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How to Create Lasting Breakthrough in Your Business

How to Create Lasting Breakthrough in Your Business

Your mental game shapes your business and your entire world.

If you can master these 3 fundamental aspects of your work life, you can create just about any business that you desire.

  • Affect (feelings)
  • Behavior (interactions)
  • Cognition (thought)

The Upward Spiral of Awesomeness

How you feel about generating leads for your business largely determines what you will do, how you will do it, and how frequently.

Take networking meetings.

I know one lady who made it a point to attend 8 networking functions a week!  It was the bread and butter of her business and she loved doing it.

Here’s the best part — when I asked her if she enjoyed doing this much networking, she got a twinkle in her eye, smiled wide, and said, “Of course I like it! I am getting really good at it!”

Her desire and hunger (feelings) to grow her business gave her the initial push to try networking (behavior). Once she got out there and did it several times, she started to get the hang of it (more behavior).

Now she sees herself as a master networker (thoughts) and loves using this technique to grow her business.

This feeling-behavior-thought pattern reinforces her behavior week after week and she is producing consistent results in her business.

Oh, that we were all so fortunate.

The Downward Spiral of Doom

This cycle, however, works both ways.  If you are not as lucky, as skilled, or as fortunate as the lady I mentioned above, you could find networking to be a real drag on your business.

You may have the same desire and hunger (feelings) to grow your business, and you may even go the length of attending 3-4 networking events (behavior).

If you get nothing in return for all of your effort, it would be easy to conclude that you are not good at networking (cognition) or that networking is a waste of time (more cognition).

Keys to Breaking the Downward Spiral

When you have gone out on a limb, tried something new, and failed miserably, it is easy to want to give up.  The keys to breaking the downward spiral, giving up, and throwing in the towel are:

  1. Self-Compassion
  2. Deliberate Practice.

Self compassion is the act of being very forgiving of yourself. If shame, self-doubt, or self-hatred get their hooks into you, you will not have the desire to take the next step — getting back on the horse.

Deliberate practice is the committed process of trying something over and over again — with proper guidance from a trusted and skilled advisor.  The point is to practice doing the prospecting activity correctly, not just winging it.

Repeated practice with proper guidance will allow you to win so you feel like prospecting again and again.

Reference

Jhangiani & Tarry (n.d.) Affect, Behavior, and Cognition https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/chapter/affect-behavior-and-cognition/

 

Why You Are Not Selling More Insurance

Why You Are Not Selling More Insurance

Years ago when I was managing financial advisors, we had a great “track to run on”.  We had a very good system that helped brand new advisors start from absolutely nothing and move all the way up to being top producers.

  • We had all the formulas in place
  • We had all the meeting notes in place
  • We had all the scripts in place
  • We practiced role playing and rehearsing

Honest to goodness, this was a turnkey system that anybody could use to go out and make as much money as any person could ever want to make.

The thing that was the craziest part for me as a manager was to know that this system worked – I had used it myself to win two sales awards before getting promoted to management – but we could hardly get people to use it.

Literally, it’s like having a goose that lays the golden eggs, but never feeding the goose.  It ends up starving to death.

So the question remains “Why won’t people just use a system that has been proven to work?”

I think I know why this happens, and I want to share it with you.

[Tweet “Why won’t people just use a system that has been proven to work?”]

A Wide-spread Problem

I never once set out to be a financial advisor.  At a time in my life when I was searching for an open door, Life only had this one door open to me, so I walked through it.

I am an engineer by training, and I’ll always be in an engineer at heart.  I love taking things apart and understanding how they work.

When I found myself in this financial services firm surrounded by hundreds of financial advisors who all have access to the exact system, but most were too afraid, confused, or overwhelmed to use it.

As an engineer, this fascinated me to no end.

I realized that this was a huge problem that was not only in my sales territory, but across the country, and certainly within many more industries than just financial advice. You see the same hesitation from new entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, network marketers…

You see this practically everywhere there are very well known formulas that work if you just simply use them.

Sales managers and educators have wondered the same questions for decades.  Isn’t it about time we get to the bottom of that?

The answer: you simply don’t have the right foundation.

[shareable]After trying and failing so many times, I realized I needed a totally different approach.[/shareable]

The Forgotten Foundation

After interviewing entrepreneurs from all walks of life I started find several key themes.

And as a producer or a manager, if you don’t understand these key themes you’re really going to bang your head against the wall.

Heck, I am not impervious to this. I had the same problem myself.

