or I’m a failure. In reality, we are not our failures. When we allow ourselves to be defined by the things that happen, we are trapped in a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset tells us we are already all we’ll ever be. That anything that happens to us is reflective of our fundamental make-up. And there’s nothing we can do to change.
The inner dialog people with fixed mindsets have is “I’m a failure because I failed.” Repeated enough times, it metastasizes into “I will fail because I’m a failure.” Because of this, people with a fixed mindset are scared to death to fail.
The opposite of a fixed mindset is a growth mindset. When you have a growth mindset, you understand you are not defined by your bad days—you are made by the way you handle them.
People with a growth mindset will look at a failure to see what they can learn for next time. Their inner dialog goes more like “I lost today because I wasn’t prepared enough. I’m going to work harder to be ready for next time.” People with a growth mindset welcome failure, because they see it as an opportunity to improve.
If you see more of yourself in the fixed mindset example, don’t worry. You can shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset by shifting how you react to failure.
The difference between fixed and growth mindsets is like the difference between dwelling on and digesting our mistakes.
To help explain the difference, think about making tea.
Dwelling in our failures is like over-steeping the tea. When we leave the tea bag in too long, the tea becomes bitter, intense, and loses any characteristics of the original flavor. You can think about dwelling like this. It’s a mindset which over-saturates our being in the failure, and soon it’s about not just that failure, but our entire identity.
Digesting is like brewing tea just right and taking the time to sip it. When the cup is empty, we’re done. This gives us time to consider the flavor and take it in, to learn from it without letting it define us.
You may think, yeah that all sounds nice, but that doesn’t change how bad failure feels. And that’s true. So let’s talk more about that. Why does failure feel so bad?
Ever since we were kids we’ve been conditioned to a fixed mindset. Failure is bad and must be avoided at all costs. From our grades to school to the way we compare ourselves in competition and sport.
What if there was no failure, only results?
Thomas Edison famously said that he didn’t fail 10,000 times when trying to perfect the light bulb. He discovered 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. And in the process, he collected data. The data led him to try something else, which eventually resulted in success.
What if Thomas Edison was scared to death of failing? You might very well be reading this by candlelight!
Usually when we fail there’s something we could’ve done better. And if we’d only take the time to understand what that something is - and then act on it, we’d be unstoppable. If we start treating failure less as a punishment and more as an occurrence, we can take away its power of negativity and shame.
There’s a lot of truth to the idea that if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.
Failure often lets us know we’re operating outside our comfort zone. And do you know where exactly 100% of growth happens?
Yup. Outside your comfort zone.
Stop thinking of failure as subtractive—or taking something away from us. Instead learn to embrace it as an essential part of your business success.
Networking. There’s a buzzword we’re all used to. But what really is networking?
For many people, the term “networking” conjures up images of a packed room full of sleazy salespeople thrusting their business card at anyone who makes eye contact.
Sadly, people have that image for a reason - because they’ve had exactly that experience.
Let’s reclaim the word by changing what we think of as networking.
At its core, “networking” is nothing more than connecting with other people. And by connecting, I don’t mean collecting as many business cards as possible. I mean making a genuine connection with another human being.
When thought of that way, “networking” is not some specific thing you go and do. Rather, “networking” is what you are naturally doing every time you engage with another person.
When we start looking at networking as simply connecting, it’s easy to make part of our routine, even when we don’t necessarily need it.
In fact, when we don’t “need” it is precisely the right time to do it.
We network before we really need it for the same reasons we save money. This is an investment in our future. Plus, when we network when things are going well we project confidence and have the potential to make stronger and more useful connections.
And trust me, confidence is key.
When we start to use networking as a life raft, people can sense the desperation. And desperation isn’t a good look on anyone. If you wait until there’s some sort of crisis, it’s too late to build a network of connections.
Think of it like farming. You need to plant the seeds in the spring and nurture them through the summer so you have food in the fall.
