Before You Build a Business, Get Clear on What You Want

Have you ever hired a business coach before?

Did they give you all the tools, worksheets, software, training, and technology you could ever imagine with the promise that it would lead you to build the most amazing business?

And did you build an amazing business?

Or did you get busy designing a logo, getting your website ready, creating a free offer, recording some videos, planning an online course, launching a webinar, chasing clients who couldn’t pay you, and buying ads on social media to build your list?

(For those of you who feel like you just got punched in the gut, please take a deep breath. Inhale, count to six, hold it for three, exhale and release for six, hold for three, and repeat until you’re ready to cut ties, release all of that, and move on.)

I call this the “Keys to the Hardware Store”.

20160603_165613Many business coaches offer a path to success that comes in the form of all of the tools you could ever need to have successful sales calls, hire the right staff, and leverage your business to make the magical six-figures you’ve always dreamed of. They are teaching a wide variety of entrepreneurs at various stages of their business and assuming that their crowd knows how to filter out the high-level “tools” and “trainings” from the lower-level ones and only use those that apply to the stage of business they are in.

Unfortunately, I see three problems with that method:

  1. When you’re new and someone tells you to try a new tool, you try it in hopes that it works. Desperation kicks in and you get busy doing EVERYTHING you can to make money (I call it the Spaghetti Method of Marketing – throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.) All the tools in the world are great if you know what you’re building and which tools and supplies you’ll need to build it. If you don’t know what business you want to build, who you want to serve, and what services you want to provide, the keys to the hardware store are worthless. This is where CLARITY IS KEY! What are you trying to build?
  2. You can only leverage something that is built on a solid foundation with a system in place that is consistently working. Your business can be a temporary shack on the beach that gets you through the summer, or you can build a house that grows and expands with you as your needs change. Do you want a shack that you have to rebuild every year? No. You can’t work with one client, assume you have the magic solution and instantly sell it to 500 people in a group program. You have to test it out, gain client insights, and build momentum. It takes some trial and error to figure out what you want. You need to give yourself: space to change your mind, time to make mistakes and learn from them, and permission to get it really wrong before you get it right.
  3. The magical six-figure mark as a goal is horse shit. If we assume that you do make $100,000 in your business, we also need to assume that you have a budget, know your expenses, and understand the difference between NET and GROSS. If you GROSS $100,000 in your business, that doesn’t mean that your salary is $100,000. It means that you have billed your clients $100,000 and you now need to subtract all of your expenses: your website, marketing, logo design, cell phone, office, coaching, accountant, assistant, computer, software, subscriptions, scheduler, etc. And you’ll be lucky to clear/make/have a salary of $30,000 NET depending on how much you invested in your business. Six-figures can be a good goal to start out with, but you need to be thinking even bigger and get a hold of your numbers if you really want to have a successful business.

Instead of throwing things against the wall spaghetti style, building a crappy shack with no foundation, and investing in the keys to the entire hardware store when you only need a plan, a couple of tools, and a few materials to get started, I want you to get CLEAR. Why are you in business, what do you really want your business to look like, who you want to serve, what do you want to offer, and how can you communicate what you do to ONE IDEAL CLIENT that guides EVERY. SINGLE. THING. YOU. DO?

Your entire marketing plan (the blueprints for your business that lay out what materials you need, what tools you’ll use, and how to use them) MUST then be guided by that ONE IDEAL CLIENT. I call them your FAVORITE CLIENT because I want you to LOVE working with them!

If I sent you 20 of your FAVORITE CLIENTS today, right now, you’d be so happy you’d cry. Heck, if I sent you just two of them you’d probably kiss me… through the computer of course.

I can’t send them to you, or tell you which tools and materials you need from the hardware store, unless you identify who your FAVORITE CLIENT is and what you want to do for her.

I know this concept goes against everything you’ve been taught, but it works and my book, Finding Clarity, is proof. I wrote it for one person. Her name is Clara. She’s 34, has two small children, wants to start her own business to use her MBA skills in a way that pays her well, doesn’t have her reporting to a boss, and helps her clients build thriving businesses. As proof, I encourage you to download the ebook from Amazon, (It’s free June 8th-12, 2016 and $2.99 otherwise) read the first two chapters, and then tell me that I didn’t write it specifically for you and that you can’t relate. (I just had a middle-aged man tell me that the words I wrote spoke to him so clearly that he KNEW HE HAD TO WORK WITH ME! He is nothing like Clara and now I have the power to decide if we’re a good fit. Clients are coming to me. They are attracted to my clarity… and your clarity will be just as attractive.)

