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Knowing the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Helps You Grow Your Business

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Updated: May 23, 2019

If you're a solopreneur (coach or consultant), you ARE the sales & marketing department. If you're a small business owner, you may not have a lot of employees within the sales and marketing functions. 

However, knowing the difference between sales and marketing will help you develop a systematic approach to growing your business.  

The easiest, but not perfect, way to understand the difference between sales and marketing is to consider "Customer Touch." 

  1. Are you speaking directly with the customer? (Sales)

    • Examples: Phone calls, in-person meetings, events, etc. If so, you are likely engaging in sales. I'll explain the "likely" in the next section. 

  2. Are you indirectly interacting with customers? (Marketing)

    • Examples: Creating Content, Building Facebook Ads, Sending a Newsletter, Surveys/Polls, etc. 

Now, let me explain why I used the term "likely" above. Sometimes you'll engage directly with customers, but purely for marketing purposes. The best example of this would be interviewing customers and prospects to gain insights. 

Developing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Once you understand the difference between sales and marketing, devote time to design an integrated sales and marketing process. 

The goal of your marketing efforts is to create the appropriate materials and resources to generate leads, enable selling your products and close deals, plus, retain customers - Block off time to develop your marketing resources.

The goal of your sales efforts is to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. A secondary goal is to collect any feedback that will improve your marketing efforts - Block off time to execute your sales efforts.

Try not to combine the two efforts. If you do, you'll risk confusing your customers and potentially upsetting them as well.

As you think through your sales & marketing strategy ask yourself, what marketing tactics do you have to:

  • Qualify to understand your ideal customer profile (buyer persona)? 

    • Market & Competitive Analysis or Buyer Personas

  • Market to attract leads aligned to your ideal customer profile?

    • Content Marketing, Lead Magnets, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, etc. 

  • Sell to convert your leads into prospects?

    • Sales Call Scripts, Product/Service Presentations, etc.

  • Close to acquire your customers? 

    • Sales Call Scripts, Custom/Personalized Proposals, Common Objection Answers, etc.

  • Delight to retain your customers and generate referrals?

    • Reward Programs, Content Marketing, On-Going Support, Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, Down-Selling, etc. 

My Last Piece of Advice

You need to establish a process to review your sales and marketing strategy. Win or Lose:

  • What went well?

  • What can you improve?

  • What feedback will you consider?

  • How can you increase efficiencies and decrease costs? 

My Monday's are blocked off to build my marketing resources. I've devoted Tuesday – Thursday to Sales and client calls. Fridays, I review all of my business systems, process, strategies, and tactics. This includes analyzing my sales and marketing tactics to find incremental improvements. Small steps lead to massive action.

Stewart Swayze

"Become the Cause" of Your Life, Career, and Success

www.stewartswayze.com

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.

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Overconfidence: The Silent Killer of An Entrepreneur’s Dreams

Overconfidence Entrepreneurship

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

What is Overconfidence Bias in Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey. As an entrepreneur, you need to be confident in your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Confidence allows jump from employee to entrepreneur, start a company, and take risks that result in massive action.  

In fact, as an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions with limited time, resources, or people to ask questions.

But, you must be aware of overconfidence. Overconfidence bias can KILL your company.

Overconfidence bias definition

in relation to an entrepreneur’s risk of failure this definition states that “Overconfidence is overestimation of one’s accuracy, or, alternatively, an overestimation of ability relative to others, and links with increased failure risk of firms (Hayward et al., 2006).” 

As a coach and consultant to entrepreneurs, I see this all the time. Often, my clients overestimate their ability to find high-paying clients without developing a systematic approach to marketing.

If you have an overconfidence bias, often you'll wholeheartedly "believe" your assumptions are facts.

And, assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME.

You don't try to improve your understanding of a challenge, risk, or market. You don't crosscheck perceived "facts" or seek alternative perspectives.

How Does Overconfidence Impact an Entrepreneur? 

When you are overconfident, you use hindsight to reinforce your decisions. You look back at previous successful results and automatically assume a positive outcome without considering the full spectrum of possibilities.

You overestimate your talent and underestimate the risks. Your mind forms an answer that seems right, and you take action without the facts.

The problem with this mindset, you eliminate any notion of activities that were out of your control, but positively impacted the previous outcome. 

What if your previous decision was successful due to luck?

Maybe, the stars aligned and you correctly guessed the timing of the market. In hindsight, your mind turns that “guess” into a fact. The worst part, you won’t even know it’s happening.

Hindsight, coupled with overconfidence, is a dangerous activity.

Overconfidence Bias Example 1:

Research shows that overconfident entrepreneurs tend to ignore the strengths of their direct competitors (Moore & Cain, 2007). Next thing you know, your competitor disrupts the market and steals your customers.

Overconfidence Bias Example 2:

Overconfident entrepreneurs spend months and resources working on the most amazing product. They go through an awesome launch and bam, the product fails.

Why? They relied heavily on their knowledge and experience without verifying product market fit or asking for advice, help, or and feedback from others (Hayward et al., 2006).

Overconfidence Bias Example 3:

Overconfident entrepreneurs seek out the highly-familiar option while neglecting to evaluate any other options (Winston Sieck, Ed Merkle, & Trish Van Zandt). Any of these mistakes can be fatal to your business. 

How to Reduce the Risks of Overconfidence  

Know-Thy-Self!

Self-awareness is the first step to reducing the risk of overconfidence. Reading this article and thinking through your decision-making process is a positive action.

You need to set up counterbalancing or self-regulatory mechanisms (Hmieleski & Baron, 2008).

Guess what, you don’t have all the answers. Welcome to the club! neither do I! Check yourself. 

Before you crush your dreams because of overconfidence, try these tips:

1) Take some time to seek out alternative perspectives

Assign one or two people from your team to be the skeptic or devil's advocate. During a short discussion, have them sell or present other options.

If you don’t have a team, how long does it take to phone a mentor? Consider finding an experienced mentor that understands your business. Develop a network of diverse advisors, people outside your area of expertise, market, or niche.

Example: I’m a Coach and Consultant for Entrepreneurs. But, some of my best advisors don’t know anything about Entrepreneurship, Coaching, or Business. They ask questions that completely challenge my assumptions out of pure curiosity and and aren’t afraid to call me out. Hire a coach to bounce ideas off. 

How much longer will seeking alternative perspectives take? Maybe, an hour or two. I’m willing to bet you can wait an hour before coming to a final decision, especially when it’s a high-risk decision. 

2) Consider conducting a more research 

Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. You can find anything on the Internet. You’ll discover a ton of information on blogs, downloadable white papers, and on your competitor’s websites.

It is crazy how much information I find conducting competitive intelligence. As long as it’s public information, you are good to go. 

3) Reach out to experts

Consider reaching out to a few experts. I’m sure you’ll find experts happy to share their knowledge with you. For my business, I interview experts all the time. Some experts may ask for payment, while others will speak with you for free.

Either way, let’s say the right answer will generate or save you $10,000. If you pay eight experts $200 for an hour of their time, was the $1600 investment worth it? Yep!

4) Hire based on diversity of thought

Hire employees (and contractors) based on diversity of thought. Teach your employees the skills they need. Don’t build a culture of “Yes” people.

Encourage alternative perspectives that challenge you and the status quo. But, find a balance. You’re the leader, when you make a decision it’s go time! Your employees know it’s time to work together, act fast, and execute at the highest level. 

Final thoughts

Maintain a high level of confidence. Go out there and build the company of your dreams. Fulfill your entrepreneur dreams. But, increase your self-awareness. Use the techniques above to create a simple process to keep yourself and/or your team in check. I’ll leave you with this quote: 

"If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?" – Henry Ford

I hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. 

- Stewart 

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ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

 

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How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Coaching or Consulting Business

Creating Digital Products for Coaches & Consultants

Growing your coaching revenue
 

As a Coach or Consultant, growing revenue strictly from providing services is flat out tough! 

You’re only one person with limited time and resources. Maybe you have a few contractors or part-time employees, but:

  • You can only increase your coaching rates so much before you’re priced outside the market and start losing clients

  • You can only take on a certain number of clients before you have ZERO time to work ON your business or live your life

  • Or, you just want to MAKE MORE money!

