Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 10 of 201)

Taking care of your mind and body

Hard work. Meeting deadlines. Overcoming Challenges. Delighting customers and clients. These are just part of what it takes to create and grow a great business.

As our passion for business drives us forward, it’s extremely important to make sure we’re not neglecting our health.

Look after your body

It makes no sense to grow a successful business, if the price you pay is that you damage your health. I discovered this the hard way.

My story: As my business grew increasingly successful, I found myself getting heavier and less fit. Although my diet was good, plus I don’t drink any alcohol or smoke, I’d been spending more time at my desk and less time outdoors on my bike, walking or hiking. Lesson learned.

I was fortunate enough to turn things around before any real damage was caused. These days I make sure to cycle or walk daily. The photo above is from my walk yesterday, in Sherwood Forest. I’m physically and mentally fitter than I have been in years.

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to get unhealthy or pile weight on if you get the balance wrong. Work hard, sure, but make sure you rest too and look after your body. Take heed of your diet and get yourself out and about every day, no matter how busy you are. Walk. Cycle. Dance. Swim… whatever you’re able to do.

Look after your mind

Business can be stressful regardless of how well or how poorly a business is doing. This is why it’s vitally important to ensure that you get the rest you need, the time with family you need and the relaxation you need.

Yes, I could earn a lot more if I were to work longer hours, but the money is massively less valuable to me than a great relationship with my family and peace of mind.

[Worth a read: Here’s what my working week looks like – Just 5 hours a day.]

I have always believed and advocated the following: Money without happiness… you’re still broke!

If your business model means that you work too many hours and place too many demands on yourself, it’s time to stop and find a better strategy. Overloading yourself with work isn’t sustainable. It leads to all kinds of problems, which you can avoid if you decide to do something about it.

And finally

Never take health or fitness advice from someone who isn’t qualified.

My friend Sam became extremely ill, from eating liquorice root to help with his eczema, after reading a health and fitness website. Sam wasn’t aware that liquorice can cause dangerously high blood pressure. It was only when he was rushed to hospital and his wife answered a questionnaire about his diet, that a doctor spotted the problem.

Always speak with your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet and before you start exercising. Your doctor will know if what you’re proposing is in line with what your body needs.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to look after yourself.

How to make 2015 your best year ever

best year

It’s December. The final month of the year. There’s a very important question you need to ask yourself, as you prepare for 2015:

Looking back, was January 2014 the start of a New Year… or was it just another chance to relive the same old year and frustrations, all over again?

At some point, a business owner needs to make an important decision — a decision that will determine their whole future. They need to decide what they are settling for.

Settling for too little

In my experience, the answer is that they settle for way too little.

They don’t deliberately settle for too little. It’s something that just happens after years of struggling. They lose touch with the excitement, dreams and goals they had when they started. They see survival as their main goal and are happy if they see even marginal growth.

Little wonder then, that these business owners lack the energy and drive they used to have.

It’s as if they have forgotten that as the owner of their business, there’s no limit on what they can achieve. No limit on what they can do. No limit on what their future can bring.

So, consider this message as a wake-up call to those who need it. And a rallying cry to those who want to do something about it!

Decision time

Decide today that you want more in 2015. Far, far more!

Decide that you want a business that allows you to live the lifestyle you want. A business that allows you to build a wall of financial security around those you love. A business that’s worthy of you and the goals you had at the beginning. I did it and you can do it too. I know this because I help people achieve it every working day of my life.

Get the business development help you need, so you know you’re doing the right things, correctly. Then, work your plan throughout 2015. The results can be life changing.

I’ve used this approach with small business owners for almost exactly 20 years and can assure you it works. Beautifully and predictably.

How to run a successful business, working 5 hours a day

smart

Another day. Another Don’t work hard, work smart expert pushing that toxic message. Today, I’d like to explain why that message makes zero sense and also, show you how I run a successful international marketing business, working an average of just 5 hours a day.

Don’t work hard, work smart!

I was prompted to write about this, after I saw a productivity guru earlier, who was telling business owners to work smart, instead of working hard. His contention was that if you followed his system, you could work smart and not need to work hard, yet magically create a wildly successful business.

There’s a very obvious error in his message. In fairness, lots of authors and gurus make the same mistake.

Why not work hard AND work smart?

Why choose? Surely it makes massively more sense to work hard AND ALSO work smart. Surely this seems like the smartest way to make your fortune. Of course, it seems to make sense because it’s exactly what 100% of the world’s most successful business people do.

It’s crazy to tell people to work smart, [to do the right things correctly and avoid costly detours] — and then tell them not to work hard.

Here’s an example from my own business.

I work hard

In fact, I work damn hard. However, I don’t work long hours.

The “Don’t work hard, work smart” experts almost always confuse working hard, with working long hours. They totally fail to understand that you can work hard and work smart, working less than half as many hours as a typical business owner.