In the face of having all the answers right in front of me, I had to ask myself:

  • Why am I hesitating?
  • Have I just been sold a bill of goods?
  • Am I a sucker?
  • What have I gotten myself into?
  • Didn’t I already try something like this that didn’t work?

I can’t tell you the number of times that I talked myself out of something that was working just fine for other people — like I had made a hobby of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

After trying and failing so many times, I realized I needed a totally different approach to my life as an entrepreneur.

[shareable]An entrepreneurial life calls us towards risk, and it calls far more often than most realize.[/shareable]

The Inner Toolbox

Do you run away of a burning building or towards it?  Most of us run the other way.  We flee to safety, especially if we have come from corporate backgrounds.  An entrepreneurial life calls us towards risk, and it calls far more often than most realize.

What we need is a set of thought exercises that will allow us to run toward the very thing that looks scary.

  • Going to another networking function when the past 3 have turned up little to nothing.
  • Picking up the phone to make your dials for the day when your last phone sessions have lead to nothing but service work.
  • Asking clients for referrals when the past 10 times you have tried have led to nothing more than “I can’t think of anyone right now.”

There is a way to bounce back from these defeats — I call this The Inner Toolbox.

The Accelerator

We need a tool that fundamentally rewires our brains so that we realize where we are.

  • Ruminating on a deal that went south?  You are losing precious time.
  • Since you didn’t sell many copies at the chamber business expo, you’ve written off all marketing as a waste of time?  Congrats, you just fell victim to black-and-white thinking.

Again, what we need is a tool that will enable us to stop playing in traffic so we can clearly see where we are.

I call this The Accelerator

Questions That Quell

When staring at the face of some percieved setback, I need to know how to interpret it.  How can I have failed at this yet again?  Should I call it quits?  My brain was racing toward a cliff.

I needed a better set of questions.  I needed questions that would talk me off the ledge instead of closer to it.

I call this Questions that Quell

Once I had developed a set of more productive questions that worked for me, things started to turn around considerably.

[shareable]I needed a better set of questions.[/shareable]

Together these three blocks join to form a solid foundation for any entrepreneur, including:

  • Insurance Agents
  • Financial Advisors

When knitted together and used properly, they can make you unstoppable.

Your company’s sales program goes on top of the Forgotten Foundation.

Together they form a powerful team that…

  • Not only tell you what to do next
  • But also give you confidence that you will be able to handle the outcome no matter what.

Where Do You Get The Forgotten Foundation?

The single best place to start is by going to MakeoverForYourMind.com to check out the series of FREE training videos that I have put together.

These are the VERY SAME tools that I am using to reach levels of performance I have never known until now.  I can’t wait to share them with you.

You’ll stop…

  • Procrastinating
  • Allowing fear and anxiety to weigh you down
  • Second-guessing yourself

And start…

  • Living from your full potential
  • Seeing opportunities where none existed previously
  • Feeling more confidence than you’ve ever known.
The Real Reason You Aren’t Selling More Books

The Real Reason You Aren’t Selling More Books

You Have Plenty of Options, Right?

There are several programs out there that can help you sell more books, and most of them are actually pretty good.  They give you a track to run on, templates, phone scripts, schedules; essentially an entire blueprint for how you can sell hundreds of books.

Now here is the crazy thing…

Even if you bought one of those programs, I’ll bet you won’t use it very long.

You know this to be true.

Why Won’t You Feed The Goose?

Years ago when I was managing financial advisors, we had a great “track to run on”.  We had a very good system that helped brand new advisors start from absolutely nothing and move all the way up to being top producers.

  • We had all the formulas in place
  • We had all the meeting notes in place
  • We had all the scripts in place
  • We practiced role playing and rehearsing

Honest to goodness, this was a turnkey system that anybody could use to go out and make as much money as any person could ever want to make.

The thing that was the craziest part for me as a manager was to know that this system worked – I had used it myself to win two sales awards before getting promoted to management – but we could hardly get people to use it.

Literally, it’s like having a goose that lays the golden eggs, but never feeding the goose.  It ends up starving to death.

So the question remains “Why won’t people just use a system that has been proven to work?”

I think I know why this happens, and I want to share it with you.

[shareable]Why won’t people just use a system that has been proven to work?[/shareable]

A Wide-spread Problem

I never once set out to be a financial advisor.  At a time in my life when I was searching for an open door, Life only had this one door open to me, so I walked through it.

I am an engineer by training, and I’ll always be in an engineer at heart.  I love taking things apart and understanding how they work.

