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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

What does it take to outcreate YOU?

For most of 2011 I found time and I to be on totally different calendars.  Time disappeared faster than I could keep up and I found that more than a little frustrating!  2012 dawned and I had the awareness I needed to create a different possibility – or I would be forever feeling ‘behind’ on everything.

When a challenge shows up, do you do what you have always done, go into ‘fix it’ mode, or do you take it as an invitation to create something way beyond what you’ve ever done before?  

What if your challenges are designed to stimulate you to a greater level of awareness of new possibilities?  What if you approached your challenges with a sense of curiosity and adventure instead of the usual sense of dread or despair?

This is how I’m playing with time right now… and I’m the most productive I’ve ever been – with more joy in my work than I’ve ever had!

So what has changed?
  • I am having more time off to play which is creating space and clarity.
  • I am only doing that which is bringing me joy.  No joy = later (or not at all!!)
  • I am being way more creative.  The massive changes I have embraced in being more of me over the last few weeks are allowing solutions to show up faster and more intuitively.
  • I am moving with what is moving – projects that feel stuck have been put aside for the moment (it’s that Mojo of Flow thing I like to talk about!)
  • I am working in shorter, more intense and spontaneous bursts – more 20 minute blocks than 3 hours of being blocked!
  • When I’m done, I’m done!  No suffering, no sticking it out just a little bit longer, nothing except the question ‘what else would be fun to play with right now?’ – And that is creating a sense of ease and speed across all of my businesses.
  • I’m willing to change anything and everything… even approaches that have worked in the past… there are no sacred cows!!
  • I’m saying YES to more and creating far more!  Strange how this works… but work it does!!
And in case you’re wondering… I’m running three businesses as well as producing a lot of specialist writing for a client.  So everywhere that you have decided you don’t have enough time, would you be willing to know that you can change it?  In an instant?  Just by making a different choice or discovering a different perspective??

I know it sounds way too simple… but sometimes the simplest solutions make the biggest difference!!

What if you could outcreate you?  What would that look like for your particular business challenge?

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The Mysteries of (Not) Delivering Value

WARNING:  I'm having a rant today... that's what happens when I put on my 'customer' cap instead of my coaching cap... luckily dear readers, it doesn't happen too often!  There's some valuable lessons in here for us all :)

In conversation with a real estate agent he mentioned they charge $990 + GST to upload a property for sale to 14 websites and put a sign out the front.  This was their cheapest advertising package for selling a home.  

I have an extensive marketing background and a pretty good working knowledge of marketing on the internet.  When I expressed my astonishment at the lack of value, all the fellow could say in response was “I’m the principal, this is our cheapest advertising package”.  It seems his job title was supposed to make this lack of value acceptable?    

He then proceeded to stutter and stammer that writing the copy takes him 2 – 3 hours… I know amazing copywriters who could get it sorted in less than an hour for a grand investment of around $80.  So what exactly are his clients paying for?  Someone to sell their home, or an incredibly expensive copywriter??

Big hint to business owners – you should never be doing work that you could outsource for way less than what you could be earning. You need to spend your time doing what you are best at!  If this guy spent those 2 – 3 hours getting new listings or selling properties his business would be infinitely more profitable.  

 Then there is the question of the 14 websites – at roughly 10 minutes each for uploading pictures and copy that’s just over 2 hours for an admin person – say $40/hr.  Of course, this also assumes it is of value to use those 14 sites.  Most real estate traffic goes through just a couple of main sites – those 14 sites are really awesome for his search engine optimization though!  And how wonderful that his clients pay for him to be “#1 on” as he proudly informed me.  Sounds very impressive… unless you understand what it really means!

Unfortunately, your brand being #1 won’t sell my house.  Most people search by suburb not agent.  Do you not understand your business or do you think your customers are stupid?  Either way that’s not a great value proposition for building a strong business in an industry that is facing tough times.

And lastly there’s the sign for about $150… In total, even my best estimates for marketing costs don’t get much past $350 if the agent is operating efficiently!  So at $990+ that is some profit margin.  Given the extortionate price of housing in our fair country, real estate agents also receive a very generous commission on sales as well.  I know a lot of business owners who would love margins like that!

