Business: Stop lying, it IS personal.

That’s what he said, right before he went into a huge rant and tore down a coworker to their very core. But everybody says that, right? “It’s just business” is supposed to mean that you shouldn’t show emotion, it shouldn’t hurt, you shouldn’t be personal or take things personally because it is “just business.”

I’m here to call BS on that lie, because let me tell you my friend, business is nothing if it’s not personal.

I had an experience yesterday that I will never forget, and I have to share it with you. See how you can relate…

I’ve been working with a new client, getting things set up for them to start a new program with me – let’s call them Client A. I’m used to most of my clients working in a very rapid-fire pace, but there were some things this client needed to do before we could start – fair enough.

While this client was getting things in order, another prospective client emailed me asking if we could talk – let’s call them Client B. Sure, why not – I’ll chat with them. My roster is technically full once Client A moves forward, but I’ll talk with them.

But Client B didn’t just want to talk. Client B wanted to work with me – and they were ready to move forward today. So I said “I don’t have the room for you to start today, Client B, but if you can wait a few days I’ll look into my other clients’ program dates and see when I can fit you in.” They agreed. No problem.

Client A was facing more and more challenges in getting started, though, and I couldn’t have a complete picture of my calendar until I knew when they were starting. Client B kept emailing – “any news yet?” And I kept responding, “No, not yet. Just a few more days.”

Days turned into over a week, and then the unthinkable happened for Client A – a big personal matter that needed all of their focus. One that, after my father’s strokes last year, hit close to home. I felt for them so deeply… But I knew I needed to give an answer to Client B.

So I did what the textbooks tell you to do. I did what the boss above would have done. I pulled up my business britches, expressed my condolences, and explained the situation with Client B. I asked if it were possible for Client A to move forward at all, even in the slightest way, so I could tell Client B with certainty.

Sometimes we make decisions based on whom we feel we should be rather than who we are. Those decisions, FYI, are typically wrong.

Client A came back with a no – it will have to wait, the personal matter was priority #1. If we couldn’t end up working together as a result, they were willing to make that sacrifice.

And in that moment, I had a decision to make. I could do the “business smart” thing, take Client B who was ready and willing and able to start right away, and send more condolences to Client A.

But here’s the thing – business isn’t just business. It is personal. It is intensely personal, especially when you spend all day genuinely caring about your clients and their success.

And so I did something that most hard-core business gurus, teachers, trainers, CEOs would write me off for. I emailed Client A:

“Client B can start in September, when another client is wrapping up their program. Your spot is waiting here for you when you get back. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”

A complete reverse in position, a shocker for Client A I’m sure. Then the email to Client B:

“I’m sorry, my roster is full until September. If you want to lay out a plan of action for then, we can get started after the summer.”

I still haven’t heard back, and don’t know if I will.

And that was the best possible decision I could have made.

It makes no business sense. I mean really, I just turned away a paying client for a client that is *likely* but not *guaranteed* to come on. I turned down money today for the potential of money next month.

But I couldn’t do it any other way. Reading their words, feeling the raw emotion of what they were going through – and then robbing them of something they really wanted to do? I couldn’t do it. There wasn’t a fibre in my being that would let me pull that trigger.

And that, my friends, is why business is personal.

Because sometimes you have to make the choice that will help you sleep at night.

I don’t know what will come of all of this, but I do know that no matter what happens, I can feel good about it.

When you spend your life building a business to serve others, when you spend your days genuinely caring about the success and joy and pain of others, business is deeply personal.

Have you had an experience like this? How did you handle it? Do you have any regrets? 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.

"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.

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?

 

Still struggling to find your "niche"?

findyourniche2

“Do what you love and the money will follow” – we’ve all heard that, right? Did you know that if you heed that advice, you are actually setting yourself up for struggle (or worse, failure?)

I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again – people focus on what they want to DO. Then they start doing it. They get excited! They’re happy! They’re in the honeymoon period with their business, and nothing could bring them down – people are buying!

Then reality starts to catch up with them. 1AM, 2AM, 4AM rolls by and they’re still working. Up at 6AM for the next task. Weight lost, weight gained. Customers frustrated that things aren’t happening as quickly as they’d like. Income has reached its peak based on the current effort, so the entrepreneur hires staff.

A relief. They let go. They work more regular hours, but take on more – because after all, they love what they do!

Then the employee trips up…

Now the entrepreneur feels like they can’t sleep if they have to complete everything on their plate. Stress takes its toll. That thing they loved isn’t a passion anymore, its a grueling job for less than they would earn in the 9-5 world. They contemplate giving up. They are fearful. They feel numb, lost, and confused.

This is the scenario often created by “do what you love, and the money will follow.” It is not an exaggeration – it is very real.

What is the alternative? How can you avoid this fate?

STOP thinking about SELLING what you want to DO.

A successful business can incorporate the things you love to do. That is never the issue. But by focusing on what you want to do, you’re putting yourself at the center of your business. Without your time, effort, and energy (yes, even with info products – somebody has to create them, right?!) the business stops. Income stops. Clients leave. The business fails.

Instead, you need to figure out what you want to create – for OTHERS. For your customers.

Do you want to help people lose weight? Do you want to give people more time with their children? Do you want to help people travel, overcome emotional trauma, or get more organized?

You need to discover the outcome you want your clients to have!

THEN your business becomes a machine to produce that outcome, not you.

THEN you can choose any outcome you want, and hire or partner with the expertise to make it work – you’re not limited by your own knowledge, skills, or confidence issues.

THEN you can build the things you want to do with your life into your business model.

THEN you can successfully scale a business that works, even when you’re not there.

THEN you avoid falling in love with your own products, and your own way of doing things.

THEN you are free to create whatever your clients request, with no emotional attachment to the “how” – because this is *their* outcome, and *they* are designing it.

THEN – and only then – does your business become a vehicle to fulfill the vision you see for the world, bringing you and your clients more success than “the old way” ever could.

Discovering what you want to create for others is the first key to a happy, healthy, thriving business.

But what if you’re still stuck? How will you know when you’ve found your purpose?! Isn’t this just as confusing as figuring out what I want to do?!?!?

Relax – there is a tool for that!

This simple test will help you determine if your purpose is spot on, close to the mark, or way off – so you can finally figure it out!

The Curse Test

Yes, this is unconventional – but it WORKS. What have you got to lose by giving it a try? Set aside 5 minutes alone, and follow these steps…

1. Think of your first-choice niche. You know the one – you’re back and forth about whether or not it is right for you, right? Not being 100% sure of this niche is the reason you’ve even looked at others. Get it into your head.

2. Start talking about the impact your business will have on people in this niche. “They’ll lose weight! They’ll be more confident and happy! They’ll be awesome superheroes in the world of business!” Whatever it is.

3. Are you starting to get excited? Good! Top 5. No excitement? Go to step 6.

4. Keep talking. Keep getting excited. Now, try to add in a few curse words. “They’ll be so damn happy!” or “This shit is for real!”

5. Assess yourself. Did it feel natural? Did you struggle to curse while talking about this result?  Did it sound fake or phony or forced? Or did it get you even more pumped, ready to yell “HELL YES!!!”?

If this niche gave you that “HELL YES!!!!” moment, your work is done. That is your niche. You’re passionate enough about creating that result that you’ll be able to push through and succeed. And since people are willing to pay for results, you only need to do minor research on how this will be profitable – no intensive “will people even buy this?” research.

Now your task is to determine how to best deliver that outcome with your business (NOT YOU!) by asking potential customers, or putting something out there and seeing how people respond.

6. If that niche *didn’t* give you that HELL YES moment, that is not the niche for you. Sure, it may be profitable, but when push comes to shove… I’d bet money you wouldn’t stay up until 3AM working away on your business without slipping into a serious scarcity mindset (aka OMG how am I going to pay my billlssssss?!?!?!)

Start over again at step 1, but this time, focus on your next choice. Repeat this process until you get your HELL YES!! moment.

Then you have your niche!

One last piece of wisdom. You’ve probably been struggling with your niche for a long time, and wondering WHY on Earth is it so important? And what is this “purpose” stuff people keep throwing out there with “niche” stuff, to confuse you even more?

I’ll tell you why it is vitally important. Because through this process, you’re not choosing a “target market” – you’re choosing a specific outcome for a specific group of the population, and one that you’re passionate about creating.

By determining what you want your business to create for others, you’ll know exactly where to find the people who need it. You’ll know the language to use to help them discover your solution. You’ll know – almost instinctively – that your role is to create what they ask for, to help them achieve this outcome through your business, and to foster a community of people sharing their success. You’ll know which marketing tactics will work, and which won’t – because you know how your target market thinks and what they do.

You’ll be able to make snap decisions on marketing, business growth, product creation, and more – because you’ll know your “tribe” like a best friend.

Now that sounds like a recipe for success, doesn’t it?

Shine bright, my troublemakers!

– Cheryl

How to Make a Business Decision in 60 Seconds

business decision making mompreneur
CCL credit: jeff_golden

If you’re breathing right now, you probably made a decision today.

To get up, or not to get up.

To eat, or not to eat.

What to eat.

Ahh nevermind, not to eat.

And so on through your day until the decision to “go to sleep” finally takes over, and you go about your merry dreaming.

So why is it that when it comes time to make business decisions, we clam up – we feel dizzy, can’t get our grounding, freak out, or avoid the situation until the decision has been made for us? How does that make sense?

In most cases, indecision is caused by fear.

Fear of success… Fear of failure… Fear of fear. Whatever. If you don’t make a decision about something today, it is because you’re afriad.

One common fear is that you don’t have “enough information” to make a decision – as if suddenly, you’re going to have an “aha!” moment, find that crucial piece of information, and the decision will be effortless. And as we all know, 99% of the time that is completely bogus and we end up sweating the decision out anyways – right?

Now, we all should remember the three essential questions – the holy trinity – of business from my earlier post. If you don’t, here is a quick recap :

1. Who are you?

2. Who are your ideal customers?

3. How do you tell your ideal customers who you are?

So let’s take an average crap-your-pants style decision as an example.

Let’s just say you’ve been making baby clothes in your basement for 6 months, and things are really starting to pick up. You’re getting a lot of orders, and can barely handle your volume. You’ve started looking at having a company manufacture the same patterns so that all the work isn’t on you anymore, when BAM – the phone rings.

It’s Wal-mart, and they want you to ship out 30,000 boxes of your finest baby pants next month.

POP QUIZ! What do you do?

Normally, you would say…

“Well, it is a lot of potential income to pass up…”

“But if I can’t deliver, I’ll never work with them again…”

“Will my pants even sell at Wal-mart?”

“Will I have to cut my price?”

“Can I find a manufacturer that quickly?”

“Even if I do, can they fill an order that big – that quickly?”

And so on until either Wal-mart tells you they’ll manufacture them for you, or you don’t have enough time left to decide so the decision is made for you, right? (Okay, so not all of you would do this – some of you would pull up your boots and do whatever it is you decided to do. But most of us, myself included most times, would probably rather eat broken glass with a fork made of rusty nails before making a decision like that.)

There has to be a better way to make decisions.

I mean, last time I checked the CEO of Hasbro didn’t need a change of pants when he got an order from Wal-mart, right? So somebody out there knows how to make these decisions. For the big guys with everything in place, its easy.

And for you, a mompreneur, the decisions are – well, they’re just as easy.

Huh?

Yep. Not kidding. They’re just as easy. Just ask yourself the three questions!

1. Who are you? A baby pants manufacturer who makes custom designs.

2. Who are your ideal customers? Mom’s with children under 24 months who have an interest in premium, custom designed baby wear in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are willing to buy online. Typically college educated, 2 children or fewer, married, with an income greater than $75,000.

3. How can you tell your ideal customers who you are? By advertising in magazines and blogs they frequent, and getting sample baby pants carried in boutique baby clothing stores in the area.

Note how the answer to question #3 did not contain the words
“large multinational corporate store known for discount and bargain items”.

So now, you know who you are, you know who your customers are, and you know how to tell your customers who you are. What is your decision about Wal-Mart? SAY NO! Your products and your customers don’t match their products and customers. It isn’t the right fit. Bingo, problem solved in 60 seconds.

Now let’s change that a bit… You still sell baby pants, but this time…

1. Who are you? A mom who dreams of every  baby on earth wearing lime green and purple polka dot organic cotton pants.

2. Who are your ideal customers? Mom’s with babies who believe in your dream of all babies wearing lime green and purple polka dot organic cotton pants. Found all over the world, in every demographic, united only by their love of flashy baby pants.

3. How can you tell your ideal customers who you are? Get into a large chain store – the bigger the better! Any store that will take your flashy baby pants!

So what would you decide this time about your OMG phone call?

SELL! SELL! SELL!

Figure out the details later, because you’ll need to have a quick-thinking manufacturer anyway if your goal is to get those baby pants in as many stores worldwide as you can.

And guess what – the decision still only took 60 seconds.

Struggling to make a decision of your own?
Post it in the comments with your answers to the three questions, and see if I can help!