When I found myself in this financial services firm surrounded by hundreds of financial advisors who all have access to the exact system, but most were too afraid, confused, or overwhelmed to use it.

As an engineer, this fascinated me to no end.

I realized that this was a huge problem that was not only in my sales territory, but across the country, and certainly within many more industries than just financial advice. You see the same hesitation from new entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, network marketers…

You see this practically everywhere there are very well known formulas that work if you just simply use them.

Sales managers and educators have wondered the same questions for decades.  Isn’t it about time we get to the bottom of that?

The answer: you simply don’t have the right foundation.

[shareable]After trying and failing so many times, I realized I needed a totally different approach.[/shareable]

The Forgotten Foundation

After interviewing entrepreneurs from all walks of life I started find several key themes.

And as a manager, or as an entrepreneur, if you don’t understand these key themes you’re really going to bang your head against the wall.

Heck, I am not impervious to this. I have the same problem myself.

I have looked at myself after having just spent over $2000 on a training program – a proven system – and then thinking that there was no way this was going to work.

In the face of having all the answers right in front of me, I had to ask myself:

  • Why am I hesitating?
  • Have I just been sold a bill of goods?
  • Am I a sucker?
  • What have I gotten myself into?
  • Didn’t I already try something like this that didn’t work?

I can’t tell you the number of times that I talked myself out of something that was working just fine for other people — like I had made a hobby of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

After trying and failing so many times, I realized I needed a totally different approach to my life as an entrepreneur.

[shareable]An entrepreneurial life calls us towards risk, and it calls far more often than most realize.[/shareable]

The Inner Toolbox

Do you run away of a burning building or towards it?  Most of us run the other way.  We flee to safety, especially if we have come from corporate backgrounds.  An entrepreneurial life calls us towards risk, and it calls far more often than most realize.

What we need is a set of thought exercises that will allow us to run toward the very thing that looks scary.

  • Asking another bookstore owner if we can hold a book signing event despite being rejected by two other store owners.
  • Asking strangers for a book review even when friends and family haven’t given us any.
  • Continuing to share your message when it feels like no one is listening.

I call this The Inner Toolbox.

The Accelerator

We need a tool that fundamentally rewires our brains so that we realize where we are.

  • Ruminating on a deal that went south?  You are losing precious time.
  • Since you didn’t sell many copies at the chamber business expo, you’ve written off all marketing as a waste of time?  Congrats, you just fell victim to black-and-white thinking.

Again, what we need is a tool that will enable us to stop playing in traffic so we can clearly see where we are.

I call this The Accelerator

Questions That Quell

When staring at the face of some percieved setback, I need to know how to interpret it.  How can I have failed at this yet again?  Should I call it quits?  My brain was racing toward a cliff.

I needed a better set of questions.  I needed questions that would talk me off the ledge instead of closer to it.

I call this Questions that Quell

Once I had developed a set of more productive questions that worked for me, things started to turn around considerably.

[shareable]I needed a better set of questions.[/shareable]

Together these three blocks join to form a solid foundation for any entrepreneur.

  • Author
  • Coach
  • Public Speaker
  • Financial Advisor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Dog Groomer
  • Software startup

When knitted together and used properly, they can make you unstoppable.

Your company’s sales program, or the new training program that you just purchased, go on top of the Forgotten Foundation.

Together they form a powerful team that…

  • Not only tell you what to do next
  • But also give you confidence that you will be able to handle the outcome no matter what.

Where Do You Get The Forgotten Foundation?

The single best place to start is by going to MakeoverForYourMind.com to check out the series of FREE training videos that I have put together.

These are the VERY SAME tools that I am using to reach levels of performance I have never known until now.  I can’t wait to share them with you.

You’ll stop…

  • Procrastinating
  • Allowing fear and anxiety to weigh you down
  • Second-guessing yourself

And start…

  • Living from your full potential
  • Seeing opportunities where none existed previously
  • Feeling more confidence than you’ve ever known.
7 Amazing Steps to Bet the Business

7 Amazing Steps to Bet the Business

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, realized that his company would need to make a dramatic change or face extinction. This often-told story about the company’s “strategic inflection point” centered around betting the business on microprocessors instead of memory.

[shareable]There are times when we as experts need to “bet the business” on particular strategies or directions.[/shareable]

It is a moment of declaring to ourselves and to the world that we will not be swayed from our chosen path.

In this article I list 7 steps you can take to find the clarity and the power that comes from betting the business.

