21 Powerful habits behind highly successful business owners

habits

Over the years I have worked with thousands of business owners. Many of these were successful, some were hugely successful.

Acquiring the habits for success

I noticed that the most successful business owners shared certain habits. They did things, which the average business owner didn’t do. I decided to learn from them… to acquire their habits, to see if it would help me.

It did. It really did. In big, meaningful, measurable ways.

So, in brief, here’s what I learned from them:

  1. They are driven by a passion to do something big. Something that motivates them AND those around them.
  2. They personalise their business, so it’s uniquely theirs. One of a kind. Rare and valuable.
  3. They know success is about more than money… that if you’re rich and unhappy, you’re still broke.
  4. They show people, rather than tell people. Anyone can claim anything, so they walk the walk.
  5. They out-care their competition. It shines through everything they do.
  6. They out-smart their competitors too.
  7. They set standards, extremely high, self-imposed standards… and they achieve them.
  8. They ignore the manual and write their own rules.
  9. They focus on what they want, not what they fear.
  10. They are excellent decision makers. They get the information required, study it, request advice if needed, then decide.
  11. They avoid those costly detours, which come disguised as shortcuts to success.
  12. They work hard. You can’t sleepwalk your way to the top… or even the middle.
  13. They also relax. If you work smart during work time, you can relax when it’s family and friends time.
  14. They seldom watch TV. None (zero) of the most successful people I know, bother with TV.
  15. They are extremely selective who they associate with and who they recommend.
  16. They lead. The world already has enough followers and the followers need leaders.
  17. They manage their time extremely well.
  18. They deliberately build a valuable network of people — before they need them.
  19. They are willing to stand out. They know it’s the only way to be outstanding.
  20. They summon the courage to do what’s required, rather than what feels comfortable.
  21. They make promises… then keep them.

Those are just some of the habits I have discovered and road tested, which improved my business and life beyond recognition.

I hope you find them useful, but more importantly, I hope you decide to try and make at least one of them a habit.

Are you good enough? I hope not. Here’s why!

good enough

Consider the following:

  1. Most small businesses are good enough. Their products, services and marketing are good enough.
  2. A tiny minority of small businesses are great. Their products, services and marketing are great.
  3. Great beats good enough every time.

It’s easy to be good enough: It’s about being average. Just follow the other followers and you’ll be good enough, just like they are.

It’s trickier to be great: It’s about being exceptional. You need to be prepared to set your own goals, set your own priorities and lead.

You have already chosen

Whether you know it or not, you have already chosen one of those paths. If you’re not sure which path you chose, take a look at the clients you work with, the fees you earn and the number of referrals you attract. Are they great? Are they massively above average?

If you think you’re on the wrong path… either settle for average or switch to great.

Oh, and if you think switching to great is hard, you haven’t understood the price people pay for being average.

So, you want more from your business? Try this!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

To grow your business successfully, you need all 3 of the following:

  1. A substantial number of prospective clients, who you can locate and connect with.
  2. These prospective clients need to have a problem, which your service provides the answer to.
  3. Finally, they need to be willing and able to pay you for solving their problem.

That’s what you need for a successful business. And for most people, that’s all they want.

However, if you want even more from your business, something exceptional, you need to know the following.

Truly exceptional businesses are a little different

Exceptional businesses do 1 thing differently. To be exceptional, you need to change number 2 on that list, to this:

These prospective clients need to have a problem, which ONLY your service provides the answer to.

Yes, it takes more effort to develop a uniquely valuable product or service, but the rewards are disproportionately high. For example, you no longer have to compete for business based on fees. Also, by deliberately choosing the type of problem to solve, you can predetermine the quality of clients you work with.

Here’s a suggestion

Think about gaps in the market — problems that are currently not being solved by existing providers. Dig deep. Stick with it until you get some answers. Keep working on it. Give it the time and energy it needs.

Why? Because you only need to get this right once, for your whole world to change!

Tip: This will help you get started.

How to learn from the best, without copying them

learn from best

One of the best ways to develop your business, is to learn from what already works.

It’s not about copying. It’s about using what works for others, as a source of creative inspiration for your own marketing. Allow me to explain.

Here are 3 examples of what I mean

1. Think of the last product or service you paid for. Now ask yourself, what were the main motivators, which persuaded you to make that purchase? Look for a way to uniquely incorporate those persuasive factors into the marketing of your own products or services.

