It never ceases to amaze me that every day new business ‘coaches’ pop up all over social media. Where do they come from? What experience do they have and more importantly, what results do they get?
Over the years I have had a few coaches come to me as a private client to find out how to grow their business. I always ask my clients how they came to do what they are doing now. All too often when I ask coaches what led them to their career choice it’s a case of they didn’t know what to do with their life, they had a chat with a friend down the pub who was in the same predicament, came up with an idea for them and was told “you’re really good at this. You should be a coach”.
Hmm! Is that really enough? In my book, far from it.
I spent years in the industry learning from the best. I spend years in my professional career as a business consultant. I spent 12 months undertaking my qualifications which included being escorted by an assessor to a number of my appointments with clients. The assessor then followed up with these clients to ascertain what credible impact I had on their businesses. (I’m proud to say that my assessor told me it was the first time he had learnt a lot from one of his students).
Many of these new ‘coaches’ I have discovered over the years have tried unsuccessfully to start and grow a business but find that they can make it up as they go along by setting up as a coach. After all, it’s simple, isn’t it?
Set up and call yourself a coach.
Do some clever marketing (fake it until you make it!)
Get some clients.
Let them ask you questions.
Go google the answer or search in forums.
Copy the answer
Send to your clients and hey ho! They will think you are marvellous!!
Little do people know who is really behind the mask.
But hang on! What about the real-life experiences here? What about when the answer you gave has been tried before but failed as there are so many variables with each and every client. Experience over the years gives the knowledge to spot when one solution will work for one particular client and when that same solution could spell disaster for another.
Experience allows a coach to pick up on the unspoken signals that something other than what is being said is causing problems that are preventing the business from working.
In my opinion, there are now more ‘business coaches’ setting up each week than I’ve had hot dinners. Anyone and everyone seem to think they can be a coach these days and set up whilst giving quite frankly dangerous advice at times. I firmly believe a licencing structure should be put in place for anyone wishing to promote themselves as suitable to be a business coach, consultant or advisor. I’m currently discussing this very subject with powers far higher than me about how to legislate business coaches.
But does it matter to you?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know below.
Are you able to explain your business to different people in different circumstances? Or do you have a ‘one size fits all’ spiel that you use time and time again?
If the latter, read on …….
You may have seen in my Absolutely Fabulous Facebook group that recently I asked for a short title of what you do such as business consultant, artist, interior designer, accountant etc. This was to create a directory of services of members within the group.
What I got back from many was a long-winded explanation of what they did. These people missed out because I ignored them. They told me what they wanted me to hear not what I was interested in and had asked for.
Some explanations of what they did I simply didn’t understand! It was so gobbledegook I had no idea and even when I asked a couple, they still couldn’t explain it to me!
Some people told me to go look at their website. Why should I? I’m not going to waste my time trying to work it out for myself if they can’t tell me themselves.
Only the next day, another group I am in also asked people to describe what they did in a single sentence.
Here are a few answers:
“I show you how to alchemize your pain into a superpower”
“I provide a soft holding space where you can release anything that holds you back so you can be free”
Now, maybe it’s me but I have absolutely no idea what these people do! Inspiration??? What the heck does that mean?
Then there were clear and concise answers:
“Helping adults and children conquer anxiety and depression”
“I help women get clients with social media marketing”
“I am a divorce coach that supports woman emotionally whether to leave or stay in a marriage.”
“I take the humble bead and bit of wire and create something to help a person sparkle and feel great”
Yay! I instantly got these and understood what these people did. And I especially loved the last one. It completely stood out from the crowd for me.
Have a think how you explain your business. There are times when you can be super creative and imaginative and there are other times when you need to short, concise and to the point. You need to be prepared for both.
Whatever you do, stop expecting others to do the groundwork to decipher what you do. You need to be ready to grasp every opportunity and respond in the right manner. There will be plenty of other people doing what you do who will oblige and you will lose business to them. Harsh but true!
