I am curious what “being innovative” means to you.
The definition of innovation, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods.” According to Businessdictionary.com, “in business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the consumers.”
Each of these definitions can be applied to you and your business on two fronts.
The first is:
What are you, in your business role as a consultant, for example, doing to introduce a new idea or a new way of doing what you do? Is there anything new that can be done? Have you thought about that?
If you are offering the very same way of doing things or approaching problem solving as everyone other consultant in your space, you have no point of differentiation. Consequently, there is no reason to choose you over the other available resources in your field. That is not a sustainable long term position for your consultancy.
The second is:
What new product or service are you offering to satisfy the needs and expectations of your clients? Time marches on, situations change, and the business environment shifts – that impacts clients and what they may need from you. Are you resilient when it comes to moving from one type of service offering to another? Are you always thinking about what the next product or service offering might be? Do you see continuing education opportunities to stay relevant in your marketplace?
In both of these areas, you can be innovative, and discover new ways to serve your client. These offerings also create opportunities to differentiate you from your competition and create disruption in your industry. (Do you need some help getting outside your comfort zone? Read more here!)
Keeping that in mind, I will ask you again:
What is innovative about you and the way that you do business?
Hopefully you can now begin to answer that question. Do you need someone to bounce those ideas off of? That’s what I’m here for. Let’s schedule some time to talk! Feel free to book a complimentary clarity call: http://bit.ly/claritycallwithsandra.
Does the idea of standing in front of an audience to speak about what you do scare you? It can be really daunting, but it is one of those things that definitely gets easier the more that you do it.
Chances are, if you come from a business, non-profit or education background, doing PowerPoint presentations are second nature. These skills are transferable to the type of public speaking that can build your business. Learning to speak to groups will definitely help you get your new business up and running, particularly if you are going in to a service business like consulting.
Is It Time to Speak Up?
How does this skill and focus immediately help you? First, it forces you to get yourself out there in the public to speak in front of your potential clients. Second, you will become known for your topic and expertise. Speaking gives you the opportunity to serve your audience (many of whom are likely potential clients or collaboration partners) by sharing pearls of wisdom in your content. It will also help you:
- Make connections while gaining visibility
- Position yourself in your field
- To show off your expertise
- Provide a forum to offer consultations to your prospective clients
Finding the right speaking opportunities can be tricky when you are getting started. If you are growing your business from scratch and haven’t spoken much before, start locally and you’re your message with a local audience before you begin looking for national opportunities. When you do find them, it is important to make sure that you are speaking to your target audience of potential clients and/or partners.
Bringing the Audience to You
If you are just getting started and are still working out who your target audience is, think about experimenting by bringing people to you. You can start your own Meetup! (Learn more about intentional networking here!)
If you are clear on the content you want to share, the services you will offer, and have a broad idea of your target client, why not test each of these with a live audience? Start getting yourself out there and talking about your ideas and services. What do you have to lose?
You’ve probably heard the adage if you what you’re doing doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable then you’re not pushing your limits hard enough. What does that really mean? Are you doing something this week that is outside of your normal comfort zone? Let’s take a look at these key concepts to learn more about your style and make it easier to step outside of your zone.
How do you feel about doing “new” things?
Do you consider “new” to be exciting and adventurous or does the idea of new things make you nervous or anxious? Do you tap into feeling of being curious and brave? Or are you scared? If you can name that feeling you can tame that feeling!
Do you step easily outside of your comfort zone?
Are you one of those people who easily tries new things, reads books outside of your expertise, or goes places just for the experience? Or are you content with the status quo of your life – your interests, your rhythm, and circle of people.
When you do go outside of your comfort zone, are you intentional? And is it often?
Are you curious about new ideas and experiences and do you plan for them? Do you have internal goals of trying one or two new things that scare you just a little? Or are most of your new experiences accidental or in the company of group who push you to try something new?
What does this mean for my business?
As business owners, when we set goals and then endeavor to meet them, we are very often doing things that we have never done. We frequently find ourselves in situations or answering questions that we’ve never considered before. That is the nature of being an entrepreneur!
When something is totally new, we often ask for help, seek mentors and coaches, and do our research so that we learn and can adopt a “best practices” approach for ourselves. That asking and reaching out for help reflects both thought and intention.
Focus on these four steps
What can make “getting out there” less scary and more doable for you? Let’s break it down into easy pieces that are simpler to think about and execute. How about focusing on these four key steps:
1) What you are going to do?
2) How you are going to do it?
3) Have you planned it in to your schedule so that you actually do it?
4) Did you ask for help?
Being intentional when approaching something new can make all the difference – when you recognize that it’s new and feels different, then you can plan for it. Planning ahead lessens some of the fear and anxiety and makes it easier to conquer. (Stepping out of your comfort zone can help you meet your dreams – read more about that here.)
What do you think? Are you ready to step outside of your comfort zone? Will you do it with forethought, planning and intention? Send me a note and let me know how it goes!
It is very easy to get caught up in the frenzied, accelerated pace of business as we’ve come to know it. We all have those moments when we wish we could stop the action, catch our breath, and hit the pause button. The good news is – you can!
