Posts Categorised: Entrepreneur
Overcoming Mental Roadblocks
Let’s talk about mental roadblocks and what we can do as entrepreneurs to get past some of the most common roadblocks facing business owners today.
As an entrepreneur, most of us has something from our past that seems to creep up at inopportune times. It may show up in a burst of anger, crying, buying something new, or just leaving. If you are an entrepreneur, you have probably already discovered a few things about yourself. If not, just ask your spouse or your closest business partner.
The reason I am sharing this article is three-fold. A new client shared some struggles she is going through with fear. A person I am mentoring has found that the lack of money in his past is affecting how he operates his business. And personally, I have had a rough week of struggles with building stress in my life.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, nor a professional counselor. Anything I share in this article is simply from personal experience living in this big world as a ‘do-it-yourself’ entrepreneur.
What are mental roadblocks?
They are beliefs that have existed somewhere in your past. Here are some examples:
- “I will never be rich.”
- “I am not creative.”
- “I don’t know enough to be a success.”
- “If I make a mistake, everyone will think I am a fool.”
- “I am the entrepreneur and only I can make the right desicions.”
It would be great if all mental roadblocks were so easy to define. You may even catch yourself saying some of these things from time to time. Yet, a roadblock may not even have a label to it. It may be a self-sabotaging practice that keeps you from being the success you were created to be. It may be a feeling of fear, inadequacy or overwhelm.
So, what do you do when you feel the mental block affecting your life as an entrepreneur?
Revisit your purpose
I don’t want to get too deep into this one, but ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this business?”
What is the passion or events that drove you to be in the business that you are in? When you revisit what got you started in the first place, you may find enough energy from that thought to break through any road block that you have. Some people frame their first dollar, or take pictures of their grand opening. Find something tangible to remind you of those first exciting days as an entrepreneur.
Personally, I believe we are all created with a purpose. In business, our purpose is to help others. If you take your mind off of the problems you are facing and look to the people you are trying to help, you may just find yourself becoming the person you were created to be.
Take action anyway
Many people wait to be motivated before they take action. I want to clarify something: action comes before motivation! When you take action, you feel better, perform better and you get out of your mind into the world where you can accomplish amazing things.
Have an actionable plan
Action must be taken with a specific plan otherwise you are like a ‘wave tossed in the sea.’ Along with action and purpose is to create a plan. You should know the steps you need to take each and every day to bring you closer to your goals. Maybe you should skip emails, focus on building relationships and growing your business.
Ask yourself, what is the one thing that needs to be accomplished today in order for me to reach my goal?” Then, go do it, no matter how you feel.
Remember feelings are a choice
This one is a tough one. We think feelings are real, but in reality they are just the way we interpret them. Let me give a real life example:
I have a major problem with motion sickness. When I was young roller coasters were not a good thing for me. Then one day I decided to embrace my fear of the roller coaster. I was fearful in the line about losing my lunch on the ride and how I would look to everyone. I caught my fear and made a choice. I thought to myself, “This is gonna be fun!” I took the feeling of fear and told myself it is a feeling of excitement. I took on the largest roller coaster in the park and walked away like a champion.
Imagine what would happen if every time you felt fear about taking the next step in success, you chose to feel excitement instead!
Change your environment
Taking a new path to work. Walking in a park. Cleaning your desk. These are all little things you can do to change your environment. You don’t have to make drastic changes to make a difference in the way you feel. You could just buy a plant for your office or brighten up things with a new lamp. It will make you feel better, but don’t use those things as a distraction from actually accomplishing your work.
There are some environments that must be dealt with swiftly. If you have a ‘toxic’ relationship, avoid spending time with that person at all costs. If you have a customer or client that is causing undo stress, fire them. Be nice and refer them to the competition, but don’t allow one draining relationship to affect the rest of your entire business.
You can search online for hundreds of ways to overcome roadblocks in your life. You may need to seek professional counseling or talk to a trusted advisor like a life coach or a pastor. Just take action to overcome the road blocks a little at a time and that progress will build to a larger success. If you do the opposite of what you would normally do, soon you will see that fear subsiding. After all fear is just an illusion.
