Let’s do it!

I have a message of hope for you today!

This message is for those of you who are sick of watching good people losing their businesses, because of the way they reacted to the global economic crisis.  It’s a message for those of you who are worried about your own business and how things will turn out for you and your families.

Yes, we live in extremely uncertain economic times right now.  Forecasts change almost daily regarding how many years it will take, before things improve in a meaningful way.  Many economists say we are already close to what will be regarded as normal in years to come.

Every day, I hear small business owners talking about hunkering down until it all blows over.  This is probably the single worst thing you can do right now.  It takes control of your future away from you.

There is a better way.  A much better way!

Let’s do it!

You can’t change the economy, but you can decide how you navigate your business right now.  You can benefit from the fact that most of your competitors are acting like a rabbit, caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.  You can work to a strategy for business development, which will allow you to not only survive, but thrive.

I spoke with three clients yesterday, who are in fee-sensitive industries and enjoying their best ever year in business.  They have adjusted the set of their sail, so that their businesses are primed for growth.  They are fighting back.  They are doing the right things correctly.  They are enjoying the rewards.

My message to you today is that there is hope, however, you need to get serious.  The choice is yours and whilst you can’t turn your business around in an instant, you CAN change the set of your sail today.

I’m here to help all of you, whether you want me to show you exactly what to do in person or you simply want general help via the blog.

Regardless, you are NOT in this alone.

Let’s do it!

Photo: Fidelio

What Yoda, cigarettes and milk can teach you about business and life

There are 2 products, which tell us a great deal about the way people think.  I’m referring to low tar cigarettes and milk that’s had most of the fat skimmed off it.

These are enormously successful products within their markets, because they are so easy to sell.  They speak to people, with a message they want to hear:

  • Smokers who want to feel like they are doing something positive, without the commitment to quit.
  • Milk drinkers who want to lower their fat intake, but lack the commitment to go fat free.

People who market those products have it easy.  They know that the masses tend to avoid making solid commitments, if there is an easier alternative.  I call this Low Tar Thinking.

The value of commitment

The opposite of Low Tar Thinking is commitment.  Commitment is beautiful.  It turns dreams into reality.  It makes things happen.  It builds relationships, feeds the poor and makes us happier, healthier and wealthier.  However, most people not only fail to embrace commitment, they actively seek to avoid it.

The best advice on commitment I know, is simply this:  If you believe you need to do something, make the commitment and do it.

As Yoda famously said; “Do or do not…there is no try!”

Photo: snigl3t

Facebook: Changing for the better?

jim connolly facebook

What do you think about the recent changes at Facebook?

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has made some significant changes.  These range from the hook-up with Skype, to the addition of a subscribe feature, allowing you to “follow” people in a similar way to Twitter or Google Plus.  Today, Facebook has changed the way the news feed looks and works, to include both top news as well as the most recent items.

Many people have questioned whether these sudden changes have been made to improve the user experience, or as a reaction to Google+ and the attention it has gained recently.

The challenge with change

In my experience, people generally embrace progress but they dislike change.  They love to see things improve but they value the comfort of familiarity.  So, if a change is made to a product or service, it needs to offer a significant improvement to reward the discomfort of the change.

  • If Facebook has changed significantly with no real benefit, let alone a drop in user experience, it will lose market share.  As we saw with MySpace, no one is too big to fail if they get it wrong.  Additionally, Google Plus now offers an interesting alternative for disgruntled Facebook users.  Interestingly, Google+ today became open to all, with no invite required.
  • If Facebook has changed and improved significantly, it will retain most of it’s current users and attract new users too.  It will also increase user engagement; essential for their monetization model.

Personally, I have found Facebook’s changes to be useful.  Very useful.  Although I am an avid user of Google+ (since day 3 of it’s beta testing), I am connecting and sharing more on Facebook right now, than ever before.  You are very welcome to connect with me on my Facebook Page.

What can we learn from this?

All innovation should be driven by a desire to improve the customer experience or product.  When the marketplace believes that your intention is to make their experience better, they are massively more likely to be receptive.

However, if they think you are in a feature war, where the changes being made are driven by the need to be newsworthy, rather than the desire to improve, they may feel very different.

What leaves your kitchen?

