Monday mornings…  As  business owners, we have to love them, right?   I mean, who can we blame when we are our own boss and we STILL hate Monday mornings?   Any ideas?  =)

I wanted to give you a sneak peak at what CHANGES the BOTTOM LINE of those entrepreneurs who take part in my coaching gym.  Two things:

1)  We learn to plan our week on Sunday night. We LOVE this stuff… because we when pro-actively plan our week, we can avoid the trap of “putting out fires” and start about the task of “putting out proposals”!    LOL  Seriously, when we free ourselves from the tyranny of the URGENT and PRESSING, we can focus on the PROFITABLE, but not until.

2)  We are encouraged and challenged by emails that are sent out every Monday morning.  Emails like this one, which is actually a combo of two emails – each to one of my FAVORITE coaching clients ever:

BOLD move on firing your client!  Congratulations… I believe we are always rewarded for our audacity! So, I pray to always have the courage to be audacious…. in my billings… in my proposals… and in the way I serve…  =)

Before I go on, I want to ask you:  WHAT is the BOLDEST thing you can do today to move your own practice forward? What is on your agenda this week to make money?  What proposals will you send out?  How many serving hours appointments do you have scheduled?
Why the coaching gym WORKS:
When  you are held accountable for REPORTING (exactly) what you are doing to get new clients or customers, you’ll be surprised at how effectively you’ll begin crafting your days and your weeks around that one purpose.
** Quick note:  The WoW! Factor Coaching Gym is at capacity!  So, we aren’t taking on any new clients right now… There may be other ways we can work together, though.  So, if you are UNsatisfied with the money YOU’RE making, let me know and we’ll figure out a time to talk.  =)

I have a great deal of respect for Ali Brown.  I’ve followed her since I was introduced to her via Dan Kennedy’s Inner Circle membership.  I’ve watched her grow in business and in life – even if from afar.  I was THRILLED when she invited my partner, Tory Johnson, to speak to her own Inner Circle a couple of months back.  Yet, today… in an email to her own list, she crossed the line.  =)

I know she’s a “blond”, but I wonder if she realized that in her promotion of her SHINE event in Las Vegas, that she GAVE AWAY her best kept “secret”. The secret behind all of her success… and Tory’s… and mine… It’s THE  secret behind the  success of anyone  – from the “nobodies” like me =)  to the household names we all know.

Regardless of whether you attend SHINE or not, what she shared in today’s email blast is worth reading… again and again and again. Here’s what she said:

“Every one of them [those registered to attend Shine] made an important DECISION.

They said, “no matter what it takes, I’m going to join Ali November 2-4 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I know this is exactly what I need right now for my business, and me.”

They may have moved appointments… arranged childcare… put the dog with the neighbors… did a balance transfer on a credit card… hitched a ride… found a roommate. But all this followed the decision. They made it happen.

When you study ALL successful entrepreneurs, from the ones Napoleon Hill studied in the classic Think and Grow Rich to modern day legends like Richard Branson and Oprah, they all have this in common: They learned to make smart decisions quickly.

And you’ll often find these decisions, especially ones that are leaps of faith, are the ones that create MASSIVE changes in your life.

SHINE was built around this concept, because I know that initiating a change — even a change for the better — is scary. It’s hard to ever feel READY….

And the truth is, you don’t have to feel ready, you just have to show up.”

What a difference this one “sales email” would make if we all implemented it right away!  The truth is I know that it wasn’t a mistake… I know that Ali meant to not only get you out of your own way so you’ll register for the conference, but also to give you the foundation for success – even before you show up!  I applaud her for that!

P.S.  If you ARE attending SHINE – and I know many of you are – be sure to check out my friend Jennifer Abernethy, who’ll be sharing her Social Media Know How with you while you’re there!


Snuggie - The BAIT used to lure me into this Sales Presentation

PLEASE take the time to read this… if only to make me feel better having had to endure it!! =)  You may not learn anything…. except what NOT to do… but at least we can laugh together.  This story is too good to keep to myself, and every word is true.  Here goes….

So, last night, as I was putting dinner on the table, I heard a very cheerful knock on the door.  A friendly looking woman – holding a “SNUGGIE” that she wants to give me for free – is waiting for me when I answer it.  She asks if she can give us the Snuggie as a free gift.  My husband, the eternal pessimist, says, “So, this Snuggie is for FREE?” She says, YES.  But in return, can we give her our opinion about an Allergy Store she is opening in our area?  It will only take a few minutes.  I invite her to come back after dinner… in about 30 minutes.

