How Jann Arden Was Bleeding To Death

jannarden

Singer Jann Arden giving a talk a few hours after her bleeding episode

Jann Arden was bleeding to death in Toronto yesterday at 5:30am where she was staying at a hotel to speak at a Woman’s Conference I was attending yesterday. At least, that’s what she thought. In fact, after 4 hours of waiting at the ER she found out that it was simply a pre-menopausal hiccup.

How is that relevant to you, the small business owner whose business itself may be bleeding to death? Jann’s re-telling of an embarrassing and potentially a life threatening event gave me a glimpse of a best in class case of authenticity in the public eye that I want to share with other small business owners.

Here’s what I learned:

When You Are Honest, People Connect Deeper With You

Jann was sincere from the get go telling us funny stories of growing up and the heartbreaking recounting of her brother’s 20 year incarceration. She already had me at ‘hello Toronto’. However, she didn’t truly connect with me until she said ‘I wasn’t going to tell this story today’ and went onto recount her horror story of the bleeding, telling us how she was wearing pants that weren’t buttoned up and were being held up by the girth of her hips. This is a highly personal and potentially embarrassing story. Why would a world renowned singer, author and speaker share such private things you might ask yourself. It’s because she was the most human and vulnerable person in that whole lineup of speakers yesterday. And that made me want to believe her, trust her and listen to anything she had to tell me. What opportunities do you have to do the same in front of your customers?

Authenticity Means You Care Less About Failure Than Others

I wonder how many professional speakers who get paid tens and thousands of dollars to speak would risk looking unprofessional or offending people or grossing them out would have shied away from the topic of their very painful and personal health challenges they had a few hours before going on stage? The fact that Jann was willing to do so only made me certain that she felt secure in her right to be earning that money as a top notch, in demand pro. What are you afraid to reveal that is keeping you from being your true authentic self in front of your customers and colleagues? What would it look like if you finally let go of those fears of failure?

Like Attracts Like

When people are scared to be authentic, they feel REALLY uncomfortable with others who are willing to share and share and share. In fact, a term coined TMI has come out meaning Too Much Information has been shared. It’s been my experience that you attract the kind of people who are at exactly the same level of comfort in their own authenticity as you. So if you want more clients who are ideal for you, you need to reveal the true you more often. Make sense?

Your Lack Of Courage Can Kill Your Business

When you are inauthentic, you refuse to tell people who you really like and who you really dislike to work with. You’re afraid that it will drive business away and let you starve. This inability to define who you truly are in the eyes of your target market and amongst your competitive set is killing your business. It’s making you generic, it’s letting you blend in with all other nameless and faceless businesses.

So stand up for your true authentic self like Jann did and tell stories of who you really are and how you really live. You will not only feel better as a person but will attract the kind of attention and business that you will thrive to.

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

7 Traits of a Great Business Blog

If I had a dollar for every client who was afraid to blog, I’d never need another client again. As a small biz marketing coach, I know that the most authentic way to help our clients is to give them down to earth, real advice that sounds just like they’re sitting across the table from us. Advice that’s timely, genuine, caring and darned valuable. Here are some really great tips about how to do it right once you bite the bullet and get on the blogging bandwagon:

A Great business blog should have these qualities:

1) Problem-Solving

If you solve people’s problems, your blog will pre-sell your products or services.

2) Openness

There are two things I’m trying to describe here, and I think that “openness” is the best word:

  • Desire to be authentic.
  • Ability to share freely.

3) Personality

This can come through via a relaxed writing style, the use of fun images and photos, telling fun and interesting stories, and — maybe most of all — not taking yourself too seriously.

4) A Plan

  • How often will you publish?
  • What types of articles will you publish?
  • Who all in your company will be charged with writing for the blog?
  • If you have multiple authors, who’s going to manage them?
  • What will your comment policy be?

5) Persistence

Google will start to reward your content with the kind of trust that leads to visibility in search results.

6) Passion

But your passion can’t come through in the form of sales pitches and self-promotion, it has to come through in the process of solving people’s problems and educating them.

7) Variety

Your blog posts shouldn’t all read like news releases. They shouldn’t all be designed to sell. They shouldn’t all be the same length. They shouldn’t stick to a company formula.

via 7 Traits of a Great Business Blog.

So if you’re afraid to blog, stop waffling and get down to it. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to get across not only your brand character but also your marketing message of how you help clients.

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

How to Maintain Your Post-Vacation Bliss

This was taken on the beach outside our hotel ...

This was taken on the beach outside our hotel in Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent the holidays alternating between managing my own fever and nursing my family through theirs. It felt awful but at least we were together! In a few weeks, I’m going to take a sunny south vacation so this advice by Toronto-based business and life coach Joshua Zuchter about easing my way back really resounded. Here are his tips:

• Take two-minute mini-vacations.  Taking short breaks throughout the day to clear your head or go for a short walk can make the transition to your work routine less aggressive.

• Get a handle on e-mail backlog.  Scan for emails that can easily be deleted and tackle the rest one at a time, either responding or filing them in relevant folders.

• Assign catch up time into your schedule. Schedule your away notice to indicate your return date as one day later than it actually is.

• Stay hydrated.  Drinking optimal amounts of water makes a huge difference in people’s mental health and attitude.

• Spruce up your office. Bring vacation memories into the workplace to remind you of the calm you felt while away.