When you have a fear-based or “lack” mindset, you think you need to cast a big net to catch clients when, in reality, you just need to put your fishing pole in a lake with your type of fish and start attracting them one at a time. You can leverage, scale, and grow later but for now, you have to prove that you can handle one fish.

If you’re ready to find clarity in your business, create a plan for what you want to build, and have the support you need to choose the right tools and materials from the hardware store to build your business on a solid, sustainable foundation, sign up for a free Clarity Call with me.

Are You Ready for Live Video?

Have you ever wondered what cookies (the edible kind, not the Internet kind) have to do with marketing? Wonder no more.

Imagine you’re sitting at your computer and all of a sudden you start craving dream cookies. Take three seconds to close your eyes, inhale, exhale, and visualize the dream cookie of your choice. Then open your eyes and keep reading.

Ready? Go.

What did you see?

(I saw gluten-free, peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate-chip cookies that are soft, chewy, and deliciously sugar-free . I sure can dream, right?)

chocchipcookies

Okay.

Now imagine that you find a store that has them already made, and as many as you desire easily available to you.

You know what you want. Now visualize it in your mind, and clearly experience how it will make you feel to have those dream cookies.

WONDERFUL!

Now we’ll reverse things. Instead of knowing what you want, we’re going to make this exercise less about what you want.

Imagine you’ve been hearing a lot about mystery cookies and how you never know what you’ll get. You’re in the store and see a ton of mystery cookies. You don’t know if you like them, they might be risky to try (you might not like them, they aren’t what you really want, you’re not sure if they are any good, and if you try them that means you can’t try anything else you might like better).

Do you buy the mystery cookies?

Are you happy with your results? Are you pleasantly surprised, majorly disappointed, or left thinking “meh”?

Are you still with me or have you given up already to go buy your dream cookies?

Now, switch out the word “cookies” above for “clients”.

Which one made you happier?

I wish this was more obvious so I’ll spell it out here.
You can figure out what you want (ideal cookies/clients) and pursue that clearly with everything you do supporting that mission.
OR
You can flounder around with mystery cookies/clients and getting wishy-washy results (mystery cookies that aren’t exactly what you wanted).

It’s your choice. The difference between the two is how much clarity you have around what you want.

Ignore the mystery cookies.

Just because the mystery cookies exist, doesn’t mean you should try them.

In this case, just because live video is the latest social media trend doesn’t make it an automatic home run for your business.

(I hear my mother saying: Just because someone else jumped off a bridge and survived, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!)

Ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. What’s my reason for doing video?

If you said:

  • “because someone said I should”, ask the question above again and find a better answer. That’s the worst foundation to build any marketing action upon and I can’t watch you do it.
  • “I don’t know”, keep digging until you figure out why you want to do videos.
  • “because it’s a great way to reach my ideal clients, get them to know me, like me, trust me, and eventually work with me”, congratulations, move on to the next question.

2. Do I like being on video?
3. Do I have something that I can talk about on video without compliance issues, and HIPPA concerns?
4. Do my prospective clients watch videos/want to watch videos about my topic?
5. Can I make a video easily, imperfectly, without investing a ton of time, money, and energy into it if it doesn’t work out?
If you answered “yes” to questions 2 through 5, keep reading. If not, you need more clarity around which tactics will reach your target market and video might not be the right fit for you. Stick with the fundamentals of networking for now.

Before you record a video, figure out…

Where will you share your videos?
Are you putting them on your website? Social media?

Who will watch your videos?
Are they for your prospects, your clients, or you referral partners?

What format makes the most sense?
Are you making a video recording, or hosting a live video where people can interact? How will your ideal clients watch it, when, where? Do they want to see a recording on their own time? And will they actually make time to watch it?

How long does your video need to be?
Short videos are great when you want to keep people’s attention. New studies are showing that live videos are better when they are longer so that people can come and go as they please.

What do you want to say?
You need a simple script that lists the bullet points you want to cover, without being something that you read.
What information do you want to share with your audience without sounding like a robot? Don’t read every word. Your audience can tell when you aren’t being authentic.

