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10 Practical Ways to Activate Your Business Network

10 Practical Ways to Activate Your Business Network

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”

~ Henry Melvill.”

In this post I share with you 10 super practical and fairly simple actions you can take to activate your business network.

Let me start by sharing a few words about why it’s so important to have your business network activated. First of all, for the work-at-home, solopreneur, it’s essential to our mental wellbeing and happiness to have a well connected tribe of people around you. The more connected your network is, the more front of mind you are for people, which means more support, more connection and oftentimes more referrals.

I’m also a firm believer that, in life (and business) we get back what we put out into the world and as such generosity and service, together, form the bedrock of my business. When you extend kindness to others, there is a ripple effect. It leads to more happiness and more kindness all round. For me, it’s just a wonderful way to live and to do business.

With that said, here are 10 things that I do on the regular to keep my network alive, healthy and well-connected:

1. Do my outreach challenge

This a challenge that my old business coach set me back when I first started out in business, and one I set most of my 1:1 clients when we first start working together. The challenge is to reach out to 50 people in 7 days. The only purpose of your communication is to connect (see this video for more on that). Think short and sweet messages (via email or social media) to check in with people you know, as well as people you don’t yet have a relationship with. For someone you know it might be as simple as: Hey, how’s it going? It’s been a while and you popped into my thoughts and I wondered how you are. For a new contact, it might be as simple as: Hey, I noticed that you’ve been putting some amazing content out lately and I love what you are up to in the world. Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I appreciate what you do. The key is to keep it simple and that’s why it’s 50 people in only 7 days. If you truly follow through with this challenge, I can assure you that magical things will happen.

2. Write to your former clients

Ask how they are and if there is anything you can support them with, offer your support, freely. I like to do this at least every 6 months. For me it’s a way to thank my former clients for the money, time, effort and energy they spent on our work together and also when someone has invited me into their life as their coach, it feels important to maintain and honour the relationship over the long term.

3. Go through your subscriber list

Review your subscriber list to see who regularly opens your newsletters – reach out and say hello, thank them for reading your newsletter, offer your support. Don’t jump in straight away with offering something as that can sometimes come across as a bit intense but ask them how they are and if there is anything that they’re struggling with. If you see something you can help with, then offer something specific and relevant. For example, if I write to a subscriber and ask how their business is and they respond by telling me that they are struggling to get clients, I might offer to send them my best resources on the topic or even offer them a complimentary session for us to identify some strategies that could help.

4. Do some audience research

This is a great way to open a two-way dialogue between you and members of your audience, there are many simple ways you can do audience research ranging from a simple question to an in depth conversation. This video walks you through 5 different types of research you can do. Pick one and do it this week.

5. Curate an article

Create an article using contributions from other experts in your field. Click here for an example of one I did and also click here for one I was invited to take part in. This is a wonderful way to provide great content for your people, cultivate deeper connections with your peers and get your business in front of other people’s audiences. You don’t want to insist on it (because that feels icky) but don’t forget to invite your contributors to share the piece with their audience once published.

6. Go hang out in your favourite Facebook group 

Give yourself a set amount of time and the goal to find 5 posts you can leave a meaningful and supportive comment on. Be sure to choose topics that relate to your area of expertise and be generous in the information you share. My top tip for using Facebook groups for your business outreach is to pick one or two groups that contain your ideal clients and leave the rest. It’s very easy to waste time and energy flitting from group to group on Facebook. Concentrate your efforts and pick one or two groups to show up, shine and be of service in. (If you’re not a member of my Facebook group, the Conscious Business Collective, you can join here!)

7. Ask for referrals

Reach out to anyone who has experienced your work in the past (be that free or paid work) and ask them if they know anyone who would benefit from a complimentary session with you. I like to invite people to gift a session to a friend of theirs, who they feel could benefit. To see an example of a referral request email I have sent in the past click here.

8. Reach out to your biggest fans 

Those people who like and comment on all of your posts. Send them a direct and personal message to thank them and to find out how they are. If after you’ve made the initial connection there’s an obvious way you could support them, offer your help generously. If it leads to a real conversation great, but be mindful not to force it.

