Shocking New Data: 42% Of Startups Fail Due To Lack Of Market Need

failureHow’s this for a doozy?

A new study from a research firm called CB Insights revealed that almost HALF of the 125 startups they looked at died 20 months after starting. The main reason for their knockout was because there was NO need for the product or service they sold.

Why Is This Happening

All day, every day, I help small business owners research their own business viability and the proof of existence for their specific niche. Sadly mostly in Canada, I meet a lot of resistance about both niching and researching. Niching is uncomfortable because to some, it’s pigeon-holing themselves. Researching is uncomfortable because it actually involves talking to strangers and near-strangers. If you’re a business owner and you don’t do the upfront work to ask the right questions of the right people, then you might just end up part of the statistic.

Hoping For Your Market To Find You

I often talk about the woman I met while networking, who became a Grief Coach after going through her own mother’s painful death. After 2 years of trying desperately to grow her business, she discovered that most people get grief counseling (similar to coaching) for free through their church or other hospice programs. Like most businesses, she didn’t know that she was supposed to strategically confirm that there was indeed, a paying market for her services. Without first identifying several target groups and having several different products or services to offer them, you can’t systematically and strategically vet them.

How To Beat The Odds

My biggest advice to any new business is to find a good coach. Not any coach. Someone who is just a few steps ahead of you and who has demonstrated success in your own industry. The next step is to implement everything they tell you to do. That’s how I doubled my 20-year corporate pay cheque, 2 years after launching my own small biz. My other advice of course, is to talk to your potential clients. Let the market dictate your niche and your services. Don’t let your pride, ego, assumptions, fears, dreams and passions do it.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

5 Ways I Get Over Rejection

rejection2Anyone who sells anything knows the sting of rejection in business. As a business growth coach, I have certainly never been immune to it. Here are some Jedi mind tricks I use to stay on top of my game while being rejected.

1. Hire Help To Get Better

When I wanted to increase my close rate, I went out and hired a high-priced, top-level sales coach. He taught me how to change both my inner and my outer conversation around money and rejection. Now, I do the same for my clients. When you’re getting rejected too much, you’ve got to get help.

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me

When someone says ‘no thank you’, I’ve learned to recognize that for that moment in time, there’s just no fit. Either they’re too scared or I’m not what they need for now. I’ve learned not to take it personally.

3. Recognize The Insidious Soft No

It took me a lot of training to recognize that anything other than a YES is a soft no. “I need time”, “I have a project to finish first”, “Gotta ask my partner”, “Have to think about it”, “I’m not ready yet” etc. As my sales guru idol James MacNeil says, if it’s not a YES, it’s a NO. Learn to become comfortable both hearing it and saying it.

4. The Grateful Mantra

I start every morning and end each night by mentally listing everything I’m grateful for. It really relaxes me and puts me into the right frame of mind to succeed. Gratitude has all sorts of physiological, chemical and mental benefits that I don’t even fully know about. All I do know is that it works to combat rejection-fatigue that’s just a natural part of doing business.

5. Visualize

I’ve written previously about how I get help from my future self to make more money. I do this through visualizing what my future successful self would be saying to me about where I am right now. It’s very powerful to imagine an outcome that’s different from my current reality. Every great leader did this. Gandhi, Mandela, Dr.Martin Luther King. Why not take a page from their book?

Rejection for me is the beginning of a sales conversation. It’s when I uncover the true objections and get down to the real thoughts of a prospect. Sometimes it’s the right fit, other times it’s not and that’s ok. So up your game in what you do and how you sell it but also be mentally resilient when it comes to rejection. You will need that strength if you’re going to beat the bankruptcy stats in the years to come!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

5 Things I Learned About Business While Shark Diving

sharkdiving

Sitting on the ocean floor during the shark dive

Yes, I was crazy enough to go shark diving. Not in those cages either. I actually jumped into a water infested with fins. It was unnerving to say the least but there were lots of other divers already in the water so it seemed harmless. As in everything I do in my life, everything comes back to how it applies to small business.

Here are some things I learned about my own small business that day…

1. Prepare Yourself

Before the big ‘shark dive’ portion of the live-aboard dive trip I took, we had briefing after briefing about what to do and what not to do. Stay away from the food they lower to the ocean floor. (A guy actually lost a limb when a piece of food floated his way). Don’t make sudden moves etc. In business, I often find that people just throw themselves out there. Sometimes with little to no preparation for their mind or skill set. Unfortunately statistically speaking, they end up shark bait to their competitors.

