The Entrepreneurial Archetype: Can it evolve?

If you’ve spent, I don’t know, five whole minutes chatting with me it is very likely that the topic of Entrepreneurial Archetypes has come up. You’ll know that these archetypes are the reason you succeed with some systems, fail with others, and should ignore 99% of the cookie-cutter BS advice out there.

And of course, because I practice what I preach, I’ve applied the Archetype technology to my own business. For those of you who may not be familiar, let me give you the low-down on the three primary Entrepreneurial Archetypes:

Communicators: You’ll know when you meet a communicator, likely from the lack of direct eye contact. Head down into their laptops or their projects, they’re the accountants, tech-startup-founders, numbers guys and analytical geniuses. Go to a conference, and *if* you catch a glimpse of one in the wild, they’ll likely be there covering the event – and definitely not hosting or speaking. They have mad skills in technology, systems, processes, and things like growth hacking (Google it.) Think Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Computers? Yes. People? H-e-l-l no.

Supporter/Facilitators: This is likely most of you. In fact, it is about 60% of the entrepreneurial population. Supporter/Facilitators are comfortable having conversations. They like connecting people with each other. They may have some of their own ideas, but can appreciate the value of other perspectives as well. They are really kickass at organizing events, coaching/group coaching, leading small workshops and retreats, and doing collaborative promos. They have a tendency to get bogged down by the mechanical/technical/analytical aspects, because they are so relationship based and *need* that one-on-one interaction. Think Oprah.

Experts: I have one client like this, out of all of them. I spoke with someone else today who was clearly an expert. You’ll know when you meet one, not because they’re hiding in the back of the room like the communicators but because they’re commanding the stage no matter where they are in the space. They have an energy that is unmistakable. They enter a room with all the presence of a freight train – you can’t help but notice. On the plus side, they definitely command attention – on the down side, they’re horrible at building their own audience. They speak to stadiums, have a lot of their own specific ideas, and can enchant anyone around them. Think Tony Robbins or Jim Carrey.

That is just a cursory explanation, but now that you have a crash-course in Entrepreneurial Archetypes, we can explore this idea of evolution. So let’s ask the question:

Can an entrepreneur evolve from one archetype to another?

I’m facing this question now, in my own business. Classically, I have been the Communicator archetype. I would obsessively check my Google Analytics, my mailing list statistics, my open and click through rates. They were my metrics for success and I held onto them. I hid behind my computer screen, always vying for those numbers to increase so that my success would increase with them. And of course, it worked.

In the past, I always viewed archetypes as static – something we’re born with, like our hair colour. It is what it is, and we can try to mask it but it will always be that way at the core.

But now, I’m finding myself changing. When I think of a new project, I’m not thinking of how I can implement a system/process/machine to create it for me, I’m thinking of who I can get involved. Working with clients isn’t about the volume of contacts or the amount of money they make in their businesses, it is about the quality of relationships we build and the quality of life they receive as a result.

It would appear as though I have evolved from classic Communicator into a Supporter/Facilitator role – which could have major impacts for my business in the future.

Rather than publishing ecourses in text form, video could come next. Instead of putting out a home-study course, a private retreat could be in the cards. It would change things dramatically.

And so if we consider it possible for an entrepreneur to evolve from one archetype to another, we have to ask – is this a linear evolution? In other words…

Do we go from hiding to shining in our full glory?

Or is this more of a shift that can go in any direction, at any time? Can you go from Expert to Communicator? Can your archetype change based on your own personal growth in any direction, or do you grow from hiding in the background to shining in the light?

I want to hear from you – have you evolved? Has your archetype changed? Where on the spectrum did you fit when you were younger vs. now? Let’s see if we can find the answer together, and I’ll share any insights along the way!

How to Keep Your Life and Business On Track: An Exercise

Every month, I do a simple exercise to help keep my business on track. When I first began to use this formula, I thought it would simply help me see how much work I had to do and where to focus my efforts… But the more I used it, the more I realized that this exercise helps in many, many other ways.

Aside from helping to focus my efforts, it also helps to:

1. Show me how far I’ve come, giving me motivation to keep moving forward.
2. Reminds me of my priorities and biggest goals once per month.
3. Actually assist in the manifesting process by creating both gratitude and desire simultaneously, without conflict.