First, let’s note two important things to know going into this:

  • Focus is a powerful tool.
  • Time and money are precious.

We only have so much capacity, which means we can’t chase every last opportunity.

So then, we look across the sea of opportunities that raise their hands to use each day, and we have to choose which opportunity deserves our time and precious resources so that we can focus on what’s important to our business.

Seven Steps

1. Consider Where You are Most Gifted

Take a deep inventory here.  Get out a pen and paper.  Write down every activity you have done today, or in the past week.

Put a star next to every item that does not give you a ton of energy.  This will likely be a long list.

Every item that has a star next to it just became the job description for work you need to delegate.

You only want items remaining where you can contribute from your area of genius.  Most likely no one else on your team will be quite as gifted as you in this area.

Business coach Dan Sullivan calls this your Unique Ability.

2. Hone Your Focus

This is often the most difficult part for any entrepreneur who is trying to bet the business, but can be especially hard for creatives like us.

Chances are pretty good that your to-do list is filled with a) more than you can handle, and b) more than your organization should be handling.

You’ve simply taken on too much.

In this step you get to focus on one revenue-generating activity that you want you and your organization to do at a world-class level.

One.

Not 10.

Not 5.

Not even 3.

One.

3. Don’t Change Horses Mid-Stream

It is easy to want to change your focus when you see your business coach friend landing a bunch of high-dollar workshops with local companies.

Or when you see your public-speaker friend launch a successful online membership program, and adding a nice pad to her monthly recurring income.

It is natural to want to chase the gold at the end of their rainbow.  Remember, this is their rainbow, not yours.

Go find your own gold.

[shareable]You can find your own gold. Here’s how.[/shareable]

4. Think Process

What steps need to happen first, second, and third to bet your business?
What can you outsource to a contractor or an employee?

Minimize to the greatest extent possible the work that you — the business owner — do.  This creates more time for you to do that work, and ensures that you get more and more practice doing the things that no one else in your company can do.

5. Lean In

This is where true grit is determined — where you put your stake in the ground and say “This is my territory!”

  • You bet the business.
  • You fight your demons.
  • You slay your dragons.
  • You suffer setbacks.
  • You circle the wagons.
  • You live to fight another day.

6. Understand the Journey is Not the Destination

As John Eldredge has pointed out, we are often duped into confusing journey and destination.  He offers the analogy that a 10-hour plane ride to Italy is nothing like being in Italy.

[shareable]The journey is not the destination.[/shareable]

The same holds true for us.  Don’t get hooked on the journey.  You have a goal and you want to reach it.  Stay focused so that you can bet the business.

7. Experience the Sweet Smell of Victory

Even with the setbacks, bumps, and bruises that come with the fight, there is still no better feeling than reaching your goal.

Your newly dedicated resources are now focused on the task at hand, everyone driving in the same direction.

You’ve overcome setbacks you never dreamed were possible.  You stayed the course.

You bet the business.

You’ve won!

[reminder]What activities do you need to STOP DOING so that you can focus on the one activity that really matters to your long-term future?[/reminder]

3 Things You Need to Know About Building Your Expert Business

3 Things You Need to Know About Building Your Expert Business

A few years ago I was listening to a podcast from Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life.  This episode was a beginning-of-the-year address, and may have even been his sermon for that Sunday.

He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Your goals are going to take longer than you think, so you might as well get started.”

No truer words could be spoken.

1) This will Take Longer than You Think

I chose to list this one first because the #1 skill I see in short supply in newer entrepreneurs is the skill of handling disappointment.

I’m a huge believer in something called expectancy theory.  I’ve seen this at play a number of times in my experience, namely with regard to unmet expectations.

People often feel that they should experience some type of success at certain points in their journey.  Namely, success should happen…

  • More quickly
  • On a larger scale
  • With less expense…

However, when this expectation isn’t met (geek term: expectancy disconfirmation), people tend to get frustrated.

What typically happens is the person will take another shot — a very reasonable approach to be sure, but this usually leads to yet another brick wall.  Hopes are dashed yet again, and this leads the would-be expert in a quandary.

What to do?

  • Try yet another approach?
  • Take a break for a few months?
  • Just toss the whole mess in the can?

For most of us in the expert business, we are trying to become speakers, we’re trying to become thought leaders, or trying to sell information products.

This isn’t really a franchise approach to business. You don’t get to walk down a path that has been proven to work time and time again.

The problem with what most of us experts are trying to attempt or accomplish is that there are 100 ways to get to where you want to go.

