By far, the question I get asked more than any other, is: How do you find the time to write as often as you do?
Here’s the answer
I don’t watch TV. The ‘average’ person watches between 5 and 6 hours of TV a day (it varies from country to country). By avoiding it, I have an extra 35 hours a week available. I use some of that time to write.
Here’s a great question for you: What would YOU choose to do, if you were able to find an extra 35 (or even 5) hours every week?
There’s a huge difference between marketing an average product and baking marketing into a product. One needs to be marketed relentlessly to drive sales. The other doesn’t. In fact, people will market the product or service for you.
I was approached by a large computer manufacturer last week. They want me to be a brand ambassador for their new ultraportable notebooks. I was offered a ‘free’ $1900 notebook, plus access to some conferences and exhibitions. All I had to do, was share how amazing their hardware is with my readers and those who connect with me on social networks. I thanked them, but declined.
Earlier that same day, I was sitting in a coffee shop editing an article on my creative thinking website, which included the above photo. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that same brand of computer appears on the background image of my Twitter account.
Not only didn’t Apple pay me, I’ve paid them thousands to buy the 3 Macs I use. No one at Apple asked me to be an ambassador for their brand either. They didn’t need to.
Here’s the thing
When your product or service is just another (whatever), you need to push it to promote it. When your product has marketing baked in, people push it for you.
Moreover, they do it eagerly and without being paid.
If you’re tired of working for average fees, working for average clients or achieving average results, this could be exactly what you need to know.
Things have changed… massively!
It has never been harder to make a living, by offering an average service.
Thanks to social networks, the people and businesses offering a remarkable service are now owning the most profitable segment of their marketplaces. They get all the buzz. All the word of mouth referrals. They spend very little on marketing and can charge a premium for their service. It’s a high profit way to build a hugely successful business.
All that’s left for the average provider, is to pester people for attention or buy their attention, with advertising and promotional offers. Then, sell based on low or average fees. It’s a low profit, frustrating and risky way to run a business.
The question is…
Why do so few business owners invest in doing what’s required, to take their business from average to remarkable?
There are a few extremely common reasons:
It’s partly because of ignorance. Some are genuinely unaware that the service they provide is average. They grossly underestimate what their competitors are doing, so assume their own service is a lot better than it really is.
It’s partly out of fear. The decision to up your game, to reach higher and to stand out, takes a lot of courage. Hiding in the middle ground feels safer, despite being the riskiest thing they can do.
It’s partly because they don’t know how. Many business owners have no real idea what to do, in order to make the service they provide remarkable and highly desirable. They know they need to do something, they just don’t know what.
So, which, if any, of those 3 broad groups would your business fit in?
If your clients or customers seldom refer you, you’re in that first group. The same is true if your fees are around average and you tend to attract average clients.
If you know your business needs help, but you’re refusing to give it the resources it needs, you’re in the second group. The fear of change is blocking you from making the improvements required. Paradoxically, this is the riskiest thing you can do. When you starve a plant of the sunshine it needs, it stops growing… then dies. Starving a business of the resources it needs leads to the same result.
If you are ready to make the improvements required, but you’re not sure what to do, you’re in that third group. You’re also working from the same mindset as the most successful business owners, having overcome the fear of those in the second group and the ignorance of those in the first group.
Whichever group (if any) you find yourself in, the time to move from average to remarkable is now. It’s too important to delay.
3 Steps to becoming remarkable
The first step is to acknowledge the need to improve.
The second step is to overcome the fear of change.
What kind of work (or art) are you going to produce today?
I was prompted to ask this question, after remembering a radio interview with Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi was talking about her career, when the interviewer asked her, what advice she had for aspiring artists. I’m paraphrasing here, but Cyndi’s reply was to never compromise your work for short-term gain. Instead, think about your legacy.
In the age of Growth Hacking and shortcuts, it’s worth remembering that our reputation and legacy is built on the quality of our work.
It’s about the value of what we do… not how quickly we do it or how many corners we cut.
I heard a great quote the other day: “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile”.
Whilst every business I have ever encountered claims to go the extra mile, we all know that in reality, very few businesses actually do it. They try hard, sure, but they try hard without going a mile beyond what we expect.
So, why does this happen and what can we do, to ensure we’re truly going the extra mile?
I can’t or I won’t?
I have found that there’s some confusion with the words can’t and won’t. People often say they can’t do something, when what they really mean is that they won’t.
Here’s the thing: When a service provider tells a customer (and themselves), that they can’t do something extra, they end the possibility of it happening. Can’t is a dead end. It can’t be done. That’s it.
Here’s an alternative approach, which can help you retain your clients and attract massively more referrals too.
An opportunity to disappoint or to shine
Think about it: When a restaurant stops serving at 2:30pm and you arrive at 2:33pm, to be told they can’t serve you, what they really mean is that they won’t serve you. They can serve you. However, they’ve chosen not to serve you… not to go the extra mile. By pointing to a sign that says they stop serving food at 2:30pm, the service provider has an excuse not to try.
You leave disappointed.
Of course, the best service providers would use that same situation as an opportunity to go a mile beyond what you expected of them. They’d explain that it’s a few minutes after they stop serving, but that they will make an exception for you. In doing so, they would have delivered a great customer experience story, for you to share with your friends.
The lesson here?
Before you tell a client or prospective client that you can’t do what they want, ask yourself if what you really mean, is that you won’t do what they want.
Your future has not been written yet. No matter how things look today, by making better decisions and backing them up with action, you can turn things around.
What a wonderful, empowering opportunity.
Apple died in 1996
According to one of the world’s best known research companies, Apple were already finished when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1996. A Forrester Research analyst was quoted in The New York Times saying:
“Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It’s so classic. It’s so sad.”
Of course, what followed was the transformation of Apple, into the world’s most valuable company.
Rewrite your future, starting today. Be the star of your own success story. Let go of the failing familiar and embrace the changes required, to take your life and your business to the next level.
A great way to start is to answer the following question: “If my business (or life) was perfect in every way, what would it look like?”
Then, get writing!
Include as much detail as you can. Don’t compromise — if you can imagine it, no matter how amazing, exciting or scary it sounds, write it down and make it a part of your future.
Once you know what your ideal future looks like, you will have the focus and clarity required, to start moving in the right direction. You will find it easier to avoid distractions and make progress like never before.
Then take just one step, each day, to an amazing future. YOUR amazing future.
It’s hard to achieve anything of real value, without a willingness to persevere.
It started when you were a baby
You persevered for months, falling and getting back up, before you learned how to walk. Then you persevered for even longer, learning how to talk. And today, your results are largely defined by your decision to persevere… or quit before victory.
As Henry Ward Beecher said:
“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
Sometimes it isn’t our strategy, our tactics or our intelligence that blocks our path to success. It’s our commitment to persist for long enough.