What to do with all those business statements.
In any organization how you communicate what your business is all about is vital. Your employees and leadership must all be heading the same direction. There must be a cohesive understand of what you do as well as why you do it.
You could say, “we build widgets” or “we build the world’s best widgets” or “we build the most essential widgets the world needs to survive.” You can readily see there is a big difference between the ways each of those short sentences communicate.
Personally, I think developing a mission, vision and values statement are important in order for the owners and leaders of the organization to get clarity about where the business is, where it wants to go and how it’s going to get there.
Here’s a short description of each:
- Missions Statement is what we do in the present that will get us to the future.
- Visison statement is what future we want to accomplish through our present action
- Values statement is how we will behave now in order to get the desired future.
Let’s look at a the Coca-cola company and how they communicate each of these:
- To refresh the world…
- To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
- To create value and make a difference.
- People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
- Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people’s desires and needs.
- Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
- Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
- Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
- Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.
- Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
- Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
- Integrity: Be real
- Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
- Passion: Committed in heart and mind
- Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
- Quality: What we do, we do well
Let me clarify something quickly. There is a difference between ‘company values,’ and a ‘value statement.’ A value statement or purpose statement is what you do for your customer. It is in terms directed at the consumer. Values are a set of core traits that are the foundation to the internal culture of your business. Many companies call these ‘core values.’ For this post, we will talk about the core values. *(see the previous article to learn more about a purpose statement)
Coca-cola has a few more statements which are not necessary, but they felt they needed clarification. (If you want to see all of their statements: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/mission-vision-values/)
For most companies we can stick to the three basics. I want to walk thru how you can implement a core set of belief statements for your business.
- What do we do?
- What makes us different?
- What actions in the present get us to the future?
- Focus on ‘how’ you do your business.
- Where are we going?
- What will our business accomplish in 10 years?
- What impact will we have on our community, industry or the world?
- Focus on ‘where’ you are going in your business.
Values Statement (Core Values)
- How will we behave as a business?
- What attributes will be our moral compass?
- What character traits do we value in our employees and leadership?
- Focus on ‘culture’ within your business.
I wanted to share a bunch of examples, but I don’t want you to take someone else’s ideas and creating them for your business. It is important that you come up with a set of statement that works for your business. You should get a strong set of mission, vision and values before you research what other companies say. Then, your research should validate what you have discovered in your own business.
Remember, you are creating a cultural identity with these statement. You are communicating what is important to your company. It is best to put them into your words in your style. If your culture is fun, have fun with it. If you have a more structured business, make it structured, but don’t forget to inspire.
For more info
Creating a compelling Value Proposition, or Value Statement, is crucial to reaching your ideal customer.
A value statement should be front and center of your webpage or blog. It should be printed on every piece of printed materials that you have. The value statement becomes the hub on which you build your entire marketing plan.
Let me give you an example. When I come to your web site, I should know if ‘this site is for me.’ A good value proposition draws me in and connects me to your brand. I should know what problem you solve and the words should talk to me as your ideal prospective customer.
Who is your customer?
You can’t sell to everyone or you won’t sell to anyone! This is a blunt statement, but I want to be up front about understanding your customer. You must understand the ‘ideal’ customer for your business. Who is the single person who is most likely to buy from your business?
- Are they more likely a male or female?
- Are they likely to live in a specific location?
- Are they likely to live in a house, apartment, condo or townhome?
- What is the income they most likely earn?
- What kind of activities do they participate?
- What kind of magazines do they read?
I could ask a bunch more questions, but hopefully you get the point. You should have a picture in your mind of your ideal customer. It should be singular and all of your marketing should talk to that one person. Yes, you will gain customers that are not that person, but by talking to one person you are likely to get more customers than trying to talk to everyone.
I know it sound contrarian: Focus on one person and get more customers. Yet, that is exactly how marketing works. The more you can talk to that one person, the more ‘one persons’ find your business.
What do they want?
Once you understand your customer, you must understand what they want. What problem do they want to solve and how can you help them solve it? I heard it best stated, “What keeps them up at night?”