When she arrives, Snuggie still in hand, my husband is deliberately out of the main living area of the house… enthralled with his latest trade proposal for his Fantasy Football team.  She asks if now is a good time and I invite her in.  She quickly excuses herself to bring in the product she wants my opinion on.  She re-appears with a male partner and I quickly send my son to tell his Dad that there is a strange man in the house… that he doesn’t have to come out, but just for him to be aware.

She proceeds to show me this hideous looking air purifier.  It is huge… looks like a window unit air conditioner… and she shows me the filters, the UV light, whatever.  She asks if she can plug it in a smaller room so I can see the difference it makes.  I oblige.  THEN, she explains that the young man she is with is in training and invites me to listen to his sales presentation on the unit.  I agree.  Immediately, two things happen.

FIRST, she gets a “call” -without ever having the phone ring once – and quickly excuses herself to help “another rookie” at someone else’s house…. leaving this strange man in my living room with NO WAY to leave as they were in the same car.  Nothing like being a captive audience in your own home.  NOW, if I was a single woman or my husband were not home at the time, this would have left me in a VERY bad situation… having invited a woman into my home – only to have her invite in a male partner and LEAVE him there with me alone… First bait and switch. Not good.

NEXT, he proceeds to do a sales presentation on the actual product… NOT the hideous, old fashioned air purifier they originally showed me, but a sleek bullet-looking Tri-Star vacuum cleaner… Oops, I’m sorry… It is not a vacuum cleaner, it is a comprehensive cleaning and purifying system.  Right.  Vacuum cleaner.  Let’s call it like it is.  Second bait and switch.

In his defense, he was good.  He was engaging, funny, and was pretty convincing… STILL, he:

  • Made dramatic and disgusting noises every time he looked at what his vacuum picked up off of my floor… ALWAYS referring to it as “filth”.
  • Used the exact same “vacuum” demonstrations used by a Kirby dealer we bought from 10 years ago without so much as a “tweak” in order or anything else.
  • Continued to encourage me to either repeat after him or answer corny questions, regardless of my obvious intention not to be child-ized in that way.

TWO and a HALF HOURS later, my husband has re-joined us and the presentation – focused dramatically and intensely on the FILTH in my home –  continues.  The kids like it…. they’re entertained and were getting out of doing their homework.  It was entertaining for me as well, from a sales / marketing perspective… but my husband was getting furious.  It was now past our kids’ bed time and we were still doing homework… no teeth had been brushed… no baths had been taken.  AND, no word from this guy’s ride / partner in crime.  When he sees we’re becoming a bit agitated, he calls his “partner” as she is “probably lost”.

She arrives within minutes…. and begins to give the “final” presentation… She starts off:  Based on his demonstration, what would we PAY for a cleaning system like that?  $8000?  $10,000?  Um, no lady… those numbers never crossed our minds.. It is a vacuum cleaner after all – albeit a decent one.  Well, good news. THIS vacuum cleaner could be purchased tonight ONLY for $3194… PLUS, they’ll give us $700 for the Kirby we bought years ago.  THEN, without skipping a beat she informed us that people fit  into two categories… either they were BUYERS or LIARS…

If you said you had to think about this $2500 purchase, you were lying. I mean, what is there to think about?  You either “wanted to live in THIS FILTH” – dramatically looking around my home –  or you didn’t….  If you said you wanted to “sleep on it” and not make a rash decision, you were lying.. because you know that NO GOOD decisions are ever made while sleeping… (I happen to disagree, but there was no time for dialogue with this woman.) And if you said you were going to take her card and call her later, you were also lying.  (I forget why.)

So, her only question was, “Do we want to continue to live in the FILTH we had grown accustomed to – all at the fault of our previous vacuum?” We said we enjoyed the presentation and would have to decline the offer.  She looked dramatically shocked… looked at our kids and shook her head, as if she hated to see children living in such squalor.

Please understand, my husband takes great pride in our home.  As do I, but he most especially… all this talk about filth was a direct insult to him.  STEAM is coming from his ears, and I secretly looked forward to his reaction when they pushed him too far… he is normally soooooo calm, rational and controlled.  =)

We again politely decline and my husband says, “There is no way I would pay $2500 for a vacuum cleaner – even a good one.” So, she asked to borrow my phone to call her boss. I tell her to use her own phone.  She says she MUST use mine in order to prove to her boss that she was here.  I give in and she calls him from my phone…. This is what I hear on the our end of this conversation.

“HUGE, HUGE amounts… Most we’ve ever seen”  (referring to the piles of “filth” the vacuum cleaner picked up, I presume)

“YES, of course.  We assured them that it’s not THEIR fault.  They know it is the fault of their vacuum cleaner.”

