Position Yourself as THE Expert Part 1

To make your business soar, you must position yourself as an expert. When your potential clients are deciding who they will do business with, they are less concerned with price than you might think. Today's savvy potential clients are most interested in working with who can do the best job. As an executive coach working with business owners and service professionals, I tell my clients over and over “everybody wants to do business with an expert.” If you want to increase your business success, establish yourself as an expert. People will give you their business to you if they know you have the expertise to do an excellent job for them.

There are several things you can do to position yourself as an expert. The first and most important item for you to do is:

See yourself as an expert. If you do not consider yourself as an expert then you have two choices: become an expert fast or find a new profession. Keep in mind what comes easy to you does not come easy to everyone – and many will gladly pay top dollar for your knowledge and expertise.

In addition, use some of the following methods to raise standing as an expert in your field.

Public Speaking is a very important way to gain exposure and potential clients. When you are in business remember it is always better to be in the front of the room with your mouth open than in the back of the room with your mouth shut. There are several groups meeting in your geographic area that are always looking for speakers. Put together a list of topics you can discuss and send it out to the program chair of different organizations you identify as groups filled with your potential clients. Whenever you are speaking, you can invite potential clients who you would like to hear you speak. Speaking gives people an opportunity to meet you and get to know you before they meet with you individually to consider becoming your client.

Do public seminars. Do not think that you will make money on these seminars. In fact you may spend a good amount to put one together; however, there are benefits to creating your own forum for presenting your work. You determine how long you will speak and what the format will be. You can target participation to people you know are potential clients for you. You can do press releases and event listings in publications that lots of people will read even if they do not attend. This results in people saying to you the ever popular phase "I see your name everywhere." Establishing name recognition is a big part of positioning yourself as an expert.

Join The Chamber of Commerce. When you are a member of your local chamber you are recognized as a legitimate businessperson, and you are acknowledged as someone who understands the importance of supporting the business community in which you live. Also, your Chamber can provide you with many opportunities to position yourself as an expert, like being on a panel, writing an article for the newsletter, and volunteering your expertise for the organization.

Be active in your industry association. Anybody who is an expert is a member of their local and or national industry group. These groups, like other industry specific groups, offer monthly or quarterly meetings that allow you to keep current on changes in your industry, as well as offering you a place to meet other members of your profession. Consider doing presentations at industry conferences this will allow you to be considered an expert by your peers.

Become involved in the leadership of your industry association. Leadership in your industry professional association automatically gives the impression that you are a local expert. This role also allows you to keep your hand on the pulse of what is happening in your industry in your area.

To be continued ...

Industry Domination – 5 Steps to Own Your Market

It is fascinating to study what makes the difference between a person who owns a small struggling business that stays a small struggling business, and a person who owns a small struggling business that becomes a strong, successful business and an industry leader.

It boils down to the constant innovation, simplification, and optimization of the key systems in your business. This may seem like a tall order, yes. However, I promise you it’s well worth it!

Why? Because the process that sets an industry leader apart from a struggling business owner, and the process that can help an average business owner become an industry leader - is the same thing.

It’s five-step system known as the "PRIMO" Process.

“Primo” is a Latin word that means “first, foremost, and most distinguished.” All the things I know you want to have associated with your business. Here’s an outline of the five-steps to developing the innovative systems that can help you become a distinguished leader in your industry:

1) Prioritize: Prioritize the list of all critical systems* in your business. You will start with the most important ones first.

2) Research: Research and benchmark the current level of effectiveness of the target system.

3) Imagine: Imagine new ways you can innovate the current system. See my example below for clarification. (I intentionally use the word imagine because you must not only “step outside the box” of conventional thinking, you must often smash that old box to pieces!)

4) Make your move! Take action on the 20% that will give you 80% of the needed results.

5) Observe and optimize: Observe your changes, measure and record your results, and change your approach as necessary until you get the results you want.

If you want to accelerate your success and innovate at a pace that you don’t even need to think about what your competitors are doing, you’ll need to rotate different areas of your company in order to polish and perfect.

I coach entrepreneurs on effective techniques for getting the most out their PRIMO Sessions.
Here’s some short-hand of how you can begin to apply the PRIMO Process on your own this, and every, month.

A. Set aside at least two hours once per month to sit down with your team and proactively practice the PRIMO Process on one area that’s critical to your business growth. (For larger companies with 25-plus people, have one meeting per department.)

B. During the month following that first meeting, observe, measure and document the level of improvement generated by the new system.

C. At the start of the following month’s meeting, begin with a brief status report on your target system, and discuss further optimization. Then use the remainder of your meeting to address the next system in order of priority.

