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Small Business Revitalization Blog

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

Influence: You’ve Got It!

Image Credit: Flickr_PhotoVandal

My dear friend and coaching client Wendy Mulder launched her new book ‘Learning From Grief’ today with great pizzazz and insight. I was truly honoured that Wendy chose me to MC this momentous occasion.   

Not only did I have a great time… not only was it a heartfelt privilege to promote Wendy’s phenomenal skills in this area… not only did I meet some amazing people who are following their bliss in life… I learned something today that will change my life, and quite possibly yours as well!  Here it is…

None of us is as small, as insignificant, as invisible or as inept as we pretend to ourselves that we are.

The flip side of this is that we all have far more influence over those around us than we are willing to recognize – me included!!  I discovered this when I realized that whilst I knew hardly anyone in the room, there were plenty of people who felt they ‘knew’ me – initially through Wendy sharing what we have contributed and generated together in bringing her book to life, and also through my Revive Business Coaching ezine.

One lady told me how much she enjoys the ezine and that she had shared the latest issue with friends.  This small piece of feedback took me by surprise because, until that moment, I had never actually acknowledged just how much influence such a simple tool could have.

Every time we offer something of ourselves to others, we can influence their life for better, for bliss or for worse… which one will you choose today?  And will you choose to stand up and be the real you – the one that other people see as phenomenal… the one that others look up to…. the one that inspires others and creates more possibilities for them?  Will you?

Because that’s what being a business owner really offers you… the possibility of making a contribution and a difference that matters... there are people out there who are looking for what you offer  - what would it take to gift to them the specialness you offer but never actually recognise?  Whether you see it or not… you have influence in places you never imagined.  You may not think you are ready for world domination… but the world is ready for you!  What are you waiting for???  Start a ripple effect...

Where will you start?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

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Do You Have the Balls to Be Productive?

A few years ago Singapore introduced a tradition where you can go down to Marina Bay and write your new year resolutions onto a big white plastic ball which is floated on the water along with the desires of thousands of other people.  We were there just before NYE 2010 and got amongst it with the locals… the energy was vibrant and expansive but I did wonder how many people would take action... So here’s some ideas on having BALLS and getting productive!

B is for BRAVE (and big!)… I saw people write the most extraordinary things – both positive and negative.  How much ballast do you give your positive and negative ideas?  This year, would you be brave enough to focus your energy and efforts on big, bold ideas that can change the world, or at least your life?

A is for ASKING…  One of the most phenomenal truths in this world is the simplicity of ‘Ask and you will receive’.  When you want to be more productive and you want to achieve more, try asking for help and then being willing to receive it!  Does it really matter if it’s not perfect and you don’t do it all yourself? What are you really asking for? Get a big white ball and write on it…float it in your bathtub… you may discover new solutions by changing your point of view!

L is for LUSCIOUSNESS…  Do your ideas inspire you, make others desire them and draw you into making them real?  If you want instant productivity then lusciousness is like the moth to the flame… Thousands of people play with Singapore’s white balls because it inspires them…  What projects can you create  that inspire lusciousness… in yourself and others?  

L is for LIVING… How often is your life wasted because you are living someone else’s life or dream?  What would it take for you to really live your own precious life?  When you start living your life and stop living for everyone else, you achieve infinitely more and maybe you’ll receive more fabulous surprises!  Are these BALLS yours or someone else’s?  It’s up to you to choose!

S is for SURPRISES…  When you use your balls, you’re going to receive magnificent surprises from unexpected quarters. Doors will open, people will appear, and possibilities will arrive. Instead of ‘I can’t’… start asking “What if I could…..?”  Who knows where your balls will end up!!  As long your balls are in the air, you are productive… what would it take to float some new balls in 2010?

So, 2010 is the time to get your BALLS out and play… playing is much more productive than working smarter – just ask any child!  Well… what did you think I meant?

If you want more fun-filled ideas on how to be more productive, book into the REVIVE Business Coaching February Playshop

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Simple Rules for Business Prosperity

I was talking with a business coaching client recently about what they had learned during the GFC.  One of the key things they are changing in their business is the way they look at debt – instead of pulling every cent out of the business and investing it personally, they are now considering ways to reinvest their profits into the business so that they need never worry about another financial crisis again.

This conversation reminded me of some uncommon but simple rules for business prosperity that I learned from Access Consciousness… what would change in your business and your life if you did these three simple things?

1.    Save 10%
If you put 10% of every dollar that comes into your life away and never touch it. Within a year, your whole financial situation will change. When you save the 10%, you finally realize that you have money!