Now at this point some of you are going ‘what’s wrong with that?’  Isn’t the point of business to make money?  Yes!  Absolutely!  But not in a way that offers no value to your customers or pretty much assumes they are stupid.  The playing field is levelling AND becoming more transparent.  Your business practices need to evolve!

When both you and the customer are satisfied with the deal you will build relationships that will create referrals, repeat business and ultimately business growth – you’ll be irresistible and desirable and you won’t need to charge for something that should be included in the service!  Imagine if that agent had said “we have a basic marketing package that is included free if we sell your house.”  That would have been much more attractive to a prospective seller than what he actually said: “If the client doesn’t pay for marketing up front the price for this service goes up to $1290 + GST.” WOW!  Knock me out… not even banks are getting interest rates like that!  I’m surprised he’s not receiving daily takeover bids!

The reality is if you are not delivering genuine value which is valued by your customers, you’re going to find you are facing more and more resistance.  The era of greed is good is over.  People are saving and considering their purchases much more carefully than ever before.

By the end of the conversation the real estate agent was half-heartedly suggesting he could negotiate on the marketing costs.  Unfortunately, from a client perspective, the preceding conversation had already cost him the listing. He failed to see that selling is no longer about money – it is all about value.  I am unclear as to whether this agent just doesn't get it or his BS sales pitch works on enough people to get by.  What you need to understand is that if you come across customers who see through your BS sales pitch, you look stupid and you are damaging the reputation of your business.

Most of us are no longer interested in working with people who either don’t know what they are doing or think its fine to overcharge.  We, as customers, have choice.  More and more business owners are creating true value for their clients.  Those businesses are building a solid platform for growth.  And therein lie the lessons for us all.

The New Energies of Business are here.  It is just not good business to overcharge your customers.  It’s time to start thinking about where you are not providing value in your business?  Where you are not efficient and need to find more effective approaches?  Where you are not valuing your customers? And where is what you are offering not even relevant to the value they are looking for?  

What can you change? Where there is a lack of value there is always a way to take advantage of that in the market. Look at where customers are pushing back about price and develop value propositions that create new paradigms and standards in your industry.  When you take a leadership position in creating and providing value, your competition becomes irrelevant!  (And if you don’t know what your customers are saying about your pricing, it’s time to get amongst it and talk to them!)

If you are going to have a successful business as we move forward into the new energies, now is the time to put your new platforms in place. 

Would you like to join us at our regular New Energies of Business events?  On August 29 at Peregian Beach we'll be discussing how to create value, how the energy of contribution plays out in business and how loving your work creates profits... if you can't be there you can order the videos.  Our presenters and facilitators are experienced business people who are already living the new energies and know what it takes to transform business.  How does it get better than that? 

What are you seeing with your business and the value it offers?  What value have you experienced in other businesses lately?  Comment below!!

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Are Your Foundations Firmly In Place?

Building a business happens with ease when our foundations are in place, but can be a struggle when we are missing the basics.  When did you last sit back and take a good look at the castle you have built?  Did you check out the foundations while you were at it or did you just admire the shiny turrets and gorgeous environment you have built?  Did you look to see if it is getting a little top heavy... are some bits quietly falling over?

As business people, we are often full of ideas and there is always the temptation to build castles in the air.  In fact, many a great business starts off this way – with the outward facing structures.  Sooner or later you will need to ensure your foundations are up to the job!  Sometimes a little renovation is required!

A simple place to start is to look at where your business is right now and look at where the structures are crumbling, and where they are holding firm and contributing to your vision.  

Sometimes it’s not easy to see that the marketing manager who was your answer to everything really isn’t working out because of their vile personality…. Or that much as you detest systems and processes, without them you just have a different variety of chaos everyday (entertaining for some, stress inducing for most!).  And it’s even harder to acknowledge that just maybe it is you that is the bottleneck between your dream and the current reality.