9. Offer your audience something for free

For coaches this could be a complimentary session, for teachers a free class, web designers might offer a free website review, healers a taster session. Personally I think that it’s far better to offer this on a 1:1 basis rather than to blast it out to everyone. You’ll want to choose people who are fans of your work and let them know you are gifting this to them because of their loyalty and support. 

10. Interview someone in your industry who you admire 

It’s wonderful for your audience, it helps forge a new deeper relationship with someone you admire and there’s also a chance that you’ll get more exposure, should they share the interview with their audience. Click here for an example of an interview I did and another one here and here. If you can get interviewed by someone else, even better!

So there you have it, 10 ways to activate your business network. If you did just one of these a week, I think you would be stunned by the results.

If I could give you one piece of advice on how to approach all of the above, it would be to come from a place of service. If you see this list as a strategy to make money, your efforts will likely fail. Having expectations about what results you’ll get is more than likely to impact the results negatively.

Approach each of these with love and care.Do each task simply because it feels good to connect and give back. Have your intention be simply to connect and to serve. That’s where the magic of this lies.

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Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

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Why I Don’t Do Discovery Calls + What I Do Instead

Why I Don’t Do Discovery Calls + What I Do Instead

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

~ Anne Frank

In this post I want to talk to you about discovery calls. For many of my clients, who tend to be service-based business owners such as coaches, healers and teachers, discovery calls are a common practice for enrolling people into 1:1 or group programs. I, however, don’t use them nor do I recommend using them to my clients and in this post I’m going to share with you why.

If you’re not familiar with what a Discovery Call involves or how they are generally structured, I recommend taking five minutes now to watch this video. The idea behind them is to discover whether or not the person enquiring might be a fit for the service being offered, but in general what happens is a different story. If you’ve ever been on a discovery call, (I’ve been on several) you’ll know what I’m talking about. More often than not, the call is less about ascertaining whether what’s on offer might genuinely serve the prospective clients needs and more about trying to get the sale.

Without fail, a discovery session will include details of the program or service on offer and because discovery sessions also tend to be short, typically 30  or 40 minutes, that really does leave very little time to have a meaningful conversation about fit and suitability. Would you agree to embark on a committed relationship (platonic or romantic) after just 30 minutes in that person’s company? I know I wouldn’t nor would I want to commit to spending thousands of dollars or several hours and months of my time with someone who I’d only spoken with for 30 minutes.

Because such a short time-frame puts unnecessary pressure, not only on the service provider (to get the sale) but also the prospect to make a quick decision, the conversation often ends up feeling uncomfortable and awkward for everyone involved.

What I do instead? 

On my services page or when someone asks about working together, the first thing I do is to offer them a full, pitch-free, complimentary coaching session. I do this for several reasons.

When I show up as my best coaching self and work to truly serve the person in front of me, I find that I don’t need to sell anything. Giving someone an actual experience of what it would be like to work with me means I don’t need to find clever or gimmicky ways to describe what I do, I can simply have them experience it.

This works in reverse too. Having a real coaching session, in which we dive deep into what the person is struggling with, gives me a very real sense of whether or not this person is the type of person I would like to work with (or am able to truly serve). If what they need is not something I offer or they spend the session making excuses or trying to wriggle out of taking responsibility for their part, then it’s clear to me that letting them spend thousands on coaching would be a bad course of action for both of us.

Now you might be wondering how I sign clients if I don’t ever pitch or talk about my services. 

Let me explain what usually happens. There are two types of people I usually have complimentary sessions with. The first group is people who are actively looking for a business coach, who have approached me (sometimes via my coaching page) and have booked a complimentary session with that in mind. Then there is a second group of people, who I have reached out to and offered or gifted a complimentary session to. There is a subtle difference in how I handle the two.

With the people who have already expressed an interest in working with me, at the start of the complimentary session, I tell them that we won’t be talking about working together today, we will just be having a coaching session. I then tell them that should they still want to discuss working together after the session, then we’ll set up a separate call for that.

