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3 Steps to Success

Business Development, Personal Development, Uncategorized Comments Off

For the past few months, I’ve been sharing some of my personal productivity secrets in a series of articles to help you “Master Plan” your life so you can finally accomplish all your goals. Ultimately, it all boils down to how you spend your time. What you do and what you fail to do.
Setting goals is easy. Establishing priorities is pretty simple too. The tough part is following through. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to coach yourself through the process.
1. You must recognize that good intentions are not enough.
Writing up a list of yearly goals or New Year’s resolutions might make you feel great. It may even make you feel like you are on your way. But you can’t claim to be making any progress toward accomplishing anything until you start acting on your Master Plan.
2. Don’t spend too much time thinking about your future success.
Imagining what you want out of life – the big house, the luxury cars, the yacht – may give you pleasure. But despite what the think-and-be-rich gurus says, it won’t make you successful. You must spend most of your time taking action, not daydreaming about all the toys you will have “some day.”
Most of the most accomplished people I know – and in that group I include some success coaches who preach the think-and-get-rich philosophy – don’t waste their time thinking about success. What they think about is how to do a certain task or solve a specific problem. They know that wealth and success will come to them if they have a good plan and follow it.
3. Break up your busy day.
Once you begin to implement your Master Plan, you will find that you will want to keep working for hours and hours at a time. Because you will be making progress toward your goals, you will be energized by the work itself. (If this has not been your experience with work before, be prepared to start enjoying your days a whole lot more!)
The extra surge of motivation will be very useful in getting lots more important work done. You’ll be working more intensely, more intelligently, and just plain longer and harder than ever. But because you’ll be working longer and harder, you’ll need to force yourself to take little breaks – three- to five-minute breaks to reduce stress, recharge your batteries, and ensure that your body is not stuck in the same position too long.
It’s not easy to take breaks once you are in a groove. In fact, you may be amazed at how difficult it can be. Most of the successful businesspeople I know think nothing of sitting at a computer or being on the telephone for four to six hours at a stretch. This is a testament to the motivational power of having a Master Plan, but it still puts a lot of pressure on your body and brain.
To make sure you take the breaks you need, I recommend a very simple device: an old-fashioned egg timer. Gene Schwartz, the legendary copywriter who was instrumental in the success of Boardroom Reports and Rodale Publishing, never sat down to work without setting an egg timer for 33 minutes. When the buzzer went off, he walked away from his computer and did something else for five minutes. He said the habit made him more productive. He said it was an important part of the process that made him a success.
When I’m writing, I set my timer according to the writing objective I’ve set for myself. Since I’m currently working on many writing projects at once, my daily goal is usually between 300 and 1,200 words. It takes me, on average, about 10 minutes to write 100 words. Therefore, I can knock off 300 words in a half-hour, 600 words in an hour, and a full, 1,200-word ETR article in two hours.
That’s how I break up my time – in half-hour or hourly segments with an occasional two-hour sprint. Between segments, I usually stretch backward and forward over a Pilates barrel I keep outside my office. Sometimes I’ll go outside and just breathe in the fresh air.
My afternoons consist of meetings and phone calls, which have natural breaks so I don’t need my egg timer. (I schedule most of my meetings for 15 or 30 minutes. It is seldom necessary to have a meeting any longer than that.)
Like Gene Schwartz, I have found my mini-breaks to be very refreshing.
Sometimes, if I had a short night of sleep and an intense midday workout, I get very tired in the middle of the afternoon. When I feel that way, I lie down and try to nap for 15 minutes. I will do that anywhere and under any circumstances. I’m not embarrassed by it. I think people who don’t understand it should be embarrassed, not me.
Once, suffering from jet lag in London, I lay down on the floor underneath the conference table before a board meeting. Fifteen minutes before the meeting was to start, NR, a board member and multimillionaire German publisher, came in. Our eyes met. I thought he might say something. Instead, he took off his shoes, lay down next to me, and we both enjoyed a power nap.
To help alleviate the boredom of working in one place all day, I split my time between my home office above my garage (where I do my writing in the morning) and my office at ETR headquarters. I have outfitted both offices with efficient workstations and comfortable chairs. And I have pillows handy in case I need a nap.
In the late afternoon, after a good day’s work, I often reward myself by walking over to a cigar shop two blocks from ETR. I can do some additional writing there while enjoying an espresso and a fine Nicaraguan cigar.
I get home at 7:30, open a bottle of wine, and head to a favorite spot in the backyard where I do some light reading and/or solve a crossword puzzle. It gives me a chance to unwind and, if necessary, blow off a little steam. Sometimes, I’ll jump in the hot tub. The idea is to get into a good mood for dinner, which starts promptly at 8:00.
All these little breaks and naps and rewards enhance the pleasure of my day. No matter how much work I have on my task sheet, I’m never more than two hours away from some pleasurable experience.
If you find that your workday is one long trek down a dull road, try breaking it up the way I do and see if it doesn’t make you happier and more productive.
Author: Michael Masterson
This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, a free newsletter dedicated to making money, improving health and secrets to success. For a complimentary subscription, visit