Tip #1: Hit Pause
If the business you have started is struggling, your immediate response may be to generate more activity and quickly try a list of new things. I’m asking you to pause, quit trying to run forward, and take a step back.
Tip #2: Reflect
Stop – and use that pause to reflect. When you were starting your business, especially if you were moving from a corporate career to your own business, did you:
- Take some time to plan? The steps to set up business, industry, market, product, competition and pricing research?
- Identify your strengths and start your business with those strengths in mind?
- Consider how you to position yourself with those strengths in mind?
- Do a personal budget to see how much money you need to live on? Did you plan to keep working while you are building your new business? Did you get a part time job to supplement your income while you are getting started?
- Plan realistic revenue targets in your new business, taking into consideration that you are starting from scratch and it will take time for your business to build? Do you have a sense of what your expenses will be and budget for them?
This is just a short list of things to consider as you hit pause. That time to reflect and focus gives you a chance to see what you may have missed during start-up. If you didn’t consider each of these questions, you can still do it now—it is not too late!
Tip #3 – Reset
Leverage your “pause” to reset the path of your business. It’s not too late. You can still regroup, make plans, establish targets, and reset your business. Remember that it is YOUR business – you are responsible to you!
As you consider your next step, I have these two free gifts to help guide you: The Biz Plan Blueprint and Creating Your 2018 Biz Goals. If you like and use these tools and would like some additional guidance, feel free to contact me!
Remember, all it takes to get yourself back on track is your willingness to pause, reflect and reset.
Leveraging your personal and business contacts is one of the necessary activities of owning a business. People network for various reasons:
- To build their businesses
- To attract clients
- With no particular intention but to meet and connect with others in their industry
- Clear intention of looking for that next job opportunity and connecting with people who can help achieve that goal
Whatever your reason is for creating a network, below are some tips to keep in mind.
Tip 1: Make a real connection
Make a connection with the person you are meeting. Be curious, spend time listening to his/her story and think of some way you can be of service to him/her instead of just launching into your own story. Try to connect them with someone you know who can help solve a problem they are having, and maintain the connection on an ongoing basis. If you want to add them to your email list, ask them first!
Tip 2: It is who you know
In most organized and established networking groups, it is helpful to know someone already in the group; choose someone who has worked with you or who can vouch for you, establishing immediate credibility. Walking into these groups cold, not knowing anyone, can result in a slow entry and long acceptance period.
Tip 3: Get clear on your intent
Be very clear about why you are going to a particular networking function or joining a particular group. Do you want to be among peers and find referral and/or collaboration partners? Or are you networking to find potential clients? You may find both in the same group, but most people will network in one group with peers and a separate group with potential clients.
Tip 4: Know your potential client
When choosing a networking event where there are potential clients, be really clear who your target client is first. For example, if your target clients are corporate professionals, then networking in a small business type group, like a BNI (Business Network International), doesn’t make sense. Social media can give you a good indication of who is attending different types of events. (If you need help thinking about your ideal client, download this free gift on Creating Your Client Avatar.)
When you consider the impact of each of these tips on their own and as a whole, you are armed with the tools to network more successfully in 2018! That is my wish for you!
Many entrepreneurs think that the annual planning and setting business goals at the start of each year is enough. Business owners go through the process, feel like they have a plan, and as he/she gets farther in to the year, the plan and goals go by the wayside. I want to ask you to reconsider that process.
A Planning Approach
Consider thinking in terms of one, three and five-year strategic planning so that you can identify what you want in the future and begin building it in to your goal setting today. This approach is followed by both large and small businesses. (Learn more about creating a plan here.)
For example, when I was Property Director for Gap in the UK, we developed a three, five and 10-year strategic plan based on how many stores we wanted to open per year, and the towns and cities where we wanted to put them. In order to execute that strategy, we determined which areas we would pursue first and where in each of those areas we wanted to be. By researching the locations, noting when they might become available, and pursuing them, we were creating an ongoing pipeline of projects covering a span of several years at one time.
Breaking It Down
Let’s look at an example for an entrepreneur. You may want to write a book or have the goal of speaking in front of certain audiences. Getting your book published by a known publisher may require having a proven following – through social media and/or an email list. Similarly, to be invited to speak at events the same requirement will likely apply. Creating a plan to build your list and social media following from day one – with those larger goals in mind beyond the immediate year – will serve you well as an entrepreneur.
Setting bigger, broader goals for the year and then breaking them down further into achievable quarterly goals, keeping in mind both the present year and the future, is a good idea. At the end of each quarter, you can do a check-in and recap what has been achieved. You can see what is left to be completed, if anything, and review and prepare the next quarter’s goals. If necessary, you can then add in what wasn’t completed in the previous quarter.
When doing your initial goal setting, it is helpful to employ the SMART goal setting system. It has been around for a long time and it works! Here is your refresher for setting SMART goals. Make sure that they are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. This system ensures that you set achievable goals at the outset, making the process of executing, reviewing, pivoting and revising them much more possible.
Goal setting can be tricky. I help business owners find the clarity they need to create actionable goals and plans. If you would like more information, download this free gift on setting goals. I would be happy to speak with you – just click here to schedule a call!
