"Enjoy the ride"

journey

Success.

Part timing, part preparation, part opportunity, and part luck. As human beings and entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to focus on our goals. This is after all what we’ve been taught for most of our lives – to set goals, and push forward to achieve them.

Goals are funny things, though. They are not absolutes, like the number of hours in a day, set in definite terms and scientific rules. They are fluid, ever changing and evolving, just as we are.

Many entrepreneurs set goals, and this is an important process. To get something off the ground and gain momentum, you must have some idea of where you’re headed. But many of us get stuck on our journey when things aren’t progressing the way we anticipated. We fixate on our goals, striving and pushing toward them with an almost reckless pursuit at times.

This does not serve us.

I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about the organic, unfolding nature of business. How one can set long-term goals effectively, without endlessly focusing on them and dismissing any results that fall short as “failures.” I myself have been guilty of this habit at times, and it is destructive – both to your mindset, and to your ability to actually reach your goals.

So how can you cope? How can you set long term goals, and not allow the pursuit of those goals to play a destructive role in your business?

You begin by understanding the nature of a business.

Just like goals and human beings, businesses are not absolutes. They are constantly in evolution, shifting, changing shapes and forms. This is the true nature of business, and with each new stage come new goals, opportunities, challenges, and lessons.

It may be helpful for you, on your journey, to think of your business as an oak tree.

In the beginning, you plant an acorn. You envision the tall, mighty oak towering overhead one day – this is your goal, your entire reason for starting a business.

If you were able to peer under the ground, within a few weeks you would see changes in the acorn. From a seemingly solid little nut, cracks form and a sprout emerges reaching toward the sky. This is the very early stage of your company, but take note – the acorn had to split and change for the oak to sprout. Your vision and your goal likely will as well.

Soon the sprout emerges from the ground, and begins the journey into a real tree. This is when the oak (and your business) are at their most vulnerable. Being exposed to the world, to the elements, to reality presents new challenges and opportunities. You must overcome fear to emerge into this stage and begin to take root.

The seedling grows, and over the years shapes into a small tree. It has grown stronger, no longer living in a harsh and unforgiving world it has adapted to life outside of the nut. It provides shade, beauty, and bounty as much as it can. This is your business in adolescence – when you’re gaining ground, become self-sufficient, and growth becomes more routine.

Eventually the small tree becomes a mighty oak, hundreds or thousands of years old. It has finally achieved what you intended, but it will not stop growing. The mighty oak will continue to grow until it dies, much as your business will have to continue to grow once you’ve reached your goal.

It is easy to get impatient with an oak tree.

You planted the acorn, why can’t you just have the 600 year old oak right now?!?! But ask yourself – if the acorn were to turn into a mighty oak today, what would you be missing out on?

The joy of seeing it first sprout, the shade of a young oak, the journey it took from nut to tree that hardened it into something capable of sustaining itself at those heights. Indeed there is much beauty in the growth of an oak tree, just as there is beauty in the growth of your business.

You can’t water an acorn like an oak.

If you get too caught up on your ultimate goals, it can be destructive. We have already established this. But why? Why is it such a bad thing to get fixated on where you’re going, rather than where you are?

Because you are where you are, not where you are going.

If you poured gallons of water on an acorn, it is very likely the nut itself would rot. If you watered a mighty oak with a few tablespoons of water, it would likely die. You have to nurture your business for where it is, not where it is going or where it has been.

This is why an obsessive fixation on the ultimate goal is unhealthy. We push too hard, we grow too fast, and not only do we miss the beauty of our young business but we sabotage our own success.

The secret to setting goals is in releasing them.

You have to be okay with what your business is today, and nurture it for what it is today. If you’re brand new, stop focusing on the money you have to make by X date and start enjoying the birthing of your business. If you only have a few clients, enjoy the free time to work on creative pursuits in your company. If you’re maturing and ready to hire staff, enjoy the interview process without fixating on training or HR policies. If you’re thinking of selling your company, enjoy taking stock of what you’ve accomplished and finding the right person to take it over.

