5 Quick & Easy Ways to Improve Your Website


 

Your website is a critical component of your marketing strategy. If set up properly, your website can be the source of tons of new customer leads. And even if they hear of you elsewhere, in many cases, customers will still visit your website to learn more about you.

So here are 5 quick and easy ways to make your website more effective.

#1: Establish a blog


Setting up a blog is the easiest way for you to continually add new content to your website.

And each piece of content you add is another opportunity for someone to do a search (on Google.com, etc.) and find your company.

Also, your blog posts can be used to show your subject matter credibility, and further prove to prospective customers that you are the best provider in the market.

#2: Promote your blog posts


In addition to adding new blog posts (ideally once per week, and at a minimum twice per month), make sure to promote your posts.

You can promote your posts by posting them on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

Your goal is to drive more traffic to your blog posts. Also, try to get visitors to comment and/or ask questions about your posts. And then, respond to their questions and comments.

Finally, remember that each question posed by your visitors may be a great topic for a future blog post.

#3: Create videos

Particularly if you don't like to write, create videos.

Videos that teach prospective customers how to do something are extremely valuable. And they can be used to "soft-sell" your product and/or services.

For example, let's say you offer carpet cleaning services. A short video teaching people how to tell if their carpet is in need of cleaning would be extremely valuable. And, people who watched it would be prone to purchase your service.

#4: Add sharing buttons


Particularly if the content on your blog is good, make sure it's easy for visitors to share it.

You can quickly and easily accomplish this by adding buttons that allow people to share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and other social media networks.

This is how blog posts go viral; by making it easy for others to share them.

#5: Make your website mobile and tablet friendly

More and more people are visiting websites from their mobile devices and tablets. But not all website look good on these sources.

Make sure your website does. If it doesn't, there are some inexpensive services that manage this for you. Such services can tell when a visitor is not coming from a desktop, and will automatically push them to a version of your website (which they create and host) that is more mobile/tablet friendly.

Each of these five tips can be implemented very quickly and easily. And they will result in more customers and sales. So make completing this a priority.

 

Suggested Resource: Want to learn my complete strategy for methodically maximizing your online traffic, leads, sales and profits? Then check out my Ultimate Internet Marketing System.

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Is Crowdfunding Better than Peer-to-Peer Lending?


 

Both Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Lending are great new ways to raise money for your business. Below I explain the differences, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. I end by determining which is better.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-Peer (or P2P) Lending is one person lending money to another person at a pre-defined interest rate. It's basically debt capital without the bank or traditional "middle man."

The benefit of P2P Lending is that 1) the interest rates are typically lower, and 2) the likelihood of getting the loan is greater than the likelihood of getting a traditional bank loan.

There are several popular websites that connect borrowers and lenders directly. The biggest two are:

  • Prosper.com
  • LendingClub.com


The downside of P2P lending is that you need to repay the loan and that there are limits to how much you can raise (generally only $25K at a time).
 
Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is raising money from the "crowd" or general population. In Crowdfunding, you don't need to repay the amount raised. Rather, you give rewards (usually the product you want to develop) or equity to those who fund you.

The most established rewards-based Crowdfunding websites are:

  • Kickstarter is the largest Crowdfunding site. The downside of Kickstarter is that not every project is accepted and they charge a success fee of 8% in the event you get funding.

  • Rockethub is primarily for funding creative projects. Their network is not as large as Kickstarter's, but is still pretty big. They accept more projects, and also have a success fee of 8%.

  • GoFundMe is a large and growing Crowdfunding site. It is unique in that it doesn't charge a success fee if you get funded. GoFundMe does charge a $9 fixed monthly fee.

  • IndieGoGo is another very large Crowdfunding platform. It has more creative (e.g., film, music) projects than some of the other sites.


On the equity side, Crowdfunding if still extremely new and still only limited to accredited investors (expect this to change shortly). Crowdfunder is one of the leaders in the equity based Crowdfunding market now. We will see how it grows and other sites pop-up as non-accredited investors enter the market in 2014.

So, Which is Better?

I prefer Crowdfunding over Peer to Peer Lending because of the potential to raise more money through a larger group of people, and not having to pay the money back. I also like that all the people who crowdfund you 1) are potential future customers, and 2) can spread the word about your business.

However, the two funding sources are NOT mutually exclusive, so definitely consider using BOTH Crowdfunding and Peer to Peer Lending, since both are great forms of funding.