2011 is a foundational year… what you set in place now will provide the base for your future growth.  Are you standing on solid ground or do you still have a few castles floating about, waiting to be tethered and grounded in some sort of practical reality that will allow your business to grow?  If something's not right in your business, take a good hard look at the foundations.  When you have the fundamentals in order, all else will follow with far more ease.

If your current essentials are in great order, imagine your business doubling in size and ask:  ‘What foundations are required here for everything to flow with ease?’  Systems that work right now may not hold up under the pressure of growth.  Now is the time to create new possibilities.  In looking at your business in new ways, you open up doors for further growth.  

Think of it like an upward spiral… you create an idea, generate the energy that moves it forward and then you institute the practicalities that allow it to flow with ease.  If you keep all three processes in balance, your business grows up in an ever bigger spiral.  If you miss one, it always feels like you are starting at the beginning – no growth is possible!

Make April the month where you strengthen your foundations.  It will mean that May, June, July…. will all show up with greater ease and more capacity for profitability.  Not sure what to do or what to look at?  Arrange a free 30 minute business coaching session with Lisa Murray Seeing what you aren’t seeing comes naturally to Lisa!

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Overcome Procrastination - Harness The BIG Idea!

This week I’ve been hot on the trail of creating #TopSecretProject
(soon to be revealed!!) with two colleagues who share some common frustrations around networking, workshops and business!  It’s been fascinating seeing just how much action is being taken since we came up with the ‘BIG Idea’ in just 3 hours on Tuesday!

Do you find you take way more action when you have a big, inspiring idea that you want to create?  When was the last time you chose to follow your instincts and create an awesome idea that really had your attention?

As small business owners, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily doo-doo, procrastinating on all the stuff we 'should do',  rather than asking:
  • What would be a game-changer here? 
  • What would boost my business beyond what I can imagine?
  • What would give my clients massive results? 
  • What one strategy could move my business into the stratosphere?
Instead we play small.  Get stuck in doing the little things that make us feel like we are moving forward, but which are so slow and so incremental that nothing amazing ever really shows up!  Is this enough for you and your business?  Do you really want to creep slowly forward or would you be willing to leap tall buildings with a single step?

So, what would it take to implement a BIG Idea in your business today?
1.   Gather a small team of people who are willing to have massive change show up with ease.
2.   Discuss the resources, talents and abilities available, the common challenges and what you’d like to see instead.
3.   Come up with a BIG Idea that has the capacity to be a game-changer for your business and your customers.
4.   Take massive action very quickly.  What can you get ready within a week?  How soon can you launch?
5.   Ensure you create a support plan for leveraging the game-changer over the long term.  Know why you are instituting your BIG Idea, what you hope to achieve and what happens after the launch.

If you are tired of being the only motivating force in your business, play with a different model!  Find people with similar values who are willing to contribute to the possibilities of a BIG Idea.  And act quickly.  Work out if the idea has legs and start running!!

You can do this with an internal team or as a strategic alliance.  I am working with two other business people whose values match mine.  We are geographically dispersed but have kept the momentum going daily via Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Dropbox (great for file-sharing!). 

Share your experiences below in the comments section...
have you ever used a BIG Idea to get yourself moving?  Would you like to but something is stopping you?  What support do you need to give your business a boom?

Image courtesy Flickr user Gene Hunt, via CC

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How to deal with massive change

First it was the GFC, now it’s a spate of floods, cyclones, earthquakes, snowstorms and political uprisings… our world is in turmoil and these events impact our businesses whether they are personal to us or not.  

You may have noticed customers are slow to make decisions… are spending less than usual… that business has unexpectedly ground to a halt. There is a reason for this.  It is time to look closely at everything we are doing and to see what still serves us and what needs to change.

Anytime we can’t ‘feel the buzz’ in our business we can either choose to look outwards with blame, or inwards by choosing to create exactly what we desire.  Change is inevitable; it is how we move forward that creates our destiny!

A few days ago I wrote myself a rather long message from a ‘future me’…   One of the questions I asked my future self was ‘What can I change here that would create more ease?’   