2. Think of the last time you recommended a product or service to your friends. What were the key factors that motivated you to give it your endorsement? Look for ways to uniquely incorporate them into your business, so you attract more word of mouth referrals.

3. Think of the last newsletter you read, which inspired you to make a purchase, click a link, email the sender, etc. What was it about that newsletter [or the person who wrote it], which motivated you to take action? Look for ways to uniquely build that into your own newsletter, so more people take action when they read it.

As you may have already noticed, this approach can be applied to any area of your business that you want to improve.

Learning is more valuable than copying

A well known example of this approach came from Steve Jobs. When designing the first iMac computers, Jobs studied the design of sports cars for inspiration. Apparently, people would see him in the Apple parking lot, looking at the lines and curves of sports cars. His machines didn’t look like cars, but the ‘design lines’ of some Apple products were influenced by them.

The key thing to remember is that the value comes from learning, not copying. Look at what works and search for the lessons behind it. If you fully embrace this idea, it will be a powerful development tool for both you and your business.

Here’s why your business isn’t growing and how to fix it

Business development

The basics of building a successful business are easy to find. There are countless business manuals that explain the process.

So, why do most small businesses slowly go broke or end up being little more than a poorly paid job for their owner?

I believe I have found the answer. And I’m going to share it with you.

The truth about business success

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I’ve found that time and time again, business success comes from doing the things you won’t find in a manual. Those basics are essential just to survive. To thrive, you need to do what isn’t in the book.

You need to think independently. For example.

  • Turn traditional business models on their heads. Perhaps you could give away the thing that’s usually expensive and charge for something else. You get the idea.
  • Create happiness in the hearts of your customers, rather than sell them a commodity.
  • Build your business around a team of people with individual talents, rather than an easy to copy system.
  • Make being one of your clients a unique, remarkable experience, which your clients tell their friends about. Think Tom’s Shoes or Apple.

Have you noticed something about those ideas? They sound risky. The reason they sound risky is that most small businesses prefer to follow a predictable path. They are risk-averse. So, they play follow-the-follower. This is why small businesses are almost always dull, financially challenged, stressful and going nowhere.

Building your remarkable business

Clearly, it takes courage to build a remarkable small business. This is because for some reason, many business owners feel safer following what their competitors are doing.

  • Even though they can see it isn’t working, their dull, predictable business is paying the bills.
  • Even though they’re settling for a lifestyle that’s not what they dreamed about, [because it’s all their average business can sustain], it feels safe.

In short: Their fear of failure stops them from succeeding.

The future belongs to those who are willing to risk being average, in order to become excellent.

Dive in, sink or swim?

As business owners, we have 3 models we can follow:

  1. Dive in, learn and succeed.
  2. Sink with fear.
  3. Swim.

Dive in, learn and succeed: If someone risks investing in a new business model, they could fail. However, they are then able to use what they learned from the experience, so that their next project has a massively better chance of success. This is the model I use for my business. It’s also a model I work on with lots of my clients. And it works. Beautifully.

Sink with fear: If someone carries on with an average business, which will slowly go broke or leave them with little more than a poorly paid job for the rest of their life, they will definitely sink. This is the model followed by almost all small business owners.

Swim: If they summon the courage to invest in their business idea, to work with passion and create something of huge value, they could swim. This model is what happens when you get it right first time. Rare, but wonderful.

That may not seem like much of a choice, but it’s all you have.

10 Powerful ways to get people talking about your business

word of mouth, viral, spread word

Here are 10 motivators, which inspire people to spread the word about you. See which ones you can adapt and apply into your business.

  1. People will share your message, if it makes them look clever. This is why social networks are packed with Einstein quotes.
  2. People will share your message, if it makes them appear generous to their friends or community.
  3. People will share your message, if they think it will make them look informed, ahead of the curve or cutting-edge.
  4. People will share your message, if it’s remarkable. Extremely satisfied customers tell their friends when they receive an amazing service.
  5. People will share your message, if they are paid to. Such as bloggers who write sponsored posts, affiliate marketers and advertising providers.
  6. People will share your message, if they are part of your community and want others to join in.
  7. People will share your message, if they believe it will help you and they care about you.
  8. People will share your message, if it’s baked into your product or service. When you see someone using an Apple MacBook in public, there’s an illuminated apple on the rear of their screen.
  9. People will share your message, if it says something they aren’t brave enough to say for themselves.
  10. People will share your message, if they believe it’s of great value and that their friends need to know.