 

Suggested Resource: Do you want Crowdfunding? If so, don't try to raise it from scratch -- the 14-step blueprint already exists. Get the Crowdfunding blueprint here.

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Wisdoms of The Pricing Man


 

“It is not the business that earns a profit adequate to its genuine costs of capital, to the risks of tomorrow and to the needs of tomorrow’s worker and pensioner, that “rips off” society. It is the business that fails to do so.”


                                                                             - Peter Drucker, The Delusion of ‘Profits,’ Wall Street Journal, 1975


I was recently recommended a great book, Confessions of the Pricing Man How Price: Affects Everything by Hermann Simon, widely considered the leading expert on business pricing of all time.

Doubt this? Well, Mr. Simon is so renowned and respected as THE pricing guru that he has built a $300 million+, 32 offices (in 22 countries), 860 employee consulting firm focused exclusively on advising many of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world (including  American Express, BMW, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs,Grainger, LinkedIN, Skype, among very many others) advice on pricing strategies that maximize profitability and the customer purchase and consumption experience.

This "Win-Win" duality - that yes we can charge a profitable price for our products and services and that our clients and customers can feel good about it, is a simple but incredibly profound wisdom that the vast majority of businesses just don't get.

And not doing so costs them dearly.

Because in this Internet Age of ours - with no matter what businesses we are in or what we sell - there are thousands of competitors offering similar, comparable wares, far too often we are all seduced by the siren song that if we just lowered our prices...

...sales would increase and with greater volume “eventually” we would figure out how to reduce costs to make up for the lost margin.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Simon explains in his book, lowering prices is almost never the right strategic choice, and referencing the Peter Drucker quote above, makes the profound point that as business owners maintaining sustainable is not only a business imperative, but a moral one too,

To achieve and maintain high prices, Simon advises that as sellers we must 1) shun from our minds forever the "Engineer's Fallacy” that if we just build a good product “they will come" - i.e. that marketing and branding do not really matter and 2) to truly “get” that the buyer's pricing experience is decidedly not a one-time event at the moment of purchase, but an "experience over time."

And as that experience is a high quality one where our product / service delivers on its promises and confers emotional, psychological and social benefits that are important to buyers, then the price charged - no matter how high - will be experienced as a fair one for almost all buyers.

Let’s put this all into three quick ways to put these pricing insights to work right away:

#1. Buy and Read Simon's book.  It will change forever for the better how you think and act about pricing in your business.

#2. No time for that?  Then start thinking less about the features of your product and services (technical specs, input costs, delivery time, etc.)  and far more about its benefits (safety, prestige, sex appeal, contributing to the greater good, etc.). “Benefits Thinking” like this will immediately get us focused more on marketing and branding and less on operational costs and considerations.

(For a brilliant illustration on the power of Benefits Thinking, watch this video of arguably the greatest business strategist of all time announce and explain the launch of one of the most famous and successful marketing campaigns of all time).

#3.  No time for #1 or #2? Then just raise your prices! Reference my “Using the 20% Rule to Double Business Results” logic and challenge oneself to raise prices 20% this year, consequences be darned.

My strong bet, and Mr. Simon would most concur, that doing so will create a virtuous circle - happier customers at the moment of purchase and throughout their consumption experience, and more profits too.

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Resolving Buyer - Seller Tensions to Get Deals Done


 

For conversations around business financings and sales, there are natural tensions, of time, credibility, and trust, between entrepreneurs seeking to be financed/sold (“Sellers”) and the investors/acquirers that approached for $$ (“Buyers”).

And if these tensions are not resolved, a deal cannot get done.

Time Tension is the idea that our entrepreneur seller almost always seeks to have their business valued based on its future potential, while our investor / acquirer buyer seeks to price it based on past results.

Note that time tension is present no matter the stage or size of a business, from the startup raising its first round of capital to the multi-billion dollar public company explaining its quarterly earnings and giving guidance for the period to come.

Very importantly, it is almost always the sellers responsibility to proactively resolve time tension to move a deal forward.

First, this involves having clean, concise, and easy to access financial and company records (no matter how unimpressive they might be) available for buyer review, along with the ability to coherently explain why the results were what they were.

Secondly, it involves the Seller telling a Great Story of how results will improve in the future.

This great story must be both "Top Down" and "Bottom Up."  The Top Down story is a firm point of view on what one's industry and marketplace will look and behave like in the future (say in 3-to-5 years time), and then how our business is well-positioned to profit from this evolving reality.

A great example of this is Travis Kalanick, Founder and CEO of Uber, who communicates with amazing eloquence his view on the future of transportation and mobility, and then how Uber's growth plan is being evolved and executed upon to benefit from this evolution.

And our great story must also be Bottom Up, detailing as specifically as possible how people, technology and financial assets will be brought together in a cost-conscious and hard-to-duplicate way to execute upon our growth plan.

Yes, creating both great Top Down and Bottom Up stories is hard and doing so requires the expenditure of a LOT of brain juice by smart and dedicated people.

But doing so at a high level can be worth a LOT MORE in accretive value (like $62.5 billion more, as in the case of Uber) and as importantly is the only way to...

Bridge the Credibility Gap. As a default, Buyers believe nothing that Sellers give and tell them.

For past financial results, they ask who prepared them.

For financial projections, they ask where is the proof that its assumptions will come to pass.

For our “Top Down” opinion on where our market is heading, they ask based on what.

And for our “Bottom Up” operational plan, they ask us to show them evidence from our past that we can execute upon it.

And as we provide this evidence, they ask if we are still motivated and young enough to do so again.

Sellers must put their pride aside and really hear and empathize with these buyer doubts, and then patiently overcome via attention to detail and via extremely high quality thought and business presentation...

...and via a Pig-Headed Determination to repeat that business presentation over and over again until some buyer (and it often just takes one!) says yes.

Yes, Webster defines determination as "Willfulness infused with discipline."

Willful, determined entrepreneurs, who through their work ethic and discipline produce high quality business stories, and then repeat those stories over and over again...

...well they are the ones that the resolve the Buyer - Seller tensions of time and credibility, and build trust so deep that only a handshake is needed to get a deal done.

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Modern Selling: Challenge Yourself to be Great (4 Things to Do)


 

The stereotypes of what makes a great salesperson - a "silky charmer," a “smiler and dialer,” a “closer” etc. - are really not characteristics of top sales performers anymore.

In fact, it probably makes sense to retire the term "salesperson" altogether, as it has become too corrupted with negative connotation to be useful to describe the kinds of professionals companies need to represent their products and services and drive top line results.

A term I prefer (which I partially borrow from Brent Adamson’s excellent piece on the topic) is “Challenger Rainmaker.”

Challenger Rainmakers challenge everyone in their orbit - customers, prospects, colleagues, their managers, and above all else themselves to be their absolute best selves every day in every way by focusing on these Four Things:

#4. Relationship. Our Challenger Rainmaker comes to each and every interaction - whether it be in person, on the phone, via email / text / social media - from a profound place of empathy and respect for their prospects and clients.

While of course upbringing has the most pronounced impact on this personal characteristic (is there anything we more fundamentally learn from our parents?), company leaders and managers that model these values greatly influence the likelihood of their importance being stressed at the level of prospect and client interaction.

And with authentic relationships arrived at from a place of integrity and respect, our Challenger Rainmaker then focuses on...

#3. Process. Directing a decision-making process that moves, in the words of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, at a “quick, but unhurried speed.

This means that every communication is concluded with the “What are the Next Action Steps?” questions, along with elegantly but firmly insisting that the answers to those questions be given in a timely and complete manner.

Those answers can be as simple as agreeing to the time for the next call, and as complex as organizing multiple parties to move with velocity through the complex process of getting from a meeting of the minds to a signed agreement.

While empathy may be the guiding emotive state for the relationship mindset of our Challenger Rainmaker, when it comes to process "Tough Love" is.

Our Challenger Rainmaker is relentless, both because he or she cares, and because they believe in the value of what they are doing, which leads to their next characteristic...

2. Our Challenger Rainmaker gives Consultative Value-Add in each and every conversation.

This is a commitment made on many levels - of the genre that “There is No Tomorrow" and so with everything we do and say our goal is to be an Additive Force for all who we meet.

And it is a commitment to work and study long and hard to Know Our Stuff, and thus be able to actually add value.

Knowing our stuff, in our intensely competitive modern environment, is both a lifelong and an “after hours” commitment - i.e. we always should be learning and doing so beyond our “Nine to Five” job descriptions.

And when Our Challenger Rainmaker combines a deep commitment to relationship, with professional process, with being of the mindset to add value always and to learn and grow well beyond the 40 hour work week, what naturally follows is...

1. A Burning Desire to Win. To win for a lot of reasons, because we believe in the value of our products and services and the mission of our organization, to win because we deserve to for all of our hard work and to win because winning is a lot more fun than losing.

Winning, from a place of relationship and hard work, and accomplished through professional process that has real value-add in and of itself...

...heck is there anything in business sweeter than that?

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Business Lessons from Trump, Sanders et al


 

With the Iowa Caucuses this coming Monday and the New Hampshire Primary a week later, this is crunch time in both the Democratic and Republican Presidential Nomination Races.

And whatever your politics, as business people we can learn a lot in these next two weeks from how the leading candidates sprint and compete hard for votes and momentum.

So as you are watching the election coverage, don’t just get upset by all of the rhetoric but also learn from these winning political strategies and mindsets that can be put to great business use right away:

5. Nothing is Immutable to Hard Work. As voting days approach, watch for the vastly increased personal effort of the candidates, with “Dawn to Dusk and Beyond” full throttle campaigning the expectation and norm. Yes, whatever you think of their motivations, politicians right before elections, like coaches preparing for a big game, are excellent role models in “lengthening the day” and cranking up the energy in pursuit of victory.

4. Simple Messaging is Effective Messaging. Whether or not you agree with their styles and policies, note that the favorites to win in Iowa and New Hampshire are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who in turn have by far the simplest and most emotionally visceral campaign messaging.

For Sanders, it is the always popular theme of income inequality, and for Trump the equally time tested one of cultural identity and fear of "the other." For our business purposes let’s not focus on the rightness of these positions and instead reflect on how our customer and prospect messaging can be simplified and better aimed at "the gut" versus the analytical mind.

3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. As responsible businesspeople, we often feel the need to "change up" what we're saying because a) We feel that if we have already told someone something, that it is rude to repeat ourselves and b) especially for the creative entrepreneurs among us, saying the same thing over and over again is boring.

Politicians feel no such constraint. Coming back to Sanders and Trump, not only do they keep their messages simple and visceral, but they repeat these messages over and over again. (Heck, Bernie Sanders has been saying pretty much the same thing for over 50 years!)

The old marketing adage that a message needs to be heard seven times before it starts to stick probably underestimates the needed touch points in our massively distracted, low attention span technological age. So when in doubt, have faith that more frequency almost always trumps less.

2. Cater to Your Niche. While in a general election, the candidates are tasked with crafting messaging that appeals to a broad and diverse electorate, in primaries the winning strategy is as often as not to cater to the more “extreme” voters, who also are usually the most animated and engaged, and thus command a disproportionate influence on the result.

Similarly, in business, the value of our most enthusiastic customers - the Harley Davidson riders that tattoo themselves with the company's name, the Apple enthusiasts who sleep in line outside of a store to be first up for a new product release - should never be overlooked.

These kinds of customers do something far more important than buy our products and services, they validate us and the value we bring with a level of authenticity and credibility that we as “conflicted agents” can’t ever match.

1. Re-Frame Everything as a Positive. Yes, it is partly an act, but no matter their poll numbers or how little money they have in the bank, between now and the voting all of the candidates will project a positive and winning air.

And if they lose, in their concession speeches they quickly “spin” the defeat into a positive - i.e. they did better than expectations, they made an important contribution to the debate, etc.

Yes, it is only natural to be discouraged by setbacks, but being effective means moving with velocity through those setbacks and quickly pivoting to that next challenge, that next race, that next sale.

So let's put the cynicism aside and no matter our politics both commend and learn from the effort, messaging, and resilience of the various candidates in this their truly “Crowded Hour.

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The 10 Quickest Ways to Improve Your Website


 

Regardless of how good your current website it, I'm confident it can be better. In fact, on my website, I'm constantly testing new ideas to improve it. I test different colors, different headlines, different pictures, and so on. And each time, I learn ways to improve.

Below I summarize the 10 key aspects of your website that you should review and improve over time.

1. Look and Feel

The look and feel of your website is much more important than you might realize. Because when visitors go to your site, it's critical that their first impression is positive.

Think for a minute about who your customers are and what they are seeking. Then cater to them. For example, the look and feel of Porsche's website is extremely cool and elegant. Conversely, the look and feel of the Ben & Jerry's website is much more animated and fun (right now it's showing cows drinking on the beach).

Both websites do a great job of conveying the image in which they want customers to view them. Make sure that the look and feel of your website does the same.

2. Copywriting

I'm sure following situation happens to you (since it happens to me all the time): I go to a company's website, I read the homepage, and I still don't know what the company does.

So, I end up going to the "About Us" page to read more and to try to decipher what it is that the company does.

Importantly, I'm the exception. Few other visitors will invest the time to figure out what your company does. Rather, if they don't immediately "get it" and you don't immediately show them how you will benefit them, they'll leave and be gone forever.

A quick tip here is to use compelling headlines. For example, if your website sold tires, a great headline would be: "See Our Selection Of Over 500 Brands of Tires at the Guaranteed Lowest Prices." This is pretty much what all customers are looking for (selection and best price), so this headline lets visitors quickly know what the company does and that they are in the right place.

3. Navigation

I'm sure your website has many pages, and it's your job to make it as simple as possible for your visitors to find the pages they want.

Navigation should be done on a top and/or left navigation bar, using links at the bottom of your website AND within the body text of all pages of your site.

4. Accessibility

More and more people are using devices other than computers (particularly mobile phones and tablets) to access websites. Make sure your website is accessible from all of these devices or you will unwittingly be turning away new customers.

5. Quality Content

Website visitors have come to expect that your website will include quality content or information. For example, if your website has articles, they shouldn't be "fluff" - they need to include actionable advice that shows visitors that you know more than they do.

And clearly, having typos and grammatical errors will also turn off site visitors and prospective customers.

Think about the information you need to convey to customers to better solve their needs and differentiate from the competition. While some of this information is compelling verbiage about your company, more of it should be information that's truly helpful to customers and makes them feel they made the right choice by visiting your website.

6. Amount of Content

The amount of content you include on your website is important for two reasons.

The first is that the more content you have on your website, the more preference search engines like Google will give your site when ranking it for desired keywords.

The second is that if customers are considering doing business with your company, they will want to learn more and more about it. Having a 5 or 10 page website clearly won't allow you to do this (you can start with a small website, but you need to add to it over time).

7. Interactivity

Having a blog on your website helps solve both your website's need for amounts of content (#6) and interactivity (#7).

With regards to amount of content, adding a daily or weekly blog post entry will allow your website to constantly grow in size. This will boost your website's search rankings and give you more keyword opportunities to rank on (since each blog post might rank for certain keyword search terms).

With regards to interactivity, having a blog allows customers and prospective customers to interact with you. It gives you the opportunity to solicit feedback, which provides quick and easy market research.

Your blog also gives you a voice. Here's why this is important. People prefer to buy from people and not faceless companies. While your main website can have a professional, corporate look and feel, your blog gives your customers a look into your personality, and can encourage rapport and sales.

8. Prove that You are Worthy

Your website must prove that you are a worthy company, since many of your visitors may have never heard about you or your company, and there is a natural skepticism consumers have against companies they find online.

Unfortunately, overcoming this skepticism is not as easy as simply stating "we are great." Rather, you need to prove that you are worthy.

You can accomplish this by including any or all of the following on your website:

  • Media mentions (in which media your company has been featured)
  • Credibility logos (e.g., a logo of the Better Business Bureau with a link to your BBB rating)
  • Client logos, names, testimonials and/or case studies showing you have performed quality work
  • Industry associations and groups to which you belong
  • Certifications you and/or members of your team hold


9. Have Multiple Calls to Action


Even though all of us have grown accustomed to going online to find new products and services to buy, the way each of us likes to buy is different.

Some of us like to buy online. Others like to fill out an online contact form. Others like to call a toll free number. And so on.

It is your job to ensure you have multiple ways in which visitors can contact you to learn more about buying your products or services.

Also, if customers may not be ready to buy now, include calls to action to download free reports or other items to satisfy their initial needs; these items should require them to give you their contact information for further marketing.

10. Effective Page Layout

The final key attribute of your website is the layout of your pages.

The key here is to ensure visitors have to think as little as possible. The idea layout influences visitors to take the desired actions. For example, if the goal of one of your web pages is to get the visitor to give you their email address, having the email box near the top of the page, with a clear headline above it in a big font, will yield much better results than the same email box on the bottom left corner of the page with a small headline.

Consider using a heat map program that can show you exactly how visitors are interacting with your website; what they are looking at, what they are clicking on, etc.  As you can imagine, this information enables you to make significant improvements to your site.

From reading these 10 key website elements, ideally you will have identified at least a few improvements you can make right away. Also, please realize that improving your website is an ongoing process. You should always be trying and testing new ideas, so your website keeps getting better and better.

 

Suggested Resource: Want unlimited online leads? And want a proven step-by-step system to get them. Check out our Ultimate Internet Marketing System to learn how you can build the ultimate online lead generation machine. Click here to learn more.

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That Quality of Certainty


 

Perhaps the most underrated of Steve Jobs' many talents was his maniacal ability to be totally convinced that whatever business position, opinion, or strategy that he was holding at a particular moment was the 100% right and righteous one, that all who disagreed with him were fools and/or ill-intentioned, and that everyone at Apple had to right away rally around (and do so 24/7!) his suggested course of action.

And Steve Jobs could, would, and did regularly change his mind on these opinions, strategies, and suggested courses of action, often to diametrically opposed positions in just a few days time and every time he did...

...he then held that new view with the exact same if not more fervor than the point of view so recently discarded.

While some would call this lacking in solid beliefs, chameleon-like, and just all around not to be admired, This “Quality of Certainty,” when arrived at without guile and from an authentic place, is a powerful executive management and leadership trait.

Words to describe folks like this: Charismatic, Enthusiastic, Persuasive, Change Agents.

And resilient too, possessing of that inspirational knack of re-framing obstacles and rejections as the fault not of themselves but of the “other,” and thus both able to bounce back quickly from adversity and be energized and not drained by setbacks and difficulties.

So how does an executive develop more of this Certainty and put it to use in his or her business?

Well, first by accepting, as with all personal qualities, that some people are more naturally possessive of it than others, but equally so that it can be developed through practice, focus, and modeling of those with the quality in abundance.

Secondly, by repeatedly taking the time too convince and "sell oneself” as to the righteousness and value of our business proposition. And when we just can’t bring ourselves to do it for our current line of work, then to know it is time to find it for something we can.

And, finally, by being careful to not equate a general energy drain with lack of business conviction.

This is true now more than ever, as the technology of our modern life that requires us to be “always-on” inevitably dents our spirit and dampens our spark.

So take time for downtime, off the grid, and away from the maddening crowd. And be pleasantly surprised by the certainty that will naturally bubble up for what we are doing, saying, and offering right now, right here.

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The 10 Common Characteristics Of Empire Builders


 

Are you an Empire Builder?

How do you gauge yourself and your business?  Do have the potential to turn your business into an empire? You may not know it yet, but you may just be the person to create the next business empire.

Empire builders are ordinary people who perform extraordinary tasks. There are certain traits and actions that distinguish these outstanding individuals from others. By learning certain skills and adopting successful actions you can set your business growth to super-size.

10 Characteristics of Empire Builders

If you have painstakingly built your business from scratch to where it is now, assuming it is growing steadily, you should not be surprised that you possess some characteristics in common with empire builders. Here are the 10 common characteristics.

1. Sacrifice & Hard Work.
Empire builders are willing and ready to make sacrifices to be successful. Running a business is quite different from simply joining your workmates at a desk job; it involves hard work. 

2. Passion.
Empire builders are passionate about what they do. They put in extra effort to achieve their goals. Being passionate about what you do usually means that you are having fun doing it. The journey should be just as rewarding as the destination.

3. See Opportunities.
Do you see opportunities where others see obstacles? Another trait of empire builders is that they see an opportunity where others see barriers. Many people think that to be successful you need to come up with an idea that nobody has thought of before. Many successful empires have been built without innovative ideas, just the will to do the same thing others are doing but in different way. Or they dare to tackle a problem others are afraid to tackle.

4. Highly Motivated. Empire builders are highly motivated people. They don't let their determination cool off due to defeats. If they don't succeed at first, they simply try again and again.  They use failure as a motivation rather than an obstacle.

5. Disciplined. Another important characteristic of empire builders is discipline. Empire builders are focused on their goals. They do not let distractions derail them from achieving their objectives. They have clear steps that they take every day to bring them closer to their goals.

6. Open Mindedness. Open mindedness is a vital characteristic of empire builders. These are individuals that are ever open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They get inspiration from different sources and focus it on achieving their goals.

7. Team Builders. They are skilled networkers who build strong contacts needed for success. Nobody ever succeeds alone; rather, success requires team building. Empire builders have persuasion skills that enable them to convince people to work for them even when their ideas may seem crazy.

8. Decision-Makers. Empire builders have good decision-making abilities. Sometimes people may wait for the right time to do something but empire builders launch their projects and then make the necessary corrections later. Decision-making is vital and in many cases, not making a decision is as bad as making a wrong decision.

9. Can Create Or Expand a Market. Empire builders expand the market. Contrary to what many believe, you don't have to launch something completely new to be successful. You can simply get into a business that many have thought of and get your share of the market and grow it.

10. Understand Their Markets. In business, timing can mean the difference between success and failure. Empire builders are capable of predicting the precise time a product will be successful in the market. When Sony launched the walkman, skeptics said people would not be interested in listening to music as they walked. Know the wants and needs of you market.
What Lessons From Empire Builders Can Help You Grow Your Business?

I want you to take a challenge. Pick three characteristics from above and start applying them this week.  Keep practicing until they become second nature; aim for 3 to 4 weeks. Then pick three more. Do that until you cultivate all these characteristics of empire builders. 

Here's your checklist:

  • Don't hesitate to make sacrifices and work hard
  • Follow your passion/enjoy the journey
  • Be open to new opportunities
  • Stay motivated
  • Be disciplined
  • Keep an open mind
  • Build a team that can deliver results
  • Be decisive
  • Realize you don't need to create something completely new
  • Understand/research your market

Let us know how this challenge changes you and your business!

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Breakdowns Leading to Breakthroughs!


 

In my work I often get to lead strategic and business planning sessions and retreats with some amazingly dynamic and thoughtful entrepreneurs and executives.

These past seven days have been particularly rich in this regard.

Last week, I led a retreat day for the executive management team of one of California's and fastest - growing construction management firms, and on Monday did so for one of the oldest receivable management agencies in the world.

These sessions follow a common pattern: A company’s leaders set growth goals, for sales, profits, company value, and/or on a company, division, product/service basis…

…and then together they grapple with both their realism and the marketing, sales, operational, and financial challenges to be overcome to achieve them.

Through this process, the original goals are revisited, adjusted up or down (or completely rethought!), and almost always brought into plain daylight is the need for profound change - organizationally and at the individual level - for there to be any reasonable probability of their achievement.

There is a common energy dynamic to these sessions that was best described at a famous (or infamous!) empowerment seminar I attended many years ago:

Breakdowns Lead to Breakthroughs.

No matter the industry, the age or level of success or sophistication of the executive group, inevitably the course of a serious strategic discussion follows a “peak to valley to peak” flow like this:

The Opening. The session starts, the group is fresh, full of enthusiasm, energized by being together and by the yet to be discovered business possibilities.

The Breakdown. The first blush recedes, the discussion turns to considerations (of time, money, talent) and of obstacles - competition, market/customer apathy, operational inefficiencies.

Energy drains from the room, creases of doubt and worry spread.

The Breakthrough. When hope is about gone, someone suggests something…

…an idea, a strategy, a new way of approaching/defining/verbalizing the opportunity, the selling proposition, the competitive advantage.

The suggestion is taken up by the group, augmented, permutated, solidified. Heads nod, eyes lock, adrenaline surges.

The group arrives, miraculously, to another place. Different from what had been anticipated for sure but usually far more actionable.

Let me say it again: this emotional “roller coaster" is common to almost all strategic gatherings, and I would venture to say that without it the ability of a group to define and commit to the business action plans that flow from the discussion is limited.

A common question asked is, "How long must we be in breakdown until we get to breakthrough?"

The answer of course, is it depends. Sometimes the breakdown is only a matter of minutes, other times it lasts months.

However, a good measurement of an executive’s effectiveness is his or her ability to get to and move through breakdowns rapidly.

Is it better to have strategic sessions led by an outside facilitator or done in-house?

Well, just like all Olympic gold medalists that have great coaches, so do great business leaders have advisors that help them move through breakdowns and to breakthroughs faster.

So do strategic retreat and planning sessions often and right, more breakthroughs will be had and your business will soar.

Getting to all this is worth a breakdown every now and then, isn't it?

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