You won't be able to achieve a leadership position in your industry without innovation, and you definitely won't maintain that position unless you have systems in place. These two key components of growth can sometimes work against each other and it requires a fine balance between the two. The PRIMO Process is the key to keeping this delicate balance in your company.

*Are you clear about the systems you need to have in place? Ask yourself when doing any task or activity how it could be done with less effort, and more ease. Could someone else do it? Does it need to be done at all? Could it be done in combination with something else?

Coach's Example: Many years ago when I was growing my Shaklee business, I found myself spending a large amount of time at the Post Office sending out packages (95% were less than 1 lb.). It occurred to me I was spending at least one hour of my day driving to and from the PO and waiting in line. It seemed like a lot of wasted time! The situation was also complicated with the fact that my daughter Lexi needed to go along for the ride, too. Imagine me, with an infant, several loose packages, a purse, the line, the traffic (I'm exhausted just thinking about it!). It was a glorious day when I asked myself the question: "What is a better way to do this?!?!" By doing some research, I discovered (a) the mail was picked up and delivered every single day right at my front door, (b) I could purchase a scale for about $15, and (c) have unlimited denominations of postage delivered to my door for a $1 service charge (check out: www.usps.com). While purchasing my scale, I also stocked up on needed supplies. This "gave me" that additional hour to be productive, generate more business and ultimately make more money!

When do you need to ask yourself the question, "What is a better way to do this?" (All the time.) You'll be delighted at the right answers you get from asking the right question.

The Power of the Handwritten Note

For years I have touted the importance is sending just a few handwritten notes every day:
  • in gratitude for things other do for you (such as buy lunch, refer new business, hire you or send a gift)
  • after meeting someone for the first time (leaves a powerful, positive impression and opens perhaps otherwise closed doors)
  • to start to bridge the gap with acquaintances from "friendly" to "friend," thus increasing the likelihood of future business*
  • to recognize someone for a personal or professional achievement
  • to offer condolences on someone's loss
  • or just to say hello and enclose an article or other piece of important information
I've found the solution for those of you who feel your handwriting - when you're not focusing on writing in your "nicest and neatest" (thank you Lexi's 2nd grade teacher, the fabulous Mrs. Fowler) - is less than stellar and even illegible. Fontifier.com turns your handwriting into a font that you can use just like the ones that come standard on your computer. You are 7 quick steps and just $9 (!) away from having your handwriting available to you, just like Arial or Times New Roman is right now. Combined with your personalized notes, you can send notes that have that magic personal touch without the stress of wondering if they can read it.

Here is a great stationery resource. My recommendation is to have notes with your name and business address (without your business name). This elevates the relationship to personal - which is crucial for business success. In perfect or imperfect worlds, we do business with our friends - people we know, like and trust. Sending notes is one of the best ways to begin and continue that process.

Market Mentality: Pull Back or Be Proactive?

After my 50th conversation about how bad the market is over lunches, business group meetings and client conversation, I thought it was time for some words of hope and encouragement ... and a few action steps for good measure.

What I hear is most everyone talking hard times and lack - and getting more and more of what they're talking about. What I'm observing is a nice percentage of companies, firms and even solo service providers doing a great deal of business, not just surviving but really thriving right now. I'm pretty sure these same companies are continuing to focus on what they want, executing their plans and being diligent about taking the market share no-one else is even thinking about right now. How about you?

A colleague and client of mine pointed me to this study published at Penn State a few years ago giving merit to the idea that executing - and continuing to execute - your already-in-place, calculated, strategic (dare I say intentional) marketing plan is the key ingredient to your future business success ... during and after this recession.

While your competition scales back in fear, lays off key players, and stops most if not all marketing activities while hoping to ride out the storm, you can reach out with gusto and grab an even larger market share than was available even 3-6 months ago.

Here are some additional moves that will yield bottom-line increasing results:
  • Dial for dollars. If you've slowed down (at all), use your time wisely by reaching out to folks who haven't heard from you in awhile. As my successful colleague Greg Jones says: if you're complaining about not being busy, then you have plenty of time to talk with him about his services.
  • Gather 4-6 colleagues over lunch, share your ideal clients profiles and use your bench strength to gather referrals and new business opportunities.
  • Brochures in the supply room? Boxes of business cards in your desk? They aren't generating business where they sit - be proactive in your distribution of marketing materials.
  • Crystallize your ideal client profile (email me if you'd like an exercise to help with the crystallizing) and categorize your clients into 3 groups: (1) ideal, (2) OK but not perfect and (3) fire at once. Cultivate more ideal clients, give your not perfect clients more love and attention so they have the opportunity to step up to being ideal, and fire the rest (counterintuitive, I know ... you'll be making room for more of what you want).
  • Network like a mad fool - and do it with intention and lots of strategy. Don't go anywhere without (a) being clear who else is going to be there and (b) having a plan for following up and creating rich relationships.
Now is the time to take advantage of all the hard-times talk, thrive through this time and position yourself for the future. Go for it!

