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Archive for June, 2010

“I just don’t trust anyone else to do it, that’s all”

That quote is from the movie Armageddon, said by Harry Stamper when the fate of the world was literally laid in his lap.

My husband calls them “crunch players”… the player that wants the ball when one basket determines the championship game…. the player that wants the ball when only 3 yards lie between them and the touchdown…  the player that WANTS to bet on themselves.  There is a crunch player in every sport, and in every industry.

Right now, while far too many are spending their days and energy “WAITING” to see what the White House will GIVE them next… while they sit in FEAR, HOPING for a bail out…. while they nervously stand by watching instead of taking action…. Entrepreneurs are out there…  BEING the solution… BEING the bail out…

Each day, we polish our swords and battle the fall – out of the credit crunch, the reduction in spending, and the loss of jobs creating reduced spending…  (And for many of you reading this – coaches and consultants and hybrids like me – we battle the timidity and resentment caused by each charlatan out there dispensing academic advice as if it were their own hard-won experience worthy of a fee.) Each day we commit to being agile, creative, and steadfast.   Each day we wake up and bet on OURSELVES …. realizing that WE are the backbone of the new economy, and it is up to us.  And, you know what?  Truthfully, we wouldn’t have it any other way!!

The edior -in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine was dead on – over a year ago – when she said,

Entrepreneurs are the economic stimulus.

Cheers to each of us!!!  Have a GREAT day!!

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Refusing to LOSE

That's me - far left, middle row

Winning in business often times comes down what my parents called “staying hungry”.  I’m not sure where they got that analogy from, but as I type it I can hear the Rocky theme song in my head, “Staying tough, staying hungry”….

I want to share some strategies that will help you WIN in business…. help you take hold of YOUR market share without apology…. and help you make more money.  Many times, it comes down not to WINNING, but to a defiant, refusal to lose.

To be sure, there are many metaphysical gurus who don’t like my writing / coaching / thoughts in general… it is too black and white for them… a bit more focused on my competitive streak than a win / win / win mentality.  That’s okay.  Because the truth is that there are times when we have to compete … and a REFUSAL to LOSE will serve us well.

When I was a kid, I decided to make the cheering team….. Because SO much has changed since then, I want to set the stage for you.  I was in a very competitive school…. When trying out for the Junior Varsity team, over 100 girls would try out – in front of a live (fully packed) audience and several hired judges who knew none of us.  The 14 girls  with the top scores made the team.  It was as blissfully simple as that.  No creative gifts for judges…. No points for being on the team the year before…. No extra points for being academically successful…Just this:  compete for your spot on the team.  14 will win.  The rest will walk away.

Here are some truths you should probably understand…. and I promise I have a point.

  1. I was probably NOT one of the most talented 14 “cheerleaders” that tried out.
  2. Each year, I was required to do a “gymnastics run” and, um… was NO gymnast.  Even a roundoff would have been a risk, so in a competition filled with back handsprings and other fancy flips I don’t know the names of, a clean cartwheel would have to do.  =)

I hope you’re getting the picture.  I am a realist, so bottom line …  I was outmatched.  (Ever felt that way in business?  Competing with those with bigger names, best selling books, bigger budgets, or super websites?  Yeah… me too.) So I did a few things, that I’ve done over and over and over again to WIN in almost every aspect of my life.  (Today, we talk cheering. How I snagged my husband… well – I’ve never revealed those details…**wink** but that’s a blog post for another day!!! )  =)