One of the characteristics of the very best Permission Marketing, is that the message is so valuable to you that you would miss it, if it stopped.

I encountered a superb example of this yesterday, when I noticed myself checking a couple of my favourite a number of times, to see if a new post had been published yet.  For the 3rd day running there were no updates and that mattered to me.  I missed it.  My day was less, because their contribution was missing. 

THAT is the way you want people to feel about your blog posts, newsletters and social media updates.  Not as an intrusion, but as a welcomed experience.  BTW: It was an RSS issue and I grabbed all the missing posts, later.

What leaves your kitchen is what matters

A great chef knows that nothing should leave their kitchen, unless it is worthy of them.  In marketing, we need to apply a similar screening process before we press the send or publish button.  We need to think if what we are about to share is likely to add value to those who receive it or not.

If we get that balance right, when we offer our audience a business proposition, they will listen.  We will have earned their valuable attention.

This contribution focused approach is a world away from pestering people with sales pitches.  It’s all about engaging with your marketplace by being seen as a source of value.  Pestering people with sales messages, on the other hand, simply trains them to ignore you!

Photo: geishaboy500

The secret to unlocking your amazing creativity

Would you like to become a creative thinking powerhouse?  If you would, then today’s post may be just what you need!

I used to work with a guy who had a thinking cap.  He said that when he needed to be creative, if he wore his thinking cap, it would help him generate the ideas he needed.

Did it work?  Yes.  Absolutely… for him!

But here’s the thing: If you wore his thinking cap, you may not find it so effective.  Unless you believed all the things he did about that old cap, you’d quickly figure out that it is, in fact, just a normal cap and that he generated all those ideas himself.

Similarly, if you used the same tools as me for generating ideas (coffee, lots of green tea, audio recorders, paper, ink pens and music), you’d be unlikely to get the same creative flow that I get from them.

It’s not platitudes: You truly are unique

You think like no one else who has ever existed.  Your unique mind and all those experiences you have lived through, have created an astonishing, uniquely creativity machine.  If you want to tap into that creativity, do what feels most natural to you.  It may involve a thinking cap.  It may involve using an ink pen and some paper.  However, it’s just as likely to involve meditating or using a mind map or taking a long walk or listening to classical music or getting on an exercise bike or dancing to James Brown!

Sadly, many people wrongly believe that they are not creative, because they followed a creativity strategy from a book or a course, which didn’t work for them.  Ironically, the very fact that generic “how to get creative” bullshit doesn’t work for you, only confirms how original your own mind truly is!

Here’s a suggestion:  Be yourself.  Trust your ability to think creatively.  Then, try 1 new way to inspire your creativity each day.  Rule nothing in or out (and that includes having fun!)  Then, put the ideas that worked together, to build YOUR very own creative toolbox.

Photo: sebilden

Passion and achievement: The undeniable link!

Passion is infectious.

Passion is attractive.

Passion is immediately obvious.

Phoning it in

Of course, the opposite is also true.  We can usually tell very quickly when someone is just phoning it in.  For those who are not familiar with the phrase, to phone it in means, roughly; to do something with little commitment or as if it didn’t matter. We see examples all the time, from the disinterested customer care person who asks how they can help us, to the business owner who thinks that good enough, is good enough.

Working with passion

When you think of anyone, in any area of life, who is achieving something beyond the ordinary, you will see they are doing work they are passionate about.  The amazing Blake Mycoskie is passionate about ensuring that every child has a pair of shoes, so when you buy a pair of shoes from his store, he donates a pair to a child in need.  Steve Jobs is passionate about Apple Inc.  He’s so passionate that he put his health second, so he could remain active within the company for as long as possible.  Remarkable volunteers around the world make a huge difference, giving their time and energy to causes they are passionate about.

The bottom line:  Do work that matters to you and it will matter to other people too.  Life is too valuable and too short, to phone it in.

Photo: PinkMoose

Bloggers: How to write something interesting every day!

If you would like to learn the secret behind those amazing bloggers, who somehow manage to publish interesting content every day, here it is!

Drum roll please…

They have simply figured out that writing is a lot like talking and that talking is easy.  Everyone says something every day that is interesting, to people in their niche.  Prolific bloggers simply write those thoughts down and publish them.

So, unless people tend to fall asleep when you speak with them about your subject, you already have all the content you need.