How do you solve for this challenge?

Creating Digital Products.

 Look, if you’re solving a problem for clients, big or small, if you’re providing a solution – there are people out there happy to pay you for it. 

 You can pick and choose different consulting and coaching models to meet the needs of clients. You can design multiple price points to capture a larger market.

With multiple digital products, you develop new revenue streams that you can up-sell, down-sell, cross-sell, and increase the life-time value of a client.

You can add the digital products to your established consulting or coaching packages. You can use your digital coaching products as a loss leader. Now, you’re not only selling coaching or consulting services, but also selling digital products. 

 Once you build the digital consulting or coaching product, you can go to sleep and wake up with more money in your bank account without lifting a finger. Shoot, you can even go on Upwork and hire someone to build your digital product for you (at low cost).

Your digital consulting or coaching products can take on many different forms. You know what works best for you and your clients. You also know how you want to design your life.

 You are the author of your business. Create consulting or coaching products that grow your revenue and compliment your coaching packages.

DOWNLOAD your guide to 9 PRODUCTS TO GENERATE MULTIPLE REVENUE STREAMS for your coaching or consulting business. 

How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Coaching Business

 

WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING:

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ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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1 SNEAKY TRICK TO INCREASE YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES (Video)

Increase your Facebook Page Likes for Free

increase your facebook likes free

In today's video, I'm going to show you one sneaky trick I'm using to grow my Facebook business page. How many of you want to grow your Facebook Page Likes? As a pure consultant, I focused on LinkedIn. Now I’m a hybrid Coach & Consultant, I’m expanding my focus to Facebook. My goal is to organically grow my Facebook Business Page as much as possible.

I’m Stewart Swayze of stewartswayze.com. I’m an Executive Coach for Career Development & Transitions and a Marketing Consultant for Coaches, Consultants, and Solopreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics, so if your interested in developing your career or marketing, subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Check out my links to my freebies at the end of this post.

Hit Play or Read the Text Below

WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING (WEBSITE):

VIDEO SUMMARY:

Why is it important to have likes on your Facebook business page? As a consultant or a coach, you're producing content. Facebook makes it harder and harder and harder for you to reach your target audience organically. Organically meaning free.

They're trying to drive you to pay for advertisements. That makes sense. They’re business themselves, right? So, the more likes you have on your page, the more opportunity you have for your content to be seen by potential prospects that can turn into a customer.

Or, for someone to see your content, share it with their network, and then someone from their network either likes your business page or becomes a prospect as well. Trying to grow your Facebook page organically is extremely hard. This sneaky trick to increasing your facebook page likes is going to help you out a lot.

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ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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Why I Can't Make a Decision?

Indecision is in fact, a decision.

It also has it's own scientific term: Aboulomania. If you're paralyzed by indecision, here's what to do about it.

Don't fall victim to indecision. Often, we fear that it will be impossible to recover if we make the "wrong" decision. This is not the case.

hallway.jpg

Embrace the adaptation and expansion of the "Corridor Principle."

Indecision is like peering down a long, dark corridor with doors on each side, but not moving. You have no idea what awaits if you walk down the hallway and it stops you in your tracks. You ask yourself, "why can't I make a decision?"

Person 1: By embracing the Corridor Principle, you finally decide to walk down the dark hall without knowing what will happen,

You’re willing to risk uncertainty and fear, for the sake of moving forward, learning, and growing.

As you proceed down the corridor, new doors begin to open on both sides of you. The doors are full of opportunity.

You have the opportunity to gain new knowledge, skills, and abilities. You learn to be resilient and improve your habits.

You become a stronger person, business leader, and entrepreneur. You move closer towards your goals and closer to success.

As you continue forward, opportunities that you could see and could not pursue, before you made the earlier decision to walk down the corridor, appear all around you.

Person 2: Now imagine another person has the opportunity to proceed down the same corridor.

But, this person is unwilling to proceed until assurances can be made that they will succeed. He/she is stuck in indecision waiting for assurances that will never come.

He/she will sit on the sidelines watching everyone else pass them over. Nobody can guarantee or predict the future. You have to move forward.

Ask yourself, which person do you want to be?

How to overcome indecision

How to make a difficult decision:

- Research just enough so you can make an informed decision

- Write clear short-term and long-term goals

- Write down what inspires you, emotionally, to pursue those goals

- Imagine what your future will look like if you don't pursue your dreams.

- Imagine what your future will look like if you accomplish your dreams.

- Turn those visions into the motivation and energy you need to proceed.

- Commit to your ultimate outcome, but be flexible on the path you take to reach it.

- Identify any negative patterns, challenges, or obstacles that come up along the way, write down how you overcame them

- Recruit someone to help keep you accountable and mentor you along your path to success.

Success, no matter the venture, begins with a willingness to face uncertainty. Enjoy any new experience as an opportunity. And, take steps in the direction of your goal.

- Stewart Swayze


Shhh! Learn What Your Boss and HR Won’t Tell You!

Download: How To Climb The Corporate Ladder


ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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How to Win a $1 Million Dollar Racehorse (Video)

How to Win a $1 Million Dollar Racehorse This Year

DESCRIPTION: What would you do if you won a million dollar racehorse? In this video I provide real-world thoughts on career advice and career planning. You'll learn to think though a personal development plan. • Would you take care of the horse? • Would you develop a training plan? • Would enter the horse into as many races as possible? Click Here to Learn More: http://bit.ly/2BB9viL

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How to Improve Your Life - Learn Exactly Where and How to Hammer Your Nail

Improve Your Career or Life

There once was a man that had an annoying squeaky floor. Every time he walked across the TV room, this floor squeaked and creaked. 

Frustrated, this man called over a neighbor that was good with woodworking. The neighbor couldn’t figure out how to stop the squeak and recommended a handyman.

So, the man called a local handyman. The handyman came over and walked around the room. He tried everything, but couldn’t fix the problem. He even handyman recommended pulling up all the carpet and redoing the subfloor. Then, of course, offered his services to do that. 

This man didn’t want to pay the expense of redoing the floor. Frustrated, he waited. He continued for months with that damn annoying squeaky floor. 

Six months later, he had enough. He searched through Google and found a “master carpenter.” The master carpenter came. Just like the handyman, he walked around the room. But, he also took measurements, moved the furniture around, and even rolled a ball across the floor. 

All of this seemed a little curious to the man, but hey … this guy’s a master carpenter. And, if what the master carpenter is doing fixes the squeaky floor, then so be it. 

Finally, the carpenter finished studying the room. The carpenter asked the man to grab the hammer and a single 10d plywood nail out of his toolbox. The man walked over and selected the tools as requested by the carpenter.

Then, the carpenter knelt and pointed to a specific spot on the floor. “Now, nail right here, but slightly angled towards the back window.”

How to Improve Your Career or Life

The man was a little surprised at the carpenter’s request. But, went ahead and hammered the nail through the carpet, but angled towards the back window. 

When the man finished hammering, they both stood up and walked around the room — no more squeaking or creaking. The Master Carpenter reached into his pocket and handed the man a bill. 

The man didn’t understand. He said, “Wait a minute, you came here, walked around the room, and told ME to hammer the nail. I did all the work. How can you charge me when I did the work?”

The carpenter replied, “You didn’t hire me to hammer the nail. You hired me to fix your squeaky floor. You hired me to tell you EXACTLY how and where to hammer the nail.” 

If you want a better career or to improve your leadership skills, don’t rip up your entire floor. Learn precisely where and how to hammer your nail. 

Improving your career or life

When you hire an Executive Coach, you aren’t hiring him/her to hammer your nail. The power of an Executive Coach rests in his/her ability to observe your situation, goals, habits, and current actions. Then, provide you the resources, tools (hammer and nail), and location of EXACTLY where and how to hammer your nail. 

We hold you accountable, but it’s up to you to take action. If we solve everything for you, it won’t help in the long-run. You won’t learn and improve.

How can I support you?