Stop and smell the roses, and remember – success is a journey, not a destination.

On shortcuts and quick bucks.

This post is going to be short and sweet, but something you need to hear.

There are no shortcuts.

There is no “fast and easy” way to get a new client – you’ve got to go out, talk to people, and close a deal.

There are no “quick” ways to make a $buck. You have to offer something of value and put it out there in the biggest way possible.

We’re always looking for shortcuts. “How can I write this blog post faster?” or “How can I close a new client without having to pickup the phone?” or “How can I start my business today?”

Effort, passion, determination, and yes – time. They’re all required.

There are no shortcuts.

So go out, put in the effort, use the passion, be determined, and be patient. The results will come.

– C

How to Get Anyone to do Anything for YOU

powerposition

This post is all about negotiation and persuasion. Of course, one blog post isn’t going to teach you everything you need to know about these very important business topics… It simply isn’t possible. But it will teach you the single most important thing you need to know in order to be persuasive and negotiate to your advantage.

The very first thing I want you to understand is that this technique is not slimy. I am staunchly against persuading people to do things that they don’t want to do, or that won’t benefit them. This is a way you can get your heart aligned with your goal, just as much as it is a way for you to persuade and negotiate with power.

I also want you to understand that this is not just for “sales” conversations. Persuasion and negotiation are present when you’re looking to create guest posts on blogs, get media coverage, negotiate promotions, get sponsorships, and even buying products and services like advertising. Essentially, any time you are looking to create an exchange of value – you get value, they get value – persuasion and negotiation are necessary.

Now that we have those “disclaimers” out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What is the single most important thing you need to know to negotiate or persuade in your favour?

How to gain the “Power Position.”

And what exactly is the “Power Position”? That is the position at the negotiating table that holds more (or most) of the power.

Let’s explain with an example.

Imagine you’re in the market to buy or lease a new house – a situation most of you can probably relate to. You scan the ads, and there are only a few properties available that fit your needs. Real estate experts are calling it a “sellers market” because of low inventory and high demand. (Okay, so we’re also pretending that it is 2007…)

You go to view one house in particular, and you fall absolutely in love with it. It is everything you need, everything you want, and then some! You cannot see yourself living without this house.

Now, it already has other offers… So you’re going to have to increase your offer and come in with no subjects/clauses in your contract if you are even going to have a chance. You offer $20k over asking price, make sure your financing is good to go, waive the inspection, and even write a personal letter to the sellers hoping to persuade them to let you buy the house.

Who holds more of the power in that situation?

Is it you, who is competing against other buyers for a chance to move in? Is it your realtor, the go-between-negotiator who is likely profiting like a crazy person in this market? Is it even the other realtor, who can persuade the owners to take one deal over another?

No, no, and no. The sellers are in the Power Position in this case. They have something that is in high demand, and can pretty much dictate the circumstances of their sale. They don’t have to do much negotiating or persuasion at all, they just have to let their house (their offer) do the work and then choose from the available options.

This is the position you need to achieve to be a powerful negotiator and persuade people.

You have to have something that your target customer or partner really, really wants. Something that they would be absolutely stupid to pass up on.

There are 6 primary ways of doing this:

1. Reciprocity

You’ve probably seen this at work in your own life. Have you ever received a favour from someone, something as simple as having the door held open for you, and felt obligated to do something in return – like saying “thank you?” That was reciprocity at work. You want to do something of value for the person or company you wish to persuade, out of the goodness of your heart and a genuine desire for connection. This is incredibly powerful, so it must be used consciously and with integrity.

2. Scarcity

You see this online all the time. Only X number of copies, only for the first X customers, etc. If you can apply scarcity to your offer in some way it will help you in your persuasion process. Exclusivity is tied to scarcity – if you are only willing to do X for a specific person and no one else, it will motivate them to take you up on the deal. Again, be sure to use this consciously and with integrity – do not state an offer as exclusive or scarce, then continue selling and offering it to everyone.

3. Authority

Do you hold certifications or degrees? Have you received awards? Done something to position you as an authority figure? Flaunt it! Not “in your face” like a braggart, but subtle reminders. Initials after your name, for example. Or dropping a relevant sound byte into your conversation, such as “You know, when I spoke last year at SXSW with so-and-so on this very topic, we got asked about X a lot. I teach my clients that … ” or “When I was in the process of getting my PhD, one of my biggest struggles was X – just like you. I overcame it by … ”

4. Consistency

This one is easy, but often overlooked. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Like my newsletter – every single Wednesday, rain or shine, feeling like garbage or sitting on the beach with a Mai-Tai. It is consistent, reliable, and anticipated. You know it is coming, and you know you can count on it. Perhaps, without even realizing, you feel the same way about me. Consistency – doing what you say, following through, acting with integrity – is another way of establishing connection. It says, “You can count on me to do what I say. You can trust me.” I highly recommend incorporating consistency in your marketing ASAP.

5. Liking

Did you ever have a crush in gradeschool? Of course, you were 8 – you had no idea what “love” was, but you would have sworn that was it. You would have done anything to get that person’s attention. In fact, looking back, you can see that thing you did to make him/her notice you and how silly that was… That is the power of genuine liking. You’ll do nice things for someone you like, you’ll do almost anything to get their attention if you really like them, and you’ll do favours for them without a second thought.

This one should not be used on its own in most situations – it is best used with reciprocity and scarcity as well. But building relationships with people so that you genuinely like them and they genuinely like you can get you better deals on things you need to buy, it can be the final nudge to bring in a new client or customer, and it can even get you barter arrangements or freebies when you’re in need.

6. Consensus

“9 out of 10 experts agree, X is the solution.” Consensus is a more refined and powerful form of social proof – using the power of a person’s peers to help them understand the value of something. It can be used blatantly, as the example above used by everything from toothpastes to sub-sandwich companies, or in more subtle ways.

For example, when negotiating with a potential client, instead of just telling them about your guarantee (if you offer one) – tell them how many people have taken you up on it. Chances are, if you’re operating with integrity, very few if any people have ever asked for a refund on your services. This is a consensus. People who have purchased from you in the past agree that your services have value.

Those 6 persuasive keys will help you to gain power at the negotiating table.

Of course, it also helps to have a powerful offer. Something that people genuinely want and need. If you’re guest posting, look for topics that the target blog and their audience will find hugely valuable. If you’re looking to get sponsorship, figure out what they really want.

Craft an offer that is compelling enough that they would be absolutely stupid to pass on it, then weave those 6 keys into your message. Persuasion is a skill, and it can be learned – you’ll be amazed at your results once you apply this knowledge!

Have you used any of these 6 keys in the past? Share your results in the comments!

Get focused now!

getfocus

See that image above? That’s a snippet from “Where’s Waldo?” – the kitchy cartoon that causes you to spend minutes, hours, days or weeks hovering over a single image looking for a dude in glasses with a red and white striped shirt.

I used to play “Where’s Waldo?” when I was a kid. Back then, it was kind of fun. I mean, Waldo was always hiding there somewhere – I just had to find him. And he was always doing something interesting, like going to the beach or hanging out at the amusement park. A good way to spend time on a rainy day.

Now that I’m all grown up (though some people would debate that point…) Waldo just isn’t as much fun. Sure, if I had the time I’d love to sit down and show it to my kids. I’m sure they would be able to find him pretty quickly! But now, Waldo has become a metaphor for life in the modern world.

There is so much going on, so much to see and do and be, that the one specific thing you’re looking for can be rather hard to find.

In the past few days, I’ve had the great privilege of speaking with a few entrepreneurs who are struggling, like I did as a little Waldo-loving kid, to find their focus.

They feel stuck, like they can’t move forward without finding that missing piece.

They feel frustrated, because they can’t find what they’re looking for.

They feel overwhelmed with the amount of information to take in along the way.

In short, they’re discouraged. They need guidance. They need help. They need focus and clarity so that they can take action and move forward.

They need to find Waldo.

If you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged, there is hope. This little exercise will help you move past whatever it is that is keeping you stuck, and get you into action!

