Category Archives: How to Manage Yourself – and your business

220px-Victoria_Beckham,_May_2010

Is Victoria Beckham worthy of her press?

It never ceases to amazing me how the British media get away with printing such negative drivel. The case in question this week is Victoria Beckham. No matter what you might think of her singing ability or even her fashion, she is a dedicated mother, wife and entrepreneur. Over the past years she has had to work hard to establish herself in her new career and prove she is more than an average singer in boob tube. From the reports I hear at this years New York Fashion Week, she really cracked it. Her fashion line has been well accepted and David Beckham, her devoted husband, sat on the front row with baby Harper cheering her on.

I want to take my hat off to her and say ‘well done’. Business is never easy and she had some real critics to fight off to make her fashion line a success. She has had to work hard while juggling being a wife, mother of three energetic boys and a new Mom to 8 month old Harper. Any working mother surely has to appreciate the triumphant that this is. I am not a mother, yet I still get it.

But how do you respond to her success?

The British Magazine industry seem to be having a hard time swallowing the bitter pill that someone they spent years slatting and bringing down has proven them wrong and succeed. Instead of finally saying ‘Congratulations’ they’ve begun publishing pictures of her looking gaunt and tired. Apparently, to these – what I can only call negative, bitter twisted and deeply unhappy and unrealistic journalists – in order to be successful, not only do you have to have a have a successful fashion line, keep your husband happy, have well behaving kids, you also have do all this without tiring or dropping a pound in weight. In other words, you have to be super human.

So here are two questions I want to pose to you:

1) Who are these people that write such rubbish? Why do we give them permission to programming our children’s minds with unattainable levels of success by writing such things? Why do thousands upon thousands of people pay good money to read this negative back stabbing and bitching rubbish? What are we teaching our children by endorsing it? And don’t even get me started on the rain forests we destroy to print this rubbish.

2) What is your reaction to her success? As an entrepreneur, do you make excuses to justify why she has made it and you have not? Have you found yourself saying any of the following:

- Yeah but she had fame behind her to leverage off
- She had money behind her
- She could hire people and pay for child care, office support and the best consultants

If you’ve found yourself saying any of these things, I would stop and take a long hard look at yourself. Yep I am being really tough. I admit to these things running through my mind too, but I didn’t allow them to take up residency. Here’s why I give Victoria Beckham all the credit she is due:

Leveraging off her previous career and family contacts she was able to capitalise on her assets and follow her dream. Plenty of people don’t know how to do this. She did. When she was looking for investors (and I don’t just mean people who would give her money, but people who would give her their business reputation by associating with her) she had to convince people that she could shake off her old image and re-invent herself as a serious business woman and designer, and that her fashion line would be accepted by the New York and London Fashion critics. There are plenty of celebrities that put their name to designs to make money, but Victoria is doing something different – she is designing it herself and making the focal point of her new career – designing. She is not just associating with a fashion line open up revenue streams like so many others, including her husband.

To get where she did, Victoria had to make the ‘perfect pitch’ i.e. communicate her business in such a away that it lit up and ignited the imagination of those around her. She had to sell them on her dream and convince them to be part of it. Mike Harris, founder of First Direct and Egg Bank, teaches entrepreneurs how to pitch their ideas because it does take real skill. He says that every year thousands of great ideas go to waste because the entrepreneur just didn’t know how to communicate their idea in a way that people understand and get excited by it.

Once she had the money, yes she could hire the right staff to allow her to continue to priorities her husband and children. But so could you! If your business idea is strong enough, you could raise the money and hire the right staff. But even with that in hand, you’d still have to know how to prioritise your time and make it happen.

To achieve this level of results across the breadth of your life, it takes real talent. Victoria Beckham is far from a dumb singer who can’t think for her self. Henry Ford of Ford Motors once said ‘I don’t know anything about building cars. I don’t need to, I surround myself with people who do’. The greatest talent all top entrepreneurs have in common is the ability to sell people into a great idea and then lead it until fruition. Something Victoria has proven she can do.