Sincerely,

Stewart Swayze

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.

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5 Fundamentals of Success You’re Probably Ignoring

5 Fundamentals of Success

My middle school baseball coach was a former major league pitcher. While other coaches taught their young players the more complicated aspects of baseball, my coach concentrated on fundamentals. 

His core message: “Don’t overcomplicate the game, develop discipline, and focus on the fundamentals. If you follow these rules, you’ll be successful on and off the field.”

Often, we overcomplicate what it takes to be successful in life and business. We get caught up chasing the next shiny object or the latest over-hyped piece of technology. Sadly, this causes us to lose our discipline and forget to focus on the fundamentals of success. 

  1. Do you want that corner office on the top floor? You must work harder than the million-other people wanting that same office. Do you want to build the next unicorn billion-dollar startup? You must work harder than the million other founders wanting the same thing – Hard work pays off (period).

  2. We live in world of instant gratification. Everyone wants to find the next shortcut or “hack” that reduces time and risk. They daydream about instant millionaire ideas. Good luck with that. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Sustained success takes years of learning and not cutting corners. - Never stop learning.

  3. Stop saying you want to be successful and stop complaining about not being successful. Stop saying you’ll start next week, month, or year. Go fucking do it. - What you say means nothing. What you do means everything.   

  4. Think about this real hard. it’s not your boss’s responsibility to develop your career and give you a promotion. It’s not your client’s responsibility to purchase your product over the competitors. It’s not your spouse’s responsibility to keep you organized, clean the house, and make you happy. It’s not the government’s responsibility to pass favorable laws and regulation. It’s not the market’s fault that you took a risk and it failed. It’s your fault. It’s your responsibility. And, it’s time for you to own it. - Take responsibility for your success, failure, and how you learn from both.

  5. Be present. Actively listen. Share ideas. Seek win/win results. Teach people skills to will help them excel. Let others speak first. Even if you're an expert, learn from alternative or counter views. Give without expectations of receiving. Deliver credit where it’s due. Remember, selfish people end up working alone and a lot harder. - Be a Positive Leader

Follow these simple, but fundamental rules and you’ll find success. It may not be easy and could take time. But, these fundamentals will pay off in the end. You’ll become successful and you’ll develop a huge support network along the way. 

Are you passionate about your career development?

Do you want to become a better person and leader? I know I do! I’ve recently created a Facebook Group, ShapeShift Lab, dedicated to career and leadership development. Everyone is welcome to join: http://bit.ly/2MtANfq

 

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Warning: 4 Signs You Have the Fear of Success & How to Overcome Them

How to Overcome the Fear of Success

Many people fail to achieve their goals due to the “Fear of Failure.” However, are you aware there's another major fear we often overlook? 

When you compare Fear of Success vs Fear of Failure, they are equally dangerous. It damages our motivation to succeed. It's known as the “Fear of Success!” You got that right, the fear of SUCCESS!

The Fear of Failure stops us from acting or making decisions. We worry about rejection and negative outcomes if we pursue our goals. We can identify the Fear of Failure through more tangible fears. Plus, and there are tools and exercises to help us overcome mental blocks and reprogram our mind for success. 

The Fear of Success is a subtle little creature. It's harder to identify, transform, and eradicate.

How do you know if you have the "Fear of Success? 

Do you implement the correct self-improvement and personal development tools, but your life does not improve? Maybe your life even gets worse.

Have you ever settled for less than you deserve or are capable of achieving? Uh hum, this could be the Fear of Success.

Do you find yourself motivated about starting a new project, but your efforts and enthusiasm slowly fade? Or, you even stop short before you have completed the project.

Deep down, do you find yourself almost expecting things to go wrong, no matter how promising the situation?

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Do you identify with any of the questions above?

Just like the Fear of Failure, the Fear of Success can hold you back. Detailed in the list below are a few real Fear of Success symptoms.

1) You haven't found the right time – Always waiting until the time is right to start acting. Guess what? There's no perfect time and no ideal plan. 

Do it now. Start now. Again, the key to success in taking action. Zero + Zero = Zero. One step forward is better than no steps. If you wait to find the best time, there are other people out there moving right past you. Even if you take the wrong action, you just learned. You gained insight and knowledge. You are flexible and can adjust ... do it even better the next time.

2) You procrastinate – You putt off tasks that will bring you closer to your goal. Everyone suffers from this gremlin at some point, but if it's a reoccurring habit ... that's a problem called Fear of Success Procrastination. 

Take small steps toward your goal each day. Take action! Any action! Stop sitting around and doing nothing. 

3) You are a perfectionist - Similar challenge as above, you stay in the same place because you are spending so much time perfecting your move. Nothing in life is perfect. You can always find areas to improve. That's the great part! How many football games have you watched, enjoyed, and thought ... "Damn, my team just played amazing!" I'd be willing to bet the players and coaches of the winning team felt the same thing. However, I'd bet $1,000,000 that those same coaches and players went back and studied the game film. They enjoyed the win, but found areas to improve. Move forward, enjoy the ride, but ACCOMPLISH your goals. Then, once you've celebrated ... if you feel it's necessary, go back and improve. 

4) You are problem-focused – Do you spend more time focused on the problems or the solutions? Reframe your problem-focused mindset to turn it into your advantage. Transition from Problem Focus to Solution Focus.

Sit down for a “focused”, but short period of time. Use your laser focus to identify ALL of the problems. Develop a solution and prepare a plan to tackle each one. Create your plan with a checklist. Use the process of crossing off each problem as your motivation to drive forward. If you run across more problems, remind yourself of how well you dealt with the other issues. Ask, “what is the best solution to overcome this challenge?” Then, add it your list and keep checking them off! 

Fear of success and failure can by difficult to overcome, However, remember to enjoy the journey as much as the results. Move forward, my friend!  If you follow the above steps to overcome your Fear of Success, you will achieve success. Ultimately, your fear of success will reduce, and you will develop a personal "system" of success. 


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50 Ways to Find Happiness

50 Ways to Find Happiness

The happiest people appreciate what they have, keep an open mind and seek out new challenges to grow. They use their leisure time to have fun, reflect and development. They have a few excellent friends and don’t measure friendship by the number of followers or connections. They enjoy music, books, hobbies, family and stimulating conversation. They know that small steps lead to massive action. They choose to be the “cause” of their happiness. 

 Sound hard? It’s not. Here are 50 ideas to get you started with becoming the cause of your happiness.

 1.    Laugh … laugh a lot

2.    Find time for fun

3.    Appreciate everything you are and aren't

4.    Enjoy time alone

5.    Focus on Improvement, not perfection

6.    Read awe inspiring stories

7.    Reach out and help others

8.    Be mindful and present in the moment

9.    Find what you are passionate about, do it as often as possible. Even if it's once a week

10.  Write or record what makes you happy. Refer to daily

11.  Exercise, even if that's taking a walk for 15-minutes

12.  Stand on your own, but learn when to be agreeable

13.  Build deep friendships with only a few people. Keep them close

14.  Give it your best, one small step at a time

15.  Don't sweat the little things, there's life, life changing, and life threatening … 99% is life.

16.  Learn that materialism does not equal success. Often people w/ the most expensive things have the highest debt

17.  Share your happiness with others

18.  Know that your past does not define your future

19.  Be grateful for what you have

20.  Everything in moderation

21.  Be YOU. Don't give shit what others think about YOU

22.  Listen to good music

23.  Simplify your life

24.  Money does not buy happiness. Some of the poorest nations in the world are also the happiest

25.  Overcome your Fear of Failure. Learn and experience new things (Click the Link for $10 Off)

26.  Open your mind, you don't have to agree, but you can learn the "why"

27.  Have meaningful conversations with strangers

28.  Maintain a healthy diet, but occasionally break it!

29.  Adopt / Rescue an animal

30.  Relax, become a little more flexible

31.  Find humor in your mistakes

32.  Be spontaneous once a day

33.  When life isn't going well, be the cause of change

34.  Keep faith

35.  Find your creativity 

36.  Be happy now. You are the only one in control of your happiness.

37.  Know that it's not what happens to you, it's how you perceive and react to it

38.  Enjoy the simple things in life

39.  Have goals with purpose and meaning for your life

40.  Stop watching doom and gloom news and TV

41.  Life is not perfect, accept that this is okay

42.  Don't forget to celebrate even the small wins

43.  SMILE

44.  Be supportive and seek support when needed

45.  Find a hobby that gets you in the flow

46.  Savor the moment

47.  Appreciate the beauty in art and the world around you

48.  Don't take yourself or others too seriously

49.  Surround yourself with happy people. Energy attracts like energy

50.  Sleep. Take a snap on Sunday

 

Become the Cause of Your Life. Become the Cause of Your Happiness. 