If you are wondering why I would delay having a conversation about working together with someone who is already obviously interested, I have several reasons. First of all trying to transition from coaching someone powerfully to enrolling them into a program feels icky and awkward. Secondly, I like to set the client homework to do between the complimentary session and the call we’ll have to discuss ongoing coaching. This gives them an even deeper experience of what it looks like to work with me and whether or not and how they complete the homework, gives me a really great indication of how committed they are to the work required of them.

Finally, but most importantly, I like to go deep when I’m having a conversation with someone about working with me. I want to know why they want coaching, how they think it will help them, why they want to work specifically with me and what their vision is for the work we’ll potentially do together. For me, it’s a conversation that takes time and I like to give adequate space for it.

With the second group of people, I do the same except I don’t mention working together at all on the first call. If it’s a great session and I feel excited to do more with the person, I will also give them homework and offer them a second complimentary session to see how they got on with the homework. At the end of that second session if they haven’t mentioned working together, I simply ask them if there is anything else I can do to support them.

Sometimes this means they’ll ask about my offerings, sometimes they say nothing more is required. Either way, I’ve likely made a wonderful new contact. Over the years I have had some beautiful things come as a result of calls like these, including and not limited to, amazing testimonials, referrals, collaborations, friendships and several times I’ve had a person say no to more support in the moment, only to sign up as a client months or even years later.

I’m such a huge fan of giving complimentary, pitch-free coaching sessions not just for the reasons I’ve shared above but also because of the following:

  • They allow me to keep my coaching skills sharp. 
  • They allow me to be of service and to give back to my community. 
  • They give me a deeper understanding of what my audience/community is struggling with. 
  • They are a wonderful way to start a new a meaningful relationship with another human being.

When you can start to see complimentary sessions as a win-win for both you and your potential clients, they become much more fun and rewarding for everyone involved and when you let go of trying to “get the sale”, you’ll find that, ironically, people will be more inclined to work with you than if they feel pressured to buy. 

Introducing The Business of Coaching

If you want to learn more about how I have used complimentary coaching sessions to build and grow my coaching business you can always go deeper with the online training I co-created with fellow coach Helen McLaughlin called The Business of Coaching, it’s jam-packed with our best advice on growing your coaching business in authentic and conscious ways.

 

 

How Long it Really Takes to Succeed in Business

How Long it Really Takes to Succeed in Business

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

~ Bill Gates

In this post I want to talk to you about one of the biggest misconceptions (if not the biggest) I see in the world of online business. That is the time it takes to reach a level of success in business that is both sustainable and self-supporting.

Here’s the thing, building a successful business is not easy. Despite what you might have read online, building a successful and sustainable business takes consistent effort, working on the right things, over a number of years.

I can’t begin to tell you how often I see marketing messages online that imply a very different story. We are bombarded with tales of overnight success, coming at us from the very people who are trying to sell us something that will, so they tell us, bring us that same overnight success.

As a result, many new business owners I speak to, genuinely believe that they are only months away from having the business (and the income) of their dreams, even though they currently have no real audience, no clients to speak of and no clarity about the problem they solve for people.

Before I get on a coaching call with someone new I always request that they answer the following questions:

1. What stage are you at with regards to running your own business?
2. Where would you like to be with your business in the next 3, 6 and 12 months?

Nine times out of ten, people answer, something to the effect of, just starting out to the first question and something to the effect of a full roster of clients and consistent income in answer to the second.

I’d like to make the case that this kind of success is extremely rare. Going from making no money to making enough to cover all of your outgoings and then some, in the space of 12 months or less, can certainly be done, but it is definitely the exception rather than the norm.

Before you can reach the holy grail of consistent income, there are two key things you need to have in place:

  1. A growing and well-engaged, audience of people who know like and trust you and who have a specific need or problem.
  2. A well designed product or service that specifically fulfils this need or solves this problem.

Both of these take time to create and before you can even think about creating a well-engaged audience and a set of relevant products and services that serve their needs well, you have a whole lot to figure out. Which requires a whole lot of research, a whole lot of trial and error, a whole lot of putting yourself out there and a whole lot of showing up consistently (often to the sound of crickets!) before you even begin to get some traction.