Here are a few of the insights I received:
•   Finish or clear out everything that feels like it is grinding me to a halt.
•   Write up my plans coherently and create simple strategies for getting started.
•   Collate the insights and information for each of the new toolkits I am developing for my business coaching clients (systemize what’s in my brain!!)
•   Give the flat, weird, anxious bits no attention or energy IF they are out of my control.
•   Create a physical space that is supportive and creative.
•   Keep asking ‘What else is possible?’

So what’s changed?  After my ‘self to self’ pep talk, I chose to take massive action!  
•   I cleared out my office and made space on my desk (now showing just one project at a time!)
•   I collated all those ideas and bits of paper into coherent piles!
•   I developed a creative new business plan template that feels really joyful (and developed a new business plan with ease – very clear on my actions now!!)
•   I started to realign and fine-tune my website content.
•   I reinvented one program that just wasn’t delivering results for the time I was investing.
•   I connected with my accountability buddy for the first time and we gave each other lots of encouragement for the changes we are making!
•   I became a lot more focused on the ‘maintenance’ tasks required for my business to succeed on a massive level.
•   I unleashed my energy by completing lots of small ‘incomplete’ commitments – to myself and others.   Doing the maintenance rocks!

What are the results so far?  My business has become effortless again!
•   I connected with some great people around my new lead generation strategies.
•   There has been a lot more space for nurturing me – I’m breathing easier and deeper.
•    I received unexpected support around my spaces of anxiety (a couple of tools generously shared and the grinding anxiety has disappeared!!)
•   I have started implementing my new business plan, focusing on the foundations!
•   Lots of the resources I need to realize my plan have showed up unexpectedly and with perfect timing!

What didn’t I do?
•   Think small because what I desire isn’t showing up in this 10 seconds.  
•   Become overwhelmed.

This beautiful quote by Deepak Chopra captures the essence of my blissful business process this week:
“The heart is intuitive, holistic, contextual, relational. It doesn't have a win-lose orientation. It taps into the field of pure potentiality, pure knowledge and infinite organizing power- and takes everything into account.”

It’s been a week full of long deep breaths… feeling into what’s possible and what I desire to change.
If you are wondering what it will take for everything you desire to change, ask your body, your business and your higher self (or future self) to tell you exactly what you need to know!

What are you choosing to change in your business right now?  Please share in the comments section below!

(PS The new business plan template will be available for you all very soon!  I really do bring the bliss back into business!)

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Why would you reinvent business?

"no matter what the cost to our people..." is the bit that most organisations conveniently forget to add!!

Recently I had a fit of curiosity and asked my LinkedIn connections for ideas on how they would reinvent business.  I had a heap of thought-provoking responses, including the fellow  who wrote back and pretty much said it’s been a fabulous system for the past few hundred years and there’s no reason to change a thing! 

After I got over wondering where he keeps his blinkers while he sleeps, I started thinking about what an interesting response it was – I’ve been searching for years, how could I possibly have missed the Centre of Utopian Business?  Does it exist or is it yet to be created?

Here’s the top 5 things I’ve seen since I’ve been in the workforce that really don’t work…  (hmmm the word ‘workforce’ does not exactly exude joy does it? Could we call our people ‘peopleflow’ or ‘playflow’ instead??)

1.   Since the industrial revolution business has put profits well in front of people, leading to record-breaking levels of bullying, stress, depression, death, slave labour, environmental destruction and many other non-joyful outcomes, all for the benefit of the few at the top.

2.   The business world has a really severe case of ‘meeting-itis’ – apparently no drugs have been found to cure it yet and the virus is confusing people into believing they are leading rich, rewarding, purposeful lives.

3.   The insanely competitive race for profits, efficiency and productivity has seen the death of honesty, integrity and authenticity at pretty much all levels of many organizations, leading to a talent exodus from big business.  The structures that have sustained us for hundreds of years are disintegrating quickly!

4.   There is a lack of innovation and creativity in most businesses – real differentiation is rare except in the new-fangled creative accounting departments which sadly surprise us with their financial ingenuity far too often!