When I was researching how new businesses form, I was shocked to learn that most of what I thought I was doing wrong was actually right all along!
[callout]Article Upgrade ->Here I share my biggest “ah-ha!” moment about how most new businesses really get their start. (Link may not work if you are viewing this in email) Email Readers Get the Upgrade->here[/callout]

It is natural to want to emulate other successful big-name experts.

You may even try to take the same steps that they say they’ve taken in growing their business. It’s not a bad approach, however it often does not work.  Your natural gifts and abilities do not match those of the expert you are emulating.

The only way to really learn this is to go out there and try, take the risk, get in the middle, and discover your limitations.

[Tweet “The only way to really learn this is to take the risk and learn your limitations.”]

I wish I could tell you that there’s a better way to do this, a way that would save you some time.

Truth is finding your way often takes a lot of experimentation, and takes a lot of wrong turns, and takes an awful lot of feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing.

[Tweet “When building your business you may feel that you don’t know what you’re doing.”]

You have to get really uncomfortable with not having success for some period.

When I think of people that I’ve studied over the past 4 or 5 years I can name several who have gone down a path, did a great job of exploring it, made some money, and then figured out that they wanted to make a change.

Their existing path was good, but it wasn’t the best. That particular path

  • Took too much time away from home.
  • Asked them to operate in areas where they were not gifted.
  • Required team members that were too expensive.

There are number of reasons why a particular path may not work for you, but you never know that until you travel down the path. And, yes, this takes time.

For those of you who know my story, you know that it’s been a multi-year journey of fits and starts and success and failure.  Yet, the business is taking the right trajectory. It’s going in the right direction. I am making more money year after year.

It has been a hard fought battle with most of those battles being internal.

2) Your Faith can Play a Strong a Role

While faith plays such an integral part in the lives of many people, I don’t see experts in the start-up space paying a lot of attention to it, writing about it, or even talking about it much.

When I have asked entrepreneurs about their experiences with where God is leading them in their business or their ministry, it’s fascinating to listen to their stories.

[Tweet “I think intersection of our work and our faith simply does not get enough air time.”]

As entrepreneurs, we live lives inherent with risk, often overestimate our capabilities, and find ourselves in the occasional financial bind.  It is only natural to think that we would turn to our respective faiths for help.

Sometimes I think God puts these desires – for us to want to share or message, to start a business, to monetize what we know – in order to get us to step out, to have faith that what He has asked us to do is, in fact, possible.

When I find myself in the middle of a wrong turn or having traveled down a path that is apparently leading nowhere, it’s very natural for me to begin asking why God let me down this particular path.

[Tweet “As entrepreneurs, we live lives inherent with risk, often overestimating our abilities.”]

I can think back to this past week where I really felt like my back was up against the wall, and I needed to produce some results. I was really leaning into God in prayer asking for some really specific answers, that He would bless the efforts of my work, and that it would not all turn to sawdust.

I was asking for guidance, for some type of confirmation.

[callout]
Article Upgrade for Blog Readers -> Check out the resources I use when praying for my family and my business.

Article Upgrade for Email Readers -> Or click here if reading this vie email
[/callout]

Rather than getting a direct answer to my prayers I often hear, “Hey, I’ve given you skills and talents. Go figure it out. I am with you.”

Specifically, I don’t hear, “Everything is going to work out” or “You are going to make a ton of money at this”.

So, the good news is…

  1. I’m not alone in my business pursuits.
  2. I get to do what I feel is best.

Pretty good deal, eh?

Blaise Pascal called this “The dignity of causality”. We get to be part in God’s creation. We get to work, create, shape, prune, and bring things to life.

God is effectively saying, “It’s your nickel.”

3) You will Lose Your Path Before Finding it Again

If you have the luxury of being tutored by someone who is in the expert business, to go with them to their events, to sell materials from their book table, to be with them as they cold call for speaking engagements, then by all means sit at this person’s feet and absorb everything you can.

Mentoring at someone’s side will lead you to a lot greater clarity about how to make this business work for you.

[Tweet “Mentoring at the side of an established expert will lead you to much greater clarity.”]

For the rest of us however, the ones who don’t have that luxury, it’s simply going to take an awful lot of exploration to find out what’s going to work for you.

You may feel very called to write a book, and let’s say that you do write that book. You put a lot of effort into launching it, and you end up selling some copies!

However, at some point you will discover the string of your successes is only going to be so long.

You are going to reach the boundaries of your competence, and this isn’t a bad thing.