Why is it that two businesses in the same industry can both differ so differently when it comes to being successful or not? Take two hairdressers. One is booked up weeks in advance whilst the other struggles to fill appointments. Why is this? It can quite simply be down to a few simple rules that can dictate the difference between success and failure. Follow these Top 10 tips to a successful business and make sure your business succeeds
Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.
Just because you love your product or service, doesn’t mean that your customer will. You may think that blue umbrellas are the best thing since sliced bread so, therefore there is a market to sell them, but others may not agree.
You need to listen to what your customer wants to buy and supply that. Don’t try to force sell them your own personal preferences.
Jumpstart the cash flow into your business
Cash is King and you want to get it coming into your business as quickly as possible. The early months of starting a business can be the most difficult when it comes to income so think of ways to get that cash flowing into the business asap.
Where possible, ask for deposits up front. If that is not possible, ask for cash on delivery to avoid long credit terms and late payers.
Find new ways to keep costs low
So many small businesses start up and overspend on things they really don’t need to. They think they need to go out and buy all the latest gadgetry and office equipment. Try leasing or buying second hand instead. Ask suppliers for a discount for an upfront payment.
Do you really need that swish office premises? Could you not create an office at home. I once saved a company £12,000 by helping him set up a home office in his garden rather than paying a premium rent for an office he used to meet clients only on odd occasions.
Overestimate expenses and underestimate income.
When you are planning your business and preparing your cash flow, after you have done the first draft, go back and double your expenses and half your income. How does it look now? Scary? Well, this may well be nearer to the truth in the early days than everything going to plan and the world being rosy.
Be prepared for the unexpected expenses and for the sales that never come to fruition. If you can prepare for this, you will be far more prepared if this worst-case scenario happens than if you rely on healthy sales and low costs which turn out to be further than the truth than you were expecting.
Focus on marketing and sales
You know all about your product and service and how wonderful it is, but your target market won’t until you make them aware of it. So get out there and tell them. And then ask them for the sale. Until you start getting sales, you are not running a business, you are running a hobby.
Too many startup businesses focus on getting all the detail perfect or their brand such as their logo, website, business cards etc when they should just be getting out there and going after the sales. Your perfect business logo can be finished at a later date. After all, when did you make a purchase just because of the perfect colour scheme on a business card? A name and number will do to start with.
Find ways to upsell
When you make a sale, is there a way to upsell to your customer and thereby increase your income? All the big businesses do it. When you go to get a burger and fries at your local drive-through I bet you are asked if you would like a large fries for just a small amount more. When you buy cards at your stationers, do they ask if you would like to buy a book of stamps?
So think how you can upsell to your customers. If you sell a service such as coaching can you charge a little extra for a written summary of your session? If you sell a product, offer an add-on product to enhance the original purchase. Do you make special occasion cakes? Offer a photograph of the cake with a gift card for the recipient to remember the occasion by. Get creative and see what you can come up.
Measure your marketing
In order to know if something is working properly, you have to test and measure it. The same goes for your marketing. Too often small businesses start up and run a marketing campaign and then just keep it running. They don’t actually stop to take time out to see if it is working or not.
Add codes to specific marketing campaigns and ask customers to quote this when getting in contact to receive a free gift. Make sure you look at the online analytics of any social media or web campaign. If you fail to do this, you could just be throwing hard earned money down the drain.
Learning more means earning more
You really can never stop learning. Keep your industry knowledge up to date to stay ahead, or at least in line with the competition. Learn new skills to help you get ahead in your business, whether how to close sales better or how to increase visitors to your website. There is so much learning material out there including the member’s club resources on this site so there really is no excuse not to keep improving your knowledge.
It is also widely acknowledged that all the most successful entrepreneurs spend at least 30 minutes per day listening to or reading motivational and inspirational books and audios. If you want to follow in their footsteps of success, try following this one habit of theirs.
Don’t discount, add value
Too many small businesses fall into the age-old trap of discounting their products or services to try to increase sales. You may make more sales initially but you will decrease your profits and as happened to a business I was called in to help, customers became all too aware of their constant sales and so stopped buying at the retail price altogether to just wait for the next sale to come around.