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Discussion: Entrepreneurs - What you are working on? What are your challenges? What are you struggling with personally or professionally?

Challenges of Entrepreneurs

I originally posted the question below in the LinkedIn Group – Entrepreneur’s Network. However, I wanted to share the conversation outside the group. It’s an interesting discussion on the challenges Entrepreneurs are currently facing. Those challenges span both their personal and professional lives. Many people believe we can separate our professional and personal lives. In theory, this concept sounds appropriate. However, let’s be honest for a moment … when we face difficult challenges in our professional lives, it will impact our personal lives. If we positively improve our personal lives, it will enhance our professional lives. Everything is interrelated.

As an Executive Coach, I focus on building dynamic leaders and solving business challenges by increasing overall happiness and well-being. You have no idea how many times I’m hired by a client to work on a “business” challenge, but through the coaching process, we discover the correct answer comes through removing a filter or mental road-block. As leaders, we view our business circumstances through filters that based on our experiences, values, assumptions, etc. Those filters either limit or expand our ability to access potential solutions.

Often, we already know how to solve their business challenge (The What), we are just having trouble accessing the solution. Once we remove our filters or mental roadblocks (The Who), there’s an almost instantaneous shift in focus and energy … answers begin to flow and the energy to execute increases.

As you read through the discussion below, can you spot the interaction between “The What” and “The Who”? Can you see instances where our personal and professional lives are impacting each other? 


Quick Concept:

The What: Systems, Process, Structure, Strategy, Tactics, Plans, etc.

The Who: Our filters, assumptions, limiting beliefs, mental roadblocks, etc.


The Question:

“Over the last few weeks, I've been watching my LinkedIn groups. There's a lot of people posting articles (I do too), but not engaging. I'd like to change this if possible. I'd enjoy hearing about YOU, your business, and/or what you are working on? What are your challenges? What are you struggling with personally or professionally? Anyone open to that?”

The Discussion (copy/paste):

Andrea Richardson – Founder @ ICPromise

Sure! For me, it is finding the time to do more and still have time to stop and smell the roses.

Stewart’s Response: Andrea, I obviously don't know your circumstances. However, how much time is enough time to stop and smell the roses? 5 minutes? 1-hour? 1-day? It's a personal question. You are the only one that knows the answer best suited for you. But, it's extremely important to our well-being to have those moments. Have you considered always keeping a fresh set of roses near you? Maybe always having roses nearby can be your mental reminder to "stop and smell the roses." Maybe it will remind you to take 5 minutes, be present and celebrate the small wins too. Even if that small win was finding time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. 

Heck, maybe stopping for 10 seconds to actually smell the roses could help. :)


Eric Block – Network Marketing Trainer

I hate to say it, but is it ego/false pride that keeps people from opening up and engaging in true dialogue on any given topic, less they expose any kind of weakness. I mean for me to tell you I am a struggling network marketing distributor, I worry that will show me as being an unsuccessful person, and I won't attract anything useful for my life here, and pity is not useful lol.

Stewart’s Response: Eric, thank you so much for your comment. Very bold and brave! I’ve experienced that in this world, there are so many people that are ready and willing to help others. People have amazing hearts. Many of those people have struggled as well and all they want to do is help others going through the same challenges. I’d be willing to bet if you reached out to the world, presented your specific challenges, and asked for advice … the advice will come (for free). Think about this discussion group. Look at all the people presenting their challenges. I’m doing my best to give them my thoughts and advice. Have you considered finding a group or platform specific to your niche, energetically presenting your challenges, and seeing what kind of advice comes back? Maybe find a few groups on here and FB. Posting a question or series of questions on Quora comes to mind as well.

Last, you mentioned the term “attract.” Remember, energy attracts like energy. Consider reframing how you are thinking about your challenges. Instead of “worrying” about showing yourself as “unsuccessful,” be PASSIONATE about the fact that you can “learn and grow from others!” The energy you present will attract the same energy. Worry attracts worry. Passion attracts passion. Do you want to appeal to people that “worry” too? Or, do you want to appeal to people that are excited and passionate about Network Marketing?  


Kevin Roney – Owner (Acting CEO) – Energy by Design

Struggles....great topic.  Personally, I have had a number of projects that failed to execute well recently.  So, I've temporarily shrunk the funnel and active projects to try to regain strong execution before taking on a number of new requests...but, you know...that has only really resulted in a lot of lost revenue.  While there are times when it's appropriate to say no to business...I've learned shrinking the portfolio is not the right approach.  Raise the bar fast, solve the issues, and take on every bit of business you are awarded.

Stewart’s Response: Kevin Roney that is super tough. For me, some days/weeks/months I am so busy that I barely have time for anything else. An amazing shiny object pops up. Oh, that is awesome. Yes, I want to do that! I start thinking ... I need to hire somebody else to help. I don't. I push through, hit the deadlines, and over-deliver. Then, everything slows down again. "Nah, I got this." No need to hire. Then, the cycle happens again and again and again. I'm trying to break that cycle. Do you or anyone else have recommendations?

Kevin’s Response: Stewart, great comment (#ShinyObjects).  I see this happening so much to myself and others in my circle.  So many comments...but I should not type a book.  Bottom line, create a vision, structure a strategy around this, with limits and milestones.  Anything that supports, take on.  Anything that doesn't, don't.  Set a threshold when something becomes sustainable (to hire, grow), otherwise, gut it out and absorb with the current team.  I should write a blog...so many thoughts and advice!   


Joe Hancock – Marketing Consultant – Virtual Financial Group

I'm all for that. I do try to engage with people by asking questions when I post stuff, but all I get are likes. Kinda frustrating at times. I confess though, I'm guilty of not posting in the groups as much as I should. I will do better.

Stewart’s Response: Joe Hancock thank you for your comment! I agree it is frustrating. We have all done it too. All we can do is focus on and improve what we can control ... our actions. Keep up the great work!


Ashley Renia - Owner – Blue Sky Bookkeeping

Hi! I am starting a bookkeeping business from nothing and my struggles have been trying to get my business noticed, learning how to market it, and not forgetting how to do bookkeeping while I learn to be a marketer! I haven’t had much engagement either, so that would be so helpful. I don’t have much of a budget for advertising so using platforms like LinkedIn are important for me. I am trying to learn how to make posts that will get engagement, but so far no luck! I do read through what others are sharing and share and like when I enjoy what they shared. I try to do my part!

Stewart’s Response: Ashley Reina congrats on starting your new business!!! It's an amazing adventure. Each day you'll get better and better at marketing your business. Take it one day at a time. Have you considered informational interviews with prospective clients? Anyone you meet and/or people on LinkedIn ... if they're a potential client, you could always ask to do an informational interview, NOT a sales pitch. You are simply trying to understand the challenges of SME business owners, what they look for in an Independent Bookkeeper, how they learn/find contractors to help them, etc? I'm sure you could put together 5-10 questions to ask someone over 15-30 minutes. 1) You learn more about your potential customers and can translate that into better marketing. 2) They become indirectly aware of your services. Caution: If you tell someone you are doing an informational interview ... DON'T sell them your services (unless they ask). Conduct the interview and learn from it. Just something to consider.

Ashley’s Response: Stewart Swayze I have tried to do that! I have put together a few questions about what they need and the problems they have. I haven’t gotten any responses yet, though. I am going to keep trying! Thank you for the kind words and the free advice!