The problem is that generally, people don’t have a lot of staying power. With so many different “no fail” strategies out there, competing for our attention, it’s easy to see why people flit from strategy to strategy without ever taking the time required to make any single strategy work for them.

Something I hear a lot from people, when I’m suggesting a viable business strategy is, “I tried that and it didn’t work” and my response is always the same: Define “try”. Because when we scratch beneath the surface, what they actually mean by try is that they did it a few times and nothing happened or they did it for a few weeks, didn’t see any results and gave up.

The reality is that most people give up far sooner than it would take to see the very results they are so desperate for. 

The world of business and success is littered with examples of insanely successful people who endured failure after failure before finally realising their goal. To name just two there’s JK Rowling who had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected by 12 different publishers before finally getting a break, which led to her book series being translated into 73 languages, selling millions of copies and accruing over $20 billion through movie adaptations and sponsorships.

How many people would have given up after 2 or 3 rejections? Or not even finished the manuscript in the first place?

Or there’s Sir James Dyson who went through 5,126 failed prototypes over the course of 15 years before creating the best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner leading to a net worth of $4.5billion. This kind of tenacity is rare but it’s oh so crucial to business success.

There are countless other examples of people who persevered (and triumphed) in the face of failure. Check out this article for more.

Now before you get dismayed by what I’m sharing here, I want you to consider that building a successful business is a process, one that takes time, commitment, consistency and perseverance but that doesn’t have to be bad news. Consider this quote:

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” 

~ W. Timothy Gallwey

When we can accept where we are in the process of growing our business, we experience less frustration and self-doubt. When we understand that success takes years rather than months we can feel some relief instead of disappointment. We can tune out the hype online that tries to sell us on the idea of overnight success and get on with the job of following through on our strategies and getting what needs to be done, done.

Some of my favourite resources on this topic, which I highly encourage you to dig into, are listed below:

“I should have made it by now!” a video by Marketing for Hippies
10 Year Plan for Authentic Business a blog post by George Kao
The Four Stages of Business Development a free course/assessment by Heart of Business.

I’d love to know what you get from reading this post. Does it give you some perspective on where you are in your business journey. It’s my sincere hope that in some small way it allows you to let go of any feelings that you should be further along than you are. Let me know in the comments below.

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Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Conduct Your Mid-Year Business Review With 3 Simple Questions

Conduct Your Mid-Year Business Review With 3 Simple Questions

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”

~ Peter Drucker

Last week saw the end of the first half of 2019. This week we began the second half of the year and what better time to do a 6-month review of your business. This is where you’ll assess how things are going against the plans and goals you (hopefully) set at the start of the year.

Now if you didn’t create any plans or set any goals for this year don’t despair, it’s never too late to get intentional about what you are trying to achieve in your business and besides, the questions I ask in this post work, regardless of whether or not you have a plan. If on the other hand you are ahead of the game and have your plans and goals at the ready, then I applaud you. You are in the minority, believe me.

In this post I’m going to walk you through some of the essential questions you’ll want to consider as you set about preparing for your next 6 months in business.

1. How much money have you made?

It’s a simple question to ask but can be a tortuous one to answer. If you’re feeling depressed about how little you’ve made this year, don’t let that stop you from doing the work to get your figures down on paper.

You’ll want to know how much you made total and how much you brought in each month. Maybe you feel some resistance about doing this work not because of low sales but because you’ve made a lot of sales and the thought of having to go over every transaction and record it to get to your totals feels overwhelming. I get it, ideally you would work on your finances every month, but even I got to the end of June and realised I hadn’t done my monthly finances since March so this week I spent a couple of hours doing the last 3 months. Once you find your rhythm, you’ll find you can get the work done in half a day or less.

You’ll also want to look at these figures against what you spent in your business over the same time frame. If you brought in 20K for example but spent 22K then your business is in deficit. Conversely if you only spent 6K then you’re in profit. It’s all too easy to bury our heads in the sand when we know that we’re not making a profit but knowing the actual numbers and tracking them over time, really allows you to see whether or not your business is growing. It’s pretty common to be in deficit in the early days of building your business (which is why so many people seek investors), but knowing whether or not your deficit is increasing or decreasing over time is crucial.