  • First, I PRACTICED.  I practiced like mad.  My cousin Serena and my Mom sweated it out with me every day leading up to tryouts. I sharpened every skill in my possession to be as prepared as possible on my big day.  I focused on what I did reasonably well to make it fantastic… and ignored the rest.  In business, we should always do the same.  WHAT can you sharpen… that is uniquely yours… that will allow you to stand out from the pack? Do you PRACTICE your sales presentations?  Do you PRACTICE your core expertise?
  • Next, I DECIDED to make the team.  I didn’t simply decide to “try out”… or decide to “compete” or decide to give it my best shot.  I decided – ahead of time – to make it.  What if you approached your next big client or opportunity with that “anything less is not an option” mentality?
  • Next, I used any and every thing available to me to reach my goal.  As an example…. I have always been a student of people.  So, I know how powerful eye contact is… I knew for example, that I could sit in church as a kid and MAKE the pastor look at me ….  SIMPLY by making sustained and purposeful eye contact with him.  (Yeah, I was a weird kid, I know….)       Anyway, so before I started performing at the try -out I would WAIT until the eyes of every judge were on me.  Not 5 out of 6 or 3 out of 4, but ALL.  Then, throughout the try-out, I would keep that eye-contact.  If I saw the eyes of the judges glancing at other competitors, I would do something to re-gain their attention.  Every time.  I KNEW that if I could command most of their attention, I would be the one they remembered.  I needed whatever competitive advantage I could get, and since God saw fit not to bless me with any NATURAL talent, =)  I had to CREATE that advantage. In your business, do you examine your opportunities from every possible angle?  Do you spend time creating ways to stand out and command attention from your target market? Are you strategic about this? ** More on using all that is available to you here:  http://wp.me/ph5D8-5M **

The bottom line for me is that I had REFUSED to LOSE that cheering gig. Failure was no option. I had neither the  time nor the inclination to concern myself or prepare myself for plan B.  A silly story?  Maybe.  But,  the same was true when I decided that my kids would not be raised in a day care environment – making it necessary for me to replace my income from home and around their schedule.  The same was true when I decided that my kids would be born without medical intervention.  The same was true when I decided that making ends meet in business was not enough.  The same is true for EACH OF US.  When we DECIDE to win, create  or do something… if we will practice, use every resource available to us, and REFUSE to lose, we will WIN. But only every time.

They say the only failure is surrender. I have to agree.  What have you decided you would REFUSE to LOSE this week? What opportunity?  What sale?  What possible WIN?  How can I help?

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I just read an e-zine from Adam Urbanski of http://www.themarketingmentors.com and it reminded me of a wonderful story of a farmer… and how this applies to our business.  Here is the condensed version: (I am summarizing.)

This pic reminds me of my Grandad.

After a season of much higher rainfall than normal, a local reporter visited a farmer for a comment on how the increased rain had impacted his crops.  Upon arriving, the reporter noticed the lush green fields surrounding him and asked the farmer to comment.  The farmer noted that the crops HAD done very well with all of the rain, but also said that he hoped that it didn’t stop.

Because MOST people had been complaining about too much rain, the reporter asked for more information.   The farmer said that when water is so prevalent, the roots no longer “search” for water, making the visible parts of the plant beautiful, but the roots of the plant shallow, short and completely ineffective in guarding against a lack of water or even a strong wind.  Essentially, the more a plant struggles to survive and thrive, the stronger it is and the better equipped it is to sustain “tough times”…. leaving his crop particularly vulnerable to even the smallest of “threats”.

This really hit home for me… Because as I reflect on my life, it has been the seasons of struggle that equipped me to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.   It was during these times, when what I “needed” wasn’t readily available, that my roots and my core “self” grew stronger.

When I attended Virginia Tech, I worked 40+ hours a week to “make ends meet” – juggling two jobs and no less than 21 credit hours.  During this time, I had to negotiate with my professors so that I was not penalized for not attending class.  (This left room for my part – time day job.)  I also sought out jobs that supported me financially, but also allowed me the freedom to complete my degree on time.  This “season” prepared me so well for “working my own way” after I had my first child.  Had money come easily to me, I would not have had these strength-building experiences….and may not have had the confidence to do what I am doing now.

When I began my life as an entreprenuer, I had NO money to invest, and had to get VERY creative with my marketing.  Had money been readily available, I would have probably invested it in many of the “tired” ways recommended to me by SCORE or by many “business gurus”.  (You know, chamber memberships, BNI meetings, print advertisements, pay per click advertising, fancy pens and bumper stickers, etc.)  If I had not struggled in this area, I wouldn’t have learned how to market masterfully…

BTW, as a side note, I believe our worldwide financial “situation” is largely due to the fact that for FAR TOO LONG, easy credit and foolish investing kept the VISIBLE parts of our economy “lush and green” while the root system  (of profit, ROI, and sound financial decisions) became impotent and shallow.  Don’t allow your business to mirror this scenario!!  SEARCH… and find strength in the struggle!!  To YOUR success!!