What actions do you want your viewers to take?
Have a call to action at the end. Do you want them to email you? Visit your website? Download something cool? Sign up for a call with you?

There are a lot of options out there for how to market your business. You need to get clear on which ones make the most sense to support you in reaching your goals.

Video can be an amazing tactic that attracts a lot of ideal clients for the right type of business. But before you test it out, you need to be strategic about why you want to do video and if it makes sense to attract YOUR ideal clients.

If you need more help finding and attracting your ideal clients, schedule a free clarity call with me and let’s figure out where you’re stuck and what you can do to move forward in your business before investing in a tactic that might get you generic results instead of the best “cookie” you’ve ever had.

For more marketing tips, or if you’d just like to see the handful of live videos I’ve done so far, visit my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/SimplifyYourMarketing/.

Are you having fun in your business?

I grew up in a pretty serious household, where fun was not really embraced or encouraged, and frequently inappropriate in a “knock it off” or “quit goofing around” kind of way. We rarely broke out into spontaneous fun as a family, and unless I was playing by myself, on vacation, or at a friend’s house, my fun was structured or scheduled. Once in a blue moon, spontaneous fun could slip into our home, but it was more likely to be a strategically planned surprise party, or a hot air balloon ride at five in the morning after waiting six months for the weather conditions to be perfect.

(Go ahead and laugh at the pixie cut and the poor image quality. This was 1997 people. Nothing was digital or in high-definition… thank goodness!)

hot air balloon ride fun

There was something about fun that made it feel like a dark cloud of guilt hovered nearby, ready to shut things down in case our intoxicating levels of joy reached dangerous heights. That’s not to say I didn’t have any fun growing up or that I endured a miserable childhood. I just didn’t have parents who had time or the desire to play games, or chase after me on playgrounds. They were busy being successful so that my brother and I could have the latest and greatest things that made us cool, and accepted, at school.

I was taught that life was pretty serious and I looked down upon anyone who goofed off. Serious, serious, serious. That’s why I was on the honor roll.

Am I having fun in my business?

In my business, I’ve found a bigger, deeper lesson unfolding as I strive to enjoy what I do, find fulfillment in working with my clients, and help them make small changes in their businesses that have a big impact, all while laughing and having fun along the way.

Serious, serious, serious has been scratched out and replaced with fun, fun, fun.

There is so much to be serious about in life and I’m doing my best to inject business with less serious ways of achieving success and more ways of having fun while figuring out what works best for you in your business.

Kind of like when my high school science teacher brought in a container of liquid nitrogen and instantly turned a thawed hot dog into a frozen stick that shattered when you hit it with a hammer. (Anyone remember that? Here’s a video of Mr. Wizard and a student shattering a hot dog at 4:38: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wJAG7GcQEI)

Give me the magic formula!

As entrepreneurs, we want the magic formula to be given to us so that we can go through the motions, take the necessary action steps, and *POOF* become successful. After all, that’s what is seems like is happening to the “overnight success” stories shared by the media. What we often don’t see or hear about are the failures (experiments) those entrepreneurs tried before finding out what worked for them.

In April’s Real Simple magazine (ironically), there is a story featuring a lawyer, Mae Tai O’Malley, who started her own law firm for women with kids who needed flexible schedules. In it she says, “I started at a large, traditional law firm. Later I worked part-time for various technology companies. I got asked to do some work for Goggle in 2006. I had three kids at that point and couldn’t take on all the work, so I thought, I’ll just hire one other mom. In looking for that person, I met a number of attorneys. That was the start of Paragon.” She’s now got 70 employees. *POOF* Success!

Real simple, right? All fun and games.

I call bullshit.

While I love that she’s rocking it, finding life balance, and helping other moms have fulfilling careers, I’m annoyed that the article doesn’t mention any of her struggles, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, or the fact that her ego was likely in the back seat telling her how awful she was, explaining how it wasn’t going to work out, and asking her who she was to be doing this work.

After you’ve been in business a few years(or a few hours, really), you know better. You quickly realize that the article might paint a picture of rainbows and butterflies, but her reality was closer to changing diapers and wiping spit-up off her favorite Armani suit as she passed the kids to her nanny and hoped her cell phone held enough charge to last through the meeting until she could found a place to plug it in.