You will get more of what you want if your “ask” is prepared, specific, and consistent.
Your “ask” should consist of a clear, concise statement of what you do, who you do it for, and what benefit they get. Spend some time writing down an elevator pitch that follows the basic format below.
I work with [SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION OF IDEAL PROSPECT] to [PROSPECT’S PROBLEM THAT YOU SOLVE] so that [BENEFIT PROSPECT GETS].
Practice is key.
Know your “ask” like your childhood address. Practice in the mirror, for your pet, or on your daily commute. You want to have down so that when anyone asks “what do you do?”, you can rattle it off naturally and confidently.
Don’t dismiss someone because you don’t think they can help you. Networking works like dominoes falling onto each other, one connection opens the doors another and so on; you never know who people know until you get to know them.
If you want to get a lot from the connections you make, focus your effort on giving. I’m not suggesting you bring a bottle of Trader Joe’s finest 2-buck Chuck. Bring yourself as an offering. Yes you! You and the network of connections you’ve built are valuable assets to others.
"You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want."
- Zig Ziegler
If you step back and consider all the different people who you’ve met, I’m sure you will start to see patterns. Person A needs X and Person B has Z, but has a cousin who manages a company that sells X. And there you go, the wheels start spinning. If you can make a habit of connecting other people, the network only grows stronger and betters your chances for more diverse and helpful network overall.
Follow-up and follow through with any connections you make!
This is the most important step when dealing with any connections is making sure you don’t lose momentum. Make sure you nurture your relationships with check-ins and follow-ups. While some relationships maybe more like succulents requiring less of an attentive eye, in the end all are like plants that need some level of care and attention to grow.
If you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your network and want to learn more about growing impactful and meaningful connections for your business give us a call.
If you are having trouble knowing exactly where your business should be going or what you need to make your journey successful, we can help!
Book a free 1-hour Breakthrough Consultation with us.
I know our parents said never to bring up religion, politics, or money, but lucky for us this isn’t a dinner party. This is our business we’re talking about, and like it or not money is a big factor.
When you think about money and your business, do you feel comfortable? Chances are no matter who you talk to, everyone’s a little squeamish when it comes to money talk. But why is that?
When it comes to money, a lot of us treat it like our weight.
We kind of know our numbers. But after the holidays and winter months of pastas and comfort foods, we tend to avoid the scale. The same goes for our business after a particularly challenging month we may avoid the envelopes.
We have to fight the urge to be coy with our finances.
We need to be bold and informed. Every month we will have costs in running our business that are unavoidable. The same goes for all the surprise expenses we will face.
Your business needs a solid finance map.
Think of your destination being your target figures. These figures can be sales, target profits, or labor costs. Basically any number you need to keep in range so your business can operate comfortably.
Mapping our finances is a form of budgeting.
Sure, the work “budget” is kind of like the word “diet.” It implies cutting things out, denying yourself, or being restricted in what you can do.
Let’s change that.
Stop thinking of a budget as the thing that tells you can’t spend money. Instead think of your budget as your plan for making and spending money. Yes, you should budget your sales just like you budget your costs.
Start by writing down the amount of sales you plan to make each month. Maybe you know because you have contracts extending into the future. Maybe you don’t know, but you have an idea of what a “typical” March looks like. Or you have an idea what your sales goal for the month will be.
Once that’s done, move on to your monthly costs.
Write out everything that you spend in a month. Think of any costs your business requires, from office supplies to subscription services.
First, notice if the costs add up to more or less than the planned sales for the month. If they add up to less, congratulations, you’re planning to make a profit. If they’re more, you’ve got some work to do cutting costs, increasing sales, or both.
Either way, give your costs a good once over.
Take a moment to look at all your costs and think about each of them individually.
Note each of their pros and cons and how they enhance your business. To borrow some philosophy from Marie Kondo, famous de-clutter expert, do these costs “spark joy” for your business in the now or long run? And when we say “spark joy”, we mean do they deliver an acceptable return on your investment?