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TOP Reasons YOU Should Attend Spark and Hustle National Conference  www.sparkandhustle.com

1.  You are SICK of answering interesting questions, invites or opportunities with responses that include what you “CAN’T afford.”  (P.S.  As a business owner, we can increase money by increasing sales…. This conference will teach you to master the sales and marketing maze most experts are content to leave a mystery!!)

2.  You are TIRED of hearing the “experts” -du-jour spout advice that doesn’t work or you’ve already tried unsuccessfully. (P.S.  Research tells us that four out of five businesses FAIL.  Our theory is that these business owners are talking to one another, furthering marketing “myths” that no longer produce, and listening to the same “experts”.  EVERY person we’ve brought into the Spark and Hustle National Conference are successful, profitable business owners who have something to share!)

3.  You want to learn from someone who “gets it”.  Um…. yeah.  Tory Johnson IS a national correspondent for Good Morning America, a NY Times best selling author, and multi-million dollar business owner… BUT, she started just like you and I – out of the corner of her bedroom… with babies under foot… figuring this thing out.   She knows what it takes and won’t sugar coat it for you.  It’s about the HUSTLE.  She – and her team of experts- will show you HOW.

4.  You feel like you may turn violent if you invest in another multi-day conference and find that you’ve traveled there just to listen to a slew of coaches and consultants putting on live sales presentations.… giving you just enough of the “solution” to convince you that you should hire them.  B.S. – we say!! Spark and Hustle is a comprehensive, jam-packed conference and NOTHING will be sold to you once you arrive.  You came for a solution.  That’s what we deliver.

5.  You’re  ready to see more than just the POTENTIAL in your business…. you’re ready to see the PROFIT… Maybe you committed (to yourself…. to your husband… to your family….) to finally make 2010 your year to really succeed wildly … to bang this thing out and achieve up to YOUR potential.  If this is your goal…. Spark and Hustle is for you.

6.  You’re embarrassed by your business results. You’re sick of the $$$ results you’re seeing and KNOW that you – and your business – are capable of much more.  You started with a financial goal – replacing your full – time income… or allowing your husband to retire…. or to create the lifestyle of your dreams –  and you are nowhere close to meeting it.  Spark and Hustle can help.  We have ONE focus for THREE days:  teaching business owners the exact HUSTLE they must implement to make MORE money.

7.  You are – quite frankly – just a fan of Tory. You want her to meet you… know your name… know about your business.  There’s still time to meet with her in a small group – as a bonus – so you can chat with her, ask questions, get your picture taken with her, and pick her brain.  (Not a bad entrepreneurial brain to pick… she is in the top 3% of income earners for entrepreneurial women!)

Bottom line:  ALL of Tory’s events are over the TOP…. full of surprises…. and ALWAYS over-deliver.  They are also super grounded, full of take-aways, and results-focused.  This conference – if you AREN’T making the money you  want or need in your business – was created for YOU.  Don’t miss it.   Sometimes (most of the time) – taking NO action is far more costly than jumping on an opportunity.  www.sparkandhustle.com

The conference is in Atlanta, GA  at the end of July.  Cost is only $795.  IF that cost is prohibitive for YOU, don’t take NO action.  EMail me directly at michelle@womenwhowow.com so I can see if you qualify for a scholarship – that gives you a deep – deep discount!! =)

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It’s no secret that times have changed for small business owners, and sales – specifically in certain industries – have been harder to come by.  But, it’s also true that some businesses thrive while others in the exact same industry and location close their doors.  So, what gives?  How can we increase sales and succeed wildly today?  One solution lies in what I call “Diagnosing for Dollars”.