Sadly, there is no magic formula, that’s not how it works, and our overblown expectations can often lead us down a trail of disappointment with a strong desire to give up our passions and get a J-O-B instead of struggling through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

We need to face the fact that owning our own business is more of a personal journey of growth than anything else.

It’s not about being serious, following some formula, and doing it alone for fear of showing weakness.

Entrepreneurship is about learning to trust our intuition, going after what we want, surrounding ourselves with the people who can help us get where we want to go, and seeking the help and guidance we need to get there… while having fun on the journey.

It’s about finding the clarity we need to move forward in our business instead of comparing ourselves to everyone around us and what we think we should be doing.

It’s about doing what works best for us to support our goals and learn the lessons we need to learn in this lifetime.

How can you have more fun in your business?

What can you do today to have more fun in your business?

Maybe you take a Friday off each month to enjoy a spa day with your best friend. Or you visit a new park each month with a good book and a sack lunch to explore your city and inhale fresh air. Maybe you do something that scares you and sign up to speak at an event you’ve never been to, or attend a conference that sounds cool. Maybe you have a dance party to celebrate every new client who hires you, every testimonial that comes in, or every time money enters your bank account.

If you like talking to people on the phone, maybe you invite people you network with to have a free call with you. Love food? Schedule a weekly lunch date at your favorite restaurants. If you like dogs, get out of the office and ask if someone wants to meet at a dog park to network. Sure it sounds crazy to do business at the dog park, but it would be memorable and could be fun.

Personally, I like talking with people about their businesses and the challenges they face so I invite them to hop on a free call with me. We get to know a bit more about each other, we share ideas, frequently figure out easy solutions to their most pressing issues, and some of them end up working with me or referring clients my way.

That’s my idea of fun.

It’s not about “making the sale” and “pressuring them to commit”.

It’s about making connections, being of service, and offering to help.

Once you figure that you, you’ll find that you’re having a lot more fun in your business.

What are you waiting for? Let’s have some fun!

Schedule a free clarity call with me here: http://simplifyyourmarketing.com/clarity/

Making Deeper Networking Connections

Do you like networking? Or see it as a necessary evil?

I talk a lot about the importance of networking, and I know that while it may come naturally to some, networking often makes people extremely uncomfortable.

What I’ve learned over the years is that networking isn’t really about selling yourself to everyone you meet. Instead, it’s about meeting new friends, making connections with people on a deeper level, having meaningful conversations, and learning about one another so you can genuinely help one another.

Networking

You won’t be a good match for many of the people you meet. Maybe you don’t need another lawyer, real estate broker, insurance representative, or  business coach in your contact list. Then again, maybe you do.

By networking one-on-one with the people you meet, you have the opportunity to make deeper connections, form more lasting bonds, and create loyal referral partners who will get to know, like, and trust you.

Not all of the relationships you cultivate will turn into referrals or end up as clients, but that isn’t the point. The point is, by making deeper connections with the people we meet, we can be present in the moment, honoring our human experiences, and learning to enjoy the company of one another unconditionally.

Once you connect with the people you meet unconditionally, you become irresistible.

Once your intentions are purely for the purpose of helping others instead of pushing your services, you become a trusted asset in their network.

Once you let go of the need to SELL and lead with your need to SERVE, everything else falls into place.

Like many things in business, what we think is the magic pill or the winning formula is actually just a diversion. What truly works is often counter intuitive, seemly impossible, and yet, surprisingly effective.

What can you do today to set the foundation for making a deeper connection with someone you know?

To learn more ways you can improve your networking game, register now for a free, 3-part video series on How to Network When You Hate Networking. I’ve done several of these trainings in person and have condensed the key learnings into 15-minute videos filled with tips on Where to go, Who to meet, and What to say at your next networking opportunity to make the time you spend networking much more effective and enjoyable.

The videos will be available March 15th so mark your calendar, and register here.

What do Valentine’s, Chocolates, and Your Ideal Clients Have in Common?

Valentine’s Day, Chocolates, and Ideal Clients?

That sounds like total happiness to me.

A day dedicated to the expression of love, the greatest food invention of all time, and working with my favorite clients. Total bliss.

But this post isn’t just about me… It’s really about you.