5.   There is little sense of true connection or community, even though bank advertising would have you believe it’s all about the love they have for us (LOL!).  There is mostly surface level connection between shareholders, senior managers, staff and customers – instead it is all about secrets, sabotage and scarcity.  What if there could be true non-competitive collaboration instead?

What would it take to reinvent business in ways that allow new and more blissful business choices?  The good news is, some of the real leaders in business (and generally that’s NOT the CEO’s of big business!) have already started paving the way…  times like these create massive possibilities for those willing to be different!!

Some businesses are choosing to make their workplace an engaging and enticing place to spend 8 hours a day rather than worrying about every last cent – think Google, Red Balloon Days and Carmen’s Fine Foods - (funnily enough they are all growing businesses.)

Some leaders are smart enough to know that ‘meeting-it is’ can be cured using holistic approaches – apparently simply holding a stand-up meeting will bring massive relief to sufferers!

Smart, intuitive, creative people are leaving big corporations to start their own businesses in droves because there is no bliss, love or joy to be found in traditional business and spending 8 – 12 hours a day doing something you hate just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Many are now building their own authentic, collaborative, inspirational communities so that business can be reinvented to sustain purpose, people and profits!  

I predict that over time these new leaders will be teaching the old leaders how it’s done…  Every day I connect with courageous, interesting, creative business owners and employees looking for ways to reinvent business that are ethical, blissful and sustainable… what would it take to be the change you want to see in the world?  (Or you could keep on with groundhog day… how’s it working for you??)

Want to join a conversation of real leaders?  Here’s a couple of choices for you:

Connect with people who are ‘different like you’ for two blissful days of Unconference presentations and conversations at The Bliss Connection in beautiful Maleny (Qld, Australia) on 30/31 October 2010…

or connect with BlissTribe on Facebook!

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Is Your Service ‘Entry Level’ or Extraordinary?

Has it ever occurred to you that what you think is great service is actually only the ‘entry level’ activities which allow your clients to put you on the list of possible suppliers? If not, you may be in for a rude shock!

Recently I listened to a senior manager from a large transport company talk about the new improvements to their tracking technology and delivery service. The transport company thought they had delivered an exciting groundbreaking service.  

My business coaching client who uses this company was scratching his head wondering what was so special – these were things he’d been requesting for years!   All they’d done was fix the bugs in their systems and provide service basics that should have already been available!

Sadly this amazing new service was at best the ‘point of entry’ from my client’s perspective – so instead of being ecstatic about this news, my client took it as ‘done, thanks, what’s next…’.  

Imagine if this transport company had taken a little time to talk to their clients and include some ‘extras’ which would offer their clients genuine and extraordinary value based on their knowledge of the transport industry and their clients businesses.

What if they invited the top 10 fastest growing clients (yes there are plenty out there even in the GFC!) and took them away for a business building weekend…   Any business owner who has double digit growth in this market would jump at the chance to meet others with similar experiences… who knows what business opportunities could arise from such an event! Most importantly, the transport company would be positioned as the really smart operators who created further growth in their clients business…

Think about this for one second.  If these businesses grow even faster, the transport company grows too -  each of these businesses rely on transport for customer deliveries… it is a total win-win! Why wouldn’t you do it?

What extraordinary experiences and ideas can you offer your clients for mutual benefit?  Take 10 minutes to think of 5 'A List' clients and 5 phenomenal ways to add value to both of your businesses.  Then action at least one and measure your results!  My business coaching tip for this post? You may want to work ON your business more often!!!

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Are you (unknowingly) sitting on a goldmine?

Every business owner knows how important it is to have a point of difference, but few businesses take this seriously and effectively establish a truly unique position in the minds and hearts of their customers.  And of those that do, few ever leverage those factors that make the business special and desirable to anywhere near the profit potential of the initial idea.  In my business coaching sessions, I often work with clients on these two issues, as they offer some of the best insurance around for creating a successful growing business which is hard for competitors to copy.

The trend for TRANSPARENCY is just one approach you can consider…
There are many industries where customers are highly aware of the risks of being ‘ripped off’ or taken for a ride. If your business is in one of these industries, you have a golden opportunity to deliver way more than your customer expects.