2.    Ask Questions:
With everything you buy, ask: “If I buy you, will you make me money?” If you ask that, every molecule in the universe will support you in making money.

3.    Willingness to Receive
Many business owners are very independent and not in the habit of being willing to receive…  What would it take for you to be aware of where you cut off the energy of receiving because of your point of view, your judgments or your unawareness of the possibilities that could occur if you are willing to ask more questions?

If money weren’t the issue, what would you choose?

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10 Reasons Why Expert Status Is Essential For Small Businesses

Peter Drucker stated that business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.  Successful small businesses create value.  Smart and successful small business owners create expertise that cannot be copied!

When you are known as the ‘go to’ person in your industry, it opens many doors effortlessly.  Yes, you need to genuinely know a lot - this is about 'celebrity with integrity' rather than 'splash then crash'!  You also need to keep learning and keep packaging your expertise and knowledge in ways that make you stand out.

Sounds like a lot of work...but really, what is the alternative?  Being average leads to average (or worse!) business performance.

If you aren’t the ‘go to’ person currently, but you’d like to be, here’s 10 good reasons to put time and energy into building your expert status:

  1. You can market yourself with authority and establish your business as an industry leader.
  2. You can make your business highly visible with ease.
  3. Your referral business will grow as you are seen as a trusted resource.
  4. It’s easier to gain media coverage  and this builds trust with potential clients.
  5. Speaking at your industry conference is much more powerful than just attending!
  6. You can help clients more productively and insightfully than competitors.
  7. You can gain access to rare resources and other respected authorities in your field.
  8. By sharing, you can attract respect while having fun and being creative!
  9. You can convert followers into raving fans.
  10. You can charge more!
If you'd like a detailed strategy for developing your expert status, the REVIVE Playshop will help turn you into a high profile expert faster than you can imagine! 16th November 2009 Bookings Essential!

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Too Much Buzz, Not Enough Nectar?

Creative Commons:

Do you have too much 'buzz' going through your mind to truly do justice to the nectar that provides the joy in your business and life?  Recently I've had a couple of insightful conversations with my sweetheart around our capacity to fit even more in than we already do, as well as minimising our stress levels.  Sounds crazy but we are both high achievers and don't want to waste a second of our lives... here's the strategy we came up with:

1. We have an 8.30am 'essentials' conversation each morning where we make a commitment to accomplishing the most important three things on our respective lists.  (This delivers focus and a sense of priorities, as well as a feeling of support for each other.)

2. We are choosing to be totally present and aware in whatever we are doing.  No more multi-tasking... or working and pretending we're not when we are supposed to be enjoying some chillout time!!  Rest is rest. Adventures are adventures. Business is business.  The key to a joyful life and productive businesses is being totally present with whichever one we are doing at the time and generating so much more from that totally present space of energy and consciousness.

3. Taking some time to ask more questions around 'What else is possible?' and 'What else can we add to our lives?'... and then planning to have what we desire - more time with the kids, more holidays and long weekends, more creativity and better health, more revenue in the businesses by focusing on actions that generate money!

What do you do that gives you a buzz and makes the quality of your life infinitely better? 

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Is Your Business Delivering The Lifestyle You Desire?

A recent survey of almost 2000 small to medium Australian businesses by Quest Newspapers has highlighted that 71% of business owners are in business because of lifestyle factors such as following their passion, creating better work/life balance and being their own boss.

More than 67% of SME owners are working more than 41 hours a week and more than one third work more than 51 hours a week.  This mismatch between intention and reality is often a source of unhappiness or distress for business owners.

As a business coach I spend a lot of time helping business owners achieve more of what they want in their business in a lot less time!  Here’s five simple steps that can make your business more joyful for you and more aligned with the original reasons you started the business!

  1. Develop an inspiring vision and focus on doing the things that will get you there.
  2. Know where you add the most value to the business. Focus on your strengths and what you are passionate about.
  3. Delegate or outsource the ‘$20’ jobs that you hate but do out of habit or your need to be in control.
  4. Create a culture that values work/life balance… starting with YOU!
  5. Focus on the important, rather than the urgent. Use your time wisely and schedule time for the important.
What is your best tip for maintaining work/life balance?  Share it below!

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Is brand more powerful than strategy in creating competitive advantage?

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” - Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie knew that the secret to understanding what people really value is to observe their behaviour. Often the visible brand and culture encapsulated by the all too common ‘handy eye candy’ wall poster turns out to be lip service only.  How often have you stood in a foyer or store and seen the blurb about ‘we care for our customers…’ only to be ignored or given poor service?
Strategy generally defines the ‘hard’ profit-making elements of your business. Brand and culture define the ‘soft’ people and customer focused elements of your business. Strategy is often easy to copy; brand and culture are notoriously difficult. 