If you’re struggling to choose an “Ideal Client” (or as I call them, your “Favorite Client”), I invite you to follow me down a bit of a rabbit hole for a moment…

Think of it like this:

If you could go into a confectionery with all sorts of chocolates, fudge, candies, and even cheddar popcorn and potato chips for you savory folks, what one item in the store would you love to have all day, every day in unlimited supply? 

Be specific. Don’t cheat here and say “chocolate”.

Pick ONE item.Dark Choc

What did you pick? (You can email me or comment on the blog if you really want to have your vote count–it is an election year after all… and I can post results next month.)

For me, it’s dark chocolate, specifically dark chocolate covered peanuts. All day, every day.

Sure, I like some of the other stuff in the store.

But I LOVE dark chocolate covered peanuts.

I’ve been known to snub white chocolate, milk chocolate, hard candy, chewy/waxy candies, licorice, and any chocolate that is disastrously poured over pretzels or coffee beans (Yuck! No offense).

When it comes to the confectionery, I want to be known as “The Girl Who Loves Dark Chocolate Covered Peanuts”. 

You know why?

Because if anyone I know goes to the confectionery to buy me chocolates, the staff behind the counter will know to suggest the dark chocolate covered peanuts, and I’ll get exactly what I want every time.

Now think about how this applies to your business.

If you go around telling the world that you work with anyone with a pulse, you’ll get every variety of candy in the store… or none at all because people might send you ballet shoes, snow tires, or gourmet mustard instead.

But…

If you make it known that you want to work with mom entrepreneurs who have young children and are trying to figure out how to get clarity in their business to attract the right clients and build a business they love, guess what you’ll get?

Dark chocolate covered peanuts all day long.

And that, my friends, is what Valentine’s, chocolates, and your ideal clients have in common. The more clear you are about communicating who you love to work with, what you specifically want, and who you want to work with, you’ll start to attract your favorite ideal clients ALL. DAY. LONG.

And that’s the goal, right?

Delicious!

If you want help specifically defining your ideal client, clearly identify them, and communicating what you want to your referral network, sign up for a free clarity call with me today. It’s easy, fun, and might surprise you.  

P.S. If they are out of dark chocolate covered peanuts, squares of around 70% dark chocolate will do. My taste buds can work with that. Similarly, my business will attract things that are similar (dark chocolate covered almonds/dad entrepreneurs who want to get clear in their business and build on a solid marketing foundation), just by being clear on what I specifically want. Try it and watch your business soar!

Do Less on Social Media

Dear Fellow Entrepreneurs,

It’s come to my attention that many of you are feeling guilty about not posting enough on social media, not getting your email newsletter out on time, not posting to your blog consistently or as much as you’d like, and not having updated your website recently.

I’d like to offer you the next five seconds to beat yourself up for all of those things and let your ego go wild with all the nasty things it will say to you.

Ready?

Go.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Times up.

Thank your ego for trying to keep you safe and kindly explain that you are taking your ego’s suggestions into consideration and choosing to move forward.

Now, I invite you to:

Ditch the guilt around not doing enough. It isn’t serving you.

Give up one thing you hate doing that you keep thinking you’re going to do.

Use the energy you have been using to beat yourself up and use it to take action that you know works and gets results.

Answer these questions for yourself:

  1. Why you are posting on social media, blogging, and sending newsletters?
  2. Do you like doing these things?
  3. Do they generate revenue for your business?
  4. Why do you think you *should* be doing more in these areas?
  5. Is it possible that you can do less of these things and achieve similar results?
  6. Is there something else you could be doing that is a better use of your time?
  7. How did anyone ever do business before social media was invented?

Is it possible that you don’t need to use social media and online marketing as a major part of your marketing mix?

I spoke with some really amazing women business owners today and kept hearing how they wish they were doing more to market their business. Sadly, doing more wouldn’t help them. Doing more of the right marketing might. But just doing “more” wasn’t going to do anything but exhaust them.

Just some food for thought.

If you’re interested in learning more about this idea of ditching the guilt and focusing on what works for your business, check out my new book, Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing. It’s available on Amazon.

Young_Cover_3D_FINAL

Or sign up for a free clarity call. I’d love to learn about your business and the issues you’re facing as you attempt to attract new clients.

Best wishes,

Amanda

Want to write a book?

I’m always hearing people say how much they want to write a book someday. It seems to be a popular dream high on a lot of bucket lists.