The Right Partner in Business

Business Development, Professional Development Comments Off

Your business coaching client, who is thinking about starting their own business but is unsure about whether they should become partners with someone they know, asks your the following question: “A friend and I want to go into business together but I’m not sure if we can work together. How do I find out before we start?”
Here’s a response from LCI’s Master Coach Terry Neal…
This statement reflects an increasing occurrence in today’s work environment where more and more people want to start their own business so that they can be their own boss. This in itself requires great planning and organisation even for a sole operator of a proposed new business. However a far greater challenge can occur when two people who may not have worked together before or who may have been in the same industry and even in the same workplace, decide that they want to go into business together.
Your client has raised an important question which probably is underlined by concerns about how it will be to work together away from either their individual or collective current workplace situation (that possibly does provide stability for your client financially and socially), as well as how will it be to work closely with their friend.
Initially as the coach you would need to gather information about your client, the business that they are proposing to create with their friend, what their goal is for the business and what they see as their strengths and challenges in the proposed business.
From this investigation you and they will have a clearer picture of in relation to the intended business as well as their vision for the business. You could then ask questions to help them to start finding out how much they know about their friend and if they could feel comfortable about working with them.
Questions like: How long have you known your friend? How long have you worked together and/or worked in the same industry? What qualities do you like about them? What challenges do you have with them? Do you two mix socially? How did the idea of working together come about? Who approached who? Do you know why your friend wants to go into the proposed business in general and specifically with you?
There could be more questions that flow from this but the point is to assist your client to become more aware of aspects of how well they know their friend as well as becoming more aware about themselves in areas that they hadn’t realised or weren’t sure about before in relation to their friend as well as their proposed venture.
Your client needs to be made aware that the more honestly they look at how well they know both themselves and their friend, the more likely that the proposed business venture will start on a solid footing (if indeed it starts at all).
Following on from this information gathering exercise, you could set your client a task to be done between this and a subsequent session. In this case the task would be to set up a meeting with their friend to talk about some basic issues that have come to light as a result of the questions you asked of your client that may have changed some of your client’s perspectives around both working with their friend as well as the whole business proposal.
Remind your client that this could assist both them and their friend to obtain as clear a picture as possible of how each one of you sees both the working together and the business itself. All of this assists your client to acknowledge as far as it’s possible to do so about what it could be like to work together.
You could provide a list of questions for your client to assist the process with their friend. Questions that you might suggest could include:

  1. If our proposed business were to have exactly the impact that you wanted it to have, what would this look like?
  2. What’s your vision for the business?
  3. Where do you see our individual and collective challenges being?
  4. What do you think are our individual and collective strengths?
  5. What do you think we’ll need to do to get started in our own business?

Your client needs to be encouraged to assist with the best possible outcome when asking these questions by reminding them to pick an appropriate time and place to talk over these questions; a situation where there will not be any interruptions or where the meeting could be overheard by anyone else; so not in the work place but in a relaxed “away from work” situation.
Encourage them also to model open and honest communication and answers with their friend in the same way that they have done with you.
Finally, your client needs to be reminded that the information gained for themselves from both your session with them and those with their friend will assist them to say what is true for them about starting a new business venture and to go with what they feel is right for them no matter how persuasive their friend may be.
You could also suggest another session with your client to allow for any other issues that may have arisen from their meeting with their friend and/or to deal with the result of that meeting which may or may not have gone according to plan.

Building Value

Business Development Comments Off

One of the main reasons small businesses, coaches included, fail to maximise their potential, is that they do not focus on selling. Small business operators by nature are technicians.

This practice is obviously counter productive to success. If you can not effectively sell your service, you’ll have little to no clients to deliver your service to. It’s similarly counter-intuitive to believe that high technical competence will underpin sales.