One of the top mistakes business owners make in sales is selling without diagnosing.  Imagine the following scenario:  For days, you wake up feeling nauseated and think you may be pregnant.  So, you go to your trusted doctor and begin:

“For the past week or so, I’ve been….”
“Please stop!  Have you ever heard of these pink pills?  Truth is, I’ve got a lot of them, and lots of women – just like you – have used them for a variety of symptoms.  So, can we just talk about how you might use these pink pills?”

Of course, this sounds ridiculous, but it is far too often the way we operate as business owners and ignoring the power of diagnosis is a costly mistake.  It leads our prospective clients to question our authority or expertise, to “shop around” and to walk away undecided.  So, if you want to see more sales,  consider adding a “diagnosis” component to your sales strategy.  Here’s how to get started:

  • First, consider what you are selling, and work backwards.  What does your product “cure”?  Maybe it’s acne, obesity, or lethargy.  Maybe you offer a cure to a drab wardrobe, a messy divorce,  a fruitless job search, or even boredom?   Don’t be afraid to be creative.
  • Next, engineer a creative diagnostic tool you can use to establish yourself as an authority and de-commoditize whatever you offer.  I’ve seen car salesmen who use a diagnostic quiz to determine what makes more sense:  buying new, buying used, or repairing the car you have.  Mortgage brokers and real estate agents use online tools to determine if you can afford to buy a new home.  Cosmetic representatives who provide skin health assessments, marketing coaches who diagnosis via a marketing audit, and personal concierges who diagnose a family’s top time stressors are all examples of diagnostic selling.
  • Last, present your diagnosis – acknowledging your understanding of their specific circumstances, challenges, needs or desires and then outline how your product or service fits into their situation exactly.

You’ll surprise yourself with how quickly and easily YOU can diagnose for dollars.

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How Could I HATE this man???

Dave, if you’re reading this, I am so honored… Please keep reading!! =) =)

So, it doesn’t seem long ago at all that I “met” Dave Ramsey.  When I first started homeschooling, my group decided to do a weekly financial “support group” for the adults – which was based on the teachings of Dave Ramsey.  Great!  Sign me up.

Week one, I knew we were in trouble – which I DIDN’T expect since Chris and I were the only true dual-income family in the group. It started with a discussion about expenses, and a comment written by Dave about Starbucks coffee.  Now, I’ve found there are two general schools of thought on this one:

1.)  I don’t want to be debt – free THAT BAD – if it means  I have to do without my daily or weekly cup of Starbucks coffee!!! =) and

2.) Americans are sooooo spoiled that we really now see going without a $4 cup of coffee as a sacrifice….

I have to be honest. I fell into NEITHER  group.  Instead I was totally and completely shocked.  As the “debate” raged on, I realized that WE must have been the true “paupers” of this obviously affluent group of homeschoolers.  I mean, my ONLY thought was this:

YOU MEAN YOU GUYS ACTUALLY SPEND $4.00 ON COFFEE EVERY DAY OR WEEK?????

Seriously, here’s how Starbucks came up in OUR house at the time….  My husband and I would go out to dinner (like once a month or something) and we would split a meal (of course!).  Afterwards we would decide… do we go to ColdStone Creamery or Starbucks?  I mean, it was a decision… our funds were limited.  A daily – or even weekly – cup of Starbucks?  Um…. no.  At the time, there were weeks we couldn’t have afforded saline solution for our contacts, let alone coffee at the store we not-so-affectionately referred to as “FourBucks”.   I’m glad those days are gone.

So, why HATE Dave?  Well, I don’t really…. not then and CERTAINLY not now.   It’s just that we sat through weeks of that group study and kept coming up against “steps” we couldn’t take to better our financial situation.  Give up Starbucks?  Already done.  Pay down high interest credit cards?  We didn’t have any credit cards at all.  You know, it was like reading a fitness  article about ONE STEP TO LOSE 20 POUNDS… and it talks about giving up fried foods. Well, what about if you’ve never really eaten fried foods?  What’s MY “one step”….. =)