“REALLY?  Are you sure?”

BREAK from phone conversation:  Michelle, can I have a scrap sheet of paper? I can’t believe what he is willing to do.

“Oh, WOW!  Okay, I’ll tell them”.

With her “supervisor” on hold, she gives us another deal to consider:  paying in payments.  We’re not interested, we assure her.  If we wanted it, we would pay outright… we don’t even make payments on CARS we drive, let alone paying crazy interest for a vacuum cleaner.

She begins to challenge my husband – my phone in her hand so her supervisor hears her –  about not wanting the vacuum cleaner.  He stands his ground.  Soon enough I start to realize, I was going to have to be rude, offensive, or perhaps even PHYSICAL to get these intruders out of my home.   By this time, I was ready for whatever the situation required.

We persist… and they FINALLY leave – even taking the white cloths filled with FILTH from my home with them… =) And leaving my Snuggie behind – which I am wearing right now as I type to YOU!

Here’s the truth… we may in fact buy a Tri-Star system… The product was great.  BUT, not from these guys. They were liars, and were such sleazy sales people.  I would never reward them with a sale.  PLUS, online you can get these systems MUCH cheaper without all of the sleaze… =)

Image by TXmortgagePro

Habits, Mindsets, and Games shared by UNProfitable Business Owners:

  • PROCRASTINATION:   I’ve long said that the  ONLY two things you need to succeed in business are a finely tuned, passionate commitment to sales and…. an ALARM CLOCK.  An alarm clock (for me) represents waking up early AND a sense of urgency.  Why wait?  What are you putting off that should be done today?   Successful entrepreneurs have a sense of urgency that can be summed up in one word:  NOW.
  • A MINDSET, LIFESTYLE, and LANGUAGE OF FEAR and LACK:  Far short of the boldness, audacity and confidence required for success, UNprofitable business owners use their mental faculties to imagine worst case scenarios and dwindling resources.  Successful entrepreneurs are bold, confident and think in terms of abundance!
  • THE WAITING GAME… or  ACTION STEPS THAT BEGIN WITH THE WORDS, “WAITING FOR”.. I’ll never forget the first time I ran into this type of small business owner.  Coaching her felt like pulling teeth… because she was always WAITING for something to happen.  (It didn’t help that her industry was one I was unfamiliar with… and have NEVER TOUCHED again… in over 3 years since meeting her! ) I would say, “What does WAITING for x to happen look like?  What is that action step?”  The MOST successful entrepreneurs have many, many things in common. WAITING is not one of them.

Still waiting for ideal conditions?

So, today, I went for a jog…. preparing to FINALLY run that 1/2 marathon I’ve been talking about for way too long….

But as I ran –  my favorite motivational music pounding in my ear  –  I stumbled across something FAR more motivational just under my feet:  A little piece of grass – piercing through asphalt that was just laid about 3 weeks ago.

Immediately, I thought about the most common questions I hear  from would -be entrepreneurs as I travel across the country… the questions I’m sure to hear again this month as I visit four more cities – speaking on whether or not starting your own business is still “RISKY” in this economy… and how to start making money on your own terms.

I’ll list the questions here… but the answers I’ll leave to this little blade of grass in this picture… because sometimes the answers we are looking for are far too simple to complicate with too many words.

COMMON QUESTION NUMBER ONE: When is the BEST time to start my business?

Grass:  There is no BEST time.  The only time you have is NOW.  I did not know that as a seedling, I would be covered with inches of solid asphalt, but I was.  So, I just started to PUSH.  Right away.  There is no BEST time.

COMMON QUESTION NUMBER TWO:   I’ve got so many ideas… Where is the best place to start?

Grass:  There is only ONE place to start  EVER.  That place is right where you are right now.  Where else could you start?  I sometimes wish I had been planted just four inches to the left of where I am now.  My growth would have been far easier.  The only place you CAN start, though, is right where you are right NOW.

COMMON QUESTION NUMBER THREE:  What do you think every business owner needs to have in order to “really make it”?

Grass:  The desire to break through and a willingness to keep pushing until you do.  That’s it.

Thanks, Mr. Grass that Could.  Your growth inspired me today!  Science says that you need sunlight to grow.  Water.  Space.  Yet, you somehow pushed through the inches of asphalt holding you down.  To everyone reading this post:  I want to quote Rihanna – =) – in one of my favorite songs:

Victory’s within the mile… Almost there, don’t give up now.

Keep on pushing.  I’m cheering for you… rooting for your success!