If you have few clients, and provide them the best service available, your business will still only grow organically at best. And besides, your clients have little to no ability to discern good technical competence from excellent technical competence. The effective marketer will ALWAYS outperform, in multiples, the technician.

Why selling effectively is crucial?

We often talk leverage. In business, how you leverage each function of your business will differentiate whether you just scrape by or make massive profits. If you can make an advertisement generate 100 leads instead of 20; get clients to purchase 5 times per year instead of 3; upsell clients to a $3,000 ‘package’ instead of the standard $1,500 offer; develop a referral process that generates 1.5 new clients per client.

These are examples of leverage. And this is where massive hidden profits exist in your business. How well you leverage your sales is critical to your success.

Advertising and marketing is one of the biggest cost bases in small business. The money you spend to acquire new clients directly impacts your bottom line profit. If it costs you $1,000 to acquire to new client worth $1,500, you make $500 bottom line profit. If you can reduce the cost to acquire that client from $1,000 to $500, you have effectively DOUBLED your bottom line net profit.

If you extrapolate that across your business you can effectively double your net income almost immediately. You can easily move from $30,000 income, to $60,000, to $100,000. Simply by improving this one stage in your sales process. This is the power and importance of selling.

One of the most important steps in effectively selling your coaching services and products involves building value. Once you’ve identified your prospects buying criteria through the qualifying phase, you need to build value into your proposition.

There are several ways to build value, including:

Quantifying cost/pain of NOT buying. Humans are a bazaar species. They’ll often go years and years in discomfort without seeking a simple solution. It’s likely your prospects have experienced the same problems and challenges, which you can assist them overcome, for a significant time.
This means they can survive without your service. It also means they’re well aware of the cost of NOT finding a solution. To make survival easier, people diminish the extremity of the problem or push it into their subconscious. You need to bring it abruptly into consciousness. You need to attach an emotional and financial value on it.

Theory of Contrast. Once you’ve brought your prospects challenges into their consciousness you can contrast the cost/ pain of not having it solved, with that of solving it.

Social Proof. You can build value in a very leveraged way by showing that your prospects peers (and particularly authority figures) are already using your service.

Focus on benefits. When building value it’s important to focus on benefits rather than features. Your prospects invest in, and emotionally attach to, the benefits of your service, not its features. As such you must communicate to them in terms of benefits.

Authority. When you establish yourself as an authority in your niche, rapport is a natural side affect. It’s like social osmosis.

Provide Proof. Where possible provide evidence that your service delivers value. This can be provided by detailed testimonials, data, reports, etc. Use this information in a manner that supports your claims and relates directly to the core benefits desired by your prospects.

9 Strategies to Get Testimonials

Business Development Comments Off

There’s more to obtaining testimonials than just asking your customers for their comments and feedback. If you want powerful testimonials that catch your prospects attention and build a relationship of trust, you should consider the strategies below:

Try to get a testimonial from your customer ASAP. This could be the day you make the sale or within the first week after you make the sale. Your customer will be at their most motivated to write you a glowing testimonial during this time period. Don’t wait until the honeymoon is over. Consider having them write the testimonial before they leave your office or store.

Always ask your customers to include your USP in the testimonial. For instance, if your USP (unique selling proposition) includes great customer service, same day installation, and a money-back guarantee, then ask your customer to attest to those qualities.

Don’t ask for customer testimonials in survey requests. Many businesses make the mistake of sending out customer surveys to get feedback from their customers, in addition to testimonials. Your customer needs to have the freedom to stay anonymous and say negative things in your survey, which is the opposite of what you’re looking for in testimonials.

Ask your customers to be specific in their testimonials. For instance, if you delivered your product the same day your customer purchased it, tell your customer to include the time that it arrived. If you delivered some kind of outrageous act of customer service have them write specifically about what you did and how it helped your customer.

Ask your customer to talk about the problems they were having prior to receiving the benefits of your product or service. Most likely, the reader will have had the same or similar problems and will empathize. This will make your prospect more interested in receiving the benefits of your product or service.

Have your customer state their credentials. This will make their testimonial even more persuasive because their comments will be perceived to come from a credible source. People tend to believe people in positions of perceived authority.

Always try to get a picture with them using your product or service. As a matter of fact, try to take the picture yourself so that you know you’ll get a good one. Take several and make sure they are showing the benefits of the product or service. Pictures double the effectiveness of your testimonial and bring the testimonials to life.