5-Minute Focus

Follow along on a sheet of paper. This might be a bit confronting, and the first few times it may take you a bit more than 5 minutes. This takes some self-awareness to achieve, so you may have to work toward it. Have faith though, you will get there!

Step 1: Write Down Your Ultimate Goal

When you don’t know what to do, and you’re finding it hard to focus (perhaps procrastinating?), you need to pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve.

What is your ultimate goal?

What will your current task help you to achieve?

Write down your goal.

It can be hard sometimes to distinguish between where you’re stuck and the true goal – for example, writing your copy vs. launching your website. What you really want to do is launch your website so you can get customers, your web copy has you stuck.

There will be a dependant relationship between your goal and where you’re stuck. You will feel you have to complete X to achieve Y. “Y” is your ultimate goal.

Example: My ultimate goal is to launch my website.

Step 2: Identify the Distractions

What are you doing instead of what you want to accomplish? This could be anything from taking phone calls from your mother in the middle of the day, to organizing your desk, or yes – even spending too much time on your copy.

Write down everything you’ve done today, this week, and even this month instead of accomplishing your goal. Include anything you can’t seem to finish, even if you believe it will help you move toward your goal. Write down everything you can think of.

Example: My distractions are writing and perfecting my copy, redoing my graphics, researching my family tree, folding laundry, fixing the blinds and going to the grocery store.

Step 3: Acknowledge Them

The first time you go through this process, you might start to feel bad on step 2. You might even judge yourself. I myself used to think, “Why can I accomplish all of this other stuff but I can’t seem to finish X?”

I know from experience, that isn’t going to help. Everyone has a life, and we all have things that must get done. We all have other things we want to do. That is not only okay, but it is necessary! Your business would die if you couldn’t have a life outside of it.

Step 3 is all about acknowledging what had to get done, what you wanted to do, and what were the true distractions. The key to doing so without judgement is simple – gratitude.

Example: I acknowledge that I had to write my copy, fold the laundry, and go to the grocery store. I am grateful that I had the time and space to complete these important tasks. I acknowledge that I distracted myself by perfecting my copy, redoing my graphics, researching my family tree, and fixing the blinds. I am grateful for these activities, as they will help me to move forward.

Step 4: Look for the Resistance

Now that you know what you’ve been doing to distract yourself, you get to look for “why”. Why are you distracting yourself in the first place? What haven’t you addressed? Where are you experiencing resistance?

Go back to your initial goal, and imagine it is happening right now – is there something you are afraid of? Is there something in your imaginary scenario that is going wrong? Is there something missing?

Probably 99% of the time, lack of confidence is the core of the resistance. You’re not confident enough in your abilities, your methods, your choices, or some other aspect of yourself or what you’re doing to be able to move forward without fear.

Where are you lacking confidence? What are you afraid of?

Example: I distracted myself with those activities because I am afraid that my website will suck.

Step 5: Acknowledge, Release, and Move On

Now that you understand the true reason behind your lack of focus, which is a lack of confidence in one particular area, you need to practice gratitude. Be grateful that you have fear. If you didn’t care whether or not your website sucked, it probably would.

Then release the resistance. Make a commitment to use that fear in constructive ways (to drive you to achieve your goal), and understand that confidence will only come from putting it out there and watching it work.

Finally, commit to moving forward.

Example: I am grateful for my fear about the website. By using that fear in a constructive way, I will make this website better. I understand that confidence will only come from achieving my goal. I commit to moving forward and completing the website by 06/06/2014.

That’s it.

The key to this exercise is repetition. Yes, the first time you do it you will be able to release some resistance and make progress – but if this is a big, recurring issue for you, chances are you will get stuck again.

Every time you feel stuck, unable to move forward and make progress, complete this simple 5-minute exercise. It is almost magical the way this process can make things happen.

Have you tried it? Share your results in the comments!

– Cheryl

P.S. If energetic alignment is important to you, I highly recommend this exercise. Alignment with your goals through the acknowledgement and releasing of resistance is where the real magic of manifestation happens!