Dave, of course, offers much more advice than giving up Starbucks…. and I’ve come to love his radio show and his TV show as well.  AND SO, when he invited my friend Tory Johnson on to discuss starting a business, I was transformed into a huge FAN.  Because sometimes – dare I say a LOT of times in our new economy –  it’s about making MORE money…

Growing up, we always took a family vacation down to the OBX of North Carolina.  We lived paycheck to paycheck, but always had a vacation.  Could we afford it? NO.  We were paycheck to paycheck.  But, we did it – every summer – for two weeks.   Because my parents would ask, “HOW can we afford it?”  The answer, more often than not, came in the form of  my Dad picking up a side job and designating that money for the trip.  But, it was a valuable lesson… and one that he and my Mom taught well.  It wasn’t “We can’t afford it.”  it was “HOW can we afford it?”

Recently, I’ve been immersing myself in the upcoming http://www.sparkandhustle.com National Conference.  Tory and I have hosted tele-seminars, we’re chatting with women live on the Spark and Hustle website, and we’re doing all we can to eliminate any possible barrier to the entrepreneur SERIOUS about making more money being able to attend.   Still, I hear from women who say, “I can’t afford to come.”  Now, this is a 3 figure investment…. $795 to be exact.  (To be fair, some of these women can’t afford to come….. it is just not the right time for them given their personal circumstances.)  But for MOST of them… given the bottom-line value of THIS conference… I’d bet even Suze Orman would “approve” this investment.  (Note to self… I should pose as a caller on Suze’s show to see if she’d approve this “purchase”…. Hmm…..)

Because sometimes, NOT taking action…. SAVING $795 while you persist in a course of action that ISN’T providing bottom-line success… that isn’t profitable for you…. will cost you much more in the short and the long term.  I learned that in that home school  financial support group.  While my “peers” discussed interest and coupons, I was feverishly creating plans to MAKE more money.  (But, don’t worry…  it looked like I was taking notes.)  =) =)

P.S.  At Spark and Hustle, we’ll be covering – for three days – the ONE thing you need in order to succeed in business… SALES, SALES, and MORE SALES….  As Dan Kennedy says, “If you don’t have a system to encourage them to buy, you’re at the mercy of their system NOT to buy. And they have one.”  =) =)

P.P.S.  If YOU need more money from YOUR business efforts, email me at michelle@womenwhowow.com for a 20 page report on developing YOUR Sales SAVVY… Step-by – step guide… My gift to you….

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Soon, I will again be in the throes of my twice yearly “serving hours”… This is where I coach people from all over the world on business success. It’s my way of both giving back AND staying at the top of my game, so I charge nothing. (P.S. If you ARE a coach or consultant, this is a great way to grow your own practice, but you can contact me directly about that. It is FAR different than those thinly veiled sales sessions most coaches call “complimentary coaching sessions”… UGGG!!!)

Anyway, I always start with finding out (before our call) what this person’s top challenge is in business… in other words – why do they think their business income isn’t where they think it should – or could- be. Often, there isn’t a really direct answer to this question. I mean, if we KNEW why we were underperforming, we’d just fix it, right? (P.S. We do know why…and this blog post – and the free call I am promoting with it WILL help you fix it, so please keep reading!)

But, far too often, the responses I hear can be described as business cliche’s (I just need to get my name out there… or I don’t have enough money to get my name out there.) or a diversion from the real issue. (This usually includes listing some certifications, or “awards”, or number of Twitter followers, or other reasons they feel they SHOULD be doing well financially but aren’t.)

What I quickly discover is that while their expertise may be (and usually is) superb… and their product may be better than the alternatives out there, and that a LOT of time, attention and investment has gone into crafting or “tweaking” WHAT they will sell, very little thought has gone into HOW they will sell.

So, they HOPE. Many will POST…. tweet, blog, facebook, and email. And they will HOPE. They are hoping that they will get sales, gain momentum, and see an increase in their personal income. What they need to do is to transform their HOPE into HOW.

First, let’s get really, really clear about what you’re hoping for. If you want more sales, how many more? How many sales of each product or service do you want to see? PLEASE don’t laugh this off with an “I’ll take all I can get” response. Business is really simple because it is NUMBERS IN, NUMBERS OUT. So, I want to get a NUMBER from you… Either a dollar amount or a finite number of new customers or clients you need to acquire.