So what is this simple exercise? Well it is the monthly inventory – and I’m going to show you how to do it today. Complete this exercise at the beginning of each month, and you will start to see major shifts and changes in your business.

The Monthly Inventory

The entire process starts out by completing an inventory of my life and work, as it stands, right now. Here is an example from June 2014 (when I’m publishing this post, obviously.)

Inventory:
Family – 9
Career – 10
Health – 8
Finances – 8
Education – 8
Recreation – 10
Charitable – 4
Adventure – 8
Travel – 7
Romance – 3
Relationships – 4
Spiritual – 6

I rate each item on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. In the past, things like charity and spiritual have been higher because I’ve been focusing on those areas. But as you can see, I’ve been focusing on my health, recreation, and business – so relationships, charity, and spirit have suffered a bit. Now I know where I need to shift some of my focus to for the month ahead.

Once I’ve completed my inventory, I can set my goals for the next month. For smaller goals, I’ll simply state a deadline. For larger ones that have carried over from months past, I’ll measure my progress. Here is an example you might use:

Revenue Goal: $1000
Revenue Current: $750
Goal Progress: 75%

Client Roster Goal: 10
Clients Current: 7
Goal Progress: 70%

Create landing page for new promotion (June 10th)

Reach out to new partners for promotion and secure 5 (June 25th)

Spend an entire day with friends and family (June 15th)

Take meditation course from MindValley (June 30th)

Now obviously those are not my real goals for the month, I simply made them up here as an example. However, you can see how I have business goals – continuing to build on the success I’ve had – and personal goals that relate to the areas in my life that I rated low on my inventory.

Now I have 4 small goals and 2 large goals to work toward for this month, so aside from my regular client work, those things will be my focus. At the beginning of July, I’ll do the inventory again and create new goals – bolstering the areas that need improvement and staying course with those that are okay as they are.

That’s it.

If there is one caution with this process, however, it is to not get caught up in guilt or shame about areas in your life that are lacking. Perhaps if you, like me, have been focusing on fun, fitness, and finances, your romance and friendships may have suffered a bit. Or you could have gone the other way – spent so much time in spirit-land, swooning your sweetheart and hanging with friends that when you’re being honest, your business isn’t where you would like it to be.

This inventory is not the place for judgement! Do not “should” yourself into a specific goal. You will never be “All 10s”, it is nearly impossible without the zen habits of a Buddhist monk. Where you focus will rise, and where you take focus from will fall. That is okay. This inventory simply points out where you’re not satisfied so that if you choose, you can make it a priority again.

Go ahead – do the inventory and then post a comment here. What did you discover from this process?

Top 10 Motivational Blog Posts

Feel stuck? Not getting motivated? Today’s post features the best of the best motivational posts from around the web to help you beat procrastination, get things done, stay motivated (even when things suck), and keep moving forward in your business. My apologies for the overlinking to Steve Pavlina, but if you’ve yet to read his articles, you’re missing out on some motivational mindhacking magic!

Enjoy, and don’t forget – if you like a post, make sure to leave a comment on the authors’ blogs. They love that stuff!

1. 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

This killer piece from Sparkpeople is intended for fitness motivation, but it can be applied to any area of your life. Pay special attention to the section on guilt. When you waste all day surfing Facebook and feel bad about it, it doesn’t need to be the end of your success!

2. How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert

Okay, so I’m still mastering this one… I’m an admitted night owl with a serious hate for mornings. But thanks to this and other posts by Steve Pavlina on waking up early, feeling better, and getting more energy, I’m now doing 7:30am regularly and without as much groaning as 10am used to cause. Just be aware, mornings are often more productive – you may end up more successful if you implement this post.

3. How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve

In another gem from Steve Pavlina, he teaches you how to properly set goals. This time, however, instead of using “SMART” systems and all of that jazz, he teaches you how to set goals that feel good and actually get you somewhere. I’ve used this with great success – this one post will change your entire perspective on goal setting.

4. Why Should I Set Goals?

Now that we know how to set goals, let’s get TimeThoughts.org’s opinions on why we should – and what might be stopping you. If you’ve been feeling stuck or procrastinating lately, take a look at the section on “Overwhelm” – it might help.

5. How to Find Inspiration

Yes, this is actually on EzineArticles.com – and normally it is hardly a resource I would consider. But this nice little article gives you 8 quick, easy to digest ideas for when you’re running low on inspiration. When you can’t get inspired, you need something quick and dirty to get you moving again and this little piece will do the trick.