In my opinion, her advantage in life is entirely her own making (even her achievements within the Spice Girls). She is a talented entrepreneur, who I would love to privilege of getting to know. I look forward to her future success and hope she starts appearing in business magazines as a positive mentor soon. After all, it took me 8 months to discover she had had a baby girl and if I have to read more drivel about how tired she is to find out more about her, I am not sure how up to date I’ll stay.

Victoria Beckham I salute you!

neo matrix

Do you fall foul of the Matrix Mindset?

Frequently when we start a new business we can get caught up learning our craft and then learning how to turn it into a viable business. We attend expensive training courses funded by ourselves with the aim of learning all we can in order to make our businesses a success. We invest in our skills and we expect a result.

However, for most of us, with our busy life styles and business demands, it can be very easy to pay for an online course, or attend a live course, and fail to see any difference in our skills, and thus not get the return on investment we were after.

We can often fall foul of the Matrix Mindset!

This is when we attend a training program and think, just because we attended, we now have the knowledge and skills to drive ourselves forward, like Neo in the film ‘The Matrix’ who hooked himself up to the system for a few hours and walked away 100% competent in his new skill. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Unfortunately we live in the real world and not a sci-fi movie. We don’t simply become competent at something because we hooked up to the system for a few hours, i.e. read a book, watch a video, or went on a training program. Reading it once does not make us competent. We need to put it into practice, assess our performance, and review our strengths and weaknesses.

With most other things in live, like cooking or sports, we would do this naturally. In fact, at university and college we revised our learning continually preparing for the end of module exam. But have you noticed how in life there is no end exam?

I used to hate exams at University and wonder what the practical application was and when, ever, in my life I was going to have to regurgitate and apply information under pressure within a 3 hour time frame.

Now 8 years on since my last exam, I am starting to appreciate what this was all really for. It wasn’t that we could answer within 3 hours or know it by a particular date, it was that we’d commit to digesting the information and applying it i.e. learn!

As we are no longer at school, or part of government funded training, we have to get a lot more serious about what we invest in, why and the outcomes we want to get from it. It is our responsibility to lead ourselves to ensure we gain the level of skill we need.

Recently I set about learning a new skill. I invested in a program and started using those skills in my business. I got some results for sure. I had a 90% success rate on one element of my new learning. However, I was noticing I wasn’t doing particularly well at the other bits. Although I’d used the program and started taking consistent action, I realised that actually I forgotten to finish the programme. I hadn’t watched all the videos, and the part I wasn’t doing so well at, was actually the same part of the training I hadn’t completed.

This reminded me again – this is not the matrix. If you want to get real skills and make real transformational differences in your business, you need to ensure that not only do you invest in the right training, but you actually use it. And that means using it repeatedly until you see results.

We need to become individuals that, even though there is no looming exam coming up or teacher standing over us, we naturally commit to studying until we achieve a ‘high grade’, and that we select the right training courses at the right time to justify our investment of time. This might mean hiring a coach to keep us on track to achieve the performance level we need to get our return on investment.

If you have challenges in your business right now, or need someone to help you implement your training to the best of your ability, why not call for a chat. I’d be happy to help you assess where you’re up to, what training needs you currently have and how best to move forward. You can call me on 0845 056 8526.

The Biggest Mistake Coaches Make When Creating Coaching Packages

Once you’ve identified your niche market and the problem your coaching is going to solve for your clients, your next step is to put together coaching packages that a) your clients will want to buy and b) will ensure your business is able to profit.

But how exactly do you do this?

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen coaches commit, and have done so numerous times myself, is to lock themselves away and start working on the perfect package. Spending hours locked away in isolation formatting brochures, working on coaching modules and trying to get the perfect wording is NOT going to make your business profitable. (Read Business Principle 1 in my book ‘Grass Roots to Green Shoots’ for more on this).

There are several reasons why doing this is so tempting to coaches:

1. The coach is afraid of the sales conversation and wants to avoid it

2. They want to feel confident in what they are offering and spending the time designing it helps their confidence

3. They enjoy creating things and thus have a preference for sitting behind the computer working on these things

But let me throw up a few challenges here.

If you spend all your time behind the computer and not interacting with your market – how are you going to get clients? and how are you going to know that what they want?