For example, if you’re spending X amount of money a month on a website service that allows you to maintain an online presence and reach customers electronically, but also spend Z on paper newsletters, you should know which correspondence type “sparks the most joy” for your business.
Are you spending money to make money?
You have to be able to justify your spending with tangible profits or benefits. No spending should be done without reward or recoupment. Be brutal when comparing your costs and be willing to cut anything that’s not performing for you.
So how do we know if our money map is getting us to the right places?
Think of any areas where there are wasted resources. Do we keep paying for one-off freelance jobs? Price it out. It may be more cost-effective to have someone on-staff.
We should also make sure our business is not being fed on by any money-leeches, or things that are sucking little bits of money from our business without providing any benefits.
These little money parasites often go unnoticed because they're just taking a little bit of money at a time. Do be warned; the little bit money leeches take add up to big costs over time! So comb over your business carefully to avoid these types of costs. Hint: look at all your auto-renewing services!
At the end of the day, you need to be informed of all the ways your business spends and makes money.
In all of this, remember that managing the numbers is important, but the numbers are just a scorecard. So use them that way. At the end of each month, take a look at the actual results and compare that to the budget plan you created.
The magic is in seeing where reality didn’t line up with expectation and digging into the business to understand why. When you learn to make this connection between what the reports say and what’s actually happening in the business, you’ll have a powerful tool to stay on track to your goals.
We’ve all seen them. The people who completely miss a change in the traffic light because they’re looking at their phone. Or the person erratically slowing down and speeding up or swerving in and out of their lane. Of course, turns out they’re on their phone. Maybe that person has been you from time to time.
With phones, kids who want to see the other Disney movie on the screen in back, or bright digital billboards all competing for your attention, it may be hard to focus just on the task at hand: the road.
So where will you place your full attention?
For most drivers, the answer is easy: the road. We all want to get to our destinations safe so (most of the time) we choose paying attention to the road over paying attention to our phone.
Are you as selective with your focus when it comes to your business?
Just like when driving, there will always be a million things that compete for your attention and shift your focus from what matters in your business.
We could spend all day listing the things that will vie for your attention. And they all feel very real and very urgent in the moment. But the reality is most of them are a distraction from the few things in your business that actually matter.
Here’s the thing. Responding to all that stuff is seductive.
It makes you feel important. You’re gettin’ it done. You’re on top of things.
Actually, you’re running around in circles very fast and mistaking it for progress.
Productivity isn’t about getting a lot of stuff done. It’s about getting the right stuff done. And when you spend all your time reacting, you end up living your life according to other people’s priorities. It’s time to start living your life according to your priorities.
So how are we supposed to stay on track?
Staying focused when working is about as easy as meditating. And if you’re sitting here thinking, meditating? Just sitting still and thinking about nothing. How is that hard? Go ahead and try it. Getting to 30 seconds without an interrupting thought about what you’re doing next or how this posture is really starting to hurt your back is hard.
But just because focusing on the one right task at a time is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
When learning to meditate, you need to work your way up to it a little at a time. 30 seconds. Then 1 minute. Then 2. Before you know it, you’ll be able to summon laser focus on demand.
Works the same way in your business.
So let’s re-train our focus with the strategic hour.
That’s right. One hour.
One hour each day dedicated to focused work on something that will get you closer to your goals.
Pick a time and a place where you can avoid distractions. Turn off your phone. Silence the notifications on your computer. Close your office door and make it clear employees enter at their own risk during this time. If you can’t do that, come in early or work from some other location where your staff can’t find you.
Set a timer if you need to, and make sure you have some clear goals or intentions to work on.
Then get to work on that new product offer. Or the big marketing campaign. Or revising how you deliver your product. Work on that big strategic thing that will advance your business.
When that hour is up, then you can put it aside until tomorrow and get to all of that (meaningless) email chatter and other junk that steals most of your time.