David Arandle - Owner, Art Director – Animation for Business

I'm pretty new to LinkedIn in the sense that I've had a profile here for years but only in the last few months have taken the time to really understand the platform by taking a couple of courses.

Both courses said groups are the real benefit of LinkedIn for finding leads and making connections but the majority of groups I've joined all I see is an endless stream of reposted articles.

Articles are great but it's a bit like running around a network event with a magazine and saying 'Have you read this article?' and then waiting around to see if the person has interest in it. You probably wouldn't do that.

I feel the better approach is to take an interest in people, start actual discussions (like this one), and just get to know who's in the room with you and what they're about. Don't pitch but, you know, let people know what you do naturally through discussion... or just be interesting enough that people are motivated to look at your profile... that's one approach any way.

Stewart’s Response: David, thank you. Amazing insight. Be present. Actively listen. Build relationships. I like it!


Kaur Lass – Managing Director - Conscious Initiative PLC & wellnessorbit.com; Planning Expert & CEO at Head OÜ

Hi! It seems that when LinkedIN restricted the length of comments some years ago the platform took more superficial approach. It used to be deeper discussions and true exchange of know-how. I loved those old long discussions! Now it has been for several years more superficial.

I see that superficiality is a major problem all over the workplaces. I and my team once wrote the story about this: https://www.wellnessorbit.com/newsletters/the-cost-of-being-superficial/id/14

This very superficial approach also causes lack of engagement not only here, but also with the work that people do. So, the lack of employee engagement and also mental health problems are taking more and more epidemic proportions!

Stewart’s Response: Kaur Lass thank you for your comment and insights! Very interesting. What would you recommend we can do to solve this?

Kaur’s Response: Stewart Swayze Well there is listening and there is listening with full awareness: http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/effective-listening-by-using-awareness - we should try to post less and more meaningful things (do not post, if your post is not really giving anything besides superficial tips and tricks) and then listen what people have to say! How does this sound?


Steven B – President/Founder - Refined Strategy LLC

I like Ashley Reina, I am trying to learn how to market my new business. In January I started a business consultancy firm. Which is fancy for, "I share my knowledge and skills with anyone for a price." When I first opened the doors I thought that I would be able to find clients pretty quickly. After all I could clearly see those who needed my services. But I quickly learned that creating a strong consistent message which communicates the value of your services is A LOT harder. I also started my business with under $1K. Thus far I've had only one sale. I have not leveraged the groups here yet. I hope this is the start of a real valuable exchange of ideas and strategies.

Stewart’s Response: Steven B. I know exactly what you are going through! I've been an independent strategy consultant for several years now. I've grown my business through a multi-channel approach. Social Media Marketing, Partnerships, Referrals, Networking, etc. I'm really focusing on partnerships and referrals now. As I look back, I'd say 90% of my closed deals came from those two sources. You should also find ways to generate alternative revenue streams. Revenue/Cash flow will be variable. Look into ways in which you can continue to use your skill sets, but not be dependent on a "project." Example, digital courses, community workshops, speaking, etc. 


Heather Becker – Online Fitness Coach

Good morning! I’m an online fitness coach with Beachbody. My biggest challenge is time management with family and work!

Stewart’s Response: Heather Becker that you so much for your comment. Time management and work/life balance is a really tough one! I've been trying to do a better job at prioritizing my time and delegating to virtual assistants/contractors. I break my time down into 3 categories: $1000/$100/$10. Anything that's a $10 task, I immediately delegate. $100, might delegate/might do myself. The $1000 tasks are my highest priorities. One, I can focus on the highest value tasks. Two, I free up time for other personal activities. Have you done anything like this?


Dora Herrera – Owner - Yuca’s Restaurants

Stewart, thanks for getting the ball rolling.

Our current challenges are:

1. Translating being liked into sales.

2. Having people understand that our quality product requires a price consistent with that quality (no .99 tacos)

3. Increasing awareness in a younger customer base since we've been in business 43 years.

Stewart’s Response: Dora Herrera thank you for being so transparent about your challenges. Obviously, I have only the information you've provided.  It sounds like you are targeting the "younger customer base." Is this the group that is liking, not understanding quality, and hard to increase awareness with? If so, have you conducted VoC to determine what they value from the products (tacos) that you sell? Where they like to receive information and awareness of your kinds of products? My only thoughts are that maybe you could target a different group that values the quality? Then, use that group to bring in the younger generation. Or, if your most strategic customers don't value quality, you might have to consider adjusting to the market???? I've always learned that the best way to understand what your customers want ... is to ask them. Of course, everyone will say, lower price, but you might be able to find out more than just pricing. You have 43 years of experience, I have no doubt you'll figure this out


Jack DiMatteo, CPA – President – Executive Overdrive LLC

 Thanks for opening the discussion Stewart. Third time this week I’ve seen a post about the lack of engagement. Seasonality seems to be partly to blame (or maybe just a convenient cop out). I see these as the main reasons people engage on LI:

 1) Job seeking

2) Recruiting candidates

3) Building a list of valued contacts

4) Exchanging ideas with like minded professionals

5) Marketing or selling their services or products

 Over the years 1&2 have begun dominating the site. 3 always makes sense. 4 has really fallen off because the members I speak with don’t see a return on the effort it takes to stay engaged. Usually 4 is being done in the hopes of assisting with 5. People are horrified when they get “pitched” on LI.

 My take is that an ever increasing number of users aren’t seeing a great enough benefit for staying engaged.

 Stewart’s Response: Jack DiMatteo, CPA thank you for your insights. Do you have any thoughts on how to correct the challenges of 4 & 5? Your comment on people being horrified when they are pitched on LI, do you believe it's because nobody understands or has received training on "social selling?" tactics?


 Michael Jordan, MBA, PMP – Founder – AnthroDesk

 I've been trying to engage more recently myself, but if others are like me, it takes a little while to get used to opening up on a platform like this.  One challenge I experience is balancing my business and personal life.

 Delegation has been a big focus this year!

 Stewart’s Response: Michael Jordan, MBA, PMP thank you for your comment. That’s a really tough challenge that Entrepreneurs face. What tools, techniques, and/or tactics are you using or exploring to overcome it? Value-based prioritization, delegation, time management best practices, etc.?

Join the discussion. What are your thoughts? What challenges are you currently facing?

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Being Intentional With Personal Development (Video)

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” – Vernon Law. Right now, ask yourself, what can I do today that will make me a better person tomorrow? Learn more

Personal growth doesn’t happen automatically. You have to be intentional with your actions. You and only YOU must make it happen and learn how to grow. Stop waiting for the perfect time. Stop waiting for something or someone else to motivate you.

Be prepared, but do not fear, for anything worthwhile requires a price, trade-off, or some sort of sacrifice. Let’s be honest, if you’re not willing to “give in order to get” then you won’t succeed. Use your passion to generate the energy needed to conquer your fears. 

Keep faith that as you move forward both success and failures will help you evolve into a better person, leader, or entrepreneur. 

Be bold. Set your intentions and go! Move forward. Take action today. Growth is not easy. It’s time to stop worrying about making a mistake. We ALL make mistakes.

Here are a few Free Personal and Professional Development Downloads for you to enjoy:

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The Benefits of Walking At Work (Video)

 I challenge you to start taking short walking breaks at work. Research shows that you’ll improve your productivity, concentration, and creativity.

Learn more

• Take your next coffee break outdoors and in motion for 10 minutes
• Hold non-confidential one-on-one meetings, updates, check-ins while walking around the block or building
• Walk for 5 minutes around your floor or up/down the stairs every hour
• Spend a few minutes on your lunch break taking a walk outside to clear your mind

Stanford University: “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity,” the researchers noted. They found that compared to sitting, walking increased the participants’ creative output during cognitive exercises by about 60 percent.

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science: People who walked three times a week during lunch felt a lot better after walking for just half an hour:
• They were less tense
• They were more enthusiastic
• And they were more relaxed, too

Researchers from the University of Colorado: Frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work. Results suggest that “even a little bit of activity, spread throughout the day, is a practical, easy way to improve well-being.”