Most people don’t know where to start, don’t think they have time, aren’t sure what they would write about, don’t know the first thing about the publishing process, and write it off as a dream that will never come to be.

As the launch of my second book fast approaches (in six days, but who’s counting!), I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on my process having self published a book and having worked with an author coach and publisher. I’ll offer some insight to anyone who is considering writing a book or just loves living vicariously through others.

DIY Self Publishing

A few years ago, when I had my first child, I wrote a book somewhat accidentally. Friends encouraged me to start a “mom blog” with all the funny stories about things that happened on my journey into motherhood. Like when our car froze to the street and we couldn’t get to the pediatrician. Or when I locked my daughter in the vestibule and forgot my keys in the house.

My father strongly urged me to compile them into a story and print a copy for him for Christmas. I did and it was a hot mess of a book full of typos and stories that ended abruptly. The book included black and white pictures of my daughter being cute and was organized by month so that you could see her growth and how much our lives were changed by introducing a child into our world.

My husband spent hours designing a cover with a collage of all the photos from the book.

And then my dad started selling copies of it to his friends!

It was so rough that I was beyond embarrassed and decided to clean it up as best I could without spending any money.

A family friend edited the manuscript for gross typos and tried to fix my poor grammar. One post was written in the present tense with the next post in the past tense, and the one after that switching randomly from one tense to the other.

I created a cheat sheet of words that needed to be hyphenated and capitalized so that I could be consistent with my edits. I used Photoshop to re-size the pictures. I spent endless hours formatting the Word document to make the book look presentable. I learned how to create an automated table of contents and set formatting standards in a document. I designed my own cover using a photo I had taken on our vacation to see my sister-in-law. And then I convinced my husband’s aunt to do another round of edits.

The manuscript came back with a sea of red edits that I entered into the Word file. I made final tweaks to the formatting and uploaded the file to CreateSpace.com for a proof.

All in, I invested maybe $500 into the book. Unless you count the $500 camera and gazillion hours writing, editing, proofing, and designing it. Even more if you add in the computer and software. I did buy an online training course put on by an author who explained how to promote a book in the early days of self publishing. I also bought a set of 10 ISBN numbers which identify your book in a unique cataloging system.

LTBOM CoverIt’s called, Lions & Tigers & Babies! Oh My!: One Mom’s Journey Through the First Year of Motherhood. But I never really promoted the book and, to this day, most people don’t know that I even wrote a book about my journey through the first year of motherhood. (Nevermind that it is part of a seven-book series detailing the first seven years of motherhood, and I have drafts of the six books that follow it.) I did buy a set of 500 bookmarks, that I designed, for less than $100. I gave those out as business cards to any moms I happened to randomly meet.

And my proud parents continued to call me an author and give or sell my books to everyone they knew. All told, I think there were 100-200 copies in circulation six years later and I heard that the library in my hometown had a copy that had been checked out several times.

I wrote it for my own personal enjoyment and learned several tricks and new skills along the way… mostly about how to improve my writing and grammar.

Getting Published

Fast forward a handful of years to me as a business owner. I went to a coaching conference in Atlanta and roomed with a woman who had an author coach and was publishing a book the next month. She instantly knew I needed to write a book and within a week, I was signed up to join a three-month program that would have my book published and promoted to all of the world.

Unlike the do-it-yourself method I knew, having an author coach, an editor, a book cover designer, a proofreader, and a launch team was a big, much needed, and awesome change.

My job was to figure out who I needed to write my book for and then write the book. Sure, I did edits, and made suggestions for the cover, but having someone lead me through the process, answer all of my questions, and help me get unstuck was priceless. Instead of taking years to write, the book was done in three months. Instead of doing it alone and never really promoting the book, I was part of a team of 20 authors all launching books on the same day! There was pressure for me to not let them down. I saw them struggling through the process and they saw my frustrations. But we didn’t stop and we did it together.

Instead of telling my family and friends I wrote a book, I had a launch team. It included my friends and family, the author coach’s staff, and the other 20 authors.

Instead of posting my book on Amazon, without any sort of launch party, and hoping it would be discovered, I was going to be interviewed on the red carpet at The Author Castle in Washington, DC with my story being broadcast to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Instead of selling 100 copies of my book (or having my parents give 100 copies away to their friends), I was projected to hit the best seller list within the first 48 hours of launching the book!