So rather than offering a discount, find something of a low cost to you but of value to the client that you can add to the sale to encourage customers to spend with you. It could be an extra 10 minutes for a head massage if you are a hairdresser. Or free gift wrapping with a product.
Get a coach
I have said many times in articles, that having an experienced mentor or coach when starting up can have a significant impact on how the business survives in the early months and even years. Having someone that you can use an objective sounding board for ideas and who can look at your business without the emotional ties, can be invaluable.
A professional coach, mentor or advisor should be able to help in the areas in which you are weaker and can help push you when you need it to stop you procrastinating and delaying your business success.
Now you have your Top 10 tips to a successful business, I wish you all the very best in starting up your business. Do come on over to the Facebook group to let me know how you are getting on.
P.S. If you would like personal coaching and coaching with me, hop over and take a look at my services, or hit reply and let me know.
Harsh words coming up ladies. Take a seat if you need to.
I have spoken with a number of ladies this month who haven’t completed tasks that have been set as part of their 1:1 coaching with me. This has left me somewhat surprised as I always check their commitment at each call and never leave them without them being confident they can do what I have suggested.
But this month, I have had clients tell me they are going to leave it to the universe to tell them when the right time is to move forward.
Well here’s some breaking news.
This is just a sad excuse for not getting out of your comfort zone and doing some work. The universe wants you to get off your arses and sort your problems out yourself!!
Too many of you are using the universe scenario to stay in your comfort zones and not do any real money-making activity. Yes, use visualisation (it works), work on your inner self (so important) but you must take physical action also.
The universe isn’t going to pay your bills and your comfort zone is going to get bloody well uncomfortable when you start to get final reminders through the post.
If you want success badly enough, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.
It’s up to you to take responsibility for yourself and your success.
I can hear the offence taken by many of you already and if you don’t like my straight talking, I’m not going to apologise. I don’t sugar coat things. I tell you how it is. Now it’s up to you.
How badly do you really want success?
Here’s an exercise for you to help you decide.
Take a seat, close your eyes and take the time to imagine the following scenarios:
12 months from now, you have shied away from fully promoting yourself. You have no bookings and no income. You are no further forward with your business than you are today.
Your friends and family ask you how your business is going. You feel sick to the stomach. You regret that you didn’t plan and block out time to work properly in your business. You regret you didn’t stay focused and just worked ad hoc over the last 12 months.
There is no money in the bank account and you know your partner is getting fed up of hearing the same story that next month you will have new clients. You know you won’t as you don’t really believe in yourself.
12 months from now you are sat looking at your bank balance. You have a regular income that covers all your bills and provides for all those extra luxuries in life that you enjoy.
You open your emails and see a number of testimonies from happy clients and who say they are recommending you to everyone they know. Oh, look!! Two new bookings have just popped up in your inbox!
Your partner asks you how your business is. You beam with pride and tell them you are treating them to a weekend away as you are doing so well.
Really sit and visualise both these scenarios. Which one do you want in 12 months? Number 2? Then focus on this. Bottle the feeling of scenario 2. Think this scenario through before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up every morning.
It’s your choice. If you want it badly enough, you will do what it takes. You will take action. You will plan. You will get focused. And you will do one thing every single day to take you closer to your goal. You WON’T give up.
If you don’t really want it, you will make excuses.
On occasions, I come across businesses that have to cease trading due to not having the correct terms and conditions in place. They have hit a problem with their client or a service provider, and have run into hot water as terms weren’t agreed in advance.
It’s critical that you have terms and conditions set out with your client to protect yourself and your business. With two business I have seen close recently, if they had the correct terms and conditions set-out and signed between both parties up front, they would not have run into the trouble that they did.
As a bare minimum, your terms and conditions should include:
What you are going to deliver
The scope of the work with a clear definition of what products and services will be provided.