Here are a few Free Personal and Professional Development Downloads for you to enjoy:

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How Does the “Illusion of Control” Impact Your Leadership or Business? 

Illusion of Control.jpg

One of the earliest and most exciting lessons that we learn in life is that specific actions produce specific results. If we scream or cry, someone quickly appears to help us. As we progress through life, we continue to learn. We talk, walk, write, sing, hit a home run, make an A on a test, drive a car, change a tire, and on and on. Our efforts produce results. We are in control, and it’s a great feeling.

But is being in control always great? Is it even possible? 
Well-meaning teachers and parents reinforce the notion that we always can and should be in control. 

  • “Next time, try harder.”

  • “Figure out what you did wrong, so you do it better next time.”

  • “Remember, how well you do is up to you.”

While all of this is good advice for some situations, many times, it just isn’t right. Even worse, it can lead to frustration and failure to adequately prepare for setbacks.

Psychologists refer to the Illusion of Control as a specific type of cognitive bias. This bias makes individuals or even entire groups -companies or legislative bodies- believe that they can control outcomes which, realistically, they cannot.

We may be in control of specific individualized outcomes like whether we lose five pounds or learn to play a particular song on the piano. However, it is not possible to control more complex interactions, nor is it always in our best interest to try and do so.

On a personal level, we may recognize that we can control our actions and feelings but not those of others. But, how does the Illusion of Control bias impact our decisions and actions as successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? 

The Illusion of Control and Our Employees
While controlling others may seem to be a sign of strength, true leadership means bringing out the best in our employees. The notion that we must control our employees can lead to inefficiencies such as micro-management or not empowering employees. Or, even worse, we may hire less competent employees that we feel we can control more easily. Instead of focusing on control, successful leaders ask:

  • How can I empower my employees?

  • Do my employees have the tools that they need to do the job?

  • How can I encourage my employees to achieve the best results?

  • What traits can I hire to help my business grow?

The Illusion of Control and Our Customers
Customers make or break any business. You can control many factors that may influence customer behavior, such as developing what you believe is a great product and conducting a well-designed marketing campaign. Ultimately though, you can’t force anyone to buy from you. If customers aren’t flocking to your door, do you try harder to control their behavior, with more product features and more advertising? Maybe. But first, try finding answers to these questions:

  • What do customers really want?

  • What are my potential customers buying as an alternative?

  • Are there other potential customers that I have not considered?

The Illusion of Control and our Competitors
While you are busy running your business, the fact is that many other aspiring leaders are out there running theirs as well. You may be executing your strategy with military-like precision, but military strategy tells us, “the enemy gets a vote.” In other words, what your competitors do impacts the effectiveness of your strategy. Suffering from Illusion of Control bias can leave you vulnerable, believing that you do not need to have contingency plans. However, one of the characteristics of a leader must be flexibility.

  • What will you do if a more significant competitor opens near you?

  • What if the competition slashes prices?

  • Can you develop other products, customer bases, or revenue streams so that you are not so vulnerable?

The Illusion of Control and External Circumstances
Maybe you have developed great relationships with employees and customers. Your team has created a good product, and the company is profitable. Is this the point where you finally get to feel that you are in control? As an Executive Coach, I would recommend that you keep in mind that anything may change. 

Are you prepared for the loss of a key employee? What about damaging PR that affects customer relationships? Or, what about external factors such as a severe economic downturn or a natural disaster? Maybe even a disruptive product appearing on the market and almost overnight everything your company produces becomes obsolete? 

Find Opportunity In Chaos
These are all factors that you cannot control. If you suffer from Illusion of Control bias, you won’t even consider these kinds of events. However, developing your leadership skills and growing your business also means planning for worst-case scenarios such as these. In fact, it may even mean seeking ways to benefit from adverse situations. You might have to learn to be a surfer. Don’t fight or control the waves, but ride them instead.

- Loss of a key employee? Prepare by investing in the training and development of all employees. Allow others the opportunity to stretch their wings and make new contributions to your company.

- Damaging PR? This is an opportunity to show customers that you'll do what it takes to make things right.

- Economic downturn? Offer affordable alternatives to the competition.

- Natural disaster? Reach out to the community. This may not be a time for selling, but it is an excellent time for relationship and community building. And, if your physical location wiped out, maybe this is a great time to focus on your online brand.

- Disruptive technology from the competition? How can you adopt it too?

Instead of believing they are always in control, successful business leaders believe in embracing market changes and profiting from it too. They see opportunity when others see chaos. 

Recognizing how little you cn control is the first step to empowering yourself to deal creatively with the many things that are beyond your control.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with others. As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. 

Sincerely,

Stewart 

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Don't be a victim of the "Curse of Knowledge."

The Curse of Knowledge.jpg

What is the Curse of Knowledge bias?

Many successful entrepreneurs and executives get their start as experts in their field. For example, tech giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were experts. And, what about local business people that you know? Your doctor, beautician, and auto-mechanic all may be experts in their field and may also be the owners of their practice or shop. They are probably very knowledgeable and have much to offer clients and customers.

With so much expertise, what could go wrong?

The aspiring entrepreneur or executive, who is also a subject matter expert in their field, may suffer from what psychologists call “curse of knowledge” bias. So, what does this mean and how does it impact our success?

Successful entrepreneurs and executives need to communicate effectively. Think about it. Business success depends on relationships and relationships depend on clear communication. This is where the “curse of knowledge” bias gets in the way. The expert tends to communicate with others as though they are experts too. They have difficulty breaking down complex concepts that they have long understood and struggle even to find words to use other than the specific jargon of their field.

How does the Curse of Knowledge Bias impact a business?

Let’s look at a few hypothetical examples.

Example 1:

After a successful performing career, professional ballerina Nikita decides to open a dance school. She meets with a website designer. Nikita insists that the website feature the fact that she is trained in the Vaganova method and that all classes begin with a traditional barre and progress to the adagio. The website is built and Nikita loves it! It gets decent traffic, but very few parents actually enroll their children in Nikita’s classes. Why? They have no clue what the Vaganova method is. They just know that their children want to have fun and be princess ballerinas. So, they signed up at the other local studio, the one with the website featuring pictures of smiling children in tutus. Nikita’s website doesn’t really speak to them. Curse of Knowledge bias = Marketing Fail!

Example 2:

Joe went for some medical tests and was more than a little nervous about the results. The doctor ever so patiently explained about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and neuro-transmitters, but Joe didn’t really understand what those words meant. He ended up feeling more anxious than ever. Confused and upset, he decides to see another doctor. Curse of Knowledge bias = Client Relationship Fail!

Example 3:

Lonnie’s family has been in the nursery and greenhouse business for three generations, supplying plants and trees to landscapers and homeowners. Lonnie grew up in the business and knows everything there is to know about plants. It’s almost fall, and Lonnie is very busy. He hops in his pickup truck and before taking off, asks a couple of students that he recently hired to move all of the deciduous trees to the back of the lot of potted trees for sale. They are left staring at each other, wondering which trees, exactly, they are supposed to move. They find oaks and maples, as well as cedars and pines, but nothing called deciduous. As you may or may not know, Lonnie simply wanted them to move the trees that would soon lose their leaves, but his employees did not understand the instructions. Curse of Knowledge bias = Employee Management Fail!

5 Tips to Overcome the Curse of Knowledge Bias

There is nothing wrong with being an expert. In fact, it is usually a tremendous advantage. If you are an expert though, be wary of the Curse of Knowledge bias. You can use these five tips to overcome it in all your communication:

  1. Know your audience - Like a good speaker or stand-up comic, know your audience. What is their background? Nikita’s potential customers aren’t ballet aficionados, they are suburban moms. The patient, Joe, is an engineer, not a doctor. And the students who work for Lonnie? They are willing to work hard, but one is studying music and the other is learning software development. They are not botanists.

  2. Check your vocabulary - Are you using words that your customers, employees or others may not understand? Joe didn’t get “neurotransmitter.” If the doctor had explained that it is a substance that sends an impulse from one nerve to another, Joe, being a reasonably intelligent person could have understood better.