2. What’s working?

If the numbers are good, in that they represent an increase on the same timeframe as last year, then you’ll what to examine why you think that is, looking at what you might have done differently this year that has contributed to the increase? It’s so useful to be able to pinpoint what it is that’s working. 

To give you an example from my business. Having, this week completed my finances for the last 6 months, I see that I’ve made a 38% increase in revenue compared to the first 6 months of 2018. (If you want to work out your own percentage increase, or decrease, head here.)

As I considered why my numbers have increased, several changes that I’ve made in my business come to mind:

  • I stopped working so hard and started to take more breaks. In doing this I found that I was more focused and productive when I was working. Yes it’s really true that you can work less and achieve more, who knew!?
  • I got a LOT clearer on my message and my unique point of view. I’m in no doubt there there is a strong correlation between my delving deeper into “conscious” business and my message around that and an increase in revenue.
  • I worked with several business mentors. In 2015 I spent over $20,000 on business coaching and training and since then, I’ve held back from spending more money in this area. However, during the latter part of 2018 and the first half of 2019, I found some wonderful business mentors and felt inspired to invest in this area once again. As a result, I’ve done a ton of coaching, courses and collaborating, all of which have strengthened my skills as a business owner and coach and contributed in even greater business success.
  • In 2018, I made consistent content creation a top priority. I know that consistent content creation increases my reach and cultivates greater trust with my audience. Both of which are sure to have had an impact on sales.

3. What’s not working?

If you’re noticing a decline in your numbers, then it’s vital that you understand what’s going wrong. It can feel overwhelming to consider what’s not working because a part of our brains tells us that if we knew that we wouldn’t be in this predicament, but that’s not necessarily true.

Most business owners I work with, when asked to dig deep on what they think isn’t working / what they could be doing better, have an answer at the ready. To help you out, I’ve listed some common issues I see:

  • Inconsistency. You aren’t putting effort in consistently so that despite working hard sometimes, your efforts are in vain because you drop the ball and have to start again from scratch. Consistency leads to momentum. We need momentum to reach the tipping point where our business begins generating regular income and can thus achieve a level of sustainability.
  • Strategy switching. I see this one all the time. You’ve been seduced by a shiny new strategy online and decided to give it a go. People are raving about how it’s transformed their business from struggling to 6-figures so you jump on it with enthusiasm. After a few weeks or even a few months you don’t see the kind of results you were hoping for so you give up and go in search of the next strategy that will magically propel you to riches. 
  • Hiding. You’re working on your business, you really are yet nobody knows you’re there because the thought of bothering people or putting yourself in the limelight is nothing short of mortifying for you. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect website, a beautiful opt-in and life-changing offerings if nobody knows you exist. You need to be out there sharing your content and connecting with people to really see results. 
  • Poor foundations. There are certain foundations every successful business needs to have in order to achieve true success. A clear understanding of the problem you solve for people, a clear and unique message, a solid and impactful offering (or set of), a unique methodology and real clarity on how exactly you help people, to name a few. If any of these are missing or lacking, you will struggle to truly connect to your audience in a way that translates into sales.

Do any of these sound familiar or is there something else at play? If you get really honest with yourself, I’m willing to bet that you know in your heart what needs to change.

What will you do over the next 6 months?

So now that you’ve completed your review and you have clarity on the financial situation of your business, what is working and what isn’t working, it’s now time to consider what you want to achieve over the next 6 months. This is a good time to get out your business plan and goals if you have them. Were there goals you set that you’ve haven’t achieved and maybe even forgotten about? Do they still feel relevant given what you’ve learned about your business from this review or is it time to create some new goals.

My suggestion is to get really clear on what your strategic priorities are for the remainder of this year and then set goals underneath them. You’ll want to set no more than 3 priorities and make sure that these are strategic business priorities rather than goals. For example, mine for this year are Content Creation, Outreach and Audience Growth. What are yours? Even is serious planning is not your thing, taking some time to think about what you want to do in your business given what you’ve learned in the review, is really worth your time. 

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.