There is a saying that goes like this: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When running a business, if you skip steps because you think they don’t matter (because you just have a “small” business or a “sole proprietorship” and it’s just you), then you’re not going to be able to build a sustainable business that will provide the security and future that you desire. A business vision allows you to think big in terms of your dreams, but to also think big in terms of how you can reach those dreams.
While your first goal is likely to turn a profit, there are other things that are important to care about too. Any successful project actually starts with the end in mind. Even if you build houses for a living, the thing you should concern yourself with is the end result of the livable house, not the first nail you hammer. Without a clear picture of the end result, you won’t even know where to put that first nail.
Therefore, starting with the end in mind will help you create a business that is successful because you’ll know where you’re going.
If you have a vision, you can have a long-term business that grows and evolves as time moves forward.
If you really want a business that lasts longer than week to week and month to month, you need a vision.
If you want your vision to grow, you will need to know where you’re going so that you can create a plan to get there.
While the first thing a business wants may be to earn a profit, the first thing most people want is to live a happy life doing what they love. By creating a business vision you can do both.
If you know what you stand for, you can tell those you interview for positions so that you can ensure that together your visions align.
Your business vision will let customers, contractors and employees know what you stand for, above money, well into the future.
A sustainable business always needs an exit plan. After all, someday you will want to retire, and having a vision can assist with ensure that comes true.
Knowing the end point in mind, you can work your way back to today and create a system to reach your goals.
If you know where you’re going, and why you’re going there, and who your market is, you’ll be able to create more targeted marketing messages.
Your business vision enables you to create unique offerings throughout your product funnel, ultimately leading to the big dream vision you have for your business.
It should be clear that having a business vision isn’t optional if you want to be successful. Don’t fail to plan; instead, develop your business vision to align with your beliefs, values, and goals so that you can accomplish your dreams.
When you first start a business it can be on a very small budget. Perhaps you do not have the funds to outsource and pay as much or almost anything to get the help. Don’t worry, because there are ways to get help inexpensively.
Fiverr.com is a website where people offer their services for just five bucks. There are providers who have moved up the ranks who charge more, but those starting out still are only five bucks. Take a look at their ratings and ask around who is the best one for the services you need.
Even young children can help you with your business; whether it's data entry, filing, or cleaning the house to free you up to do other things. Older kids can do a lot of amazing things, so don't discount hiring your own children.
It might be a hard sell to get your spouse to help you, but they are usually wonderful sources of work and they can be free, or you can legally hire them as a deduction in your business.
If you have joined any networks, whether they are colleagues or not, you can go to them to find people to help you inexpensively. Perhaps you can barter with each other to get things done.
You cannot legally use high school students who aren't family members free, but you can pay them a bit less than you would an expert. Even if they just help you with housework and childcare, that is something that gives you more time to work your business.
Local universities and community colleges are great places to find interns to use in your business. This is a highly talented pool of people, especially when it comes to technology. It's important to know that you do need to pay them something and offer them a lot of education.
You can find inexpensive outsourcers on Elance. The price will vary depending on where the outsourcer lives and also what their expertise is. Make sure you put up a good proposal and set your budget.
This is another place like Elance which has people to hire that can help you inexpensively. Be careful and don't take the lowest bid, as the lowest is not always going to be better.
These eight ways to get help with your business are tried and true methods that work. You can get help without spending tons of money. You also have to remember that anything that you can get someone else to do is worth it if it costs less than you can earn per hour doing your main service or selling your main product.
There are many styles of business coaching of which you should be aware as you search for a business coach. It helps to have some insight into your own personality to know what types of coaching will help you get to where you want to be. The wrong type of coaching may actually harm your progress rather than push you forward.
Coaches who are innovators have a system already set up that they want to use. They are usually experts in helping businesses just like yours move forward. They already know exactly what you need to do to get where you want to go because they’ve worked with your business type and industry, and they've worked out all the kinks. But they’ll want you to do as you’re told, without much compromise. Nothing is wrong with that, as long as you have the right personality to trust your coach to lead you to the place you want to be.