For instance: I am there for my son every morning at breakfast, while his mother gets herself ready for the day. My son and I make breakfast together, have breakfast together and I’m with him until he leaves for school. I am also there for him every evening when he returns from school at 3:45pm.

My son is just 9 years old, but he’s already spent way more time with his dad, than many son’s spend with their business-owner fathers in their entire childhood.

Here’s how I manage it.

Hard work — 5 hours a day

Although my day varies quite a bit, I usually do an hour early in the morning, three hours during the day and an hour in the early evening. Yes, sometimes I work 8 hours in a day. Other days I work for just one hour or less, with my average day consisting of 5 hours of hard but enjoyable work.

However, during those 5 hours I work hard, I work smart and I work to a plan. I don’t take non-urgent calls or reply to non urgent emails. I see what needs to be done and I do it.

Working hard, working smart and working lots of long days

Here’s something essential for anyone looking at my 5 hour day and wondering how it’s possible.

When my business started and my name wasn’t yet established, I worked hard, smart and I worked very long hours.

I worked 6 days a week, sometimes 7, often putting in 16 hour days. Sometimes I worked through a full 24 hours. I knew that if I hustled hard at the beginning, I eventually wouldn’t need to. I believed that if I worked smart enough, hard enough and for long enough, that my name and reputation would open doors for me. That’s exactly what happened.

What you can’t do, unless you want to be ill or have no family life, is to carry on working crazy hours. It’s not sustainable and will make you sick.

Finally

I guess what I’m saying here is that you can waste a lot of time going nowhere, if you take advice from people selling business tricks. Be careful of anyone saying you can grow a successful business without the hard work. It’s wrong.

Work the long hours at the beginning, work hard and work smart. If you’re doing it correctly, your business will soon become established, like mine did, and you can drop the long hours… and work hard and work smart.

Remember, working long hours is a temporary thing, until you gather the momentum required. It’s not part of an effective business strategy. In fact, if you keep needing to work long hours, you should change your business strategy because it isn’t working.

If you still find yourself needing to work long hours, you’re either not working smart enough, not working hard enough… or both.

Who are the happiest people in business?

Happy

The happiest people in business are easy to spot. They love what they do. And just as it shows when people work through gritted teeth, we also notice when people are enjoying what they do.

Here’s what we can learn from them and why owning a business you love is essential, if you want to be successful.

YESSSS! It’s Friday!!!

I have to admit finding it really weird, that anyone would build a business that they don’t love. Yet, we see it all the time. Look at any social network on a Friday and what will you see? You’ll see business owners so ecstatic their terrible working week is finally over, that they feel they must shout it out to everyone who follows them. None feel compelled to show that level of excitement about their business during the week.

In stark contrast, I know a lot of very successful business owners and every one of them is passionate about their business. They have deliberately created businesses, which are consistent with their values and beliefs. Work, in many ways, doesn’t feel like working. So, they work every day in a business that makes them feel energized, fulfilled… and happy!

Here’s why this makes all the difference

Because they love their businesses, they willingly embrace the hustle. In other words, they do 100% of the work, not 100% of the things they feel comfortable with, like most business owners.

Think of it like this:

Someone who passionately wants to become a rock star, will willingly practice the guitar every day. Their vision of being a rock star is so compelling, that they happily, willingly do the work of practising the same chords over and over again. A kid forced by their parents to learn the guitar, will do as little as possible. They will look for excuses not to practice.

The lesson here is clear. Build a business you love. It’s your business and you have freedom to either transform it into something that inspires you — or start a new business with the lessons learned.

It makes no sense on any level, to own a business, to have full control… and not build something that you love with a passion.

Your time. Your focus. Your choice.

workspace

The people you surrender your attention to, control what you do.

The endless stream of emails, messages and social media updates consume both your time and your focus.

  • Time you can never regain is lost reacting to the immediate, yet unimportant calls for your attention.
  • Your focus is pulled away from your most important work, making it hard for you to concentrate.

You then look back on the day and wonder why you worked so hard, feel so tired, yet made so little progress.

Be extremely selective who you surrender your attention to. It’s one of the most important decisions you make throughout your working day.

Tip — Read this. It will help you get the direction and clarity you need.

My personal story: The power of focus!

focused

I have something personal to share with you today. It’s a goal I reached this week, which carries a valuable lesson about the importance of focus.

When I relocated my business from London to a tiny village in South Yorkshire, I no longer had commercially viable access to clients. I knew I was taking a huge risk, because the only way for me to make a living was to switch to offering a 100% digital marketing business.

I believed I would be able to provide a better service to clients using Skype, telephone and email, than through traditional face-to-face meetings. Close friends warned me it was a bad idea.

Here’s what happened.