Make sure you get permission from your customers to use their testimonials in your advertising. Thank them profusely and let them know that it is testimonials like theirs that help your business grow.

Ask them if you can their name as well as the town (suburb) they live in. Addresses, even if it’s just a city name, increase the believability of the testimonial. It demonstrates that they are real people who live in the same community as your prospects.

And if your customer procrastinates to send in their testimonial, call them up and mention that whilst you know they are very busy, you value them as clients and their testimonial is important to you.

Suggest that to save them time and hassle, you will draft a testimonial for them and they can make any editing changes they want. Then send it back. Of course, you’ll want to send a self-addressed envelope. You get the perfect testimonial and they don’t have to do any work.

How to Retain and Nurture Clients

Business Development Comments Off

Retention and nurturing strategies are simple, fun, and low cost. Yet so many businesses fail at nurturing that it makes nurturing such an easy process and massive point of distinction for those businesses that do!

Here are some retention and nurturing strategies to implement immediately:

Link clients and prospects into a regular communication cycle. Regular communication is paramount to any retention and nurturing system. It’s impossible to build a relationship if you do not regularly and predictably communicate. Many businesses ‘dig up’ their databases to use as promotions. This is destructive. You are asking without first giving. Clients and prospects will resent you for this. But they’ll love you for giving them something for nothing; and then providing them with an opportunity to invest.

Thank clients for doing business with you. Most businesses behave as though the client is the lucky one to be using their service. You may behave like this without even knowing it. After every session, service, or product purchase you should THANK your client. Send them an email; sms; card; letter; small gift. Make them feel special and valued.

Give away stuff. We all love unexpected gifts. An excellent nurturing and retention strategy is to give away high perceived-value, low cost gifts.

An excellent way to create value for your clients, at little or no cost to you, is to develop joint ventures with other businesses. For instance, you could approach health spas and get them to provide a free treatment voucher. They are often willing to provide a free treatment as a loss-leader to acquire new clients. This strategy can be applied across a broad range of services.

Add-value to the relationship. Send clients specific information relating to their challenges. Send research, reports, tools, press releases. Anything that your client will find interesting.

Go further than expected. The key to creating true value is to go further than your client would reasonably expect you to go. If you do this, you tilt the reciprocal obligation in your favour, and your client will feel indebted to you.

And here are some additional pointers to keep in mind…

Focus your marketing on existing clients. Your current clients have already overcome certain hurdles to doing business with you. They are much more likely to buy from you again. Focus most of your time, efforts, and resources on better serving your current clients. Go deeper rather than wider.

Be consistent in your approach and interactions. Treat clients with honesty, humour, and respect. Present a consistent, solid, and professional style to your clients – one they can grow to depend on.

Follow through on your commitments. If you promise to send information or to follow up, be sure to do this. You’d be surprised at how many professionals promise to send information, but then never do. You will gain loyalty and trust by doing what you say you’ll do.

Allow yourself to connect. Find out about their lives, hopes, goals, and desired outcomes. Use social media to communicate. Ask questions that encourage a deeper sense of shared understanding. The greater the level of connection, the greater the mutual satisfaction.

Have fun. It’s easy to get caught up in goals, outcomes, and deliverables. Whilst clients do want outcomes, they also want to work with people who enjoy what they do. The more fun you can have while providing strong outcomes, the longer your clients will stay.

Position yourself as a resource for life. Tell clients at the beginning that you want to be their coach for life. That means they can always come back to work with you no matter how much time has passed between meetings.

Ask for feedback and input. At intervals throughout the working relationship, solicit feedback and input. Ask your clients how they feel about working with you and ask if they have suggestions for how the working relationship or outcomes can be improved. Asking for their ideas shows that you care about their opinions and value their contributions.

Share resources. Do you know of a good book that your client might benefit from reading? Tell him about it. Do you have the name of someone who could help your client move ahead on her business plan? Tell her about it. Sharing resources is a terrific way to build loyalty and satisfaction.

Reward them for staying on. You might consider implementing some kind of loyalty or perks program, where your long-term clients are rewarded for staying on. You might offer them gifts, products, or services for a certain level of ongoing participation with your business. Maybe Gold or Platinum Membership to your exclusive club.

Keep learning. The more you focus on gaining new knowledge, new skills, and new experiences, the more you have to offer your clients. The more you have to offer, the more they will benefit. The more they benefit, the longer they stay. Keep focused on your own professional growth and learning – make this a priority. Both you – and your clients – will gain.