Some coaches are teachers at heart and love to teach you how to run your business efficiently and solve the problems you have identified. They may want to try different methods throughout the coaching process which gives you a chance to choose your direction more than some of the other coaching methods. A trainer is going to teach you how to be successful, taking into consideration your own skill level.
This type of coach sees themselves as a partner in your business and will work with you in a consensus-type manner. You’ll talk out the various issues you have and likely they’ll use the right questions to direct you toward solutions you essentially develop yourself. They’ll offer a lot of feedback, accountability and encouragement.
Often a trailblazer on their own, they’ve already done what you want to do and they know exactly how you need to do it to duplicate their success. They’ll expect you to follow them and do it just the way they did it. Of course, they’ve already made all the mistakes, so you’ll only do what was successful. They are going to give high accountability and check in a lot to ensure that you followed through.
A lot like the leader, but more direct, the authoritarian coach has their way of doing things and if you don’t do it their way, you’ll be asked to leave. They want you to be open minded to their authority over your business choices in terms of the coaching contract. For instance, they may give you homework to do and if it’s not done at the time of your meeting, your meeting will be cancelled but not your bill. This works great for business owners who aren’t self-motivated and need that added incentive to get things done.
This is often considered the cheerleader of the business coaching profession. This type of coach can be a good match with someone who is self-motivated and already has a good idea of what they want to do (and even how to do it), but needs someone to push them forward and tell them they can do it, and should do it.
Some coaches like to feel out their client, and based on the client’s goals they’ll experiment with different ways to reach the goal based on the personality of the client rather than their own personality. This can work well for people who are sometimes self-motivated, but other times need someone to be more authoritative once a decision has been made about how something will work.
There are coaches who are very good at feeling out your emotional level and working with and using that connection to get you to move through barriers that have stopped you in the past. They are great at building a relationship with you, and they use that emotional connection so that you won’t want to disappoint them and you’ll do the work that needs to be done to achieve success. Don’t worry; they care about you too - it’s not a game. It’s just how their mind and personality works.
No one coaching style is right for everyone, and the truth is most of the time each business coach demonstrates one or more of these coaching styles. That’s why it’s important to understand what you need and use the interviewing and free consultation process to choose the right coach for you.
The gestures you make with your hands sends a lot of messages to those around you. Sometimes you accidentally send messages that you do not want to send. Learning how to control your body language and what to do with your hands can make a huge difference and help you influence others during any conversation.
According to the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS), speakers who gesture more develop more rapport and trust with their audiences. They’re seen as warm and trusting rather than stuffy and dishonest. Take some time to look at YouTube videos of speakers who are considered good. They use their hands to make points and to involve the audience in the conversation. This is true wither it’s a speech or a one-on-one conversation.
Learning how to influence people by simply using your hands may sound like wishful thinking, but the fact is that it works. Learning to be comfortable talking with your hands, showing your respect with your hands, and communicating with your hands will go far in helping you influence others during conversations.
When seeking to become an expert in a niche, it’s important to realize it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to do your time like everyone else – learning, building, and becoming the expert that you want to become. However, don’t let the daunting hill ahead of you stop you. Before you know it, you’ll be at the top of that hill and you’ll never look back.
There are likely books and opinions out there already on your niche. It's important to read and soak in a variety of ideas from those who are already experts. Knowing the prevailing wisdom and how it came to be will help you on your journey to becoming an expert, and will also aid you in forming your own thoughts and opinions.
As you are learning from other experts, you'll want to implement what you've learned. There is no such thing as an expert on a topic who has not tried it or done it. Put into practice the theories you're learning about. Test out some of your own ideas, see what works and what doesn't work. This is the foundation by which you'll become a sought-out expert, because you have proof that you did xyz and it worked or did not work.