In my experience, I’ve found that once I am on the phone with a prospect they will tell me what they want. Its great to have an ideal structure for my packages but at the end of the day, the client will know how they want to work. If my manufactured solution isn’t right for them I will lose the business. Clients need to feel comfortable with what they purchase won’t appreciate being told to fit in with your answer. In time, when you’ve done enough research into how your clients want to solve their problem, you can create standard packages but again these will have been created based on your knowledge and experience of what they WANT to buy.

Here’s a great thing to say to help you:

Coach: So if we were going to work together, what kind of support package would you be looking for?

Client: I just feel I need a few sessions to get clear on the issues and find a plan. I am sure with a bit more clarity and a plan I can do this myself, and if I can’t I’d like the option of being able to come back for some more support.

Coach: OK, well normally I work with clients on a 3 month basis because [list your advantages and reasons] but if you would like to go ahead with [repeat what they just said], that’s absolutely fine. I can do this for you at [insert quote]? Is that something you’d like to go ahead with?

Client: YES

So why does this approach work so well:

  • You’ve listened to the client and honoured what they are telling you
  • You are able to communicate what you normal do and why, giving them the opportunity to consider all these possibilities and be fully informed
  • You’re making them feel special that you’ll give them what they want
  • You’re doing REAL LIFE research and having clients actually TELL you what they want

At the end of the day the last thing you want is an objection to your package, after you’ve done such a great job selling yourself. In these early days you need to be flexible. You’ll want to work with as many paying clients as possible to gain success stories, referrals, and the much needed cash flow. Being active working with clients boosts your confidence and your entire approach to business.

I see a great number of coaches hiding behind their computers working away on things and not getting out there talking to prospects. As I’ve said, I’ve done this myself. I’ve battled with the question ‘is not having clear packages an excuse or a genuine reason not to be making sales calls?’ I eventually came to the point where I knew that unless I made sales calls things were not going to work out. That the only way to develop my business was to get out there an talk to people. What I found was, that in order to get the business I had to drop my pre-conceived ideas and be flexible.

Admittedly there is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation with developing your business and gaining clients, but there is nothing like letting the market guide you. Once you have enough volume into your business, you’ll be able to structure your packages in a way that best suits you and tell your clients how you work, but until the day you can afford to lose a few prospects because they don’t fit in with you, I’d recommend getting on the phone and get selling ASAP.
Study our Master Class How to Creating Packages by Hannah McNamara to learn how to approach creating profitable coaching package. Once you have the fundamental knowledge you’ll have some guidelines to work with in these early days and understand how to develop things further when you’re ready.

If you need help with the sales conversation, please be in touch. We have a full comprehensive online sales training program ready and waiting for you. It also comes complete with sales scripts. Contact Us.

Do you check your emails throughout the day?

This year why not stop letting your email account and Facebook dictate how you spend your day. Have you ever noticed how an email has the ability to completely disrupt your day and kick you off track? Do you continually refer to your email account during the day like it is a ‘to do list’? Do you drop tasks and check your emails as soon as you hear an email notification?

If you’re self employed it can be easy to get distracted when there is no boss leaning over you keeping you on track, or no employees to report to. Distractions such as email or Facebook can become welcome interruptions helping you avoid difficult questions or just providing some much needed human contact (after all we don’t have the water cooler to congregate around).

One thing all successful people have in common is their ability to complete tasks and stay on track. They don’t just do this by getting up each morning and doing only what they feel like. Instead they have 90 day and yearly plans detailing what needs to be achieved and by when. Then they just getting on with it.

Being self employed, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and question whether how we are choosing to spend our time will produce results.  By writing plans that set out what we’ll do when, we’ll have something to guide us through our day/ week that keeps us focused on outcomes. These won’t be half thought through outcomes, short term strategies or responding to external factors (such as email), but well through through outcomes attached to tasks that will create real value.

It is common for many of us to start the new year with goals, and it is common that just 30 days into the year we throw them out again and just continue as we did before. 90% of the reason for this is that we haven’t turned the goal into a strategy, and without a strategy we are easily distracted. With no point of reference it can feel almost impossible to get back on track again.