I invested a lot more money into this book, but I did so strategically. You see, this book is designed to share my signature process with entrepreneurs who are looking for more clarity in their business. It’s meant to give them a taste of the results that I achieve with my clients and acts as an invitation for struggling business owners to reach out to me for help. We can talk about the issues they face in their business, and see if it makes sense to work together.

And more importantly, for me anyway, is that by promoting this book, and sharing it with the world, I’ll have the chance to help a lot of people find clarity in their business. They won’t all hire me, but they might find a way to be 10% happier in their business. And if that’s the case, it was worth the investment of time and money to make a difference in the world and make someone else’s life a little better, and their business more successful.

To get your copy of Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing, visit Amazon.com. And be sure to write a review.

If you’re interested in writing a book… or want access to over 18 amazing books (that will be FREE on the 19th), sign up for the January 19th, 2016, launch event here. If you can’t make it to the event, sign up anyway to receive a recording of the event, links to 18 books for free, and incredible free offers from the authors!

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What does success look like to you?

Have you ever taken time to define what success looks like to you?

What do you want in life? What do you want in your business?

This is a question I’ve spent the last two months getting really clear on as I wrote a book called Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing. (Mark your calendars and watch for updates. It comes out January 19th on Amazon.)

I invested in an author coach, dedicated twelve weeks to getting clear on what I wanted to say, and who I wanted to write the book for. The process brought about a lot of shifts in my thinking, my business, who I want to serve, and how I see my success.

It also helped me realize how much goes into having a successful business beyond the daily motions of entrepreneurship (the invoices, client calls, website updates, and social media posts) and into the purpose, connection, and inspiration behind all successful businesses.

A successful business takes courage, and passion. 

Courage to forgot about what other people think and choose to follow your heart, serve the people you love to work with, and design your business around your needs instead of what you think others need. (Or in Ada’s case, courage to rock a crazy hat with your mom’s sunglasses on your morning walk to school.)

Courageous Ada

Passion to love what you do and do what you love in a way that is of great service to the people you serve.

Success can be scary, and as such, we tend to hold ourselves back from our own success as a way to stay safe in our mediocrity. We can hide behind what others think and what we think we should be doing. We can try to look busy in hopes that others will assume we are successful. But the truth is, it only matters what we think about ourselves.

I think… I have more to give… more passion, more courage to share my talents with the world and achieve my own definition of success.

I do not want to be mediocre. (What a funny word! Mediocre – adjective – of only moderate quality; not very good.)

I want to be successful. I want to change the world and inspire others to realize their own greatness along the way. I want to embrace every part of my success, hug the air right out of it, and breathe it all in.

I want to share what I’ve learned with entrepreneurs like me who have been struggling to realize their own success, get out of their own way, and share their gifts with the people they are meant to serve.

The cool part? That’s the whole point of my book. That’s what it does. It helps entrepreneurs find clarity and it helped me create a process to lead my clients through to ensure they achieve results. I’ve used it to help entrepreneurs get out of their own way, find the clarity they need to define their own success, and achieve greatness. And I plan to use it to help even more entrepreneurs find clarity in their business.

This is my window of opportunity. The success train is leaving the station and I’m getting on it, no matter how scared I might be.

Want to join me on the path to success? If so, let’s talk. Schedule time on my calendar. I have a sweet deal (one-on-one coaching at 40% off!) for five passionate and courageous entrepreneurs in honor of the book launch this month only. And I happen to be great at helping entrepreneurs find clarity in their business while defining their own success.

Would You Rather… Be Marketing Your Business or Serving Your Clients?

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Have you ever played “Would you rather?” It’s a game with a list of questions where you pick between two options that are both good or bad and then explain your choice.

This question came up in my business in the form of “Would you rather have a beautifully branded website and online presence, or would you rather be able to serve your clients really well?”

While the traditionally trained marketing person inside me screamed, “You need a website to be found these days!” the modern business woman in me (and my new Author Coach for the book I’m writing about marketing) said, “Your clients don’t even know you have a website.”

And you know what? She was right!

All of my early clients have come from networking and direct referrals. 

This realization was a game changer for me.

I felt so guilty for buying into the “old way” of doing things where all the marketing advice was telling entrepreneurs to start with a website. Dig deep into your pockets and fork over some start up capital for a website and a logo so that people can find you on the Internet.