A mastermind group usually consists of a leader who is an expert in a particular niche. You don't have to join a group that is in your niche; instead join a group that is designed to help you achieve in your own niche. For example, if you need to learn more about public speaking to help promote your ideas, join a public speaking mastermind group.
Today you don't have to even leave your house to take courses to learn the things you want to know. You can take both accredited and unaccredited courses to become an expert. Courses are offered by even MIT that are not accredited. The important thing is that you learn what you need to learn in a manner that enables you to learn a topic quickly.
While you're involved with learning it can be easy to be distracted from your mission. Your mission is to become an expert in a particular topic and niche, not to become the best public speaker. So don't get your head turned just because you find learning something exciting - stay the course.
For some people, hiring a coach that can help them stay focused on doing what they set out to do can be helpful. The coach doesn't have to be an expert in the area you want expertise in either. Instead they should be an expert in helping people reach their goals, whatever they are. However, it does help if the coach is cognizant of your field a little.
You've heard your mom say it, "Practice makes perfect" and it's true. The more you practice something and gain experience in something, the more likely you are to become an expert. Don't just do it once a week; do whatever it is every day. They say it takes 10,000 hours of studying and doing to become an expert, so don't waste any opportunities.
It's important to persevere and not give up. You may become an actual expert before the public accepts you as an expert. This is to be expected, but can be difficult to handle. Just keep going, keep promoting, and keep learning and it will happen. One step forward each day will culminate in gaining what you set out to gain.
As you embark on your rise to expert status, you'll likely find that there are roadblocks impeding your ability to get to the top. But, you can overcome all of them with perseverance and focus on the goals that you have made.
According to anthropologist Edward T. Hall, up to 60 percent of all human communication is non-verbal. Understanding this fact will help you learn how you can demonstrate respect to others without ever opening your mouth. This is a great skill to learn because the more you listen and the less you speak, the more people respect you and perceive you as intelligent, helpful and creative.
Eye contact is really tricky. You want to make eye contact but you don’t want to stare crazily at people and make them feel uncomfortable. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and it is true that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at them in the eye.
In a group situation, always make eye contact with the person speaking, and then generously spread around the eye contact as people respond to the speaker. When listening, it’s good to break eye contact every four to six seconds so that the person doesn’t feel creeped out by your gaze.
In a one-on-one situation, if someone is talking a long time you can look at their mouth part of the time and they’ll feel more comfortable. Try looking at their mouth, each eye, their hair, and moving your gaze around but focus mostly on listening to what they are saying.
When you first meet someone, usually you shake hands. Some people get really carried away and shake too hard. Some larger men have even been known to draw blood when shaking a woman’s hand when she’s wearing rings. Some people, often women, tend to shake hands too lightly with a very limp wrist. This can feel kind of like shaking hands with a wet noodle and is very unappealing.
Both ways of hand shaking can make the person look less than confident. One is over-compensating and one is downplaying their importance. Both have bad reactions from others and neither should be continued. Both men and women should shake hands in essentially the same way.
To shake hands properly, look the person in the eye, put out your right hand, grasp the offered hand firmly but don’t squeeze hard. Pump your hand up and down three or four times and that’s it. Mind whose hand you’re shaking, too. If it’s an elderly person or a small person, don’t squeeze as hard. When appropriate it’s okay to do the double handshake where you enclose their hand in yours with both hands.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do when you’re standing there without a podium or anything to protect you. Your arms feel heavy and you do the worst thing ever - you put your hands in your pockets or you cross your arms, thus hiding your hands. Try to stand with an open posture with your hands to your side so that you can use them freely for gesturing.
Showing your palms to others is akin to a dog showing his belly to show submissiveness. It’s a sign of respect and when you show respect to others you’ll get respect in return.
No talking needed to follow up and do what people expect you to do. Doing what you told people you’ll do is one of the most important things you can do to show your respect for people. What’s great about this is that it really doesn’t require anything extra out of you, just sticking to your promises. Remember to always under promise and over deliver and you’ll always manage to accomplish this.