If you can figure out what keeps your customers up a night and you can solve that problem, you will have a successful business.
- It may be an urgent need: car breaks down.
- It may be an unavoidable need: taxes are due every year.
- It may be an undesirable need: I have a squirrel in my attic.
If you can understand the needs of your ideal customer, you can talk to them in their words. It is not hard to find out what your customer needs and wants, but you must be willing to do the research. Look online in forums, Amazon, blogs, Facebook, etc.. and you will find a lot of information to help. Or, you can just ask them. Use surveys, questionnaires or talk to them in person. It is worth your time to understand the perceived needs of your customers.
How do you offer it differently?
We have an understanding of our customers and an understanding of what they need and want. Now, we have to communicate that we can help in a unique way. You may have heard of a USP, unique selling point. It is simply what you do differently than other companies.
I want to take a moment to help you get a grasp on this one. It is not how you are different, but what you do differently. You may have been in business “for over 20 years,” but time does not make you different. What makes you different is that you show up “on time, every time, guaranteed!”
Your selling point must take into consideration the customer and what they want. You must also take into consideration what your competition does. If they have a 24 hour service call, can you have a 12 hour service call? What would that mean to your customer and to the way you run your business?
The question you are trying to answer for your customer is, “Why should I buy this from you?”
Why should someone buy from you instead of all the other companies that do the same thing you do? People want solutions that are faster, automatic, safer, more thorough, etc. If you know your ideal customer, you know what they value and you can put together your value statement in a way that talks directly to them.
Putting it all together.
I have seen many webpages who really miss this point. I have a picture of a truck on that says “ecological solutions.” I have no idea what that company does or why I should call them. Ecological solutions could mean anything from planting trees to organic products to global warming. Their value statement does not help me want to do business with them.
A value proposition tells what you do, who you do it for and why they should buy from you.
We do THIS for THESE PEOPLE with THESE UNIQUE RESULTS.
I don’t want you to get too distracted by this, but make sure you speak the words that relate to your customers. Pay attention to the words you use. Do you offer a ‘safer’ product or a ‘more secure’ product? Those words communicate much differently to different people.
Here are few examples:
- Skillshare: Learning for Creators – Enroll in online classes to unlock your creativity.
- Campaign Monitor: Email marketing software for designers and their clients.
- Meeting Burner: Host your next webinar or meeting for up to ten people absolutely free.
Each of these statements tell you who they are marketing to, what they offer and what makes them different. Even the Meeting Burner tell us indirectly. You are a business who meets with multiple people.
Creating the statement.
Now it’s your turn. Create a value statement for your business. You may have to do some digging about your ideal customer, but don’t assume you know who it is unless you have good data to back it up. Then, firm up what problem you solve for that person and how you solve that problem better than anyone else.
You should be able to have all of that information in one sentence. Show it to a few customers and employees and ask them what they understand it to mean. If it works, run with it. It there is any confusion, work out the confusion to come up with a concise statement. When you have a clear statement post it on your webpage, front and center.
Just to let you know I practice what I preach, my business page is Digital Success Advantage. Right at the top of the page are these exact words: “We help small businesses leverage technology for business growth.” That is exactly what I love doing, helping small businesses learn the power of the digital age and how that technology can grow their business.
Feel free to share your values statement below this post. (BONUS: if you drop it into my contact form, I will give you a quick evaluation of your statement.)
Here are some other helpful training:
What is an autoresponder?
We talked about creating a digital product in the last article and I mentioned email autoresponders. Then, I realized a bunch of people did not know what I was talking about, so I wanted to give you a bit of information about what an autoresponder is and how to use one.
You have probably signed up for a newsletter or some sort of free report online. Within seconds, you had an email from that website giving you the information that you requested. You have had the honor of using someone’s autoresponder.
An email autoresponder is a program that automates a sequence of email responses. Autoresponders can deliver a consecutive set of emails to a customer once they are told what to send.