Next, let’s get specific about WHAT you will DO to get more sales…. and drill down the HOW. First, your sales are up to you. You must DO something DIFFERENT than you are doing now to get more sales than you are currently getting. Start with where you have had success before. What did you DO to cultivate that sale? Let’s repeat whatever that was.

Then, we must take a look at how you are spending your time. If you are really committed to making MORE MONEY in your business, I will see that your time is spent evaluating, tweaking, and boldly increasing your marketing and sales efforts. Is there any other way???? Hoping that your clients don’t need to be “sold” because you or your product are sooooooooo good is a bit like hoping you win the lottery. More money comes down to Mastering the Marketing and Sales process of your business. But only every time.

So, evaluating what you are currently doing is a great step. As an example, how much time are you spending on twitter? Or how much money did you spend on that print or radio ad? Or how much time (and money) are you spending in networking meetings? Now… how effective are each of these activities? How did they contribute to your bottom- line?

Next, how can you TWEAK what you are doing? Maybe you see that you’ve gotten three new clients who found you via your blog or email newsletter. If so, it makes sense to invest MORE in that blog or newsletter. Maybe you could learn from social media gurus who can teach you how to get more “mileage” out of each post or article. (Jennifer Abernathy will be rocking the house at http://www.sparkandhustle.com and I have a super deep discount code you can have if you NEED to be there!!) Maybe you see that your BEST clients have come from speaking engagements. If so, stop reading now and get on the horn lining up some great new speaking gigs!

Finally, you must increase your sales efforts. There is no money made in business without making the sale…. Yet, there are many business owners who shun sales… hate them… and resist the idea that they ARE sales people.

Just Saturday, I was approached – while in the chair getting a pedicure, mind you – by a woman with a colorful binder and business cards. She wanted to do a makeover on me…. with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Of course, she was quick to point out that she doesn’t “Sssseeeellllll” (enunciated slowly as a creepy, dirty, distasteful word) the products. She just “loves them”. Mmmhmmm.

With my daughters looking on in horror – knowing I wasn’t going to let this one go, I said, “Oh.. great. Well, if I wanted to buy the products because I too loved them, who would you send me to?” Her response, “Oh – well I sell them. You can get them from me.” My response: “So you do sell them?” Sheepishly, she says, “well, you know… I mean – you know what I mean… I mean I dont Ssseeellllll them, you know? Like a lot of pressure type of sales?” Yes, I do know what you mean… and P.S. approaching a complete stranger while she is paying for a relaxing spa treatment to pitch the products you “don’t sell” is super smooth…I mean, totally natural and authentic and NO PRESSURE whatsoever. 🙂 (And, in case you are wondering, YES… I did give her my business card and encouraged her to read my blog on Monday afternoon… )

Anyway, as an entrepreneur, you are CHIEF salesman and CHIEF marketer of your business. Period. So, you can either be GOOD at sales and make money … or you can suck at it… complain (or in some cases, BRAG) about how you are just NOT GOOD at sales and then, NOT make money. Bottom line: If you are in business for yourself, you don’t get to choose whether or not you are now IN SALES. But you do get to choose how you’ll perform as a sales person.

On that note, I want to invite you to join me and Tory Johnson on a totally free call – that will give you the the specific strategies you MUST master if you are committed to making more money in your business. If you are GREAT at what you do, but having a hard time converting leads and contacts into clients or sales, this call is for you!
And, you might even learn to love sales along the way…. =) On this call, we’ll cover:

$  The TOP Sales “Secret” Shared by EVERY truly profitable Business Owner  – and the exact steps you need to take to be in THEIR shoes.
$  What you can do to NEVER Compete for Business Again – by essentially creating a Category of ONE.
$  Exactly How to BEST position yourself to make infinitely MORE sales happen

$  How to reduce, prepare for and overcome SALES objections!

To register, send me an email to michelle@womenwhowow.com with SALES CALL in the subject line.

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