Experts today are in a precarious situation…. MOST that I end up working with are absolutely confident (and rightly so) about their expertise…. They’re passionate about what they do… and they’re polished, poised, and professional.  The problem is:  Their PROFIT is lagging behind all of this potential.  This is something that is quickly becoming a reality as the Speaking and Information Industries change and develop.

In fact, Tory Johnson (Good Morning America Correspondent, founder of Women for Hire and Spark & Hustle)  and I are joining forces to help a SMALL number of experts increase their income through correct packaging, pricing, and promotion… with a HEAVY does of media savvy, marketing know-how (specifically targeted for expert market ONLY) and, of course how to FILL A ROOM (with paying clients).  The requirement to join this INCOME INTENSIVE for ENTERPRISING EXPERTS is this:  You must be a TRUE expert… not some charlatan spewing academic advice…  =)   You can email me for more info if you’re interested.  But, for now, let’s get down to business.

The following email was sent to me from a TRUE expert… someone  who is excellent at her craft, unparalleled in her expertise….someone who hobnobs with people like Mark Victor Hansen and Marsha Wieder.  Yet, here were the two questions she recently emailed Tory and myself.

Here are my two questions about growing my business:

1. What has been the best and most powerful idea you have had that has helped your business grow exponentially?

2. What is your plan of action on days when things are not unfolding the way you imagined?

She had been having some sleepless nights – worrying about her business – before she wrote to us.  Here was my response.  I hope it helps you, challenges you, encourages you.  The only way I’ve altered this response is by removing this person’s name.

There are two different variations of sleepless nights, as we both know. The kind that keeps us up out of excitement and anticipation of what’s to come or what “could be” and the kind that keeps us up out of fear, doubt and dread of what could possibly be around the corner. If you are speaking of the latter, I would recommend -first – buying the book, FEARLESS: Creating the Courage to Change what You Can. (written by Steve Chandler.)   Amazing, amazing book ….

About business, I love your questions…. And think I could probably type until the “cows come home” about both… =) I’ll do my best to get right to the point. Blunt. Candid. Honest.

1.) There was NOT REALLY a best and most powerful “Idea” that grew my business exponentially. There was a period in which I grew my business ten-fold in just three months… which sounds more impressive than the numbers showed, because my starting income wasn’t that great… =) but I’ve experienced similar growth many times over… Idea? Nope. But I can tell you what ACTIONS have proven most profitable when I needed (and then when I simply wanted) a boost in income.

First, I began to ruthlessly protect my time. When it was related to my business, I went about the task of slaying the “time vampires”. I started with two groups of people: those who wanted (and had the audacity) to ask for my expertise for FREE… and those who rudely tried to step into my work hours without appointment or emergency. These people were my enemies – or at least the enemies of my success. I shook loose of all pity I may have felt for them – for any reason – and began behaving as a professional. No longer would I “childize” people by giving it for free. Paying…. investing in my expertise… would make it more valuable to THEM – even if I didnt need the money. If I am working for free, I am not making money. I determined that I would rather close my doors and wait tables than work for free.

(So, I decided what I WOULD do for free – and no more. I drew the line in the sand, later named it my “red spoon”, and never apologized for deciding to be paid. My dentist doesn’t see me for free. Neither does my accountant, my attorney, my hair stylist, my massage therapist, my midwife, my acupuncturist…. Why should I run my business any different than these experts? Why would someone ask me to? )

Then, I protected my income-producing hours…. and refused to let them be interrupted. Protection also meant being WISE about what opportunities to pursue… Great idea doesn’t mean great idea for me. I began to be choosy.

Next, I found strategic partners. For my HR company, I partnered with my accountant, who referred me to his other business clients. For my life coaching business, I partnered with the franchise Dream Dinners who allowed me to write a weekly column for their customers – my ideal market. For my current company, I even made my “competitor” my “partner” by “welcoming” every new advertiser in my local “advertorial” and asked for permission to “follow up” to see how their ad was performing for them – which, I knew it would not.

I had a different plan when I approached that publication with this idea of course… one that honored them and would build their relationship with their advertisers. But they were short-sighted and turned me down. So, I took them on as an unofficial “partner” anyway. I offered my red spoon to their advertisers and gained far more clients than if I had simply paid to advertise to them directly.

Third, I adamently refused to be “just another coach”…. “just another” anything, really…. So, I refused to network as “just another” person in the room looking for business. I was either speaking at a meeting – as the expert – or I wasn’t there. I refused to talk like another coach, sell like most coaches (or not sell to be more exact)… or do anything that allowed my target market to easily identify me as someone they could get “anywhere”…. thereby dramatically and almost instantly increasing my perceived value.