  3. Know your customers - This is at the heart of effective marketing and customer relationships. Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean that your customers do. In the case of Joe, some reassurance from the doctor that he would feel better soon would have gone a lot further than a science lecture.

  4. Educate your customers, but do it gradually - Start with what they want, then show them how it can be even better. If Nikita had managed to gain those suburban moms and their adorable children as her customers, she could gradually introduce them to the wonders of classical ballet and what it takes to truly become a star.

  5. Consider the “why” - Sometimes that is the most effective way to communicate. All Lonnie needed to tell his employees was, “Move the maples and the oaks to the back. They’ll be losing their leaves soon and we don’t want leaves everywhere.”

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I always enjoy hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Stewart Swayze 

 

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Be Careful How You Interpret Actions, Events, Text, etc. (Video)

As a leader, be careful how you interpret actions, words, text, etc. Your first interpretation could be wrong.

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Decision Making - 5 Best Practices to Overcome Confirmation Bias

overcoming confirmation bias.jpeg

So, you started your own business. Making that choice indicates that you probably have many great entrepreneurial characteristics. You are confident, smart, willing to work hard, and don’t mind making decisions.

Growing from solo entrepreneur to a successful business owner, you will be faced with more and more decisions: hiring, location, finance, business planning, products to develop, marketing, and more. Even if you wear many hats, good decision making is possibly your most important task. Ultimately, though you may seek advice, it is the one task that you must do yourself.
 
How can you hone this critical entrepreneurial ability?
 
It may come as a surprise, but your confidence, smarts and willingness to work hard can get in the way. Having a sense that you are right about a lot of things can contribute to what psychologists call confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek or perceive information in a way that reinforces what we already believe, even though we think we are seeking the truth. And, for the aspiring entrepreneur, that terrific willingness to work hard may make it worse, since we believe it is possible to push through problems rather than consider them seriously.
 
How does Confirmation Bias impact our decisions?
 
On a simple level, most of us realize that certain biased hiring practices are wrong and that it is a good idea to bounce ideas off a spouse, partner or trusted friend. But avoiding confirmation bias goes much deeper. It involves developing specific standards for how we seek information, how we interact with others and even how we think. That sounds like a big ask, so first, let’s explore why it is so important.

Hypothetically, Zach thinks he has an excellent idea for a product. All his friends think so too. Zach does a lot of homework. He knows what it will cost to make this product and where he can have it made. Zach knows some people at a great marketing agency, and they even have some preliminary designs. Zach does some random surveys at several local coffee houses that he frequents, asking people if they would buy this product. The results are overwhelmingly enthusiastic. He checked all the boxes and is ready to take out a line of credit on his house.
 
Good for Zach, right? Wait.
 
When was the last time you drank a Crystal Pepsi or checked your Instagram from your HP Touchpad? Not recently, probably never. Both colossal business failures came from companies with much more money and recognition than the average entrepreneur. If they can fail, anyone can. The flaw in our hypothetical friend Zach’s approach, and in the approach of many large businesses, is that merely because it's ours, we think it's an excellent idea. Even under the guise of researching, we are just seeking confirmation. Zach’s research would have served him better if he had also asked what people thought was wrong with the product. And, chances are, people at the places he frequents already think like him. Seems that maybe he wasn’t seeking data, after all, just confirmation.
 
Confirmation bias can, unfortunately, lead to fundamentally flawed decision making.
 
Let’s look at how confirmation bias affects our staffing. Yes, not being swayed by gender, ethnicity or religion is the fair, legal and ethical approach to hiring, but it also can strengthen the business. Hiring only those who are already likely to think like you, coupled with the fact that you are the boss, makes it unlikely that you will benefit from having your ideas questioned. It may be good to have employees who encourage you to put on the brakes when you're heading towards a cliff. Great entrepreneurial leadership isn’t about always being right, but instead, seeking the best answers.
 
How do we recognize confirmation bias?
 
You must recognize that we all have biases. We are wired that way for our protection. On a simple level, our biases mean that we don’t eat things that smell bad, try to shake hands with a bear, or give our credit card numbers to scammers. On a more complex level though, biases prevent us from seeing all nuances of a situation.

Our efficient, basic survival brain seeks confirmation. Our complex, business survival brain needs to develop the entrepreneurial skills to see all angles. The online entrepreneur navigating the global marketplace and the brick-and-mortar venture navigating the neighborhood both have much to consider.
 
How do we overcome confirmation bias?
 
Can we grow past this fundamental, built-in tendency? Here are five practices you can start now to improve yourself and your business.
 
1 – Sleep on It. It may seem strong and smart to shoot from the hip and make an immediate decision. But, it’s almost a sure-fire way to depend mostly on your own biases. The world won’t wait forever, but it usually will wait at least overnight.
 
2 – Play or Find a Devil’s Advocate. Instead of seeking evidence that you are right, look for all the reasons why you may be wrong. Even better, encourage your employees to do this. Find a coach or advisor. Be okay with disagreement and keep the channels of communication open.
 
3 – Use the Rule of Threes. Instead of trying to prove that one idea is great, why not try to find out which is the best of three ideas? Or the best of three perfect candidates, or the best of three ideal locations?
 
4 – Integration of Ideas. Once you listen to opposing ideas, maybe you realize that your first take was wrong. But none of the proposed alternatives seem right either. Sometimes the best solution is an integration of ideas.
 
5 – Realize It Isn’t About You. You want to succeed, don’t you? Love your business more than your ego. Ultimately, whether an idea you have is right or wrong is neither endorsement nor indictment of you as a person. But a successful business is a lasting legacy, a reflection of your leadership and wisdom. 

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

- Stewart 

Are you passionate about your career development?

Do you want to become a better person and leader? I know I do! I’ve recently created a Facebook Group, ShapeShift Lab, dedicated to career and leadership development. Everyone is welcome to join: http://bit.ly/2MtANfq

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How to Make Failure Count

Learning from failure

"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail." ~ Edwin Land


It’s time to get out of your head and start taking action. No matter the size of your action, start moving forward. You cannot succeed or fail until you get that idea out into the world. The truth is, sometimes you’ll be right, and sometimes you’ll be wrong. Either way, you will learn from the journey.
 
Doing something new, challenging the status quo, or testing limiting beliefs can be a scary process. But staying safe by not acting, that gets you nowhere. The key is to track your data. Learn from success and from failure. Know your data like the back of your hand. All data is useful data. Stop guessing what went right or wrong.
 
Learning from failure
 
A while ago, I was about to run my first AdWords campaign. As a Strategy Consultant, I’ve recommended AdWords campaigns on numerous occasions. However, designing and executing an AdWords campaign was something new to me as an Executive & Business Coach. I was nervous as hell. There was a real risk of losing my cold hard cash. Gulp!
 
Guess what?! My first AdWords campaign flopped. Zero Conversions. ZERO! At first, I was disappointed. Some might say I wasted money and should have hired a professional. But, that disappointment quickly changed into positive insights. I had an idea in my head. I took action. I reframed the experience and learned.
 
My Executive & Business Coaching services were new, and I only had few clients. My AdWords campaign was set up to drive traffic to a landing page and convert unique visitors into new clients. Here’s what I learned from that “failed” campaign:

·     Detailed demographical data for my target audience

·     Time of day my audience is surfing the internet

·     Precise locations of my target audience

·     That my landing page needs optimization

·     That my AdWords campaign needs optimization

·     The average Cost Per Click (CPC) for my keywords

·     Exact keywords for future blog posts, copywriting, marketing, ad campaigns, etc.

·     More … more … more

I could go on, but I’m sure you understand the point. You must move forward and take risks. No matter how big or small the action, take that first step. Then, make the next one. As you move forward with each step, inertia takes place. Next thing you know, you’ll be flying down that path towards success.
 
Failure is a course corrector
 
Let’s go back to that AdWords Campaign again. Sure, I lost some money and a few hours of time. That sucks. But, what if I didn’t run that campaign? What if I didn’t learn those lessons and collect all that data? What if I waited until I spent several months putting together a giant online video course (coming soon) and then ran my first AdWords campaign? If that were the case, I wouldn’t know, in detail, all the lessons learned from above. Months of time and money could be lost.
 