Timelines for the work to be completed,
Charges and payment terms
What is the length of the contract
What are your costs and payment terms
Do you need payment up front? If part payment, when is remainder due? Late payment charges.
How long does any quote stand for?
Any additional charges that may occur
Any warranties and prevailing laws
Limitations and exclusions of liability
What happens if either party is unhappy and/or wishes to cancel.
NEVER work on trust! This is a recipe for disaster. It may seem a lot to put together but I can guarantee you will wish you had taken the time and trouble to put these into place if you ever do run into trouble.
Without clear terms and conditions, confusion can occur with the client thinking they may be able to pay at the end of a service, but you need payment up front.
Terms and conditions also make you look far more professional. Personally, I would never enter into an agreement without specified terms and conditions from a supplier and quite a few businesses have lost my custom as they did not have these available.
If you need help setting yours out, SQL legal also have some pretty good templates but always check that they are suitable for your own business needs.
How dare a customer actually try to buy from you!!
Recently in an online group, a lady was complaining that she had contacted a number of small businesses and yet they hadn’t responded. I can totally sympathise with this lady as I regularly get the same treatment.
Whilst a few agreed with her, there were far more comments from those that owned small businesses and went on the attack.
“When I’m contacted people don’t bear in mind I work over 40 hours, I can’t be on my phone all the time”
“I have a family, and a home to look after, and they come first!
I don’t always have the information to hand, like when I’m on the school run or swimming lessons and usually I’m too busy getting tea ready to respond to messages when I get home.”
“I’m behind on our emails but that’s because I’m so busy”
“I’ve got too much work to do to reply straight away, … oh and I also have a life! I can’t stand the beck and call attitude of some customers.”
“I haven’t had a day off in weeks”
Do you feel like this?
Yes, we can all get frustrated by our clients at times but women with the attitude of these don’t deserve a business in my opinion.
After all, there are plenty of people out there desperate to have more customers contact them. These women are obviously irritated. How dare someone interrupt their life to try and place an order.
Running a home and a business whilst raising a family is difficult, but customers aren’t telepathic. They don’t know how busy you are and to be honest, why should they care. They have their money in their hand and they want to buy something.
If you’re too busy, they will just move on somewhere else, or perhaps not.
Perhaps if the customer was treated with a little common courtesy they may wait until you are less busy. A simple holding email letting them know when you will be able to respond firstly acknowledges their enquiry, and secondly sets their expectations for when they will be responded to in full.
If you are running around like a headless chicken with a ‘woe is me’ attitude, sort yourself out. Take a look at your business from a customer’s point of view. Get in the right mindset of a successful business owner and change your attitude. Streamline your business. Cut the crap and work on effective systems. Set expectations with customers through your website and autoresponders in busy periods.
Remember, the customer is in control of your business success, not you. He can fire you by simply taking his business elsewhere.
I can hear the keyboards tapping away already, so go on, use the comments box and let me know your thoughts.
When I read this, a memory immediately came to mind that happened about 20 years ago. It was when I was in a meeting which was getting rather heated. I was one of the vocal ones (surprise surprise!) and when one of the other people in the room was in the middle of arguing with me, I was eagerly leaning forward attempting to jump in with my response.
Suddenly, the chair of the group stopped us. She turned to us both and said “I want you to both stop and listen to each other rather than waiting for your turn to reply. And I mean really listen!”
This stopped us both in our tracks. Well, it certainly stopped me. I realised instantly that I hadn’t really listened to anything the other person was saying as I was so intent in listening for a gap in the conversation to jump into and take over.
I have never forgotten this moment and when I have a strong opinion on something and want to get my point across, I now have a totally different stance. I now sit back. And listen.
Because I may just hear a different perspective that I hadn’t considered before, and this may just change my viewpoint. And if not, I can honestly and calmly say when I get the chance that I have listened carefully to all views put forward and would now like to put forward my own. This commands much more respect than being the one who shouts the loudest.
If you really want to get your point across, take a tip from Stephen Covey. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. It makes a huge difference, I promise you.