Knowing what you are going to do with your time is imperative for success. This year why not begin with writing in-depth strategy documents for how you are going to achieve your goal. The more in-depth the better as this will mean that you’ve considered all eventualities – but better yet, when your mind goes blank, you’re distracted by events in life or you just ‘don’t feel like it’, you’ll have something to push you along and ensure you’re still on track and produce results.

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100% at Cause

When things aren’t going our way or we’re not getting the results that we’re after, it can be easy to blame external things like the economy or our colleagues. But the truth is, this is just bad personal leadership.

Self employment requires us to responsible for our own outcomes and overcome the tough challenges. No one is going to do it for us. When we’re not getting results it is not OK to put our feet up and blame the economy. Any good entrepreneur will tell you the external environment has little to do with it. Many businesses are thriving in this down economy – why? because the business owner chooses not to believe it and just gets better at what they are doing.

In my business things are not currently as I would like them. I am suffering as a result of my own lack of action. I could deem myself to be in a really bad place, however I am in the strongest position I have ever been in. Why? Because I know I am responsible. I know that I am the one that created this situation and I am the ONLY one who is going to get me out of it. I can’t explain right now why I am failing to take action. I can’t explain exactly what is going on in my psychology right now, but what I can tell you is that I am at cause. I am not blaming my results on other people or other things.

When we blame other people and external things for our lack of results, we get stuck. The opportunities for change are always in front of us, but when we blame and point the finger we fail to see what’s in front of us and we remain stuck. Today, no matter what you’re facing, look for where you are responsible, how you contributed towards the creation of the situation and what YOU can do to get out of it. Make it your habit to live 100% at cause i.e. solely responsible for the results in your business.

Don’t Be Too Proud to Secure Your Income

Beginning your business can be a scary issue. Will you make enough money? Will people want what you have to offer? In my book ‘Grass Roots To Green Shoots‘ I address how to make the transition from full time employment to self employment. As the author of a book and a business coach, it can be easy to sit here and feel the need to pretend everything is OK when it’s not!

Doing that however would not be standing behind what I represent.

The truth is that despite living through my self made nightmare before and writing a book about it, I am still prone to the same mistakes, and these mistakes cost money. There comes a point when it all piles on top of you and you can’t see straight anymore.

About 6 weeks ago I took my own advice and got a part time job in a bar. What am I doing here? I thought to myself as the chef yelled at me and I nervously took orders from customers trying not to screw it up.

But the truth is that even though I know what to do I don’t always do it and when I don’t do it I have to pay the price – but what with? More credit? And if I go into debt, how and when will I pay this off? To me this is unacceptable and in contradiction to my overall goal to get out of debt.

Therefore, until I am confident that I will step up and do what I am suppose to do, I have to work elsewhere and I’ll be there for some time yet. Even if this month I take action and do what I am suppose to do, if I push past my natural impulses and achieve my goal of clearing my overdraft, I can’t be sure that the next month I won’t fail to step up again, or won’t make another costly mistake (like the one I made in July and and the one I made in October) so until I have enough money to cover my mistakes and I can trust my own behaviour this is simply the way it has to be.

In the early days of business there is so much you don’t know, and so much you don’t know you don’t know, so until you’ve perfected bringing in large sums of money on a regular basis to cover your overheads and cover your mistakes, full time self employment is probably not an option. Getting back out of debt is not an easy thing to do if you’ve not got a solid, income producing business – which is definitely what you don’t have if you’re falling into debt or using up your saving. Use your head. And as my mentor Dani Johnson says ‘Weigh your ego with your bank account’.

Should you really invest in your business?

Many people start their own small business as a result of redundancy or early retirement. Loaded with a large sum of money in the bank they start exploring their ideas and using their savings to fund the way. However without a clear end in mind and solid business plan these savings are usually gobbled up and the ‘entrepreneur’ is left with nothing but a damaged ego.

If I said to you ‘Give me £20k and I’ll give you a job that will challenge you every single day, make it hard for you to take time off, overload you with new skills to develop, make you feel nothing is ever finished, and tell you to go and find complete strangers to buy YOU’ – would you take up this offer?