As a coach, it’s critical to remember that you are asking people pay for ACCESS to you… to your encouragement, ideas, expertise, time, etc…. So, the more accessible you are for free, the less monetary value you’ll have as a coach. It’s a simple truth, and we should use it to our advantage.

Last, I realized that the only way my business would stay small is if I kept “NOT SELLING”… so I became a student of sales…I learned, I practiced, I role played in my garage – turned – office into the wee hours of the morning… I tested my sales skills, tweaked them, and went back for another test. I want you to know that I resented having to do this…. I thought I was pretty darn good at what I did.

(At one time, I was coaching one of the most dramatically successful immigrants in our country. He is a multi- multi- millionaire.) I felt like “selling” – or having to sell – degraded this expertise… that if I were good “enough” people wouldn’t need to be sold. I was wrong, of course. But I was also hungry – so I learned to sell anyway. And I realized that selling was about getting my market out of their own way…. and it was the only way my expertise would ever truly be “set on fire”…. was when people paid for it. I learned to love sales – of all kinds… a fortunate thing… because my own success – is fully dependent on this.

2) Plan of action for “those days”… and, frankly there are many. One, I rarely attribute one of “those days” as a fatal blow. It’s not. I refuse to give cirumstances more power or meaning than they actually have…. bad news became just “information” as Steve Chandler says… I knew I was okay either way.

When a client didnt come through, I knew there was another potential client I could begin a conversation with… (and I learned to fill my pipeline, so I always had some things in the wings….) When a partner or “business friend” let me down, I just said, NEXT.  When a huge opportunity fell through, I studied it as a “case study” to see what I could have done differently for a different result. And then I moved on to whatever was NEXT.

THIS is really about mindset…. and then – of course – taking action on whatever you determine is NEXT. So, keep a list. I still have a beat up old file labeled “Michelle, Inc.” … I’ve had it about ten years. In it, are all of my “ideas” that I could pick up, dust off and try. In fact, I break it out every quarter to see what I could launch that quarter.

Please know that all of these things – I began doing EARLY in my business… when my income was dismal… and a four figure month was freakin’ enormous…. and my income started turning around. Steadily. Exponentially.

I hope this helps. You can make exponential gains. NOW – you’re “information gathering” and year of training is over. What’s the plan for THIS YEAR? What immediate steps will you take?

Polite?  Politically correct?  NO!  But, let’s look past it… because there is so much to learn from this logo that (I believe) gets to the heart of a cancer warrior’s frustration with all of the “HYPE” about cancer awareness.  You see, it’s not about awareness for them.  They are painfully AWARE already…  Research shows that a new person is diagnosed with cancer every 24 seconds.  How much more AWARE can we be?

So, while many cancer advocates are lashing out at companies they feel are exploiting cancer and using skimpy donations to the “cause” as a marketing opportunity, I have to grab on to the heart of this message.  These cancer warriors are battling, and they aren’t battling for awareness…. They are – instead – campaigning, hoping, paying, praying, and fighting for a CURE.  This pink ribbon logo captures this – perhaps not in a widely accepted language, but with a hard to miss transparency and crystal clear clarity.

I’m glad because I’ve rarely seen this level of clarity of purpose NOT make a difference.  And I  hope that this message propels the fight for a cure (and prevention) that so many families are counting on and waiting for into a frenzy of equally purposeful action.

We can learn so much from this pink ribbon – if we let ourselves… Where have WE muddied our own purpose?  Where have we strayed away from what really matters?  A few questions to challenge you this beautiful Monday morning:

  • Are you hoping to “get by” a specific situation or circumstance or are you determined to emerge triumphantly – stronger, more courageous, better equipped – on the other side of it?
  • Are you simply wanting to avoid divorce or are you deliberately building a healthy, sexy, and decadent marriage?
  • Are your business activities designed to win “connections, impressions, and friends” (AWARENESS ) or are you taking action to strategically and authentically win SALES?  (There’s a marked difference, I promise.)

See, awareness and a cure are two very different things.  I have a lot on my mind this morning… so maybe it’s just me. But, I feel like many things… the things that are most important… the things that live (maybe only) in our dreams and hopes and desires…. the things that are most bold, hopeful, ideal and audacious …. THESE things I think are often masked by easier, more palatable, less threatening words like “awareness”….  So, let’s get REAL already… Let’s NAME what we (really) want and create a strategic, savvy way to build it, find it, create it, or make it happen.  The truth is: there’s magic in this kind of raw, unedited clarity of purpose.

May this ribbon challenge you as it has challenged me.