Some wonderful ideas never become blog posts

A common example of this can be seen when you look at the great comments on social networks, blogs and forums, from people who seldom update their own blogs.  I get comments here often, where the commenter shares an idea or insight, which is as good (sometimes better) than my original post.  I then check their blog out and find it’s had nothing added to it in weeks or months.  They clearly don’t lack ideas for content, they simply choose not to share them as blog posts.

If people listen with interest when you speak, they will read with interest when you write; especially if you just be yourself.

But first, you need to get your ideas out there and in my experience, blogging is the finest possible way to do that.

So, what’s holding you back?

 

Photo: Smile my day

Your blog and doing it your way!

When it comes to developing this blog, I don’t do a lot.

  • I don’t do guest blogging.  I’ve written just 1 guest blog post; when approached by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, to help with American Small Business Week.
  • I don’t write a newsletter.  A growing list of thousands of people, already read this blog via email each day.
  • I don’t attend blog conferences.
  • I don’t use auto-responders.
  • I don’t use SEO software.
  • I don’t use landing page software, either.
  • I don’t use special commenting software.  I object to you having to give your details to some Internet start-up, in order for you to leave a comment here.

However, I do a few things too.

  • I show up here regularly and write.
  • I make my own rules.
  • I reply to every comment, where someone directs their comment to me or mentions me.
  • I write useful posts, rather than great posts.  I’d rather be useful, than a smartass!
  • I write independently.
  • I continuously strive to be of as much service to you as possible.

I am not saying that this is the way to develop a successful blog, because IT ISN’T!  It’s just an insight into my approach.

That’s my point!

Be cautious of anyone telling you that their way is the way or that you need to buy their stuff in order to succeed.  Both are factually incorrect.

Here’s a great place to start: Produce useful content and put it where people will see it.

Do you want something better or more of the same?

At some point your business will surely arrive.

The question is; “where?

Look at your progress over the past 12 months and project it forward 12 months.  Unless you have significantly improved your strategy, you can usually expect more of the same.  So, if you are happy with another year just like the last one, stay as you are.  However, if you are still working long hours and seeing little real progress, you need to make a decision.  You need to decide if you want to waste another year of your life making little real progress or if you want something better.

Running a successful business is about growing something of true value.  Successful small business owners work hard and enjoy the rewards.  They enjoy the rewards of living where they want to live.  They enjoy the rewards of working with great clients, who pay them what they are worth.  Most importantly, they earn more than they need; allowing them to build a wall of financial security around their loved ones, which nothing can break.

I see this every day

I work with small business owners every day, who have decided to get serious about the development of their business and income.  We start off by looking at where their business is right now and then, we look at what they want to achieve from their business.  In many cases, they have never previously thought about exactly what they want in financial and lifestyle terms, so I work on this with them. I then work closely with them for a whole year, to get them from where they are to where they want to be.  I can report that after almost 17 years, it’s still enormously rewarding and exciting to help people improve their lives in this way.

Part of my work often involves helping small business owners to rekindle that same excitement, which they felt when they started their business.  Many come to me, after figuring out that they have slowly dropped their lifestyle expectations, to fit the limitations of their under-performing business.  I then work with them to turn that around, so they start to dream again; only this time with a plan of action and the support they need.  By the way: If you would like to find out how I can help you too, simply click here and let me know.

The next 12 months can be an exciting, rewarding  year for you and your business.  For most small business owners, however, it will be a chance to simply relive the same frustrations over again.  You deserve far better than that.

So, make the decision today to get the answers, help and support you need.

What if?

We often tell ourselves that we are open-minded, yet we seldom make significant changes to our routines.  We read the same kind of books, gravitate to people who dress like we do and listen to those with similar political or religious views to our own.

It’s comfortable, but seldom leads to real growth.

It’s easy, but far less inspiring than we deserve.

So, what if?

  • What if you decided not to watch any TV, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to give 100% to every piece of work you do and every interaction you have, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to start your day with gentle exercise, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to write a blog post every day, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to do an act of great kindness for a different person, every day, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to listen to a radio station that plays different music to your usual taste or has different political opinions, every day, for the next 7 days?
  • What if you decided to write a thank you note each day to a different person who has helped or inspired you, for the next 7 days?

Hmmm…