When someone is talking, instead of leaning away and doing something else like checking a text message, get rid of the technology, lean in and truly listen to what the person is saying. Listen with your ears, your eyes and your body language by leaning toward the speaker a little.
Always smile at people when you greet them and when they are talking as you’re listening - unless, of course, they’re talking about something sad or horrible. Be sensible in your smiling so you don’t look crazy. You don’t have to smile in a huge way; just turn the corners of your lips up a bit and put a smile in your eyes as you listen.
When someone is speaking, it’s important that you face them as they speak. Turning your back, looking around, looking at electronics, and doing something other than facing the speaker will look disrespectful.
People have different comfort zones for personal space, but in general it’s about 30 inches. Keep that in mind when you’re standing in a group, leaning in, or you're conversing with people. Staying in their space too long will make the person uncomfortable and feel disrespected.
Keep in mind that these suggestions assume American, Canadian or Western ideas of respect. If you are dealing with other cultures, be sure to look into what different gestures mean by simply typing in the name of the country, and “gestures” to a search engine. Don’t underestimate the power that these suggestions will have on your interactions with others.
Alarge portion of communication is non-verbal. That’s why some people have so much trouble communicating in print format. You miss out on so many hints as to what the person means when you can’t see body language. Conversely, you can also hide a lot of things from the receiver when body language isn’t an issue, such as fear and nerves.
So, if you plan to attend meetings and events in person, it’s good to learn about body language and how it affects others so that you have more control over it - enabling you to send the signals you want to send. If you can be aware of what your own body is doing and what messages it’s sending others, you can gain control not only over your body, but also the meeting.
All of us have a tick or two such as wiggling a foot, or tapping a pen, or brushing our hands through our hair. But, it’s a good idea to try very hard to learn other coping mechanisms when you’re at meetings. These habits can bother other people and send the wrong message. If you need to do anything it’s okay to stretch, put your hands behind your head, or adjust your stance, but avoid repetitive motions.
It may seem silly, but what you wear sends a huge message to others. It tells people that you feel good about yourself, what you do, and that you are professional. Dress for the part you want, not the part you have. Consider who your audience is and who you need to impress and what sort of clothing would work for them. But, do ensure that you feel good in the clothing. If you don’t, you’ll feel out of place and it will show in your demeanor.
One of the best things you can do to send the right signals to others is to look at them and smile at them. People respond well to an open person who is comfortable enough to look at the people they are talking to, and smile. You don’t want to look creepy - just natural, so practice at every opportunity.
Truly, an often overlooked skill is the ability to listen to others. But, you also need to give your audience the feeling that you’re listening. You can do this via body language such as smiling, shaking your head, making the appropriate emotions with your mouth and also repeating back to them what you think they said in your own words.
Be aware if you’re doing things with your arms and legs to block your listener's view. If you’re having meetings over coffee or drinks, for instance, avoid putting the coffee between you and your guest. Avoid continuously lifting the coffee to block the view of your guest when you are talking or they are talking.
Learn about body language and how an open posture sends a message of openness and how a closed posture can send the opposite message. There are times where you may want to use either to put people at ease or to cut them off without saying a word. There is power in understanding body language and how it affects your communication with others.
Nothing ever stays the same. If you think about how fast technology has changed our environment over the last 20 years, you’ll realize how imperative it is to stay educated in your niche. While your niche can remain your forte for years to come, what it looks like today will barely resemble what it will look like in just a few years. Think about it; no one is producing VHS tapes anymore, but no one has stopped watching movies. Our tools change, not our passions.
Whether online or offline, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are in your industry and your audience. The more you can learn from others, the more you’ll be able to stay ahead of the learning curve regarding your niche. By surrounding yourself with movers and shakers, you won’t be caught off guard when people want WordPress websites instead of HTML static sites. Instead you’ll see what’s coming around the bend.
On one hand you want to follow your audience so you know what they’re up to, but you should also follow your competition and the leaders in your niche. Even if you’re a leader yourself, being involved with other leaders can help you stay ahead of the learning curve because you’ll be able to keep your ear to the ground. Try spreading out your associations because people tend to get caught up in a clique without realizing it.
Whether accredited or unaccredited, certification can often impress your audience. Research the accrediting authority to ensure that whoever is doing the accrediting is well known and respected in your niche before taking part. Also know whether that matters to your audience. When it comes to certain software, the software developers themselves may offer certification and if they do, that’s an important certification to pursue. In the realm of digital marketing, our favorite certification is DigitalMarketer.com. You can get certified in digital marketing through their DMHQ, Digital Marketing Headquarters.
Even if you’re not a writer, or a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, conducting regular keyword research can expose you to new industry terms and information that you might not otherwise be exposed to. Consider at least a yearly if not quarterly study of the keywords that are popular within your niche to stay ahead of your competition.
Even if your specialty is highly technical, you can read a lot of books in your area to stay educated. Check out free books on Kindle to help you find important books being written today about your niche. Even historical books can help you understand your niche better in terms of where it’s going and where it’s been.
Many colleges and universities offer courses online today that you may not have seen in the past. A really good college that is low priced, accredited and non-profit is Southern New Hampshire University. In many cases the tuition is lower than local universities and colleges.
Sometimes the best way to stay ahead and educated on your niche is to teach. When you teach something you tend to study harder. It will force you to know what is going on within the industry in a more organized and productive manner. Teaching also solidifies the information within your mind better. That’s why history professors seem to remember everything. It’s not that they have photographic memories; they just tell the stories repeatedly and it finally sticks.
Using Google Alerts and searching the internet, you can stay up to date on industry trends. You can also find trade publications, magazines, and newsletters that will help you understand what is happening in your niche. For instance, in the USA there is Small Business Majority which is a group that can help members understand how tax laws, health care laws, and other issues affect how they do business.
Continuing education, whether formal or informal, is the key that will keep you ahead of the rest. As long as you stay educated in your niche, you will have a long career and successful business working with the people you love and doing what you love.
Whether you work from home or work in an office, sometimes you have to conquer the dreaded business meeting. The best way to do well at any business meeting or event is to focus on creating a positive first impression.
Every meeting usually has a specific audience that will go to that meeting. If it’s a more universal type meeting, research the people that you want to connect with. Know some facts about them and how they got their start. They’ll be impressed that you took the time to get to know them before meeting them.
Find out what type of clothing people will be wearing to the meeting or event. The more you can fit in due to your mode of dress, the more people will remember you in a positive way. Dress for the position you want is a good refrain, but be careful about the “power” suit or appearing too high above your audience because you want them to remember you, not fear you.
When it comes time to introduce yourself, the person who puts their hand out first and states their name and gives their 30-second introduction is the person who holds the power in the meeting. You should also be first to introduce the person you just met to others as they approach. This makes you seem very important and people will remember you more due to your kindness.
Most people are a little nervous at events or meetings but if you ask each person you meet open-ended questions about themselves and their business, they will be put at ease. And oddly, the more people get to talk about themselves, the more they will remember you. An open-ended question is one that must be answered with a sentence instead of a yes or no answer.
As you meet people and ask those questions, truly listen for their answers. Repeat back to them their name and the things they say in your own words, then ask them good follow-up questions. This will make you seem like the most interesting person at the meeting or event because you are actually listening. And as you repeat things back to the person you’re conversing with, it will also help you remember more about each person that you connect with.
One final way to create a positive first impression is by what happens after the meeting. Always follow up with those whom you met. Use the information on the business cards you collected, or find them online, and connect with them in a new way. Send them a thank you card, or cut out an article and send it to them, or find a creative way to connect with them outside of the meeting. This will make you a truly memorable connection for them.