2. Watch Your Surroundings Constantly

As part of the briefing, we were told that if a shark is swimming erratically and speeds up while swimming towards you, you’re in trouble. There’s not much you can do at that point. However, we did learn to be extra vigilant of our surroundings because the sharks were literally everywhere-in front, behind, and on top of us as we sat in a circle at the bottom of the ocean. It’s actually not a bad metaphor for the business world. Are you out networking with your competitors? Are you attending their seminars or webinars? Watch your surroundings in business constantly. Or you might get attacked.

3. Watch Yourself Constantly

One of the biggest things I had to watch out for was my air consumption because I was breathing heavier due to my elevated heart rate. Cut me some slack here, I was literally swimming with sharks during their feeding! Still, I had to be extra aware of my air flow and keep an eye on my tank supply. In business, your cash flow is your oxygen. During times of crisis you use more of it and need to keep a constant eye on it because as in the ocean, there’s no life without air.

4. Stick To Someone Bigger Than You

I was so paranoid about getting bitten by a shark that I picked the most heavyset, enormously overweight dive buddy on the entire boat. He was easily 4 times my size. I figured even a hungry shark might be intimidated by that size. I mean, if you were a shark, would you eat a steak your own size? I stuck to him like glue. Of course, he did get stuck while passing between two reefs but we were well-trained to calmly back out and untangle our gear from the reefs. Similarly in business, I pay extraordinary amounts of money to walk with the giants of my industry standing next to me. My coaches have been responsible for doubling and tripling my income in the three years since I started my business. Stick to someone bigger than you, always.

5. Have Fun

All the while I was calculating and analyzing and listening to my own heavy breathing in my mask during the shark dive, I was exhilarated. I was doing something most people wouldn’t even dare to dream of doing. I felt brave and alive. Every time I meet miserable people who work for someone else, I feel the same exhilaration for having had the guts to leave that life and work for myself. Just as in the shark dive, I sometimes have to remind myself that the journey of an entrepreneur is scary but it is a ton of fun.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

How Joan Rivers Can Help Your Biz

joanrivers

The late great comedian Joan Rivers once said “I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.”  As a small business growth coach, I have to ask…what if you could succeed by saying what everyone else is thinking about your industry and your clients?

What You Can Learn From Joan

If you were to dare to step into your own thoughts as publicly as Joan did in marketing your own business, what would you do differently?

This is a passionate topic for me because every day I see successful, smart and wonderful business women hide themselves behind stock imagery, silence and generic thoughts. Their businesses are suffering for it.

Tell Your Stories of Shame

Joan Rivers was even authentic when she was inauthentic (“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.”)

A former client and now good friend was telling me the story of how she got fired by a crazy boss who reprimanded her for having a stapler on her desk in a ‘clean-desk policy’ office. Imagine how much more relevant her work as a Standards expert would be if she related that story in her blogs or keynotes?

What makes you think you’re the only one who has suffered shame, humiliation and learned from your mistakes? Why not expose your truth so you can connect deeper with and help more people?

Show Yourself

Ok, I don’t mean SHOW yourself inappropriately but people want to see your picture. They want at the minimum to see your profile picture. Then use your About page or your social media posts or your newsletter to show them your life. I frequently show pictures of my family and my clients and the events I go to.

Show your values. Tell your clients and community what your deeply held beliefs are. People I have never met approach me like friends at networking events and tell me they follow my work and life. I find that the highest open rates and click rates on my newsletters are when they contain personal stories. I even had a stranger (who was on my mailing list) give me bedwetting tips for my 4-year-old because he’d read my story about it. Wow!

Be Afraid But Do It Anyway

Joan said “I’ve learned: When you get older, who cares? I don’t mince words, I don’t hold back. What are you gonna do to me? Fire me? It’s been done. Threaten to commit suicide? Done. Take away my show? Done! Not invite to me to the Vanity Fair party? I’ve never been invited! If I ever saw the invitation, I’d use it as toilet paper.”