Here is a basic list of marketing mediums, both free and paid, that could be useful to your small business. Before you start on any marketing think carefully which are best for your business and which are going to get your marketing message in front of your ideal customers. Don’t just blindly follow the crowd and do something because others are doing it. They may just be throwing their money down the drain or may have a different ideal customer to you.
Free marketing ideas
I want to put a disclaimer here. Whilst I have said the list below is ‘free’ please remember that there is still a cost element due to the amount of time you will take to implement your marketing through these channels.
Most online directories offer a free listing. Research the better ones and get yourself listed
Set up a free blog and post new articles frequently to build up a following of people who may become your future customers
These can be sent by email to your subscribers or posted out to potential customers, again dependent on your business and your ideal customer.
There are so many social media channels to choose from. Start off setting up pages on just a couple of social media sites until you are comfortable with them and don’t become overwhelmed
Ask people to refer customers to you. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
Offer to do a free talk at local events to raise awareness of what you can do for potential clients
Send your details to as many publications as you can think of. You never know who may give you some free publicity
If you have a phone contract and you don’t use all your minutes, take some time to call prospective customers to introduce yourself (don’t cold call though – a big no-no!! You must have a connection with them first and permission to speak)
Attend networking events and turn up everywhere that your target audience hangs out. Remember to take your business cards.
Create an E-book that is branded with your company details. Offer as a free book to draw attention to your business.
Carry out surveys online or in person to find out information about customer buying habits whilst raising awareness of your brand at the same time.
Run a contest or competition where the winner can get a free product or service or a discount on a purchase. Raise awareness of your brand with all entrants.
Direct mail marketing
If done correctly, direct mail can still be a lucrative way of gaining new customers.
Paid for marketing ideas
Print can still work for many businesses and print tends to get read more in-depth than online ads.
Pay per Click/Advertising on complementary websites, social media adverts etc. all form part of online advertising
These can be professionally designed and printed or created from home. Always do a test run on just a few before printing hundreds.
Don’t leave home without them! You never know when, or who, you are going to meet so have them ready to hand out.
Both print and online. You can pay for a banner ad in directories that put your business at the top of the listings ahead of the free ads.
From high-end trade events to setting up a stall at your local village fete.
A website is essential for any business these days. From a low cost ‘free template’ site to a professionally built site, just make sure your site will be able to grow and be changed in line with your business in the future.
This can be expensive but if your business requires it, hiring a professional PR company can get great results and reduce the need for other forms of advertising.
Do you have products that would suit being put into a catalogue? Catalogues can be digital or printed and then mailed to your prospective and existing customers.
Pens, mugs, bags and notepads. In fact, just about anything can be printed on.
Get others to do the marketing for you and then pay them a small fee for each sale they make. There are many affiliate sites online that can help you get set up.
This can be from a single one-off event to sponsoring a team or organisation long term.
Think of where you might get seen by your ideal client. From car stickers to roadside signage to billboards at sporting grounds or on buildings, start to take note of the different signage out there and where yours might fit in.
So there are just a few small business marketing ideas to get you thinking. If you have any to add, pop them in the comments box below.
12 months ago, my daughter got engaged and this past weekend, she finally tied the knot with the man of her dreams.
When they got engaged, I had a vision of how the day would go and the décor that would suit her relaxed style. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to pull off so I spent a lot of time researching and planning to see if I could get together everything I needed.
It was stressful at times, there were tears, but I persevered and cannot tell you how happy I was the day was simply beautiful. From the trees I hired in and had lit up, to the festival style food and the exquisite decorations, everything was perfect.
But why am I telling you this?
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Because the same principle applies to building a successful business.
Research and planning are critical.
Having a timeline in place and constantly working towards that is what turns dreams into reality.
Not giving up when the going gets tough or when someone tells you what you want isn’t possible.
Only this week, yet another new business in the town where I live closed its doors after just a few short months. Everyone blames the locals for not supporting it but I have to disagree.
I put it down to bad planning. When building a business, you cannot expect to open your doors and have a flood of people come running through to spend their money with you.