Not likely. Yet this is what so many people are doing. When you spend your savings on starting a new business you are investing in your business. Every month you have living costs that need to be paid out, and this is the sum of money you are investing in. But have you got a plan to ensure that this money is paid back? Is your business idea scalable enough to earn you this amount of money every month? What is required to earn that amount? Will you be able to profit and save for a day when you don’t have to work?

And will you ever earn the investment back that you spend getting into the business?

If you invested £20k, how long will it take for you to earn that £20k back? And will you be in a stronger emotional and physical position to make that £20k worthwhile? Will it now put you in a position to profit the £20k you originally invested and make it grow? If not, then that £20k would have done a lot better in a high interest savings account. At least then you’d have something to show for it.

When beginning your business – think smart. Ensure that you are funding your research and development from a cash that is flowing into your business (normally from a job) and not from your savings. Before getting started ensure that you have a viable business plan that will pay you a healthy return for your investment. Ensure that you are very clear on what is required of you to succeed in that business and that you have the skills necessary to make it work.

 

Related Article: Should your Activity be Business or Recreation

Naomi Johnson is the author of Grass Roots to Green Shoots, available now. In 2008 after a catalogue of mistakes Naomi had to close down her coaching business after three years of blood, sweat and tears. Now she is a highly sought after  small business consultant in London. This bo ok shares the wisdom she learnt on the way and offers an insightful read that will help any small business entrepreneur who wants to avoid the pitfalls and be a success!

Should your activity be business or recreation?

If your business activity is not accompanied with a clear business plan and way of monitisation, your activity must be part of recreation.

 

Entrepreneurs often fail in their business, not because of a lack of skill or a good product, but because of a bad use of time. What most fail to recognise is time really is money. Let me break it down for you.

 

Each month you have business overheads. Money is leaving your bank account. Even this moment sitting at your computer screen reading this message you are spending money on electricity, or if you are reading it on your phone you are able to do so because of the mobile contract you have subscribed to.

 

With money continually draining out of your bank account, in order for you to stay afloat and keep out of debt you must be earning that sum of money back to replenish your stock. Note: If you are building your business living off your savings an even more serious principle applies {insert link to second post].

 

If your business overheads (including your living costs) are 2250 GBP month and you work 35 a week each month, this means you need to SPENDING 15 GBP an hour to running your business (and this does not account for holidays or sickness). Therefore every hour you invest into your business must earn you 15 GBP per hour. This might not show up right away, but knowing this figure and aiming to earn it will help you work out which activities are right for you to be working on and which ones are a distraction.

 

If I have a website that I want to build because one day I hope to it will make me money I should not invest 7 working hours into it, because doing so will mean I’ve invested 105 GBP into it’s creation.

 

If a man walks up to you in the street and says ‘give me 100 GBP’ but has nothing to offer in return you wouldn’t do it. Actually this would be considered robbery. So why do you allow your business project to rob from you?

 

Now I am not saying that you can’t build this website or work on this project. Far from it. If you want to do it, do it. Just be aware of whether this activity is financially profitable for your business or whether it should be something done in your spare time i.e. outside of those 35 hours.  Those 35 hours need to be spent on money-making activities.

 

In the early days of a business this is a fine balance to find. Sometimes you’ll get it right and sometimes you won’t, but being financially aware and asking these questions will get you closer to what you need to be doing and beginning to profit in your business. The important thing is that you recognise whether your activity will make you money or not.

 

For more information read my book Grass Roots to Green Shoots

Naomi Johnson is the author of Grass Roots to Green Shoots, available now. In 2008 after a catalogue of mistakes Naomi had to close down her coaching business after three years of blood, sweat and tears. Now she is a highly sought after  small business consultant in London. This bo ok shares the wisdom she learnt on the way and offers an insightful read that will help any small business entrepreneur who wants to avoid the pitfalls and be a success!

 

How do you set financial goals and give yourself the very best chance of achieving them?

How do you set financial goals and give yourself the very best chance of achieving them? Understanding how to do this properly and then manage your tasks and activities accordingly can be a struggle.

Setting financial goals in our business can feel like a daunting task. Most people resist it because they don’t know how much to expect they’d earn and they also don’t want to end up disappointed. This approach however leads us into trouble because everyday we are spending money and running up cost, thus we need to make sure we are replacing that money by earning it back.