That’s what I thought was the right thing to do. That’s what all of the courses and advisors and marketing specialists told me to do.

And, sadly, that’s still the primary advice out there on the Internet and… sorry to bear the bad news but… for most entrepreneurs in start up, it’s crap advice.

You don’t need a website to start a business.

I’ve heard story after story after story of business owners who don’t have any money left to invest in their business because they spent it all on a website that isn’t doing much of anything for their business except making them feel legitimate on the web.

Some of the business owners persevere while others fold up and go back to work for someone else in hopes of squirreling away enough money to try again another day.

It’s better for a for-profit business if those are paying clients so that, down the road we can invest in a logo, branding, and a website as part of a growth strategy. But for right now, we just need clients.

And before we can get clients, we need to know what we have to offer them, how we can serve them, and who they are. 

Sure, we can fumble around for a few months in the start-up phase trying to figure things out, reworking our elevator speech, and creating a new offer each week until something clicks.

But the best way to get clients is to get clear about your business, focus on the people you want to reach, and craft a message that communicates how you can help them. Once you have an idea around what you can do for them, then you can take the steps toward finding them, attracting them, and working with them on a paid basis.

While they are paying you, you’ll work out the kinks, figure out what you like and don’t like about your business, and start to home in on what you want your business to be. Then, and only then, will you truly be ready to create a brand and a website that conveys your message effectively — because your message will be clearly defined and come across easily.

Before you spend any money on marketing your business, help people. It’s through the action of helping people that you’ll learn what you would rather do in your business. Would you rather… serve clients one-on-one for a year, or work with a room full of people for an hour? Charge an hourly rate or offer programs for a set fee? Work with celebrities or your neighborhood pet owners?

It’s from experience that you’ll learn what you’d rather be doing in your business. Then you can DESIGN YOUR BUSINESS around what you love to do. You’ll want to CLEARLY know what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, and how you can say it in a way that really connects with your audience.

If you’re struggling to find clarity in your business and are overwhelmed by too many options, click here to sign up for my free workbook Narrow Your Focus to Expand Your View: 5 Ways to Clarify Your Vision. And when you’re done, email me your answers for a free Clarity Call to learn how we can work together to Fast Forward to Clarity in your business.

The Customer Is Not Always Right

While watching my kids hang from the monkey bars and spin wildly on the playground equipment at our new school, my conversation with a fellow parent turned to the topic of marketing and how to find new clients. It’s the most common question I hear and the heart of all business development:

“Where do I go to find new clients?” 

It would be great to offer a quick solution, or some new clients on a platter, but my response is always, “It depends.”
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The customer is NOT always right.
I don’t want you to attract just anyone. I want you to attract the right customers. The ones you can do really great work for. The ones who appreciate your help. The ones you look forward to calling and are proud to call clients. They are your ideal customers.
I follow up with a few questions:
  1. Who do you most want to work with?
  2. What do you know about those “ideal” clients?
  3. Have you had/do you have any clients like them?
  4. Where have you found them in the past?
  5. Who can you reach out to for referrals?
These questions can be enough to get a new client with little effort and investment. At the very least, they can help you realize that you aren’t clear enough around what you want and help you focus on small actions you can take to attract new clients.
For example, the playground mom I spoke with is a family therapist. She realized (in our brief time together), that:
  1. She likes working with adoptive parents.
  2. Her ideal clients work with adoption agencies.
  3. She has some that she likes and could describe why they were ideal and what they had in common.
  4. The clients she liked the most were from an agency and were choosing counseling voluntarily to improve their family’s happiness.
  5. She was going to email an agency she had worked with in the past to let them know she has spaces available to take on new clients.

That’s not so hard, right?

The challenging part is getting clear on what you do want.

She doesn’t want to do all the administrative paperwork that comes with screening prospective parents for adoption. She wants to help parents who have adopted a child already in order to improve their home life.

That small detail completely changes who she is looking for and where she’s most likely to find them. It isn’t people who want to adopt children, but those who already have adopted children.
Clearly knowing what you want and who you want to work with helps SIMPLIFY the whole process.
If you’re struggling to determine who you want to work with or how to reach your ideal customers, schedule a Free Clarity Consultation to get clear on your marketing needs. I have 5 spaces available for Clarity Consultations this month. Let me know if you want one of them.