For instance, someone signs up on a form on your webpage. That triggers the autoresponder to send a welcome email to that new ‘subscriber.’ A week later, you send them a coupon with relevant information about your product. A month later you send a reminder email sharing some valuable insight about getting the most out of your product or service.
What can I do with autoresponders?
Autoresponders are usually used for things like newsletters and keeping in direct communication with your customers. Many times it is used as a marketing tool to keep your product or service in front of your ideal customers. It is called ‘top of mind awareness.’ You keep your product or service at the top of the mind of your customer so that they will remember to come to you when they are ready to buy.
- Get to know your customers by asking questions and surveys
- Deliver your blog updates automatically
- Deliver a sales sequence or promotional campaign.
- Educate your customers about your products or services.
- Deliver digital products that customers have bought from you.
- Deliver training to your customers about using your products.
- Deliver training to your employees.
- Introduce additional products or services.
- Highlight a customer, case study, or testimonial.
- . . and much, much more.
How do I use autoresponders?
The key to any good autoresponder is to add value. You should be sending valuable information and insights before trying to sell. If you are trying to sell in every email, people may tend to unsubscribe from your sequence and you can lose some valuable customers. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book called Jab, Jab, Right Hook. In it he describes the sequence. Basically, you should be sending 10, 12, or 20 valuable emails before sending a sales pitch.
Think of it this way, you are building a relationship with your customer. You want to become their trusted authority. If they see you as an expert, they will trust your opinion when you try to sell them something.
I am not a techie person, how hard is it?
If you can send an email, you can set up an autoresponder. Here is the basics of the process:
- Signup or sign in to your service (suggestions below)
- Create a list (this is a collection of customers)
- Create a form (put this simple code on your website or send a link via email)
- Set up a sequence (set up a series of communications for your customers)
From there, the system does everything for you. It will collect customers from your form, put them on your list and send them the sequence that you have decided to send them. It is all automated for you, hence the name ‘auto,’ or automatic, responder.
Quick note: No matter which service you choose to use, there will be training. I suggest watching the videos or reading the articles and get to know your autoresponder service. The more you know about your autoresponder, the more you can do with it.
If you are just getting started many people start out with MailChimp since they offer a free service. You can try it out and see how it can work for your business. The only catch is, if you want to automate any sequence you will have to pay for the service.
Personally, I suggest Get Response. They have a much more visual format. I can see a calendar and move the email sequence around by dragging emails around. They also offer a free landing page (one page website) and have built in surveys. It is also one of the best prices overall. If you use my link for Get Response here, you will get a $30 credit which should give you two month for free on their basic plan. Plus, they have some great training to get you started.
Another option is Genius Marketing Pro. They offer autoresponders as part of their system along with lots of additional features like triggers and segmentation for a more strategic way to use autoresponders. Right now, they have a one- time payment, but I am not sure how long that will last, so you better hurry on this one. Click here to find out about Genius Marketing.
And of course, if you need any help directly. I can be available for coaching and training. Just use my contact page to get in touch.
10 Steps To Creating a Profitable Digital Product
Many business owners and bloggers realize that creating their own digital product is the best way to leverage their website and help their customers. I wanted to walk you through the process of creating your own product. I will also list some suggested resources so you can have all the tools at your finger tips, even if you are on a budget!
How to create a digital product
1. Identify your ideal customer
The first step is knowing who your ideal customer is. You must be able to picture this person in your head. You should know them so well, you know what kinds of words they use when they are talking to their friends. Do some digging and learn as much as you can about your customer before developing any product.
2. Solve one problem or pain point
Every great product solves one problem. Your key to a good product is to know your customer so well that you know what keeps them up at night. Those are called ‘pain points.’ If you can find a problem that they would pay to solve, you have a winner. Start by asking, can I make something easier, faster or automated to solve this problem?
3. Decide the best way to deliver your product.
There are lots of ways to deliver a product. If you know your customer, you can develop something that fits their lifestyle. If they are busy, you may create audio training so they can take it on the go. If there is a lot of information, you may need to develop a book. You can even add worksheets, checklists and resource sheets. And of course, you can create a video training. You can use white boards, power point presentations, or many various ways to create an exciting product that talks directly to your ideal customer.