[Tweet “At some point you’re going to reach the boundaries of your competence, and this isn’t a bad thing.”]

Not that this is any deficiency of yours. It’s just simply a matter of experience.

You’ve never been down this road before.  You may have never even written a book before, but yet you’ve managed to

  • Write a book
  • Get it published
  • Do a book launch
  • Sell some copies

You’ve managed to ring the cash register! You have to understand how many people would’ve never even made it this far.

Yet, I’ve also known many people to miss their bookselling goals considerably.

The numbers here are not important. We all have our own numbers that were aiming towards, but let’s just say that you ended up missing your goal — by a lot.

It is very natural to get discouraged by this, and at that point you may end up running off into a different direction.

Which is totally fine!

As your book is on the shelf for a while, you might get excited about having some type of a membership site. Maybe you’ve grown your email list over the past six or eight months, and you’ve decided that what you know when your book can be supplemented by great membership site.

So you go down the path of making a membership site. Only to find out here, that you don’t really know as much as you thought you needed to know about membership sites, and the whole technical aspect overwhelms you.

You put together a membership site as good as you know how, and then do a trial balloon launch too people on your list.

You get a few takers, and receive only luke-warm feedback.

[Tweet “Building an expert business? There are 100 ways to get there.”]

You have put in a tremendous amount of time only to realize that you won’t really see any return on your investment any time soon.

In summary…

  • You have written a book
  • You have sold some copies
  • You’re able to bring the cash register,
  • You tried launching a membership site and that fizzled.

So at the end of six or eight months of work you have put an awful lot of time into this, and are really starting to wonder if this whole expert business is all that it’s cracked up to be.

This is totally normal!

I can’t tell you how many times I run into situations where I talk to people who have put in a ton of work into a product, and sales did not take off the way that they thought it would.  This does not mean that you’re doing anything wrong.

In fact, you’re doing a ton of things correctly!

  1. You are leaning into your problem.
  2. You are having faith in your skills and abilities.
  3. You are taking risk in your life to believe in yourself.

All of these are qualities that makes a person good at being in the business of promoting your expertise.

[reminder]What is the biggest blindside that hit you as you are growing your expert business?[/reminder]

Don’t Do a Product Launch Without Reading This

Don’t Do a Product Launch Without Reading This

Experience is the best teacher.

Last year I went all out on a product launch.  I had just purchased Jeff Walker’s new book, Launch, and devoured it cover to cover.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. If you are considering launching any kind of knowledge product, you are simply nuts for not reading this book cover to cover.

With that said, I followed the formula as well as I knew how.

I created a bunch of videos, and wrote a metric ton of emails.

I put everything into my fancy email marketing system.

In all it was a LOT of work, and after weighing the time I had invested, I really wasn’t that impressed with the results.

I had blown it somewhere, but could not figure out where.

My Latest Attempt at a Product Launch

I started over a few months ago.

I chose an entirely different market and took a totally different approach to developing the product.

I vowed not to spend a tremendous amount of time shooting videos and wrestling with email automation.

All of my efforts are going into rapid development mode.

Make a little, sell a little, learn a lot.

[Tweet “Make a little. Sell a little. Learn a lot.”]

On this launch, I’m doing everything differently.

I figured out that I blew it on the product development phase last time.  I didn’t spent enough time with the customers first.

For the record, this time around…

  1. I didn’t expect to sell a bajillion dollars worth of stuff, and my list was only 23 people.
  2. The product I tested is a full-day workshop, and my research showed that it should support a $99 price point.
  3. I did this launch in the margins of my life between client obligations and family commitments.

My Pre-Pre-Launch

If I followed any part of the textbook formula correctly, it was here in the pre-pre-launch.

Think of this as the market research stage on steroids.

I did interviews — lots of interviews.

[Tweet “Product Development: When in doubt, do more interviews!”]

I interviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people — authors, coaches, experts, and a variety of people who had created online programs, and membership sites.

I had 4 questions that I asked each of them, and these came to me compliments of Brendon Burchard.

  1. What frustrates you most about your business (or the business you are trying to create)?
  2. What are you hoping to accomplish in your business in the next 12 months?
  3. What would double your income or double your happiness in the next 12 months?
  4. What have you tried that has worked and has not worked?

These questions are pure marketing gold!

I took copious notes during my 20-minute sessions with these experts, and then analyzed these notes for themes.

To anyone out there who wants to create some type of scalable knowledge product, I can’t recommend enough that you start here.