You should be able to find at least a few ideas there, to help you motivate people to share your message.

The most incredible article about headlines you’ll ever read!

incredible headlines

Here are some ideas, which you can use to massively improve the results of all your written marketing.

It’s all about the marketing power of headlines.

Your headline has to capture the reader’s attention

It doesn’t matter how great your message is, people need to read it in order for the message to have the desired impact. That’s where your headline comes in. The headline’s primary job is to attract attention and motivate the reader to carry on reading.

Think about it… the headline is what inspires prospective clients to open your email. It’s also what motivates them to read your blog post or article, when someone shares it on a social network. It’s what grabs their attention and interest when they see one of your advertisements.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy was in no doubt regarding the importance of headlines. He famously said: “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Treat your headlines with the importance they deserve. Give yourself plenty of time to craft the best headline possible. The following tips and examples will help you get the balance right.

Your headline should accurately reflect the theme of the content

Because headlines play such a huge role in getting your content noticed, it’s tempting to over exaggerate them. [Yes, the headline of this post is a tongue in cheek example of what I mean].

Sometimes called link bait or click bait, these attention grabbing headlines are proven to generate trafficThe reason I strongly recommend most people reading this not to adopt that headline strategy, is this:

Your headlines make a promise, which your content needs to deliver on.

Make your headlines as inspirational as you can. Use words that will compel people to read what you have to say. But make darn sure that your content backs up the promise of the headline.

Your headline needs to be written for your target market

Your marketing message is intended to connect with a very specific group of people: Your prospective clients or customers. The headlines you use should do the same. This means speaking their language and addressing their concerns and opportunities.

Here’s why this matters:

  • By focusing your headlines around the interests of your target market, you help your marketing message to attract the attention of the right people.
  • Conversely, by using headlines that attract the attention of a wider group of people, you cease to be directly relevant to your target market.

In other words, use headlines that are directly relevant to your prospective clients.

Your headlines should match your medium

If you’re writing a headline that’s intended for a print magazine, newspaper or flyer, you have certain freedoms, which you don’t have when writing for the internet. For example, if you want your internet article’s headline to be fully displayed in search results, you need to use around 55 characters or fewer. Going beyond that limit will see your headline cut short.

If your headline is intended for email marketing, you need to take other things into consideration. For example, if you include exclamation marks!! in your subject line, along with a number and maybe a word that’s in ALL CAPS, it’s highly likely to end up in a lot of spam filters. Email software looks for certain common factors used by spammers and if it sees them in the email headlines you use, it could wrongly treat your marketing as spam.

In short, when it comes to headlines, you need to adapt depending on the medium you’re using.

The only 2 types of headline that matter

There is a lot of debate among marketing professionals, regarding the correct way to use headlines. They take entrenched stances, each insisting that their approach is the only strategy that’s professional or effective. In almost every case I have seen, they totally miss the point.

When it comes to the headlines you use in your marketing, there are just 2 broad categories worthy of your attention.

  1. Headlines that work for you and your business goals.
  2. Headlines that are failing you and your business goals.

You need to find the correct balance for what you want to achieve. And it will differ depending on your brand, your industry and your business model.

For example, Upworthy and BuzzFeed have grown into massively successful media businesses, using a controversial, yet very powerful headline formula. Many have labelled their approach as being link bait or click bait. Here’s a nice piece from The Guardian that looks at Upworthy’s headlines. Now, it’s not a strategy that would work for my business. However, it’s proven itself to be an extremely successful strategy for the Upworthy and BuzzFeed business models. It’s fortunate they ignored the one-size-fits-all mantra. My point here, is that you should leave your options open.

I hope you’ve found this useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to improve the effectiveness of your own headlines and titles.

Worth reading: 5 Steps to improve the success of all your written marketing.

Exposed: The great Leadership lie!

leaders, leadership

Leaders lead. That’s what they do.

They don’t tell us they are leaders. They don’t self-proclaim to be leaders in their social media profiles or on the about pages of their websites. Instead, they lead.

Leaders are easy to spot

When everyone else is flapping, looking for someone to lead the way, the leader is the one who steps in. The leader commands our respect.