The true sign of courage they say, is not when you do something brave and you’re not afraid but it’s when you’re peeing your pants and do it anyway. Each time I invest in even more expensive levels of coaching, each time I travel internationally to do a trade show, each time I speak in front of a new crowd of people, I leave my comfort at home. I have embraced being afraid and doing it anyway.

Everyday when I speak to unsuccessful entrepreneurs, they are so keenly aware that what’s stopping their success are their fears. It’s when they let those fears stop them from doing what needs to be done that they get into trouble.

Joan wasn’t afraid of anything. I personally will miss this gutsy lady. Anyone who bravely stands up to criticism and keeps on going earns my undying respect.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

When My Client Said She Didn’t Like Me

hateWhat would you do if a client told you she disliked you? What if it was a client you liked and respected as someone smart and successful in her business? Well, that’s what I found out, when I asked the same client for a referral. Here’s the unedited version of the email that the new prospect (now client) got from my client. Of course, identities have been protected.

On Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 1:33 PM, xxxx wrote:

Hi, I have been speaking with Chala and she gave me your name as a ref. Basically ,How long have you been working with her and have you achieved the results you wanted? Thanks,M

Sent from my iPhone

Subject: Re: Chala Reference

‘Hello M, Thank you for reaching out…I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chala.

I will honestly tell you that I didn’t like her in the beginning because she put me in my uncomfortable zone.  Once I committed to be uncomfortable, I fell in love.  I really didn’t think I would ever like Chala because she is no-nonsense and had me focusing on things that I really didn’t think were going to help me.  I kept at it each time I thought about the hefty price tag on her service.  Once I was able to follow her instruction, do my homework and focus on marketing tasks assigned, I started to see results.  First and most importantly in how I felt about marketing my company and secondly in terms of clarity.  I never thought I could feel so proud and clear about marketing my business.  one piece of advise – ask ask ask ask for help in everything marketing because she has her finger on the pulse.  Every time I changed voice-mail greeting, email signature, newsletter title, networking groups – I consulted with Chala and have seen a positive increase in either clients, leads or new knowledge.

I am now ignoring my phone more and trying to handle the recent influx…it took 2-3 months to feel this influx, but i have had many small increases in all areas along the way.  Now my problem is hiring to keep up with the new business:O)

I am very happy i stuck it through and pushed myself to enjoy the discomfort.  For the first time in 5 years i have a marketing plan, strategy and calendar and every thing that is considered marketing in my business is sending the same message.  I have connected with many “marketers” and none of them are as all-inclusive in their marketing approach as Chala.

now to figure out how to keep Chala in my life, she is worth every penny and more!!

You cannot go wrong here unless you choose to do nothing.  Let me know if you have any questions.

All the best! S

What did I learn from this very insightful correspondence? That once you burn through your discomfort and your fears and stop blaming things, people and circumstances, THAT’S when you truly experience growth.

This is not a brag-blog. This is a reminder and a message to all my coach and consultant community who have been called (because I believe it is a calling!) to help others through your gift. Your first job isn’t to teach them a skillset, it’s to teach them a mindset. It’s to hold their hand through the fire of fear and discomfort. Do I have clients who quit when they get uncomfortable? Hell yes. I heard a scary stat somewhere that 80% of coaching clients don’t implement what their coach tells them. But do the ones that push themselves past the discomfort benefit? Well, you’ve read it yourself.

What discomfort do YOU have to push yourself through?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

What You Can Learn About Marketing From Lady Gaga

jackiehuba

Jackie Huba speaking about Lady Gaga

Yesterday, I fell in love with Lady Gaga. I must admit, I initially thought that she was a little too out there for me. Then, I watched a speaker named Jackie Huba who wrote a book about marketing lessons from Lady G speak about why she was a marketing genius who was named the top influencer of our decade by Time Magazine!

Here are the lessons she learned from Lady Gaga about marketing:

Focus On Your 1%

Forget about the 80-20 rule where you concentrate on 20% of the customers who are responsible for 80% of your sales volume. Get even more specific, down to your RAVING crazy-fanatic-would-die-for-you fans that actually make up only 1% of your customers.

Lady Gaga calls them her Little Monsters. She calls herself Mother Monster. She has created clubs and websites for her 1%. She lavishes her love and attention on these people and they love her back and bring other fans to her franchise. What can you do for your 1% that you’re not doing right now?