As a small business coach, I am a huge proponent of rest and relaxation for my clients and for myself. If you’re like me, you are worried that the world and your clients will go on without you and you’ll regret that vacation but take my advice and don’t burn yourself out. You are the heart of your business and you need to refuel. So go ahead, I give you permission. Take a few days off and do something that you can classify as a vacation…
Come on Mexico!
Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

5 Ways to Set a New Company Up for Success

Success - P'tit Bazar 2007 (02)

Success – P’tit Bazar 2007 (02) (Photo credit: alter1fo)

It was only last August one year ago that I left my big corporate job to become an entrepreneur. I really could’ve used this advice back then and actually did implement some of these suggestions to success. If you’re a small business owner who wants to grow, see if any of the below can help you:

1. Set low expectations.  By starting with a conservative approach, a modest success will be noticed and you will be perceived as even smarter than you are.

2. Start local. By developing and testing your idea or product in a local environment, your most powerful network — that is, people you know — will be engaged, and you can do any polishing you need to do before spending big bucks on an untried process in a larger market.

3. Grab low-hanging fruit. Pretty much every product or service has at least one super-strong potential buying group. Focus your efforts on that group with everything you’ve got.

4. Start with a single, likely client. Research their customer base and determine which customers would be the most interested and why.

5. Partner with another successful firm. Suppose a complementary and not competing company has the visibility and attention you want for your company. It may be a wash for you in terms of revenue, but you’ve gotten your product in front of real customers.

via 5 Ways to Set a New Company Up for Success.

Collaboration, conservative optimism and using your networks is what it’s really all about when a business is starting up. Telling your loved ones about what you’re doing (here’s my warm letter from last year) and setting up wonderful ways of working with others who serve the same audience as you (see my Coach’s Buffet that I’m doing at the Toronto Women’s Expo free of charge!) are surefire ways to soar to success.

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

Shock yourself—make a decision

Indecision

Indecision (Photo credit: Bichuas (E. Carton))

A liability

One of the biggest liabilities of a small business owner is his or her inability to make quick and effective decisions.  In large corporations, unless you’re top management, this is less of a problem because there’s always someone else who’s got more authority than you. So if there’s a decision it’s usually not yours to make alone.

However, small business is different. You need to make a million decisions every day about who to call, what to say, how to blog, what to accomplish first etc. It is an endless stream of decision that ultimately affects your bottom line.

Why so hard?

How come decision making is so hard for most people? Renowned leadership author and guru Napoleon Hill said that most successful leaders of all walks of life are capable of quick and effective decisions. They decide and move quickly. Why is it then that I look around me and see a sea of indecision when faced with either a buying decision or a change to a business? The root of every inability is simple—it’s fear. Fear that the decision will be regretted.

Shake the bad habit

If your small business could definitely stand to grow, I challenge you to take small steps to get yourself rid of the indecision demon.  Make simple decisions everyday that lead to bigger ones as time goes on.

For example, decide and act on three new things you’ll incorporate into your business practice. (Like trying a new cold calling script or visiting a new association that you’ve never heard of etc.) Then the next week, you can graduate up to the bigger decisions like hiring a VA or refreshing your website etc.

Incomplete means indecision

If you look at anything incomplete in your life and business you’ll see that it’s because of indecision.  Take stock and make some decisions today, then you’ll start to see true transformation everywhere you look.

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

7 Things Your Customers Want Most

It’s hard to part a consumer from their dollar these days. In truth, it always was. The new consumer is savvy and has the power of the internet as a research tool to dig into your industry, your competitors and to get the skinny on you. At the end of it all though, once they’ve bitten the bullet and become a customer, there are few things they want from you that you may not have thought about. Read this article below for a good synopsis:

1. Independent Thinking

Customers want to know that you’ll represent their interests, even it’s not in your own financial interest–and particularly when the proverbial chips are down.

2. Courage

They expect you to tell them if buying what you’re selling is a mistake, or not truly in their interests. That takes real guts.

3. Pride

The best customers don’t want you to truckle and beg.

4. Creativity

Customers don’t have the time to sit and listen to cookie-cutter sales presentations.

5. Confidence

They both need and expect you to exude the kind of confidence that assures them you’ll do what it takes to make them happy.

6. Empathy

Customers want you to see the situation from their perspective.

7. Honesty

Above all, customers want you to be honest with them.  Without honesty, you have absolutely nothing to offer any customer.

via 7 Things Your Customers Want Most.

You know in your gut whether you’re pleasing a customer or not. Make sure that you embody the most important things that your customers would want from you as listed above and see your retention and referral rates soar.

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

Marketing Plan for Existing Clients

Handshake icon

Handshake icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I noticed a very interesting phenomenon when I started offering a new service. I noticed that the first people to sign up were my current clients. This got me thinking that perhaps I was forgetting something that I was teaching my clients everyday–that my existing clients are a very viable source of incremental income and deserve a plan of their own to get some of my attention. This article really sums it up well:

If you have at least two plans, focusing on both prospects and existing clients, and review them on an ongoing basis, you’ll probably fare better.

Why do you need to market to existing clients differently?

  1. An existing customer often has a shorter sales cycle for a repeat purchase.
  2. A lot of businesses focus so much on new customers that they don’t pick the low hanging fruit that are existing customers.
  3. Existing customer marketing has another potential benefit — referral marketing. Their testimonials or reviews and social media activities can help you reach a wider audience via referrals.

via Marketing Plan for Existing Clients.

Famed Sales Guru Kim Duke spoke at a dinner meeting I went to last night and she was stellar. What she said she first did with new clients was to get their list of clients and fans and community and start mining it for new business. If you look at the advice above and listen to her (and to me), you too need to develop a separate plan for your existing clients. It’s just such an obvious slam dunk, isn’t it?

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