6. What Drives You To Success?

Aside from the absolutely horrid header pattern (sorry), the article itself… Well it is actually kind of a downer. BUT all is not lost. These are the 10 most common motivators to success from the executives who have achieved it. See where you can see yourself. Once you know your true motivation, you’ll find that you can inspire and reward yourself much more effectively.

7. Achieving Peak Motivation

Back to Steve Pavlina’s blog for a little bit of woo-woo – here we have the concept of polarization and the effect it has on motivation. To sum up this concept, we are driven either by love or by fear, and what drives us will dictate how motivated we are and how long we can sustain that motivation. Love conquers all, etc. etc. Check out the article itself for a more in-depth discussion on the concept, and how you can use it to get – well, motivated.

8. Do You Know What You Really Want?

I’ve watched others suffer through this… They had the perfect suburban life all lined up until they realized how much the “American Dream” sucked. I went through a similar version myself with an existential crisis last year. No one is immune to this question, but knowing the answer (and then figuring out what you really do want) can go a long way to motivate you. Check out this short article for a quick tutorial on desire and judgement.

9. Our Limitations Are Self-Imposed

Feel like you can’t do something? Like you’re not the kind of person that ____? Or that _____ doesn’t happen to people like you? Then give this piece a quick read! It will help you understand the differences between real limitations and those that come from your experience and perceptions, so that you can overcome anything that stands in your way.

10. How to Stay Positive When Business is Slow

We’ve all been here… Things just aren’t going (or growing) the way that you want, and it can be tough to stay positive. These 6 quick steps should get you back in your groove and working toward the success you deserve – and a couple of them might even help that success come faster.

So there you have it – my top 10 business motivational posts. Do you have a post on your blog, or someone else’s, that you’ve found especially motivating? Share in the comments!

How Jessica Oman Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch Her Entrepreneurial Journey

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jessica Oman, one of the most fabulous guests from the Start Something Telesummit who has so graciously decided to share her story here. She tells the true story of how scary it was for her to start her business, to commit to doing the one thing she does well, and shows off her storytelling chops in the process. Read on!

How I Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch My Entrepreneurial Journey

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I’m a commitment-phobe.

Actually, maybe it’s a totally obvious fact. Having a party on Saturday? I’ll respond “maybe” on your Facebook event page. Want me on your dragonboat team? Sure, but only as a spare paddler. Thirty day fitness challenge? Yeah, right. I’m lucky if I get through the first week (where’s my wine?).

So when I decided to start my own business, you can probably guess that I wasn’t all in.

The story goes like this: I was in a job I sort of enjoyed, but couldn’t make progress in. I was being paid way below market value. I felt under-appreciated. I had no power to create or improve systems to deliver a better product to the customers. And, I couldn’t use all of the skills I’d spent six years and $40,000 in university tuition (for three degrees) acquiring. It was frustrating, and I had to do something.

I’d thought about starting a business for a while – something that combined my business education with my strong writing skills and allowed me to have complete control over my work while only working with the clients I wanted. But there were two problems: 1) I couldn’t commit to what I specifically wanted to do, and 2) I only had $170 to fund this new venture, whatever it was going to be.

So I did what one who can’t commit to something does: I started advertising on Craigslist for gigs as a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I didn’t quit my job, of course. I used my $170 to register my business name, get a set of $5 business cards and buy a piece of software that I don’t even use anymore.

It didn’t take long to get my first gig – and it was a big, nasty one. A $3000 project that I thought was my ticket to entrepreneurial freedom. But I let the client take advantage of my willingness to be helpful, and in the end neither of us were happy. I waffled. Should I keep going? Do I suck at this?

In the story you read when you sign up for my newsletter, you read about how I “never looked back” after launching my business. That’s true – but the official launch didn’t happen until three months after this first hairy, difficult project. That’s right; I spent three months going back and forth about whether I should start a business that, today, does nothing else but teach other people how to start businesses!

Ironic, huh?

So believe me, if you’re thinking about starting a new company and you’re scared to commit, I get it. That was me, too. The thing that ultimately pushed me into entrepreneurship was simply this: the pain of staying at my job or looking for another one was greater than the pain of just quitting and getting on with what I really wanted to do.