If long term competitive advantage comes from the elements which are difficult to copy, why is so much time spent on strategy and so little time spent on brand?  

A brand can be defined as “a personal promise delivered via an extraordinary experience”.  It is so much more than your logo, signage and advertising campaigns!  Ultimately it is the intangibles that differentiate you from your competitors. In business, it is rare to see values that are authentically held and delivered! How much untapped and untouched potential is waiting to be unlocked in your business brand?  

The answer to unlocking this potential starts with the culture of your business.  In simple terms this is the core values and behaviours that define “who we are and how we do things” within a business.

To start developing your brand and culture as an inimitable competitive advantage, you need to get really clear about who you are, what you stand for, what promises you are making and how they will be delivered. Here’s five quick questions to get you started…

  • What are the first impressions people encounter in your business?
  • How do your people treat each other?  
  • How would you like them to treat each other?
  • What are the promises you make to your customers?  
  • How can the customer experience more accurately reflect your brand promises?
Sounds simple… not always easy! What has your experience been with brand and culture?  We welcome your comments!

P.S.  One of our brand values is JOY - we help you discover how joyful business can be... want to experience it for yourself?  Discover how your leadership can set your brand and culture apart from your competitors... join us at the REVIVE Business Coaching Playshop on Monday 26 October.  Bookings are essential!  (Yes, we do playshops, not workshops... so much more joyful and productive for all!!)

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Ordinary or Extraordinary? Which Is Riskier?

Quirky brand inspiration via Giant Ideas

Think about the businesses you interact with.  Can you name more than five that offer you an outstanding experience every time?  Can you even name one?

Being ordinary in business is easy. You don’t have to think much. You don’t need to do anything different or unusual. You don’t need to be brave.  You don’t need to stand for something. You don’t need to get out of your comfort zone.

The outcome? You don’t stand out from your competitors. You don’t attract raving fans.  And you certainly don’t get extraordinary results!  Being ordinary doesn’t cost much…. Or does it?

Is your business joyful and fun or is it all pain, suffering and gory?  Your answer will depend on your brand and culture… If your brand is more beige than magenta, and your culture is more ‘slit your wrists’ than celebration, it may be time to rethink the risks of being ordinary! When you develop an extraordinary brand and a supportive culture you open up possibilities for magic to occur…  

Talented and amazing people will want to work for you because the way you do things is enticing and engaging.  Customers will become raving fans because you offer something rare and exciting.  Suppliers will want to partner with you because your business is growing.  

Three steps to generating a phenomenal brand:
  1. Identify the personal promises your brand makes publicly.
  2. Create extraordinary experiences around these promises.
  3. Weave the delivery of these experiences through your company culture.
Ready to take the risk of building a brilliant brand and a contagious culture?  Give yourself permission to BE unique… rather than just talking about it!  Create a phenomenal brand at the REVIVE Business Coaching October 2009 Playshop!

Do you have a brand vision that helps you outperform your competitors?  What have you done with your brand or culture that has created phenomenal results? Share your experiences in the comments below...

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What Easton Pearson Knows About Building A Brilliant Brand (That You Don’t!!)

Internationally renowned local fashion brand Easton Pearson are celebrating their 20 year anniversary with a stunning exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.  The exhibition was amazing, but being the business coach that I am, what struck me most was the immense marketing value to the Easton Pearson brand.  

As well as the talks, tours and events for the exhibition, there were foyer and gallery displays, a children’s art activity centre (joyfully frequented by lots of ‘big’ kids who love playing dress-ups too!), extensive advertising of the exhibition by the Gallery, merchandising in the Gallery Shop and additional promotion everywhere you looked (even in the Gallery Café!).

Unless you pay big bucks, it is almost impossible to buy promotion, credibility and visibility like that!  Mediocre ‘me too’ brands never attract these types of showcase opportunities. The good news is that whilst you can't buy that type of exposure, you sure can build a brand that will attract it! 

So what needs to happen in your business for your brand to attract such opportunities?  Here’s my top 5 business coaching tips on building a phenomenal brand:

  1. Your vision must be bold.
  2. Your brand must be remarkable, original and desirable.
  3. Your brand influence must impact your industry in unexpected ways.
  4. Your brand must be sustainable and successful.
  5. You must know the value of your brand and protect it – whatever it takes!
What will you do differently to build your brand from now on?  Share your inspiration in the comments below…

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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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