You have to plan for the long term.
You have to work out your finances to see you through the early days.
You need to build trust and rapport with your ideal clients which is going to take time.
Blaming others for the failure of your business is burying your head in the sand. If your business fails, I’m sorry, but it’s down to you! Harsh but fair! Yes, external factors come into play, but I have yet to see a business fail where the owner has planned, researched and stuck with it through thick and thin.
I know my thoughts may jar with some and await the replies with reasons beyond control why businesses failed. And I’m looking forward to them. Tell me if you agree or disagree in the comments box below.
I was given a challenge recently by my own mentor to do a series of Facebook Live videos to help build my profile. Now, I have done many of these in the past so this didn’t bother me at all but I had forgotten a few simple tricks that can make the process less daunting and far more successful.
And I’m going to share them here with you.
Top Tips How To Do A Successful Facebook Live
PREPARE YOUR CONTENT
Don’t just start recording without at least a few minutes of thought.
What’s your subject going to be about?
Yes, that’s obvious, I hear you say but so many go off track and totally forget what they were supposed to be talking about when caught up in the live moment.
What’s your objective?
Do you want to raise your visibility or gain more subscribers to your mailing list? Or are you using this as a lead into a paid product? Decide this in advance as it will determine your call to action at the end of your Facebook Live recording.
Create your content
Write into and what you are going to be talking about
Create a catchy heading to give to the Facebook Live video
Prepare some bullet points for the main content. You need to be looking at the camera so don’t read off a full script. Just a few simple bullet points will keep you on track.
Jot down a short, simple and a call to action. Tell viewers what you want them to do next. Do you want them to call you, email you, visit your website or something else?
GAIN PRIOR INTEREST
Post in advance and let followers know what date and time you are going live and what the subject is going to be.
Encourage them to be there live for a special offer (if you have one)
Microphone turned on
Wi-Fi connected (if live)
Battery fully charged on recording equipment or connected to a power source
Lighting correct. Use natural daylight if possible but beware of shadows across your face or sunlight in your eyes. Buy an anglepoise light with a daylight bulb if you are in a dimly lit room.
Non-distracting background. Check your background. Keep it simple and uncluttered. You don’t want people being distracted by what’s going on behind you and a busy or messy background will do just that.
Phone turned off. Don’t forget to turn off the sound on your landline if that is in earshot. (Remember to turn it back on again after!)
Computer notifications turned off
Children and animals out of earshot
Lift your chin and look up to the camera. If you have the camera too low and look down to it viewers will be staring up your nose – not the best view!
Check your appearance. Do your clothes look ok and your teeth clean. You don’t want spinach from your lunch causing more conversation than what you are talking about. Double check hair and makeup.
Have your bullet point prompts near to hand
Keep pen and paper near to hand (make notes of any follow-ups to questions required)
Have a flash card with your contact details (useful to hold up at the end of the video for people to know how to contact you.
A glass of water (useful if throat gets dry or for coughing fits)
Smile – and have fun!
Give housekeeping tips.
Do you want people to ask questions as you go along, or do you want them to wait until you have finished? Tell people watching on replay to post their comments and use the like/love buttons.
Ask for interaction.
Tell people constantly to give you a thumbs up or a heart as you go along. Ask them to give a thumbs up if they understand what you are talking about. Ask them to give you a heart if they love what you are saying.
Be responsive to messages.
Make sure you answer messages. Thank people if they leave a message. Respond quickly if viewers ask questions.
Smile and have fun. People want to see the real you. Don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. Viewers will see that you are human after all and will be able to relate to you so much better.
Keep checking in
Go back and check for any messages. Go back over the next couple of days and check if any new comments or messages have come in. Respond to these.
Share your video
Share your Facebook Live video using the specific link. All you need to do is right click on the video once it is finished and, on your page, and copy the URL. Take this link and share in your blog and newsletters. Get your message out to as many other people as you can.
To get your very own checklist for doing a successful Facebook Live video, visit the freebies section