4. Create your product
Start with an outline. If you are not sure where to start, see what others have done by reading a table of contents in a book from your area of specialty. Once you have a strong outline, record or write each section one at a time. Spending just twenty minutes each day can help you create a great starter product in less than a month. Just do something to create your product each and every day.
5. Create a sales page
Let’s not get bogged down in the details. The easiest sales pages use the AIDA method which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Get the attention of your customer. Create an interest in solving their one problem. Create a desire to want what you have to offer. Finally, tell them what action they need to take to get your product. It really is that simple.
6. Create a way for customers to buy
Now that you have a product, customers need to be able to purchase it. It can be as easy as creating a ‘buy now’ button on Paypal. Create the button and paste the code on your sales page below your call to action. When they purchase, they should be directed to your page where they can download your product.
7. Create an incentive or scarcity
Everyone likes to get a good deal. Create a high value for your product. You can add a bonus checklist to summarize your process. You can even create a report based on the research you did when creating your product. The more valuable this incentive is the more likely people will hurry to purchase your product for fear of losing the incentive. If you really want to get your customer to take action, create scarcity. Only allow your bonus to be available for a short amount of time or you can have the bonus only available for a certain number of people.
8. Spread the word
Use social media to tell others about your product. Do interviews, create graphics, use banners or just write up some compelling questions to tell others about your products. You can make it as simple as an interview video by having a friend ask you questions about your product. Just set up a camera, or smart phone and record. You can make better videos later when you start making money and can afford to hire a videographer.
9. Take care of your customers
This step is often left out of training programs that I have seen. When you create a product and someone buys from you, they are trusting you. Do your best to deliver a ten times value on your product. That means if they pay twenty-seven dollars for your product, they should receive two hundred seventy dollars of value from the product.
Don’t forget to send them a follow up email asking about their experience. Send them unannounced bonuses and create a deeper relationship with them. There is a lot of money to be made when you understand the needs of your customers and listen to what they have to say.
10. Automate the process
Lastly, create a way to automate your process. For instance, you can create a webinar (recorded online seminar) where you point out the problem and give a few suggestions. You then ask them if they would like to find out more and better ways to solve their problem. You end by offering them your product for a special price since they are watching your webinar. (Remember AIDA!)
I have a mentor that recently said, “just move forward on your goal everyday. Just do what you know and learn as you go.” If you have that attitude, you can always find a way. With Youtube, there are all kinds of free tutorials, just look for the information you need to know at the time. If you need some specific help, I enjoy helping people develop products that help their customers and make money. I would love to help you out. Just contact me here.
Here are some other helpful articles:
- You CAN Develop A Digital Product (VIDEO)
- Connecting with Customers
- 7 Steps to Marketing Your Business
- Using Content to Gain More Customers
Note: some of these links are affiliate links, but I would never suggest something I have not personally used and believe in.
BlueHost: If you don’t have a website, I suggest starting with some good affordable hosting. I have used these guys for years. They have top notch customer service. (find out about BlueHost) If you need help designing your page or getting started, contact Digital Success Advantage for a great deal.
Genius Marketing Pro: If you are on a tight budget and want an all-inclusive system, this is it. These guys really care about helping you and provide lots of on going free training. This product include an autoresponder, page creators and lots more. Plus it is under one hundred dollars! It is a great deal and it is worth reviewing. (Click here to learn more.)
GetResponse: Everyone needs a good email autoresponder if they want to be in business online, and this is one of the best. (Unless you go with Genius Marketer.) GetResponse offers great plans, it includes a free landing page and survey function. When you use my link, you get a $30 credit!
MailChimp: MailChimp offers email autoresponders, without a lot of bells and whistles. They even offer a free plan, so you can get started without any money.
CopyBuilder: If you have all the tools you need, you may need help writing your sales copy. This system takes you through the entire writing process. It is like hiring a copywriter to talk you though your sales copy, but much, much more affordable. (Check out CopyBuilder.)
Note: I mention autoresponder above and followed up with an article about it here.