When The Pain is Too Great, You Must Commit

This is what I always tell my clients now. When they’re unfocused, indecisive, or scared, I ask them to visualize the new bliss. What is life going to be like when you become an entrepreneur? If your business fails, is that worse than staying in your current situation? If it’s not – then do it. Start something.

It’s not that you can’t pivot once you’re in the throes of owning a business. It’s not that you can’t go back to a regular job if you want to or need to. It’s that while you’re doing this thing, you need to be all in if you want to experience all the success you envision today.

I used those Craigslist ads to learn more about the types of clients I wanted, so I could more clearly define them for myself and refine my business to serve them better. I’m no longer a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I’m a business planner who trains new entrepreneurs in health care, food, or service-based specialties to plan and launch successful and profitable small companies.

And you can guarantee I’m committed to that.

What Entrepreneurship Is Really About.

This post has been a long time coming, inspired today in large part by one of my absolutely RADIANT Entrepreneurs whom you’ll hear more about in the next month. This isn’t going to be tactical advice. If you’re looking for a step-by-step how-to of something, Google will help you more.

This post is distilling entrepreneurship to its core, in the hopes of attracting more people into the great big world of business.

For anyone who knows me well, or has been anywhere near my yard, it is no secret that I absolutely love gardening. In fact, I love it so much that our family of 4 eats almost all of our summer produce exclusively from our little 0.099 acre city lot – and I still have plenty of lawn left to dig up!

One of the things I find most interesting this time of year, as we’re putting together our food garden for the summer, is the parallels between gardening and entrepreneurship. I’ve talked about this before.

You plant a seed, you feed it and water it, watch it grow, and reap the rewards. Always feed and water your plant for the development stage it is in, and you’ll do well.

But the nourishment. What is it? Where does it come from? What is the difference between a business that grows (and grows big!) and a business that withers, shrinks, dies a slow death, or never even sprouts from the seed?

What makes an entrepreneur? What is entrepreneurship really about?

It should be no surprise to those reading this post that our society views entrepreneurship as a risk. Leaving a steady job to run a business, even if it already has substantial profit, is often referred to as “brave” to our faces – and crazy behind our backs.

So is it risk that makes an entrepreneur? Is it the constant risk that makes the difference between success and failure? Taking big risks is the recipe for success?

Well, yes and no. Taking big risks is important – but not stupid “this will probably both kill me physically and ruin me financially” risks. Successful entrepreneurs do one thing, they do it often, they do it with persistence, and they do it in the face of fear:

They ask.

Not for little things, like a hand unloading the groceries. We’re talking about:

  • Asking for the sale
  • Asking for promotion
  • Asking for the interview
  • Asking for the contract
  • Asking about opportunities
  • Asking for content
  • Asking for a solo mailing
  • Asking for advice
  • Asking for a social share
  • Asking to be let into the group
  • Asking the client if they’ll stay on after a price increase
  • Asking the President of the United States for a quote
  • Asking friends to connect you
  • Asking strangers to connect you more

If the difference between success and failure, thriving and death, a bumper crop and an empty field can be summed up into one word, the difference is that successful people ASK.

I’ve interviewed television hosts, had my events promoted to over 100k people, got on the phone with coaches that require 6 figure investments “just to chat”, closed deals, and to be honest, built my entire business on that premise – just ask.

So, do you want to be more successful? Do you want to reach out, do more, be more, and live your dream? Then tell me – what have you asked for today?

Manifesting clients, customers, and cash… NOW!

makeitrainToday I’m going to share a very cool, actionable technique that you can use to grow your business. Whether you want clients, customers, or even just cash, this quick technique will work – and work quickly – to manifest what you’re looking for.

How do I know this? Because I just did it! I wanted to find 2 new clients for 2 new spots in my roster… But not just any clients, clients that I would love. I did this process, and within a week I had two absolutely amazing clients who are already making progress!

So, how do you “make it rain”?

Many people state that “the universe abhors a vacuum.” Of course we know that this isn’t an absolute, otherwise outer space would be filled with junk BUT we do know that here on our terrestrial planet, as terrestrial beings, we fill spaces.

You have an empty closet, it ends up full.

You find an empty lot, someone builds a house.

You have an empty counter, it is a constant battle to keep it from filling up with junk.

So what do you do when you want new clients, customers, or cash to appear in your business?

You create an empty space.

There are two ways to do this, and I’ve found it is most effective when you use both.

The first is to put together new client files and folders, ready and waiting for your new clients. Completely blank, of course – full of potential. By creating a space for these new clients, you are more likely to fill that space.

You may find by doing this process that you actually don’t have all of the supplies you need to serve the clients you want (as I did.) Go out and get the supplies! That way you’re fully prepared to serve the clients you intend to bring into your business, and nothing will be subconsciously sabotaging you from doing this.

This process will make the end result seem more real, tangible, and achievable.

The second way to bring new clients, customers, and cash into your business is to create a visual representation of your business AND the space you want to fill.

First figure out how many total clients, customers, or dollars you want in your business. Then using a whiteboard, chalkboard, or even a piece of paper, draw circles (or stars, hearts, squares, trapezoids or even tangential quadrilaterals) to represent this number. In the case of dollars, you may want to do this in chunks (i.e. 5 circles each representing $1,000 rather than 5,000 circles to represent $5k.)

Fill however many spaces as you can with your current clients, customers, or cash-flow – this is acknowledging your current abundance and making your goal very clear. The remaining empty spaces are there, waiting to be filled.

Now set it somewhere that you can see it every day, and go about your business. Keep your goal in the back of your mind if you wish, but don’t dwell on it or stress – it will happen! Sometimes the results have come in less than a week for myself and my clients, so don’t be afraid to be ambitious.

Go ahead, give it a try – then come back and share your results!

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!

Minimum Viable Products: The Truth

mvp

You’ve probably heard me talk about this before.

Minimum viable products are the lifeblood of a startup or critical growth stage business. Getting something out the door to serve your customers as quickly as possible is how you grow.

It is how you test something, how you research, how you determine if your product really will sell.

But we need to make a distinction, and it is an important one.

Minimum + viable is a balance, not an excuse.

Though it is far more important to launch, test, track, tweak, and sell than it is to run focus groups, conduct expensive year-long surveys and write 40 page product development plans, there is still thought and effort required to reach MVP.

Minimum means the least amount of product development and back-end work you can do before releasing your creation into the hands of your customers. It means avoiding unnecessary features that will take longer to implement and add little real value. It means cutting out the non-essentials.

Viable is the qualifier for minimum.

Just as a car could sell without cupholders but not without an engine, your product must strip away the unnecessary luxuries without compromising the core value.

An example of this would be projectRADIANT, our latest product release. It was supposed to launch yesterday, and we were unable to make that happen. Why?

Because we didn’t have a minimum viable product – yet.

The entire value proposition of projectRADIANT is to provide useful, actionable case studies, worksheets, and other tools to learn marketing strategies from companies who have used them successfully.

The core value comes from an assessment of what these successful companies have done, and the breakdown of that assessment into actionable steps.

Our first case study will be courtesy of an amazing company in the SaaS space. They grew to over $500k in annual revenue in just two years, almost exclusively through a blog. The actionable breakdown of what they did will have incredible value to entrepreneurs who want to implement that strategy.

And the founders have graciously agreed to answer our questions and provide us with everything we need to make this case study happen – but they can’t have their interview responses back to us until the end of this week.

Sure, we had the forum. We had the members area. We had coupon codes and payment processing in place. We could have put together a quick case study of some other company, some other technique, and worked around the clock to get it ready. We could have launched yesterday and probably even made a few sales.

But it wouldn’t have been our Minimum Viable Product.

The core value of this project is the results entrepreneurs and executives can achieve by following the steps in each lesson. Without the right company, the right case study to follow, those results will be limited. The value of projectRADIANT would be limited.

We could have added cupholders. We could have put on a spoiler. We could have painted it in cool colours and added all kinds of bells and whistles.

But without the engine – the actionable lessons from successful companies – it wouldn’t have had much value or substance.

People often mistake Minimum Viable Products for Minimum Value Products.

It is common for people to assume that “just ship something” and “trim the excess” means to cut corners on the core value, and offer as little as you can get away with. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

MVP means offer as much as you can get away with – without adding more than your customers need.

MVP means make it valuable, make it simple, make it clean and easy to implement.

MVP means 500 words to make your point instead of 5000, 5 core features instead of 50, it means the engine and the wheels and the seats and the steering wheel.

It means understanding what your customer really wants, and delivering nothing but that.

It required brutal honesty and self assessment.

“Is this something that my customers really want, or is it just something I want to create?”

“Is my tweaking of this product based on customer feedback, or my own insecurity?”

“Is the product not ready, or am I just afraid to launch?”

Your answers to those questions will tell you if it is time to launch, or time to get back to work.

For us, today we’re back to work building out the next few case studies and lining up more companies to analyze. We’re gaining more support for pR so that it can launch with a big bang. We’re keeping our eyes focused on what we know our MVP is, and despite the delay, not adding unnecessary features.

We’re also doing it very efficiently, using a concept popularized by Tim Ferris called “Minimum Effective Dose.” I’ll be sharing that next week.

Do you have a project you have been holding back on?

A book that isn’t quite ready, a program or service that you have yet to launch, something you’re perfecting to the point of procrastination? Commit publicly to finding your MVP – and launching it. I would love to hear what you’re going to ship – tell me in the comments!

On Courage and The Pain of Playing Small

You must make a choice to take a chance or nothing will ever change.

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

What is it you really want?

Not just what you think you can have, but if there were no more obstacles, no more barriers, nothing stopping you – what would you shoot for? What do you really, really want?

How much money would you have?

How big would your company be?

How much (or how little) would you work?

What kind of impact would you make in the world?

What would you do for your family?

What would you do for yourself?

Push beyond your current reality.

Don’t think of your limitations, ignore your limiting beliefs (you can’t have X without sacrificing Y, for example), and create a picture of exactly what your ideal life would be like. Stretch it – make it even bigger. Then bigger. Make your vision for yourself and your business so big that you hardly believe you could ever have it.

Think to yourself what that would give you. If this ideal life were magically dropped in your lap right now, how would you feel? What would you do? Who would you be?

Pretty amazing, right? The way it would feel to live your ideal life is pretty incredible.

Now ask yourself…

What is stopping you?

Your logical brain (coming from your limiting beliefs) will likely have a few answers for you. You may think…

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“My parents never taught me how.”

“I don’t have the right connections.”

“I’m just a mom/dad/coach/startup/kid/senior/whatever.”

Go ahead and listen to those thoughts for a minute. Take them in. How does it feel to think that way? How does it feel to focus your income goals on “what you need to survive”? How does it feel to think of yourself as “just an” anything?

That is the pain of playing small. And I’ll give you a hint – you aren’t meant to play that small. If you were, it wouldn’t be painful to think that way. It would be natural to think of yourself as insignificant and unimportant, and you would be happy and embrace it.

Feel the weight of all of those limitations, and then ask yourself…

What would it be like if all of those limitations disappeared?

Really and truly – if you had enough money (or didn’t need it), if you were good enough (or didn’t need to be), if everything that was stopping you just went away… How would you feel? What would you do?

Here’s the big secret: did you know that you have the power to make those limitations disappear?

You do – in a split second, if you wanted to.

If you want to move past all of your limitations and embrace your ideal life, you only have to have one thing:

Courage.

The courage to push through every “no” and keep going until you get a “yes”. The courage to stand up and ask for support from big people, big names, and claim your big impact. The courage to earn a lot of money without having to work yourself to death (yes, most of us have limiting beliefs around “working hard=making money”).

The courage to get up every morning and keep working toward your ideal life no matter what.

So – do you want it? Do you want the courage to stand up and claim what you really want in your life and your business? Do you want to play that big game, and achieve everything you have ever dreamed of and more?

Then fake it.

Not in a dishonest, pretend you’re the king of the world kind of way. Act as if you have the courage to do it now. Act as if nothing is stopping you, as if you’re willing to push past any obstacle and not let anything get you down.

Act as if you have the courage to reach for your dreams today.

Because if you’re playing small, if you’re struggling to make ends meet or to get that next sale or to have any kind of impact at all, it isn’t going to get better. Doing the same thing over and over again will not get you different results.

If you stay on your current course, the worst thing that can happen is X. If you make a choice to take a chance, the worst thing that can happen – it is still X. Your failure will not be any more catastrophic than if you hadn’t stuck your neck out at all, but your success has the potential to be that much bigger.

Fake the courage until you have it, because “you miss 100% of the shots you  never take.”

So share in the comments below – what shots are you going to take today?