Approaching the finish line

I have heard athletes say that when they run a race that they get an energy boost when they can see the finish line.  I know that when I am working on a project (in my personal life that may be crocheting a blanket) as I get close to the end, I get a boost of enthusiasm for seeing the finished product.  We also find this in our business environment when coming to the completion of a project.

But, what happens when the finish line seems elusive?  What happens when the finish line is too far off?  How do we get that burst of energy and enthusiasm to complete our goals?

First, do you have your goals and your projects clearly articulated?  If you haven’t defined your target goals or projects you will never know when you are getting close to the finish line.  A sure fire way to have your enthusiasm for your business disappear and go into hiding.

Secondly, are your projects to big?  Is the finish line so far off in the distance that you lose your enthusiasm and quit the race?  If this is the case then look for smaller milestones within your project.  Make them realistic and meaningful, but know that each is important to moving you forward.  As you approach each interim milestone, see it as a finish line that you are looking forward to crossing.

What else in your business can be viewed as a finish line, even if it is not a ‘project’? Maybe there are people you want to connect with, a book that you want to read, or employees you want to get to know more.  Look at your ‘want to do’ list and see if you can look at it as accomplishing a goal.

When we see a finish line that we really want to cross, we discover a new found energy that propels us forward to that sense of accomplishment and joy.

What are some of the ‘finish lines’ for you in your business?

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Strive for Confidence

I had the great pleasure of attending a wedding in Switzerland this month. One of the things that struck me when the DJ went from playing a popular song to playing a Viennese Waltz was that the dance floor was suddenly filled with couples of all ages waltzing. In the days that followed I wondered why I found that so impressive.  For me, it wasn’t the music but the confidence with which the men lead their partners around the floor.  Their confidence in their ability and the trust of their partner to guide them to the rhythm made for a beautiful experience.

This all got me to thinking about confidence.  Everything in life feels better when we are experiencing it through confidence.  This is true in your business as well as your personal life.  Think of the times that you have felt truly confident.  Many people take up hobbies based on something that they can do with confidence.  What is it for you?  Singing, woodworking, sewing, gardening?  Think of your hobby or something that you like to do, like dancing,   When you know what you are doing you enjoy it more and want to share it more.

Having confidence in business not only makes your life more enjoyable, but it also projects to your customers that you are someone they want to do business with.  It is not enough to just be good at what you do (that is the minimum that is expected), but you must also be able to confidently express to people what you do and how you help them. How are you doing with being able to clearly articulate what it is that your business provides?

Doing something with confidence can take practice.  If you are not feeling great about the way you convey your business message, make sure that you take some time to practice. Put together what it is that you want to say.  Make sure that you express how it is that you help people, not just what it is that you do.  Then practice, practice, practice.  As you practice it, you will also refine what you have to say.  Practicing can take time.  Make sure that you figure out how you will fit in time for practicing.

Expressing your message confidently is an important part of marketing your business. Having a clear conversation at any moment about your business is the minimum amount of marketing that you need to do.  So, if you are feeling bad that you are not doing any marketing, ask yourself if you can at the very least market your business with a short conversation anywhere and anytime.

Why Smaller is Better – Running Your Business is Easier

In my last blog post I talked about how narrowing your focus can actually get you more clients.  That is of course great, but another super benefit is that a narrower focus makes the running of your business easier and less complex.

Knowing where you are going and enjoying it

When you narrow your focus, you start to hone in on what it is you do best and like to do the most. You start to become the expert in your specialty. This allows you to focus your learning in a particular area. You can drill down deeper into the details of your field. It eliminates the need to be researching and keeping up on numerous areas. This only makes you feel like you don’t really know that much about each area anyway. Becoming the expert helps you to deliver your message and your product with confidence. It eliminates that feeling that there are so many others out there that clearly know more than you do (because they have specialized!).

Defining your focus also helps you to know what jobs to accept and which ones to turn down. You can’t do it all and be effective, so why ruin your reputation by accepting jobs outside of your area of expertise?

When you are confident about your specialty, it allows you to clearly define to potential collaborators where you fit into the process . You can talk to them without threatening them with competition. You do your part, they do theirs and you all win (even the customers).

Probably the biggest impact to the running of your business is that crafting your marketing message is so much easier. It is clear what you do. It is clear who benefits from your product. It is clear how the customer’s life becomes better.