Wait, but Stewart, you already knew your target audience and a lot of the other information too. You conducted research and developed Buyer Personas, right? Yes, yes I did. However, my research and Buyer Personas were based off hypotheses, not hard data. Now, I have actual data. Now, I have well-informed Buyer Personas, demographics, and psychographics of target my audience.
 
My “failure” in one campaign has already led to the success of many others. That failed AdWords campaign corrected my course of action for the future.
 
Find a process to track your actions and decisions
 
Always track your actions. The process to track your actions and decisions doesn’t have to be automated or complicated. It can be as simple as a journal. Consider using a cradle to grave analysis. Write your actions and decisions in a journal from the beginning to the end. Once you reach the end, analyze the wing-to-wing process and decisions you made along the way.

What went well? What didn’t go well? What were the strengths? Where are your opportunities for improvement?What were your lessons learned (positive/negative)? How can you apply those lessons learned next time?

 
Preserve and Pivot
 
When something goes well, preserve those findings. Adapt, rinse, and repeat successful actions. If something didn’t go well, take the time to develop a deep understanding of why. What happened that was under your control? What happened that you could have influenced differently? What happened that was entirely out of your control?
 
Start with what you can control. Pivot away from actions if they resulted in negative results. Then, look at what you could have influenced. Determine steps you can take, next time, to positively influence the outcome. For anything outside of your control, relax and smile. Understand sometimes this happens. I’d still analyze what was out of your control. You might find ways to mitigate or reduce your risk moving forward.
 
To wrap it up, take action. Move forward. Learn from each step by developing a process to track your data. Use data to preserve the positive and pivot away from the negative. Have fun and enjoy your journey!

- Stewart 

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How to Determine Your Rates as a Freelancer, Consultant, Coach, or Professional Service Provider

How to determine your rate as a freelancer coach consultant

 

Setting rates is a personal decision, but I’ll provide insights into my process

 If you google “what’s the average rate of an ABC123 freelancer," you'll find all sorts of recommendations and information. Determining your rate can be extremely difficult. It's a gigantic “depends burger” with a side of fries (the market) and a shake (your competitors). You'll have to sort through the plethora of information, test, and decide what the market will accept. You’ll have to look at your knowledge, skills, experience, and unique selling proposition. You’ll need to find comparable competitors to analyze.When I started out, I spent hours researching rates specific to consulting. Then, rates specific to sub-categories of consulting. Next, I spent more time adding in factors such as my education, experience level, and all that jazz. Finally, I built an Excel with segmented rate and financial models. None of it held up. The depends burger strikes again.

For me, my rates as an Executive & Business Coach are different than my rates as a Strategy Consultant are different. However, I've gone through a lot of trail, error, and analysis to come up with my rates. The exercise below will help you deteremine the rates that are appropriate for you. 

At first, you might think the next few pages are more personal finance advice versus rate advice. You are correct! Personal finance plays a central role in setting your rates. Stay with me. It will make sense in the end. Let’s cut to the chase and try to simplify this process a bit. 

I’m going to provide an illustrative example. The math is NOT intended to be perfect. Instead, it’s designed to help you think through your rate-setting process from a holistic perspective.

 High-level steps to determine rates

1) Determine how much you NEED to make in a year to survive2) Add a small, but "wants" amount (vacations, entertainment, dining out, new furniture, personal electronics, etc.) 

3) How much for your contingency "oh crap" fund? 

4) How much do you want to add to your savings and retirement accounts?

5) Add a tax estimate on top of that. I use a conservative number of 30%

Let’s use an illustrative example with round numbers to see where we stand: 

1) NEEDS: Rent/Mortgage, Clothes, Utilities, Food, Car Payment, Credit Card Payments, Student Loans, Healthcare, and any other needs = $120,000 / year

2) Wants ($7500): $120K + $7.5K = $127,5003) Contingency ($7500): $127.5K + $7.5K = $135,000

4) Savings & Retirement ($10,000): $135 + $10K = $145,000

5) Tax Estimate (30%): 30% of $145K = $43.5K; $145K + $43.5K = $188,500

Again, let’s keep it simple and round up to $200,000. You’ll understand why I added another $11,500 in a second. 

 How does this illustrative calculation help you? 

Now, you have a goal that you can use to determine your rates. “Whoa, wait! I’ll have to generate $200K in revenue to cover what you need, savings, contingency, wants, and taxes … Yes. This example isn’t to scare you. Instead, it’s to make sure you think through and plan for the reality! Now let’s talk about that extra $11,500. 

 We are missing something in this calculation

The amount could be large or small about depending on your business. Within the 5-step process, we didn’t calculate your startup or operating expense. Enter the extra $11,500. I have no way of determining your startup, monthly, or yearly operating expenses. Keep them as low as possible. $11,500 could be extremely high. You’ll have to estimate and factor those expenses into your rates at some point. For now, let’s use extra $11.5K as your startup and operating expenses and keep the overall revenue goal of $200K to continue the example.

How do we translate our above calculations into rates?

If we need and want to generate $200K in revenue, we can determine our “desired” rate. If you do a little research, you’ll find there are approximately 260 working days in a year. Now let’s do some calculations:

•    $200,000 / 260 = $769 dollars per day

•    $769 dollars per day / 8 hours = $96 dollars per hour 

Great! So, if your goal is to generate $200K in revenue, you just calculated your rate. Your rate is approximately $100 per hour.  

Sorry to do this again, but wait, this is an illustrative example. More than likely, you won’t have 40 hours of work every single week of the year. So, you’ll need to mitigate the potential for a variable workload. To do this, consider increasing your rate to $150 — $200 per hour. 

What if you plan on charging a per project or flat fee rate? How do you calculate that rate? We’ll discuss that next. 

Wait, I don’t charge per hour. I provide a flat rate per project

Hmmm…this might be true. But, if you aren’t calculating hours within your flat rates, you could be charging too much or too little. When I charge on a per project basis, I estimate how many hours the project will take. Then, I multiply the number of hours by my hourly rate. This calculation provides me with an estimate for my flat rate. 

Example: 30 hours to complete Project A. Hourly Rate of $200. Flat fee rate of $6,000. 

At this point, I may add or subtract from that number. Here comes the depends burger again. If it’s a new client with the potential for on-going projects, I might reduce my project rate. If it’s a rush project, I might increase my rate. There are other factors to think through as well. Will the “market” accept your rate? Or, is closest comparable competition charging less or more?  

Where do people make the biggest mistake? 

Let me be frank and excuse my language a bit. You WILL get kicked in the butt if you don’t KNOW your NEEDS and set aside money for taxes. You’ll be rolling along, having a great year, thinking, “Damn, I made $120K this year! Freaking amazing. I’ve covered all my needs.” 

Then, boom! It’s tax season. You needed $120K. You made $120K. But wait, you forgot about taxes. “I owe what in taxes? Oh crap! I’m short. My cash flow is crushed. My bank account is sunk. Mom, dad, friend, brother, sister … can I borrow some money?” 

Your mistake, you generated a “pre-tax” gross revenue of $120K. THIS IS NOT NET INCOME! If you don’t plan, set up your accounts, and automatically set aside part of your revenue for taxes, this can literally put you out of business. Done and dusted. 

This happens all the time when someone switches from a position within a corporate environment over to solopreneurship. When you’re working for a company, your taxes, retirement, healthcare, and everything else is automatically deducted from your paycheck. It just happens. You don’t do a thing. You know your take-home pay and budget based on Net Income. 

Now you’re in charge, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Don’t make this mistake. Talk with your financial advisor and accountant. Set up a bank account that, if possible, automatically transfer a certain percentage, for taxes, into a separate account. 

The moment revenue drops into your business account, transfer funds into separate accounts for taxes, savings, retirement, etc.

This article is an excerpt from my Free Guide: “Going Solo – An Introductory Guide to Service Based ‘Solopreneurship.” If you found value in this article, feel free to download the guide here. It provides a ton of information on the fundamentals of starting and marketing your business.  

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