STMA 100-Day Group Coaching

14 Weeks of Intensive Group Business Coaching with the Short-Term Massive Action (STMA) 100-Day Action Program Business Coach that will change your business forever!

STMA™ - Short-Term Massive Action Group Coaching Your 100-Day Action Coaching Program for Accelerated Success

Have you wondered what it would take to jump-start your business and take it to a whole new level? Perhaps you are struggling with the basic challenges every business owner and service professional faces – procrastination, time management, disorganization, people “problems”, executing strategic plans (or even creating them!), balancing personal and professional life -- and there are, of course, many others.

For a select group of individuals, I have created the STMA™ (Short-Term Massive Action) 100-Day Action Coaching Program for Accelerated Success to help you get – and stay – on track! This Program is for anyone who wants to jump-start or keep their momentum, and create success in every area of their life faster and easier than ever before, and is excited at the prospect of having the benefits of their own personal mastermind group as an added bonus!

I know this Program works because it is one that I’ve used personally - in addition, there are over 250 graduates of this program, many who have completed more than 5 consecutive 100-day programs.

The STMA™ Group Coaching Program will help you to:

1. Identify your Point A – where you are now, and your Point B – where you want to go and the results you want to create.
2. Step up your level of intensity, intention, attention to detail and sense of urgency.
3. Stay on task and accountable, moving toward your goals and objectives.
4. Make business development a priority, identifying activities that bear short and long-term fruit.
5. Work smarter, not harder. You will work less, yet create better results.
6. Create unstoppable momentum, more life balance, more business and more money than ever before (and you ever thought possible!).
7. Begin to master skills that will upgrade the way you run your business now and in the future.
8. Maintain integrity, balance and fulfillment.
9. Network with the brightest minds in the business world – your fellow STMA™ participants!

Here’s how it works:
1. You receive your STMA™ 100-Day Program Manual. You will have the opportunity to answer the Point A questions and create your 100-Day Action Plan. You will have a pre-start call with your coach and fellow group members.
2. Day 1 of 100 – First call, review of goals and desired outcomes, including your 100-Day Action Plan.
3. 6 Calls scheduled over the course of 100 Days. Prior to these calls, you will have the opportunity to complete your Coaching Call Maximizer.
Call content:
Session 2: Getting Organized & Effective Time Maximization
Session 3: Intentional Strategic Marketing
Session 4: People* Management (Family, Friends, Co-workers & Clients)
Session 5: Identifying & Magnetizing Your Ideal Clients and Strategic Partners
Session 6: Consistent, Effective & Efficient Marketing
Session 7: Keeping the Momentum

4. Day 100 of 100 Celebration Call. You will identify your progress to your original vision, goals and purpose.
5. Post-STMA Review Call – a comprehensive review of the past 100 Days. You will have the opportunity to assess and evaluate your progress over the course of the Program and set yourself up for future success.
6. You will have the option to begin another STMA™ 100-Day Group Program, step up to Private Coaching, have “a la carte” (when you need it) coaching, or take a break from coaching.

Additionally, you will have the option to submit a Weekly Progress Sheet on Fridays or over each weekend for review and additional support.

Ready to get started? Questions? Reach out to me at 702.353.5100 at your earliest convenience.

Look forward to hearing you on the call!

Inspiration * Motivation * Transformation

Six Daily Actions

I got almost everything done today I wanted to. I definitely got all of the important, must-do tasks checked off. I have a set list of priority items I work on daily (workout, read, write, marketing, coach, family time) that take me toward my goals. These are my six daily actions, and I've been using and teaching this practice for many years. This list is my touchstone - it keeps me focused and on track.

Once identified, the first step is to ask yourself, “What are my top three goals?" Next, based on those goals, "What are the most important action items I must commit to in order to achieve my goals?" It's important to immediately calendar those six daily action items. Suddenly your list of activities will have a much greater impact on moving your business/practice forward. It also helps eliminate the questions around where future work is coming from.

Coach's Note: Schedule 60-80 percent of your workday on your six daily actions. Notice I didn’t say you would work only 60-80% of your day, I said schedule 60-80% of your day. This will allow for you to have the flexibility to address client or staff challenges, work on projects, and you can effectively go after opportunities as they occur. By not scheduling every minute of the day, when something pops up you’ll have the time to address it without rearranging your schedule, and everyone else’s schedule, to deal with it.