The Pre-Launch

From here I begin to depart from the textbook formula simply because I just don’t have capacity to do all the steps.

So, in my new abbreviated launch I needed to warm up my audience. It had been 6-8 weeks since they had heard from me in the interview phase.

I warmed up my list by announcing guest speaker #1. Two days later I warmed up my list again by announcing guest speaker #2.

The day prior to opening the cart I sent my Get Ready for the Cart to Open Tomorrow email.

The Launch

What follows is the day-by-day emotional account of how I felt at each step of the launch.

For those of you not familiar with a launch week, there is a LOT happening here. Many emails. New leads coming in from every direction. Lots of questions to answer.

Here is the series of emails that I had planned to send:

  • Cart is open!
  • Cart closing soon
  • Final notice (early on the last day)
  • Really the final notice (later on the last day)

My Day-By-Day Experience

The cart is supposed to open on Monday and close on Friday.

I would love to tell you that everything went according to plan, but I was off schedule from day 1.

I had time scheduled to write the Open Cart email, however, an unforeseen client demand erased my time.

My launch didn’t start until Wednesday.

Mentally I felt like I was launching with one hand tied behind my back.

Wednesday

Launch Day. Finally!

I’m happy to say that I sent the Open Cart email, and I’m eager to see the results of all my hard work that I did during the research stage.

By the end of the day I sold a whopping two tickets.

I don’t know what I expected, but I expected way more than two sales.

Don’t get me wrong. I was extremely happy to be on the board, to have scored some revenue.

During my interviews several people told me how excited they were about attending. I just couldn’t understand why I had only two tickets sell from the entire list.

Ok, I know, I know. I should not expect a lot from campaigning a list of 23 people.

But, truth is, I really did expect more than 2 sales on my first day.

I had done my homework and created the very product they told me to create at the very price point they told me would work.

I start kicking myself for failing to remember the most basic of product research lessons learned a thousand times over in companies all across the globe — what the customer says and what the customer does are two different things.

I felt my marketing plans come unhinged.

If I can’t depend on even the most basic of market research to come through for me, if I can’t rely on my hard work amounting to anything, then why am I investing so much effort here?

Am I about to repeat the failed launch I experienced last year?

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.001 Wednesday

Thursday

No new sales over night. Not feeling great at this point.

Not time to panic, but certainly not running a victory lap here.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.002 Thursday

Friday

I get another sale on Day 3, and this lifts my spirits a bit.

I have lined up a sensibly-priced conference room at a hotel here in town, and with this 3rd sale I have just about covered my costs for the event.

Looks like I won’t go in the hole for this event after all!

I can’t say I’m in great spirits, but I’m not in the doldrums either.

Since I opened the cart so late in the week I’m feeling a bit behind in my timing.

Should I close the cart on Friday?

Doesn’t feel right to do this because I’ve only had the cart open 3 days.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.003 Friday

Saturday

I check my email on Saturday morning and instantly turn into a basket case.

I had hoped the Launch Fairy would send me another few customers Friday night as people took time to get caught up on their emails from the week.

I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this event, and it looks like I’ll have 3 paying attendees, 2 guest speakers, and myself.

Emotionally I am not doing well, and at this point I start entertaining all options.

I strongly considered calling off the event, refunding everyone’s money, and burying my head somewhere.

I really thought I would be a lot further along than this.

I also had to wrestle with when to close the cart.

I know that I should close the cart on Wednesday of the next week to stick with the regular one-week launch window, but who closes a cart on a Wednesday?

My regular workload for the coming week is pretty heavy, and I’m really having problems making time to write the remaining emails for next week.

I decide to use my busy work schedule to my advantage by expanding my open cart window a few days to Friday of next week.

By mid-day Saturday I realized that I needed to get some emotional distance from all this because it has been consuming nearly every free moment for the past several days.

I let the whole matter drop till Sunday evening.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.004 Saturday

Sunday

By the end of the day Sunday I am no further along than I was on Saturday.

While I haven’t had any more sales in the last 24 hours, I decide not to cancel the event.

I had resolved myself to the fact that I would be doing a 5 person event, and would barely break even.

This wouldn’t be a total loss.

Every journey has to start somewhere, right?

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.005 Sunday

Monday

On Monday evening I realized that I had completely forgotten to include any bonuses up to this point.

This could be a game-changer!

I whack myself on the side of the head for forgetting something as basic as bonus stacking, which I have read about 30 times.

I made a mental note to come up with some bonuses on the fly.