My goal

Rather than feel limited by the lack of local clients, I wanted to focus on a huge potential marketplace. As I started my marketing career working in New York, I set the goal of working with at least 1 client in every state of The United States.

Yesterday, I finally did it. It took me 12 years.

Focus on what you want

Had I decided to focus on the fact we’d invested all our money on a bigger home, with bigger overheads and with zero client income, I’d have made decisions based on fear. Just to be completely clear, I had my wife’s full support, knowing that had this not worked we’d have lost every penny we’d had. We would also have had to postpone starting a family, one of the key reasons we moved to the countryside.

Here’s the thing: By focusing on a massive international market, all I could see was potential and opportunity. It expanded my thinking. It presented exciting possibilities. Within a year I was earning as much money as my best year in London.

Today, as well as working with clients in every U.S. state, I’ve now worked with clients in 27 countries and sold my products into over 90 countries. The whole point of the goal was to open my horizons. To expand what was possible.

What are you focusing on?

The things we focus on determine how we feel. Our actions are driven by our feelings. In other words, much of what you decide to do is controlled by what you focus on.

If you’re not happy with the direction your business is taking, improve your focus. Focus on an inspirational, motivational goal. Focus on what you want, not what you fear.

Don’t stop until you’re proud

Proud

How hard should you work?

How successful should your business be?

How much should you care?

How long should you spend delighting your customers?

How many times should you try before quitting?

The answer

One way to decide is to keep going until you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. To keep pushing until you feel certain that you have given it everything – nothing left on the table.

I can’t think of many situations in business, if any, where that mindset won’t improve your performance enormously.

The next time you’re wondering what to do, remember: don’t stop until you’re proud!

A powerful business lesson from an absolute genius!

Warhol

The artwork above carries a massively valuable lesson. It explains one of the most important elements in the development of a successful business. Yes, it’s Andy Warhol’s masterpiece, Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Here’s the story!

When the collection was first exhibited in 1962, very few people attended. The exhibit was arranged by West Coast art dealer, Irving Blum. It was Warhol’s first solo exhibition. Those who attended the exhibition at the Ferus Gallery either made fun of the art, dismissed it or ignored it. Very little art was sold. It was a huge failure.

Blum decided to buy the Campbell’s Soup Cans canvasses. He paid Warhol $100 a month for 10 months. Just $1000. Though many believed it was $1000 more than they were worth.

Of course, despite his disastrous, first solo exhibition, Warhol refused to quit. He kept on creating his art. He also kept on hustling (getting his art in front of people), believing that if the right people saw it, they’d see it for what it was. Art that would change the landscape for ever.

Warhol hustled

He worked hard. Damn hard.

Instead of working from a studio like every other artist, he worked from what he called The Factory. This was a very deliberate strategy. He created as much art as he could and took every opportunity to showcase his work.

As you know, his belief and hustling finally paid off. Warhol became one of the most important names in art of the 20th century and his work is even more valued today.

Irving Blum’s $1000 investment in the Campbell’s Soup Cans, which people laughed at, was sold to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1996 for $15MILLION.

This was seen partly as a gift from Irving Blum, as the art is valued at well over $100MILLION.

Warhol without the hustle?

Without hustling, there would have been no Andy Warhol. Certainly not the internationally respected artistic genius we know today.

  • Had Warhol decided to quit after his initial, disastrous exhibitions, a genius would never have flourished. At that time, he was being rejected by his peers and his work was being insulted.
  • Had Warhol created the same great art, but refused to work hard promoting it, both he and his art would have remained undiscovered.

Instead, Warhol hustled. Creating and promoting great art.

Business without the hustle

How many great business owners have worked hard without recognition, because they failed to promote their work correctly? How many business owners reading this post, are struggling financially because too few people know how amazing their products or services are? How many business owners are not putting their ideas into action, because they allow fear of failure or ridicule to stop them?

I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that some amazing people, providing great products and services, fail to get the rewards they deserve. Why? Because unlike Warhol (Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Walt Disney and every successful business in your area), they resist the hustle.

Instead of doing what’s required, they do 100% of the things they are comfortable with. They hate (yes, hate, not dislike) the idea of marketing their work correctly. They either fear investing in the help they need or they get expert help, but refuse to promote their business as enthusiastically as they should.

So they dabble. In one of the most competitive economies in living memory, they choose to dabble. I find that fascinating.

Embrace the work. ALL the work!

The alternative is simple. By simple, I mean anyone reading this can do it. Anyone reading this can turn an average business into a successful business or a successful business into an even more successful one.

So long as… you embrace all the work required in order to succeed.

This means changing things. You can’t improve without change. It also means giving your business 100% — working hard and working smart. Doing great work and proudly hustling the value you bring, so people get to see how amazing you and your business are.

You don’t need to waste time between now and the first day of January to make the commitment… to resolve to crush your old ways and replace them with something highly effective.

I know you can do it. I believe in you.

Your move!

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