Once you've identified your Six Daily Actions, print them out and place them where you can see them all the time.

E-mail and Phone Calls in Real Time? NO!

To control the animals known as email and voicemail, I recommend reading and listening to them just twice a day so that you can gain control of your time.

Unless your job entails giving people immediate responses to questions, you should be checking in only twice per day. Do not build the expectation with customers and clients that you are always available, thus setting yourself up to be interrupted in the middle of every conversation and every thinking moment. See my post here about saying no, in case you missed it and would like special permission to do it.

Case in point - have you ever been really on a roll, completely creative and getting things done, only to be interrupted by something completely unnecessary and unimportant? (Of course you have, I can see you nodding!) How long did it take you to get back to your great place? Or are you still trying to get there?

The vast majority of the people I’ve observed could easily tell others, “I check my e-mail and voicemail twice a day, at 8 AM and 2 PM. If you need a response from me, then just know that I will check in at those times and respond to your need when I see it.” In that way, the other person knows he has to take responsibility for getting info to you in a timely manner.

You may not feel this particular suggestion would work for you - consider, then, how you could customize this strategy to work best for you.

It feels great to take control and be in charge. Give it a try. Let me know how its going for you ...

Strategic Marketing

Who's thriving in this market? The folks who strategically market their goods and services consistently and intentionally. Where do you find an abundance of clients - no matter what the economy is doing? Here is where you most likely can find the low-hanging fruit:
  • Clients. The people you have served in the past or are serving currently. Staying in touch regularly is wise - touching base just to say 'hi' is enough. Do your current clients utilize all facets of what you have to offer? Do they have all of their business with you? If not, Go for No! by asking for the additional business.
  • Internal Marketing. Unless you're a sole practitioner, you have colleagues who may or may not have an accurate view of your skill set, abilities and available services. Just dipping into the Rolodexes of your partners, co-workers and colleagues should yield enough business to keep you busy for quite some time. Schedule lunches, cocktails, dinners and social events to create the friendships that will yield more business.
  • External Marketing. Have you identified 10-12-15 strategic partners - those who have your same target market yet are not in competition with you? When one of my clients, friends, or colleagues need a product or service, I can almost always reach into my network and connect them with a friend who can help them immediately - and who will take great care of them because of the introduction. In order to thrive, you simply must be in constant contact with other business professionals. As the great book by Harvey Mackay says: Dig your well before you're thirsty.
I will admit it seems quite boring to be consistent in your marketing - and the results are anything but boring. The great news is that very few people actually do it - so just by showing up and continuing to show up, you will set yourself apart from your competition. And that's exactly what this type of market calls for ...

Spend the Majority of Your Time Improving Your Strengths

Put all of your skills in three categories: A, B, and C . Assuming you have ten hours a week that you could spend developing your skills. In ten hours you could take a C skill to a B- or you could take an A skill to an A+. Which one, the A+ or the B- skill, will have a greater impact on your business? The only time I suggest you focus on developing your weaknesses is if you have a debilitating weakness.

For example, I’m basically a C player when it comes to technology, but I’ve invested time in learning about podcasts, blogging, and websites, because those are critically important to my business.

If you are a C level public speaker and public speaking is critically important to your function, then I encourage you to improve that weakness. However, if you’re a “C” at spreadsheets and you have a highly competent assistant, then I don’t encourage you to take a computer class just to improve your skills.

Not enough time to get it all done? Try these ...

A client told me today she had people in her office for 4 hours yesterday - FOUR HOURS! Multiplied times her hourly rate equals ... ouch. Additionally, her productivity was down and without question she was frustrated. She was finding herself in situations where colleagues would stop by her office with a question - and then not leave!

We created a short list of "get out of this conversation" actions: (1) Use a countdown timer on your computer. Set it to "ding" after 10 minutes, then excuse yourself to execute an activity that requires privacy (and for your visitor to shut the door on their way out). (2) Shut (lock?) your door. Route everyone through your assistant. (3) Use a "PWT" (private work time) object ... I learned this from an engineering client of mine who works in a cubicle environment. Whenever employees of his firm display a certain object (such as a mini orange work cone or even a sign) this was a signal they were using focused work time on something important and they were not to be disturbed. (4) Excuse yourself to check on a long-awaited fax or even to use the loo.

The mantra I hear often is: "I don't have time to do everything I need to do." When you set boundaries and keep them firm, you will find yourself with plenty of time to do everything you need to do ... and still have time to do the things you want to do.