It may seem like no time at all, but if you can commit to one hour of uninterrupted and focused work a day you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a week. Or a month. Or a quarter.
This is a lot like exercise for your brain.
When you start out, an hour will feel like a lot! You will be tempted to check your email, look at your Facebook feed, or take a quick trip to refill your coffee. You may spin around in your chair, or stare at the computer screen for what seems like forever when you look at the clock and think I’ve only been at this for 10 minutes!?
Don’t be embarrassed or discouraged!
All of us are constantly battling with trying to stay focused. Monks spend years of their lives working on their discipline and mental focus. So don’t feel bad if you’re not a monk your first day. As long as you’re trying, you are making progress.
You may think you don’t need to plan a strategic hour, but answer this:
When was the last time you intended to work on something important but never got to because of some distractions?
Yesterday? Thought so.
Did we get your attention? If you feel like you’re struggling to commit your full focus on your business, let us help!
We have experts to help you wrangle your thoughts and get you on track to productivity and results. Contact us today.
If you are having trouble knowing exactly where your business should be going or what you need to make your journey successful, we can help!
Book a free 1-hour Breakthrough Consultation with us.
When we look at nature, evolution happens in response to change.
In Florida, green lizards were threatened when their competition, brown lizards, started to invade the lower branches they call home. Within 15-20 generations, they grew larger toe-pads and scales that were sticker to cling to thinner, higher branches. By Mother Nature’s standards, that’s some quick problem solving.
So are you a green lizard?
When a brown lizard shows up in your business, you will need to evolve a whole lot faster than 15-20 generations!
Adapt or die
Just like in the natural world, in the business world, those who survive are those who can adapt to new conditions most efficiently. Being able to adapt requires two things.
Recognize the threat
If you never see the threat coming, you’re toast. Don’t be like the gazelle in those nature shows who strolls up to the pond for a drink only to become lunch for a hungry crocodile that they never saw coming.
Always be scanning for threats to your business.
And remember a “threat” isn’t necessarily a competitor. It’s also changing habits or preferences among your customers. Or new technologies that change how people do things. (Blockbuster, anyone?)
Make it a regular practice to identify changes in your environment and think about how you might need to change to react to them.
Of course, thinking about change isn’t enough. You actually have to do something.
Fast or slow?
When it comes time to do something, you basically have two choices:
Meticulously plan out every step in advance and do not deviate from the plan
Come up with an idea. Try it. See what happens. Adjust.
The first option is basically how giant corporations used to (still do to some degree) do things. It would start with the “The Plan.” The Plan was painstakingly developed over months or years. Then it was agonized over - reviewed and approved by what seemed like 100 layers of management. Then, maybe, it was implemented.
With any luck, 3 to 5 years later, they introduced something to the market. Would it work? Who knows? If not, back to the beginning.
If you’re thinking “That’s not a good way to stay in business.” - you’re right. That only works when your pockets are so deep you can survive for years without making any money. And that’s probably not you.
What you can learn from software developers
There’s another method of adapting that got its start in the tech world, but has spread throughout the business world. It’s called Agile development.
The Agile system is based on iterating to a final solution. The emphasis here is on doing, not planning. It basically goes like this:
In this method, you focus on coming up with an idea, trying it, seeing what happens, and adjusting based on results.
Where the old way was all about “The Plan,” Agile is all about taking action. Using the old way, failure is to be avoided at all costs. In Agile, there is no failure, only results.
The secret sauce to this method is that you and your team must be on the same page. Because the change and implementation happens quickly, you will need to be communicating constantly and ready to adjust the moment you get negative feedback from your customer base.
There is no wasted effort if something doesn’t pan out, since you’re always using the feedback to build upon what you’ve done.
But, if your team isn’t all on board with the same level of dedication or attention, things can fall through the cracks. And with speed, documentation is often less complete. So you might miss the exact tweak to the recipe that got you the best results.
However, the system is much more flexible and realistic for working in today’s market, where things are changing more rapidly than ever!