We all know leaders and in every instance, they don’t need to tell us they are leaders. They literally lead by example.

Leaders are courageous. They stand up for what they believe in. They inspire others by what they do. They’re massively valuable and extremely rare.

Fake leaders are even easier to spot

Instead of leading, the fakers tell us they are leaders and hope no one notices. But we do notice. We see them acting like sheep; sharing leadership quotes on social sites, having their photo taken with leaders… yet never actually leading.

For fake leaders it’s about telling, not showing. It’s about talking and bluster, not action. It’s about self-proclaimed titles, not the respect of their marketplace or community. It’s about following the flock, not leading.

Don’t fall for the great leadership lie

The lesson here is simple. Be suspicious of anyone who self-proclaims that they are a leader. Instead, decide for yourself based on what a person does and what they fail to do. Leaders lead. They don’t talk about it. They do it.

Read this: 7 Habits of highly successful leaders.

How to attract customers… from your competitors!

How to

So, you’d like more customers or clients. The question is, why should they switch to you, rather than carry on with their current provider?

In today’s post I help you answer this important question!

Why should they leave their comfort zone?

It takes effort for people to switch from one provider to another. This means the reasons you provide for switching to you, need to be compelling. Your offer needs to inspire them to leave their comfort zone… to dump their familiar, safe, current provider and risk the unknown.

We know that being a little less expensive, a little faster or a little better isn’t enough.

Here’s why: Marginal differences have marginal impact. They lack the power required, to inspire people to take action.

In short: Your prospective clients need to see an obvious, clear, meaningful reason to switch providers.

This will help you get it right

Take a look at your business from the vantage point of a prospective client or customer. Look at the reasons you provide, to motivate them to leave their comfort zone and switch to you.

Now answer this question: Considering the perceived risk involved with them switching providers, are the reasons you give truly compelling enough?

If not, what meaningful, measurable benefit could you add, which would make switching to you feel:

  • Less risky. For example, offer them guarantees. Here’s how I make this work, using something called Risk Reversal.
  • Less hassle. For example, offer to help with any of the tasks involved, when switching from their old provider.
  • More beneficial to them than staying with their current provider. For example, develop a service that’s unique to your business. [Need some creative help? I’ve got you covered. Here’s a website full of creative ideas, written by me. Everything there is free!]

You need to remember that every provider claims to offer great customer service and to go the extra mile for their clients. This means you should focus on developing a meaningful, measurable and motivating difference. Get this right and it can be a game-changer for your business. Yes, it’s that important.

PS: Here’s how to stop your competitors taking clients from YOUR business: How to use the lock-in effect to retain your clients.

How to inspire your marketplace and attract the best clients

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Nothing is more average than the average business!

These are the businesses that work for average clients and earn average fees. These hardworking folk look to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement. Why? Because they know there’s no future in being yet another average business. It’s a constant struggle. It’s stressful.

Today, I’m going to show you how to avoid the average trap and grow a successful, inspirational business.

The inspiration premium

Whilst average businesses struggle, inspirational businesses thrive. Maybe the most famous example came from the last recession, where Apple achieved record sales and record profits. They did this, selling high priced devices, which inspired their fans to spend billions of dollars with them.

Did you notice that? Apple has fans, not customers. That’s because when you inspire your marketplace, people position you or your brand very differently in their mind. And yes, this works for small businesses, too!

Take a look at any area of your business, which you think is underperforming. Now, instead of comparing that area of your business with what your competitors are doing, I want you to set your bar massively higher.

For example:

  • If you want people to tell their friends how great your service is, provide a service that inspires word of mouth referrals. Like Disney.
  • If you want more repeat clients or customers, do something that inspires them to return. Like Apple.
  • If you want more enquiries from your newsletter, write content that inspires people to contact you. Like Evernote.

In short: Walk away from average. Embrace inspirational.

It’s easier said than done, Jim!

Yes, of course it’s easier said than done. However, it’s not that hard.

This is especially the case for small business owners. You can use your agility to make the necessary improvements, starting right now. Whether it’s Disney, Apple, Rolex or another inspirational brand, look at what they’re doing. Look at how they are inspiring their marketplace.

Learn from the best. Let them set the bar on what you expect from yourself and your business. It takes more effort, but it’s far easier than owning a business that works for average clients and average fees.

This will help you to get started: How to grow your business, with Agile Thinking.