If you are looking to get the confusion and stress out of your business, consider narrowing your focus. After all, you started this business to do something that you love and enjoy.

Why smaller is better – Getting More Clients

Would you rather be in the small, calm center or out in the storm?

You have heard about focusing your business on a niche market.  The concept is to narrow what you provide, do it really well, become an expert, and have customers beating down your door.  Sounds great, but becomes scary when you think of all of the other things that you could provide or the customers that you could service.

One of the reasons to narrow your focus is that you will attract more customers.  Here are some of the reasons that you will get more customers:

You become the expert

Because you are able to focus on a smaller amount of things to know and do, you are able to drill down deeper into the understanding and delivery of this product (be it a physical product, a service, or knowledge).

Once you have have a reputation as the expert in your field, you become the ‘go to person’ for those who have the problem for which you provide solutions.  It then becomes easy for people to know when to refer you to their friends, business partners, or customers.  Other business people then know when it is appropriate to collaborate with you.

Your message is clear

When you focus, you are then able to clearly state what problems you solve, what you do, and the change that the person will feel by doing business with you.  A clear message allows potential customers to self-select you as the answer they have been looking for. An un-clear message creates uncertainty so that even the customers who would benefit the most will pass you by.

You can target your message

Part of focusing is knowing your ideal target market.  This allows you to get your message to the areas where they ‘hang-out’.  No more ‘shot gun’ marketing.

There is so much more to narrowing your focus in business.  These are just a few things to consider, especially if the whole concept just seems counter intuitive to you.  Let me know if you have had experience in this area and how you made out.

Valentine’s Day – Love and Your Business

Valentine’s Day!  A good day to think about Love.  How does Love fit into your business?

Love is not just about the spark between two lovers.  Love is expressed by the way we treat each other.  Are you able to treat your customers and your employees with Love?

Love is compassion.  Are you able to look at your customers with compassion?  Can you take a moment to put yourself in their shoes, to understand and feel where they are coming from?  Do you know their needs and wants and understand how your business is going to affect change in their lives?

Love is allowance and acceptance. Are you able to look at your employees, see the situation of their lives and not judge it?  Can you truly allow them to be in the situation that they have created for themselves and know that it is right and perfect for them at this time?  If their situation is causing disruption in your business, can you speak kindly to them about it?  Can you communicate your needs to them with an air of kindness and not one of judgment?  If you feel you need to release them from your business, can you do this with true Love?

Life gets oh so much easier when we come from a place of true Love.  Love is not just reserved for the home, the bedroom, or a place of worship.  Bringing it with us to our place of work everyday makes for a stronger business.  It attracts better workers and better clients.  How are you doing with expressing Love through your business this Valentine’s Day … and every day?

Small Business Decisions – Keeping Focused

My goodness there is so much out there to help you to succeed in business.  So many tools on the internet that make things easier for you to automate and move forward.  As a small business person it can be totally overwhelming and confusing to even think of how to choose the tools for you.  You get emails in your inbox, ads on Facebook, offers of free webinars and teleseminars.  Even if you narrow it down to just marketing tools, you are still swimming in a seas of possibilities.  Where do you begin and how do you decide?

If I say the word ‘plan’ do I hear a groan from you?  Not the ‘planning’ word again. Did you have a plan in the past that you did not follow?  Did you find that after you started the plan that you needed to veer off in another direction?  Well, maybe the word ‘plan’ is too rigid.

Let’s try this on for size:  ‘Foundation’.

When you have a foundation that is built of:

  • Your Business Purpose (the difference that you make in the world)
  • How you help your customer’s lives to be better
  • A clear description of your ideal customer
  • A clear description of your specialty

you will always be standing on a solid business plan.  You will have built the parameters within which to make your decisions.

With this foundational ‘knowing’ you can answer questions like:

  • Will this tool help us to reach our target market?
  • Will hiring this person enable us to help our customers better?
  • Will this new product offering make our specialty more robust or does it detract from what we do?
  • Will this article help to enhance our reputation as a [specialty]?

You will not need a plan with a pert chart to get you where you want to go.  Although I do recommend writing all of this out so that you can share it with all of your employees as well as to remind yourself when times get confusing, you will find that your strong commitment to your foundational elements will become second nature to you.

Life as a small business owner becomes easier and more rewarding when you have a clear picture within which to place yourself.  Take some time to build that foundation.