There’s only seconds on the board and your team is down a few points.
This last play will determine if you take the win or lose by this much.
At this point your adrenaline is pumping and you start standing on one foot (because you did that once in ’89 and that’s the year your team went to the playoffs).
The countdown continues and…
Sports are universally exciting. But at the core they are simply games.
So why are they so compelling?
There’s something great about the team mentality. When our team is up, we’re all up—from the fans to the players to even the investors.
So how can you get your employees to work as hard and enthusiastically for you as a player on a championship team?
Think about running your business like a game.
We want our employees to perform and they want to get paid. So getting them to work for their paychecks should be easy.
But even though it sounds fool-proof, many employers find that they are not getting the desired work from their employees.
So, if the pay doesn’t fluctuate, why does the work?
Emphasize that your employees are a team.
The game should focus on a team mentality. Everyone should feel that they are part of the team and their contributions will help get a win.
When your employees are invested in playing the “game” they are more likely to work harder and stay longer, because they will be more personally invested. This will boost their intrinsic (the fancy way of saying “internal” validation) motivation.
The “win” of the game might look different to the employer and the employee.
For example, you want to make a profit and an employee wants work-life balance.
So you create an environment with a modern business culture that includes casual dress and hours that allow your employees freedom and flexibility. This is a win for them.
When your “players” get this balance they will come into work fully charged. This leads to peak productivity, better performances, and more profit. This is a win for you.
When the game is played right all wins will be mutually beneficial.
What are the rules of the game?
Every business has different rules, but in this section I’ll explain an overview of some good “stock rules.”
For example, the game should be dynamic and keep players interested. So don’t be afraid to modify it often.
The game should focus on the positive.
Wins charge-up the team and make employees more willing to play. Penalties might discourage players from participating.
Some “rules” to think of:
Participation should lead to positive incentives or wins
Everyone is on the same team: emphasize “group-mind”
No one “loses” the game, but the game won’t work if people aren’t motivated to play or win
The game only ends when another begins; a game is always happening
It takes a good coach to get a team to achieve great things! Make sure you take an active role on your business's team. When you set a strong, enthusiastic example, they will want to work harder for a win.
A successful game is played when everyone wants to play.
So make the game winnable.
This doesn’t mean when the game is won it is over, just the opposite. These little wins are designed to keep players motivated.
Think back to the Kaizen principles, if you make small changes over time they will lead to greater changes in the long run.
Similarly, if you make small wins for your employees possible, they can work towards larger wins. This doesn’t only benefit them, but your business.
For example, if you are trying to increase sales make small goals each week. Like whoever sells one more unit than the average that week gets an extra three hours towards paid vacation.
The next week up the target number, as the year goes on you will see an increase in sales and motivations to sell.
Just make sure you have several of these games designed for the long-term and short term. Varying the goals or win will keep players engaged.
Vary what a win is.
The same goes for the incentives, you don’t want to give away too many monetary “wins,” because it can lead to diminished profits for you, and it will train employees to always expect payment. Be creative with wins.
A win can be anything from catered lunch, a casual dress day, or even bring your pet to work day. Just make sure it’s something meaningful to the people on the team.
At the end of day, when the team is working on a win, they are working for you.
The sun produces 386,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 watts of power. Yes, that’s 386 with 24 zeros after it. You can stand in the sun and not be injured.
A laser produces 5 watts of power. And it can cut a diamond.
What’s the difference?
When it comes to your business, which would you rather be? The sun or a laser?
Sure, it’s tempting to want to be the sun. You reach everyone.
But the laser gets the job done a whole lot faster and more efficiently by reaching only a very specific point.
By trying to serve everyone, you end up serving no one very well.
When you try to serve “everyone,” this naturally leads to you watering down your message to appeal to the masses.
This doesn’t create broad appeal. It creates no appeal.
If your message is vague enough to apply to anyone, chances are it’s generic. Generic translates to boring. And boring isn’t selling anyone on your idea.
Being generic and boring means the only thing you have to offer is doing things cheaper, faster, and with fewer mistakes than the other guy.
That’s a race to the bottom you don’t want to win.
Your business is unique, so your customer base should be, too!
Don’t be afraid to talk directly to your ideal customer. In fact, if you don’t, you’ll never cut through the noise and get their attention in the first place.
Be bold. Don’t hold back. Speak to that exact thing that your ideal customer needs. And speak it in the tone you ideal customer responds to.
When you do that, your message will be like a magnet pulling your ideal customer to you.
But what happens if you try to align the wrong ends of magnets?
They repel each other.
Just like any magnet will have one end that attracts and one end that repels, any message that strongly attracts one group will repel another.
Yes, you read that right; I want you to repel people.
Potential customers will have 1 of 3 reactions to what you put out into the world:
Attraction: They are drawn to you based on your message
Repulsion: Your message repels them.
“Meh”: They aren’t moved one way or the other
So, the minute you start talking to your ideal customer in exactly the way that attracts them, you’re going to start repelling other people.
That’s better than OK. It’s exactly what you want. The people you end up repelling are not the customers you want.
When you try to water down your message to win everyone over, everyone will have “meh” reaction. It is better to go for the “wows” and suffer a few “yikes” than receive universal “meh,” no one is moved by mediocre things.
Who's that? Your ideal customer should be unique and specific. You want to corner a small niche of people so you can draw deep and intense support from them.
Find your ideal customer.
You need to find your tribe. These are the people who need what you do and vibe with the way you do it.
Let’s start by identifying what your ideal customer looks like. Be specific.
In fact, be so specific that you (or anyone else) who reads the description of your ideal customer could say, “That’s Bob” or “That’s Anne.”
Your description of your ideal customer should be so specific that people who hear it can name someone they know who is your ideal customer.
Here are some things about your ideal customer to get you thinking. Use as many as apply, and add any that are missing.
Establishing an ideal customer is a lot like playing matchmaker for your business
You need ideal customers who, like you, are crazy passionate about your business.
This leads to having a more loyal and long term customer base.
This can increase unprompted word-of-mouth marketing (which is free! And proven to be highly successful) as well as differentiate you from your competition more clearly.
How are you different?
The truth is, you have to do hard work and identify what distinguishes your business from your competition.
You serve your customers to the best of your ability and care about the work you do. But it is important you know what exactly you’re doing to set your business apart from the competition.
If you’re having trouble with this identification you can try a couple of approaches:
What are you proud of about your business? Make a list.
What is unique about how you do what you do?
Do you think other businesses would have the same list?
Why or why not?
Do these things set your business apart?
Your business should give off a big, bold message to attract a group of rabidly loyal customers.
You can’t be shy.
You will need to repel and attract people with force.
Go full throttle with a distinct company philosophy, image, brand or motto.
Leave no room for neutral reactions. Ideal customers should flood towards it and the repelled customers should go running.
Go a mile deep and an inch wide, not a mile wide and an inch deep.
When you zero in on a very specific person, and you unabashedly communicate your value and uniqueness, it’s like digging a hole a mile deep and an inch-wide. When you don’t, it’s like scraping an inch off the surface of a mile-wide strip.
So, which are you?
The laser that cuts an inch-wide hole a mile deep? Or the sun that warms the top inch of a mile-wide strip?
How to unlock the purpose that will motivate you to be your best
“Why does your business exist?”
It’s a question I often ask at the start of working with a new client.
Frequently, I’ll get a quizzical look and a reply something like “To make money.”
Some even follow that up with a lecture right out of business school. “Everyone knows,” they say, “the only purpose of a business is to earn a return for its shareholders.”
Sure, any business has to make money. But there are three problems with focusing on that as the purpose of the business.
Saying the purpose of a business is to make money is kind of like saying the purpose of a person is to eat and breathe. It’s necessary but not sufficient.
The logical endpoint of a business whose only purpose is to make money is Enron. Or Theranos. Or Lehman Brothers. Or any number of other examples of businesses doing shady things. Money as a sole motivator can easily lead management down the road of unethical behavior, if not straight up fraud.
Speaking of money as a sole motivator. It just isn’t that effective.
The first two items speak for themselves. Let’s explore the third one a little.
Money is an extrinsic motivator.
And extrinsic motivators usually only work in the short term.
First, you may be thinking, ex-what?
Extrinsic is a 50-cent word that refers to something that provides validation outside of ourselves. It can be a reward or avoidance of punishment, e.g. getting money or going into work to avoid being fired.
Reality TV might have us believe people will do anything for money, but the truth is everyone has a limit when it comes to extrinsic motivations.
These goals keep us interested for brief periods of time, but they lack longevity.
If we’re not driven by something inside us, it doesn’t matter how much money we are offered. We won’t care enough to do the hard work.
Don’t believe me?
Think of a time when you had a job you didn’t like and your boss threw more money at you to keep you from quitting. How long did that last? Not very.
The same idea applies in reverse.
Research has shown if we like our job, more money won’t necessarily lead to more engagement. People working entire salary brackets apart who have the same level of interest in their position report similar job satisfaction.
The bottom line is we cannot expect money to give us the same drive as something that we feel passionate towards.
If money can’t buy happiness, what can?
We are three times as likely to doggedly pursue a goal when we’re motivated intrinsically - or driven by internal rewards.
Intrinsic goals are all about self-actualization - enhancing one’s esteem or fostering one’s passions or interests.
This isn’t just me blathering on about purpose and self-actualization and intrinsic goals. There’s research out there to support what I’m saying. And it’s conclusions are clear:
Purposes-driven businesses do better.
Employees will be more engaged and motivated to work if they are working for a purpose.
Customers will be willing to spend more money if they know the company or product is supporting a cause.
Whole Food CEO, John Mackey, and his research partner, Rajendra Sisodia, explain this in the theory of “Conscious Capitalism.”
They believe capitalism will thrive when businesses work for the common good of all its parts (employees, customers, shareholders, executives, customers etc.) as well as the community it serves and the world at large.
They feel corporations have a duty to perform as ethically and “consciously” as possible. Meaning they must be aware of their impact at each level of production and consumption.
This may sound noble, but are you worried it also sounds expensive?
Worry not; these businesses see a big return on their investment.
Sisoda found the brands participating in Conscious Capitalism saw 1025% return on investment over 10 years vs. 122% for the S&P 500, and 316% for the companies profiled in the bestselling book “Good to Great.”
So not only do these companies have a greater purpose and do good for the world, they do very well for themselves.
I’m not talking about cause marketing or supporting charities
Though those things are good things to do. And they could be elements of your company’s bigger purpose.
I’m talking about organizing your company around a purpose.
So what is your “purpose?”
Your purpose doesn’t have to be a grand “save the world” thing, but it can be. Your purpose is anything that motivates you to do what you do, that’s not a paycheck, of course.
This purpose can simple.
Simple could mean improving the lives of the people in your community.
It could also mean implementing more environmentally sustainable business practices, partnering up with a local charity, or implementing more ethical production processes.
It’s already in you. You just need to bring it to the surface.
So what’s your impact?
As you think about what impact your business makes on the world try this simple exercise.
Complete this sentence: “My business exists to…”
Keep completing this sentence until it gives you goosebumps. And you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
When you find the purpose that brings your business into alignment with what truly matters to you, you’ll be unstoppable.
Do you have an ending to our sentence starter “My business exists to…”? Declare it to the world in the comments below.
Having a hard time getting there? We help people align their businesses with what matters to them every day. Get in touch.
If you are having trouble knowing exactly where your business should be going or what you need to make your journey successful, we can help!
Book a free 1-hour Breakthrough Consultation with us.