For most small businesses wondering about setting financial goals, I recommend having two targets. One is the ‘Must Earn’ figure that covers the overheads of the business and living, and the other is ‘Goal Figure’.

Every day we need to be focusing on activities that bring in the money that we need to meet our ‘Must Earn’ goal, otherwise we are eating away at our savings or building up debt.

In the early days of your business it really doesn’t matter where you earn the money to pay for your ‘Must Earn’ goal, just as long as you do. You must put enough time aside each week into guaranteeing that that money is coming in.

When you take this approach you’ll find yourself asking better questions of yourself, and always focusing your business on profit making activities. Many entrepreneurs can suffer from ‘Creativitus’ – an addition to always making things and never selling. It is important in your business that you have a mixture of activities and focus on selling, at least to meet your ‘Must Earn’ figure.

A lot of entrepreneurs experience resistance when it comes to setting their ‘Goal Figure’. This is usually because they have experienced failure with this in the past and don’t want to disappoint themselves. However, without this goal being in place, we fail to ask the right questions of ourselves and structure the business in a way that will lead it to make good income.

Here is how to handle it. When you set your goal figure for the year, you’ll need to divide it by 12 to find the monthly figure. However, this isn’t your goal for the next 12 months, but rather a baseline that you’re aiming for from here onwards in your business. As you grow in your business you can raise this figure.

Your goal is to aim to earn this figure in your business, however, if your business is new or you are currently some way off this figure with your current contracts and activities, you’ll need to make those monthly goal to be lower and more achievable in the first three months. Then over the months this figure should go up in increments and add up to your Goal Figure for that 12 month period.

By doing this you will find you’ve given yourself a ‘grace’ period in your early days with a realistic income target, you’ll be asking better questions of yourself and thus producing better results that lead you to be able to hit these higher income goals and feel amazing when you have achieved them.

What is better, at the tail end of the year you’ll be earning the higher income target and managing your business accordingly. There is no need for you to reduce your activities or your income target, thus in your second year you’ll be able to earn this high figure every month, making your second year even more profitable.

On this to note however: if your income goes up as well as your spending, they’ll be no profit. Aim to keep your spending the same no matter what your earnings.

Persistent Tenacity: Time is Money!

Recently I started working for a new client. In small business money disappears fast so taking my time and draining their account with my wage is not acceptable. I have to get results for them fast and start generating the benefits I promised to bring.

For a good number of clients right now that focus is getting the product to market and bringing in the money.

Today I needed to organise labels for water bottles. I asked my client if she had the dimensions for the labels so I could get them designed. She was on the way out the door and said ‘No I need to call someone, can I get it to you tomorrow?’

For me time is money, so I asked her who it was she needed to speak to and would she mind terribly if I called them direct. I googled them, found the number and called. I had a great conversation with the guy and learned a lot. Firstly, that he already had labels made with the bar code and mineral analysis. He offered to go out to the shed and measure the labels for me, but getting me the digital files for the bar codes – not so easy. I asked him who created the labels for him because surely they would have all the information.

Sure enough they did. Again he said he was too busy to call them right now and sort that out for me. No problem I said and requested again that I be able to call direct. He gave me the number and I called.

Within half an hour I had found someone who had all the information already on their computer and completed labels. All they now needed to do for us was change the logo for us.

This one job alone if left to everyone to get back to me could have taken days to complete and had me sat around twiddling my thumbs. It ‘s not brain surgery to think ‘I’ll call direct’ and not burden someone else enrolling them on my drama.

It simply comes down to a decision to get a result and get it today; a decision to make something happen right now.

When you approach your business aware that every minute is costing you, you set deadlines that are a lot more demanding, and when you do this you push a lot harder and think a lot smarter.

If you had an employee in your business, would you want them bashing through the barriers and making something happen or would you want them sitting around waiting for everyone else to get things done?

I know the answer, so which are you in your business? You maybe your own boss, but you are also the key employee too. So why not be the person you’d love to hire on your staff?  Whatever you need to get done, do everything in your power to get it done today and don’t hold back.
That is when you get results!