Hockey legend Wayne Gretsky sums up the reason anticipation is the key to success in business:
“Skate where the puck is going, not where it is.”
So much of what happens in our business is not what is front of us today, but where we need to be in the future.
The ability to see the future
I believe there are several reasons that “anticipation” is the key to running a successful business. I would like to share three areas of your business where anticipation is an important skill for you to cultivate for success.
Planning: It is not enough to simply develop products and services based on the problems that your clients/customers are having right now. You must also keep an eye on where those problems could lead to in the future, and how they can be addressed.
Differentiation: You have to know what sets you apart from your competitors. But you must keep an eye on your competitors. They are shifting their strategies and considering new offerings too. Is what you are currently offering sustainable? More importantly, is it subject to disruption that you haven’t considered?
Sales: Selling a product or service to your client or customer is not as simple as putting something out there to be purchased. There is an art to customer service and being able to anticipate potential objections and create strong reasons why to buy in spite of them. Knowing your client or customers’ reservations about the purchase of your product or service, before they can throw objections at you, shows that you understand your target consumer completely, and have taken the time to build something that truly fits their needs.
The future is bright
Consider the power of these three opportunities to anticipate the future of your business. As you plan how your business is going to look now and going forward, think about the other places in your plan where you can apply some future thinking. I’ll be waiting to see what you come up with – with great anticipation!
How are you feeling about your business lately? Are you committed to making it work and to have a really successful endeavor? Or are you just getting by and your business feels more like a hobby? What is your business model or quite bluntly, how are you going to make money? Do you have a business plan?
Why is a business plan important?
Your business plan is important. Taking the time to make a plan makes you stop and think about the key components of a successful business. Writing it as you are first starting out is important because it helps you determine that all of the areas of your business are aligned. The plan gives you a reason to focus on those key components and to think long and hard about each one.
Find clarity in a plan
During the planning process, you are clarifying:
- Your product offering
- What you do and why (which ties in to your values, purpose, and mission statement)
- Who your ideal client is and why they are ideal
- How you going to reach them and how often you intend to reach out
- Who your repeat clients are, and how you will keep them coming back
- Who you are competing with and why you consider them in your competitive set
- What you will charge for your service or product, and how that relates to your competition
- How you differ from your competitors and what differentiates you
- The overall business climate for your industry and how you fit in to it
- Your projected revenue and expenses
This is an overview of the things you should consider as you think about taking your business to the next level. Spend some time researching each of these items. Put together a simple plan to start. The amount of thought you put in will ensure your future success!
2017 is drawing to a close. A business plan will give you a new perspective and provide a clear vision for growth in 2018. That is what I want for you. To be successful! As always, I am happy to help! Click here to schedule a Complimentary Clarity Call, and here to receive my Hot Tips for growing your business.
Up level your business to be profitable and sustainable
Are you an entrepreneur who is sick of feeling like your business is draining all your energy?
Have you recently been faced with personal challenges in your life such as aging parents, divorce, or sickness?
Do you find yourself daydreaming about the life you had before you even started your business?
Are you incredibly frustrated because deep down you fear that you are not meant to run this business?
In the past 30 years, I have fine-tuned the skills of foresight, vision, strategy and sustainability to make businesses profitable and have found that there are 3 foundational components, that when executed correctly, ensure a profitable and prosperous business.
That is why I am excited to share these three keys to success in my webinar:
Sharpen Your Focus: People don’t have a clear picture of what they want in their business and life
Strategy: People are using an unsuccessful business model- a small tweak creates massive results
Sustainability: People can’t take the proper action to make massive shifts in their business
LIMITED SPOTS AVAILABLE:
Thursday October 26th 12:00-12:45pm
VIRTUAL ZOOM LOUNGE
How are you feeling about your business? Are you committed to making it work and really be a success or are you just getting by and your business feels more like a hobby. What is your business model or put, quite bluntly, how are you going to make money? What is your plan?
Do you have a business plan?
Why is a business plan important? It is important because taking the time to make a plan causes you stop and think about key components of a successful business: your product, what you do and why you do it, your ideal customer, your competition, your industry, your projected revenue and expenses, et al. The process of constructing a business plan also gets you to formulate short term and long term goals and if you are doing it after being in business for a while, you can use data from what is happening now to project what you want in the future.
During the planning process, you are clarifying:
- Your product offering
- What you do and why (which ties in to your core values, purpose and a mission statement)
- Who is your ideal client and why?
- How are you going to reach them and how often?
- Who is your competition and why?
- What do you charge and how does that relate to the competition?
- How are you different from them? What differentiates you?
- What is the overall climate of your industry and how will you fit in to it?
- What are your revenue projections? What are your expenses?
This is a little overview of things to consider. If you spend some time researching each of these things and putting together a simple plan, you have put a fair amount of thought in to ensuring your future success. There are also low cost ways to get some guidance. The Small Business Administration has a program called SCORE; if you look it up, there are simple business plan templates and the opportunity to have a SCORE mentor in your area go through it with you.
Since it is almost 2018, I wanted to get you thinking about what your business could look like next year and in subsequent years! Happy planning! Have I motivated you? I hope so!