Create A Community

When Lady Gaga wanted to create an online community for her Monsters, she didn’t like Facebook, she didn’t like Twitter so she paid a software company to create one for her. Littlemonsters.com allows her to directly and deeply connect with her fans. It makes them feel special and different than any other community. What can you do to create a community around what you do?

Lead With Your Values

Did you know that Lady Gaga is a staunch advocate of anti-bullying and LGBT causes, funding and speaking to support these causes with her Born This Way Foundation? Did you know that at her concert, she created colourful buses where fans who are being bullied can get counseling? People are in love with her values. Her music supports her values. Her marketing supports her values. Are you doing enough to talk about your values in your business?

Be Different

When Coty approached Lady Gaga to do a perfume deal, she refused to be like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber or Christina Aguilera. She made Coty go back to their scientists and create a black liquid that sprayed on clear and named it the title of her first album called Black. The name was also a message about her views on how dark fame could be.  She then created a multi-million dollar video to launch it that rivaled the best science fiction movie trailer in history. She captured an enormous market share in a very fragmented and competitive market. The CEO of Coty was quoted as saying that she forced the industry to change because she refused to do the same thing as everyone else. What are you doing differently than your peers in your industry?

Lady Gaga certainly taught an old marketer like me a few lessons and reminded me of the importance of values and community. Now, I’ve gotta think of my next meat-dress-move! What will be yours?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

The Crazy Things That Happened To Me In Dallas

badflightI broke through my personal barriers of leaving my 5-year-old (and my 45-year-old) behind for the first time for a chance to grow my coaching business at a US conference. So many wild and wonderful things happened and in case you’re also going to be trying on new and scary things to grow your own biz, I thought I’d share them with you and save you the hassle.

My Pinky Got Me Stuck At Customs

Perhaps one of my biggest worries was that I’d be questioned at the US border about why I was an exhibitor, potentially taking American jobs away from Americans. I asked a thousand people about what to say or not say if questioned. The answers varied wildly, some saying they lied about having a booth and others saying it was completely safe to be honest about exhibiting at a US trade show. Armed with this dubious information, I got my Nexus card out (the pre-approved security card that allows a simple finger print and eye scan to fast track you through customs) and went to their automated machines. When I couldn’t get my fingerprints to register on one machine, I kept hopping to the next one and the next one in a panic. I started to get noticed by the guards so I just hit ‘accept’ and printed out a receipt. On the receipt was a cut-off picture of my head and a giant black X. Not good. Then when I gave it to the officer at the gate, he asked me to step in the ‘little room’. Oh my God, I thought here comes the cavity search. Well, I learned that it was because my Pinky finger hadn’t registered strong enough and next time I should press my other hand on it to get a better impression. Without a single question, I was allowed through. Phew.

My Breast Milk Got Me Clients

The first morning of the conference, I volunteered to take the microphone and talk about what made me happy in the breakout session. In front of hundreds of women, I told the story of how I’d stopped scuba-diving when I gave birth because when I was breastfeeding, I was worried about the pressure squeezing milk out into my wetsuit. I have no idea how that story came out but if you know me, you wouldn’t be surprised about it. I got 2 clients and many many comments from countless women throughout the 4 days I was there because of that story. My point about being authentic and unafraid to spill your truths was proven.

What I Got From Air Canada’s 10-hour Delay

After an exhausting 4 days, I was ready to go home and kiss my little guy’s chubby belly. I got to the airport and 5 hours later, my flight that kept getting delayed was cancelled. It then took 2 hours for the hotel vouchers and rebookings to be done. All this happened with not a single word of information, apology or update from the 3 Air Canada employees who were overwhelmed by the event. Most people in the line up after an 8-hour wait were surprisingly poised and patient. Some started screaming at the staff and yes, they were served first. People became friends, commiserated together and bonded.

A very smart frequent traveler was the one person who, as soon as he heard about the cancellation, hopped onto his tablet, rebooked his own flight online and left without waiting for a voucher. I myself did the same 1 hour later with my darling hubby’s help on the phone. So if this happens to you, leave. You can rebook yourself from your own hotel. Also, the airline will reimburse your hotel, just send in your receipt. Those poor people didn’t know so they waited. The next day, after another 3 hour wait, I sat next to a gentleman who is going to become my next VIP client. How’s that for destiny?

When you scare yourself and leave the safety of your everyday life, you go so much further than you could ever imagine!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk