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Monthly Archives: September 2010

If Your Business Model is Flawed, Your Marketing Won’t Work

In working with hundreds of professional women these past several years, and launching my new Breakthrough Vision marketing and Prosperity Marketing Mindset programs, I’ve uncovered one key truth that was hidden to me in the past:

If your business model is flawed, no amount of great marketing will help you make the money you need and want.

Here’s a case study of what I mean, using my personal experience (I’m sharing here the real insider story about small business – something you’ll seldom hear from thousands of professed “experts,” many of whom aren’t making a living).

I launched a career coaching practice after long, hard research about what it takes to be successful, and earning the credentials, experiences and know-how to be respected and recognized in my field, and to rise above the competition. 

I followed all the core marketing and business development strategies that one needs to achieve national recognition, and be considered an acclaimed “expert” as coach, author, and speaker.

Throughout this 9-year development process, I learned some hard-earned insights about myself as professional and about what it takes for me to be a successful entrepreneur, namely:

1) I LOVE helping women achieve breakthrough in their lives and work, relationships, and in themselves – to create life and work as they truly want it.

2) I LOVE to help a select group of women.  Here are my personal criteria for folks I’ll work with as clients:

– Above the line thinkers (those who believe they are accountable, capable, responsible and ready to commit to reclaiming their lives)
– Ready and able to do the inner and out work of real change
– Able to invest time, money, energy in the process of life and career change
– Not expecting an easy fix or magic bullet
– Not viewing me as the answer to all their problems
– Able to make the financial investment of working with me, without it adding stress to their already stressed-out lives

3) I DON’T WANT to work (and to be paid) only on an hourly basis (even if my hourly wage is substantial, as a coach or consultant).  I DO want to have several different avenues of generating revenue, including one-on-one work, group coaching, speaking engagements, marketing and business consulting, and successful passive-income coaching and marketing programs and streams — top programs and resources that help a wide global network of women, without my having to necessarily provide them with direct, in-person service.  I’d like to make money while I sleep!

4) I’ve EMBRACED what it takes to identify exactly what I want to create, produce, and sell in terms of products and programs, and have a solid plan for building those

But You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I was trucking along these past years building my coaching business, and everything I was doing felt and sounded “right,” until about six months ago, when I finally realized, “You don’t know what you don’t know!”

Here’s what I realized I hadn’t known, in developing my coaching business model:

The Big Flaw

There was a big flaw in my business model.  The FLAWED part of my model is that, after years of serving as a career coach for women, I realized that my business is simply too limited in focus and too narrow in terms of the types of products and services I offered, to be financially successful at the level I wanted it to be.

My narrow service niche (career coaching for women) — which I deliberately and intentionally designed — has turned out to be too confining and limiting for me.  Career coaching alone isn’t tapping into all the many marketing, business development, communications, and strategic planning skills, talents and experience that I’ve earned in my 20 years in the corporate arena.  I had chucked out the idea of using those marketing and business development skills (or, more accurately, before now it hadn’t even occurred to me to utilize these skills as a consultant) because much of my corporate experience had been so emotionally unsatisfying for me that I threw the baby out with the bathwater!  But doing so meant I was stopping myself from serving thousands more women whom I truly want to support, in ways I’m uniquely capable.

As a result, the financial and emotional success results of my business were limited for me as well.

Here are several core nuggets of learning from these past 10 years of shaping my new professional life and business:

1) Marketing won’t help you, when your business model is flawed

No matter how strong your marketing is – no matter how well planned or executed  – if your business, services and focus are too narrow or only tap into a very limited group of clients/customers, then your rewards will be limited as well.

Scrutinize your business model intensively – look at the niche you serve and the products and services you offer – and make sure there’s sufficient breadth, depth, and reach to make the money you need to, each and every month.

2) Marketing also won’t help you in you don’t know how to run a business or manage money.

There are 5 “M’s” that are essential to running a successful business.  They are:

  • Management
  • Money
  • Marketing
  • Mastery
  • Mission

Don’t skimp on mastering these “M’s” or getting outside help to do it.  Running a business successfully is a large endeavor, and you can’t do it alone.

3) Determine ALL the talents you have that you want to use, and create a plan to utilize them all

 For me, I’ve learned that there’s another vast and growing group — women entrepreneurs – whom I want to help and support, along with all the women in corporate America who are in urgent need of career transition assistance.  I know now that I want to offer career growth support, as well as top-level strategic marketing, business planning and development, and financial guidance to help women entrepreneurs create their businesses to succeed and thrive, from the moment their business launches and onward.  And it turns out I have the experience and skill to do it.

4) Make sure that the niche you want to serve is big enough, and has the ability to utilize, hire and pay you

Another truism in business – if you want to be profitable, you have to make money.  This is NOT a volunteer endeavor, this is a business.  So make sure that the target group you serve is big enough to support your business, and full of thousands of people whom you can reach, who are in the emotional, financial, and behavioral condition to utilize your products and services fully, and can pay for them easily, without strain.

5) Spend money on marketing your business only after you have clarity – After you’ve developed a sound business model, then and only then should you invest in marketing your business and branding.  Don’t spend thousands of dollars on marketing before you know what you need to offer and provide.

6) Think bigger about yourself – Identifying a defined niche and serving it well is essential, but in doing that, don’t limit yourself to only one facet of yourself and your skills.  Use all of your talents and skills, and expand to new dimensions that allow you to use ALL of who you are, for the greater good of your business, and for the world.

*  *  *  *  *  *

There’s a great deal involved in creating a successful entrepreneurial venture, and crafting a long-term career that you love and that brings you success and fulfillment.   But you can do it!  Get help to master the 5 M’s of business, and build a strong model and foundation for your business, get help where you need it, and be open to learning what you don’t now know.  Then, you’ll be well on your way.

Take a look at your business model – can you see where there might a tiny flaw or crack that’s holding back the success you long for?  Share your comments here please!

The “5 M’s” of Entrepreneurial Women’s Success

In launching my new Breakthrough Vision Marketing division that offers women entrepreneurs, consultants, writers, and practitioners marketing support to achieve success in their ventures, I’ve discovered some telling statistics about the success entrepreneurial women have achieved thus far, and the challenges women continue to face in creating financial success in their endeavors.

Some key stats on women entrepreneurs:

 About entrepreneurial ventures:

  • Most business experts conform to a theory of “thirds”: Of all the new business startups, 1/3 eventually turn a profit, 1/3 break even, and 1/3 never leave a negative earnings scenario.
  •  Other research shows that only 2/3 of all small business startups survive the first two years and less than half make it to four years.

Are women different from men in entrepreneurial ventures?  Research has shown there are differences in:

1) Attitude
2) Expectations for the business
3) Goals and Motivations (males more likely to start businesses to make money and achieve recognition; women emphasize balance with family)
4) Prior business experience
5) Risk tolerance (lower for women)
6) Active pursuit of ongoing business opportunities
7) Type of business formed (males are more likely to form more technologically-intensive businesses

The top challenges for women entrepreneurs are:

1) Financial Planning experience and focus

2) Thinking big enough to delegate, hire, and grow (giving up complete control and fearing what growth means)

3) Overcoming reluctance to self promote

Five Step Plan to a Successful Entrepreneurial Venture

In reviewing the research available on entrepreneurial success for women, and in thinking about the research I’ve conducted over the past six years on the 12 hidden crises working women face today, I believe there are 5 core areas that are vitally important for entrepreneurial women to master.  If women (and men) ignore these areas in their businesses, failure is far more likely:

Focus on the 5 “M’s”

  • Management
  • Money
  • Marketing
  • Mastery
  • Mission 

(Click here for a look at my recent interview on News 12 CT on the “5 M’s” for Women’s Entrepreneurial Success).

Step 1: MANAGEMENT –  Know What’s Required to Manage Your Business Successfully

The terrific book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber talks about three different roles that are essential in creating a successful business – Technician, Manager, and the Visionary.  Often women who start their businesses do so because they have a love of the technical skill involved (baking, career coaching, software design, etc.) and they make the fatal assumption that having an understanding the technical aspects of the business is the same as knowing how to run the business.  These are completely different skill sets, and you must extricate yourself from a sole focus on the technical service (being “in” the business””) and focus more “on” the business – what’s involved in building it to the level you want it.

Key tactic – Focus more time “on” the business than “in” the business.  Develop a sound business plan with S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals and strategies that will help you get your business to the next level.

Step 2:  MONEY – Get Empowered with Money, Financial Planning and Budgeting

Many women entrepreneurs start a business with little understanding of the financial investment required, the financial planning steps necessary to build success, or how long it will take to make a business profitable.  The first key step is to gain complete control of your finances – first personally, then professionally – and plan how you will fund and grow your business.  Get outside help in the form of an empowering financial consultant and accountant to advise you.  Don’t try to do this alone – gain an outside perspective about your money, and funding of the business.  In general, you need a reserve of money for two full years while you launch a business, as most likely you won’t see profits until after several years.  Many people fail to plan for how long it takes for a business to be profitable.

Key tactic:  Create a strong budget and financial plan for your business that you monitor and assess vigilantly, on a monthly basis, with key milestones.  Find an empowered outside financial consultant and accountant who come highly recommend to you by other empowered and successful women entrepreneurs to help.

Step 3: MARKETING – Understand the New Rules of Marketing

The world has changed.  Marketing is no longer about hawking your services or wares to a group of people who are unknown to you (cold calling, direct mail to unsolicited names, etc).  It’s about building trust and credibility, and developing relationships through authentic connection and engagement, over time.

People do business today with people they know, like, and trust.

Key tactic: Create a multi-pronged marketing strategy that builds relationships, trust, and credibility over time with your potential customers and clients.  Serve them in different ways and means that allow customers/clients to connect with you at various levels, price points, and engagement entry points.  Then and only then will they buy or do business with you, when the time is right for them

Step 3: Mastery – Master an understanding of what’s required to succeed in the various aspects of the business.

There are many different dimensions that must be mastered to run a successful entrepreneurial venture, including:

– Financial planning
– Accounting
– Systems
– Advertising/Marketing
– Research
– Product development
– Pricing
– Services/packages/products
– Human resources/staffing
– Sales
– Business Development

In areas in which you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable, you must reach out and get help or hire it.

Key tactic: Connect with resources that support women entrepreneurs, such as Count Me In for Women’s Economic IndependenceSCORE, Small Business Administration, CT Women’s Business Development Center – there are scores of affordable sources of help in our area to assist you in building a strong foundation for your business.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to get the help you need.

Step 5: MISSION:  Find your passion and your calling in this work

It’s a hero’s journey to become a successful entrepreneur or solopreneur and have the staying power and energy to make it work over several years when the going is toughest.  There has to be compelling mission behind your work  and a calling to be of service, and to do it well — and make a profit in the process.   This is not a volunteer endeavor – this is a business that you wish to become highly profitable and lucrative – so that you can have the largest impact possible.  And you must know your core, competitive advantage – what makes your business different and how it stands out from the rest – and communicate that powerfully in all you do.  If you’re not passionate about this work, think again about launching your business.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Think about your mastery of the “5 M’s.”  Are you focused on these areas?  What areas do you feel most challenged in?  You’re not alone – we all struggle with areas outside of our comfort zones. 

Do you feel confident that you have the skills and expertise to take your business to the next level?  If not, don’t wait to get the help you need and want.  Knowing when we need help — and taking empowered action to get it — is the critical difference between achieving the success you want, and letting your potential slip through your fingers.

The New Rules of Marketing – Five Key Principles of Care, Credibility, Connection, Clarity and Calling

As many of my friends and community members know, I’m a huge fan of Scott Stratten, President of Un-marketing ( Almost every word this guy says and writes resonates 100% with me, and reflects my views and feelings about what it means to engage authentically, build relationships, and “market” yourself, your products and services, in the highest and best sense of the word. You can read all about Scott on his site, his blog, and follow him on Twitter at @unmarketing (he’s considered one of the top influencers on Twitter, with 60,000 folks following his tweets.) His new book Unmarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging is a must-read for anyone doing marketing or in business, and if you want to see him in person (highly recommended), here’s his 30-city book tour schedule. Don’t miss him! I’m going to Hartford, CT on October 5th to see him. If you’re in Connecticut, hope to see you there!What I’ve learned from Scott and other top marketing thinkers, and in the eight years of building my own business, community and platform, is that your marketing efforts will not be successful unless they come from a place of caring, credibility, connection, clarity, and calling.

My personal take on 5 key ingredients to successful, prosperity-minded marketing:

1) CARE: You’ve got to truly care about the welfare of your clients/customers

2) CREDIBILITY: You must build trust and gain credibility with people before they care about what you do

3) CONNECTION: Create a true, mutual connection with others by giving of yourself and your work, and listening and learning from others, through different avenues that engage and enliven

4) CLARITY: Know who you are, stay true to that, and share a viewpoint that enlightens, entertains or educates in some essential way

5) CALLING: If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, change directions

 If you’re wondering how these principles look and feel like in the practical world, below are some tactics that support these core principles:

 1) Care – About Your Customers, Clients, and Community

 The world has changed. Everything you do today as an entrepreneur, marketer, writer, thinker, speaker, etc. is transparent, clear for all to see. Your motivations, your desired outcomes, your behaviors and thinking – it’s all out there now. The truth is, if you don’t really care about the welfare and success of your clients and customers, and if you’re thinking only about is how you can succeed, you won’t. To succeed and thrive, you must create a world of mutuality and reciprocity – give and get, love and be loved, support and be supported. If you don’t hold up your end, and if you don’t start from a place of “How can I best serve?,” you just won’t succeed in the big way you dream of. If deeply loving and caring about the people you serve is difficult or impossible for you, it’s a sign that you have to change what you’re doing.

 2) Credibility – Build Trust and Respect

 Thousands of entrepreneurs and marketers today don’t understand one key marketing concept – that people do business only with people they like, trust and know (thanks, Scott, for making that crystal clear). You must build a relationship with people first, before they’ll engage in buying your services or supporting your work. And you have to demonstrate that you’re a credible, reliable voice in your chosen area over time.

I and many others mistakenly believed the “build it and they will come” myth – that simply because I’ve hung my shingle as a coach and consultant (and am a darn good one at that), that I’ll have customers and clients aplenty and the flow will be constant. It ain’t so! You must create a way to a build relationships over time with people that serve them well, and then – perhaps – they’ll buy or enlist in your services (and only when they’re ready and only if your services and prices and packages fit their needs, not yours). Develop engagement strategies (a newsletter, speaking, tweeting, free articles and information, blog, social media, free resources) that allow you to give of yourself and your expertise in ways that energize you, but also that build trust and credibility.

3) Connection — Listen, Respond, and Serve

Think about the great, fulfilling connections you have in your personal life – they’re typically based on common interest, caring, curiosity, like-mindedness, love, mutuality, reciprocity, and authenticity. So it is in the business world as well. Connect with those you wish to serve – in person, at events, in writing, in social media, through your blog or newsletter, etc.. Find ways that you enjoy to connect with your community, and listen to what they’re saying and caring about deeply. If you’re sitting alone in your office day after day, disconnected and disengaged from others, you’re marketing into a vacuum. Also a must – truly listen to your community, and elicit their feedback, comments, and ideas, and integrate these ideas and comments – respond!. In short, create a real connection and authentic conversation with those you wish to serve.

4) Clarity – Know Who You Are and Share It

One thing I love about following Scott’s work is that he 1) knows exactly who he is (foibles and imperfections and all), and 2) unabashedly shares who he is with the world. There’s a neat list on his blog of “25 things you didn’t know about me.” It takes guts to publish a list like this. Do you have that kind of courage to share yourself openly and nakedly with your community? What’s your list of 25? Are you clear about who you are, uniquely? What makes you tick, what lights you up, what makes you so mad your head will explode? Know these things about yourself, and make use of them in all you do! Understand who you are and let that specialness shine out, in your writing, your services, your products, and your community.

If you don’t, you’ll never be able to be your true self in your work, or stand apart from the many thousands of others who are afraid to be who they really are, or share with honesty and courage what they stand for.

5) Calling- Passion is a Must-Have

There’s a very large difference between a job and a calling. To be successful as an entrepreneur or marketer or service provider, you have to have passion for it – a deep, abiding drive to make a difference and be of service. If you don’t have it, “marketing” yourself and your products will be extremely challenging at best, a terrible failure at worst. So figure out what you’re passionate about, and if it’s not your business or your practice or your creative endeavors, it’s time to make some significant changes.

I was a corporate marketing director and VP for many years, and truthfully, I stopped liking it early on and was often bored silly by it, (the whole thing felt like “theatre” – ya know?) because I was marketing products and services I simply didn’t connect with or feel excited to support. It’s a terrible feeling to dislike intensely what you do for a living, and feel absolutely no connection with it, right?

Now, I’m really jazzed about using my marketing skills to help others thrive in their careers and businesses, and to grow my own business. If you’re proud and excited about what you’re marketing or promoting, then put your whole self into it. If you have no connection to what you’re marketing, you most likely won’t have anywhere near the success or fulfillment you want.

The bottom line

The “new marketing” is this…connecting and engaging authentically with others you love so as to be of the highest service possible, drawing on the many talents and skills you love to offer.

The ultimate outcome of well-executed marketing is that you get to build a like-minded, interrelated (and fascinating) community that truly “gets” you, and receives deep benefit from learning with and from you. In the end, it’s about creating a global network of people you love (yes, LOVE!), and who find in your work something that helps them become more of who they truly want to be.

And you get to become more of who you want to be by being of service in a way that draws on everything that makes you special.

Now that’s a lot more exciting than just “marketing,” yes?

Please share your comments below about what marketing is and means for you.  Let’s do this together!

A Commitment to Being Inspired

I realized yesterday that it’s been a month since I’ve posted on my blog, and I wondered on that for a bit.  Folks have advised me to blog on a regular schedule – say, twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.  But I find that approach doesn’t work for me, because I choose to blog about what I really care about – including events or ideas that inspire me, aggravate me, royally piss me off , or move me to tears.  I find I can’t schedule that.

But there is one new thing I’ve decided to commit to scheduling for myself each week, because doing so reminds me of how wonderfully amazing this life on earth truly is.  I’m committing to watching at least one video a week, and many more if I can.

If you don’t know about it, is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become broader, with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

For me, watching these events and talks energizes me like nothing else, because TED helps me remember — and directly experience — the brilliance, courage and creativity that exists in our world ( fraught as it is with imperfection, pain and challenge).  The TED speakers and contributors are all – to a one – utterly passionate about their work, fantastically gifted in what they do and how they communicate and present their ideas, and entertaining in a way that is riveting and uplifting.

What I’ve learned is that, when I take time each week to disengage from my intense personal focus on my own world, work and community, and look out into and touch a larger global community that is committed to “making our future” rather than simply “seeing our future,” I’m reminded again of what’s truly important to me. 

So if fabulous, expansive and beautiful ideas enliven you, I encourage you to check out, and the recent independent TEDx event held in Kansas City.  In particular, I loved Dr. Brene Brown’s talk on “vulnerability” – funny, touching, and informative – reminding us that when we “numb” our negative fears and emotions, we can’t help but numb all of our emotions – including love, compassion, and joy, and that being afraid of being vulnerable means being afraid to live.

Check out Brene’s talk out here, and see the whole TEDx Kansas City event here.

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts – which of these talks stimulated you the most?  What inspires you at the highest level, in life and work?  And are you committed to experiencing and touching on a regular basis new people and new ideas that truly uplift and “uplife” you. 

Life is so good – we need to find our own ways to remember that, each day and week.

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