Find ways to make your business dealings transparent to the customer. The more honesty and integrity you can demonstrate, the more trust you can build and the more referrals you can receive and the more you will be able to charge. This works especially well in highly competitive industries or industries where the client requires a high level of trust in you to commence the relationship eg financial services or construction.

What would it take for your potential customers to trust you? What could a transparent business model look like in your industry?

Need some support in discovering your goldmine?  Contact Lisa Murray to arrange your free business coaching session. (No obligation, 30 minute introductory session for new clients only)

Got a comment?  Share your thoughts below...

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Small Business Secrets: It’s what you won’t do that will kill your business!

    As a business coach, I get to talk to lots of business owners about the nitty-gritty of their business success.  Lately I’ve been observing the ‘I won’t’ phenomenom killing off small businesses in droves.  

What happens is that the business owner is too tired and worn out, too bored or too scared to take the next set of steps that will really move the business forward.  In some cases, they have made so many decisions and put so many limitations around how the business runs, that there is no room for creativity, innovation or taking any of the risks which could bring in a swathe of new business.

Take a pen and paper and write down the one thing you would most like to achieve in your business over the next three months.  Now write a list of everything that is stopping you from achieving this.  When you look at that list of limitations, how many of them are self-imposed?  How many of them could be solved by talking to a coach or mentor or getting in some additional expertise?  How many of them can be solved by taking a different point of view?  

Take steps to reduce or dissolve every possible limitation on your list.  Does your target look much more achievable now? When we outgrow our limitations, we can expand our businesses in ways which were unimaginable just a short time ago.  

Wherever you are unwilling to do or change something, you have set (sometimes unconscious) limitations upon yourself and your business… I recently undertook this exercise and it opened up a whole new perspective on my business!  What can it do for yours?  (And if you didn’t do the exercise, it pays to remember that denial is disempowering…the more willing you are to perceive a new perspective, the more successful your business will be!) 

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Getting UNSTUCK! How to get ‘there’ from ‘here’!

So often in business, we know where we need to go, but getting there seems extremely challenging (especially at the moment!!).  What is needed is to balance your grand vision, with the practical steps of moving forward.  Life happens to us one moment at a time.  We move forward in our business one step at a time.  When you have clarity of vision but you keep seeing your current situation as impossible there appears to be little space to move. 
Here are three practical approaches to putting a circuit breaker into your business challenges so that you can move forward…

1. Get really clear about what the gap is: What exactly are you finding impossible? What don’t you have that you need? Why can’t you achieve your vision?

2. Be willing to own the gap! Be willing to be in allowance that the gap exists. Once you see that it’s just a gap, you’ll start to find ways to fill it easily.

3. Ask lots of questions around the specifics of your gap: Who do I know that could help me here? What are the possibilities of finding…… (whatever you need). What would it take for this to happen? When you start asking questions, synchronicity will find you in perfect timing!

Here’s how it works… Last October I decided to write a book. But I kept getting stuck on how I would promote the book – (Publicity hound is not my most favourite job description!!). Eventually I decided to ask a question… “What would it take for me to attract the most phenomenal book publicist?” So I asked the question and kept moving with the book (I am writing in my ‘spare’ moments…!) Recently I realized my question had been answered – one of my new clients specializes in author publicity! So how does it get any better than that? What else is possible? Maybe I’ll get on Oprah yet!!

So, identifying and owning what was keeping me stuck was the key to asking the question that made me feel free! Ask lots and lots of questions around all areas of your business that are stuck – you may be surprised by the outcome! Magic can happen you know…

This is a really simple but highly effective process - if you use it! Some days I just ask questions because my day hasn’t been quite exciting enough yet – often I get a call within minutes with some new exciting opportunity in the offering…ask questions but don’t worry about the answers – that bit isn’t always your job! See that guy on the desert island? There’s a reason he’s stuck!

Albert Einstein was a genius problem solver (amongst other things…) – he offers some good advice: "Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."  I suspect he asked a few questions in his day...

What is your biggest challenge around getting unstuck? Share it in the comments section below. If you need to share more than just a comment, call the Revitalization Experts!

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