I’m on the road today, so I can’t do much on the launch.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.006 Monday

Tuesday

My extreme workload keeps me from creating the bonuses today, but I did manage to capture a few ideas in my journal.

Emotionally I slide back to negative territory. I hyperventilate at the thought of doing a 5-person event, and I am back to wondering how I will even remotely save face in this predicament.

Despite my quandary I draw a very firm line in the sand — I will not comp anyone a free ticket to this event or offer any scholarships just to inflate the headcount.

I already did this once this year during another one of my workshops, and I said I would not do it this time.

I need to grow my marketing skills, and feel that providing free seats is just a way to fool myself.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.007 Tuesday

Wednesday

Announce Bonus #1 – Email Marketing Summit

My workload and client calls don’t provide much free time during the day.

I manage to make phone calls to 2 of my prospects, and both times I had to leave messages.

I do manage to create my first bonus — a free ticket to my upcoming Email Marketing Summit —and this feels like real progress.

I craft my Bonus #1 announcement and send it to my list.

At least for today I was able to beat Resistance. I showed up. I created. I shipped.

It feels good to fight back!

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.008 Wednesday

Thursday

One new sale!

I can’t tell you if it was Bonus 1 or the phone call I made the day prior, and it doesn’t matter.

My inbox showed those magic words that I love so much “You’ve got money!”

With this newfound enthusiasm, I double down on my attempts to reach out to my prospects by phone.

I creating a phone list with the name and number for each person on my prospect list.

I rack my brain on what to offer for my second bonus.

I don’t have time to create a new information product, I don’t have time to shoot and edit videos, and I don’t have time to write a new report.

In addition to my workload, my daughter is starting swim practice, which takes some portion of my time 2 days a week.

I’ve been married for 20 years, and I really value spending time with my wife each day. She’s been very understanding with this launch consuming most of my evenings, but I know I can’t push this much further

I come to realize that I’m doing this launch in the margins of my life — with the leftovers.

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.009 ThursdayThe lightbulb comes on part-way through my day!

I realize that my client load tapers off immediately following my AEPC Group event, so I decide to offer a few bonus coaching sessions to incentivize my prospects.

I created a quick “bonus coaching calls” calendar in my TimeTrade account, and created several slots of available times. It looks doable, and fits perfectly around my client commitments.

I draft my Bonus #2 email and send it out to my prospects.

Emotionally I’m feeling really frustrated.

Remember when I said that I had started the day with a phone list for my prospects? I only managed to call 2 of them. Like yesterday, I had to leave messages both times.

I end the day feeling good for having figured out my bonus #2 issue, but mixed because I really could use a few more sales.

Time is running out.

Friday

Friday morning. No new sales.

Part of me is ready to throw myself off a cliff, and part of me is ok with this being a 6 person event (including my 2 guest speakers).

I rationalize that I at least made progress.

At least I sold 4 tickets.

This is the most money I have ever charged for one of my events, and at least I sold something.

Right?

I sent my final cart closing email using my email marketing system (remember, I’ve just been using gmail this entire time), and include one of those fancy countdown clocks.

Looks really snazzy!

The Launch Fairy Arrives

Finally!

By closing time on Friday my email inbox registers 5 more sales!

I can’t believe it!

Keep in mind now that I’ve broken so many rules and gone against so many conventions that it is a miracle I sold even one ticket.

This is the highest paid self-promoted event that I’ve ever run.

On my first fledgling attempt about 12 months ago I ran a workshop where I charged $25 a head, and sold about 10 seats.

On my second event I partnered with several affiliates, and made a little more. Had almost 40 people in the room, but had to scholarship several people to get head count that high.

In this, my 3rd self-promoted event, I had no affiliates and provided no scholarships. I had 9 paying attendees and was able to actually pay myself something for my time.

Emotionally I am over the moon now, and I feel I can hand-carve a hole in a mountain.

No obstacle is too big for me on days like this!

I’m ready to tackle the world!

Product Launch Roller Coaster Jason Owens.010 Friday

But Why Didn’t You (fill in the blank)?

Sure, my list was only 23 people. Some could argue that I could have saved myself a lot of time by just doing a phone campaign for a few days.

I agree.

Yes, I probably would have been able to accomplish the same results far quicker by just working the phones, but I didn’t want to turn this into a phone campaign.

I specifically wanted to grow my skills in doing a scalable launch.

You see, the same effort that I put into doing this launch for 23 people could easily be spread to 230 people or a list of 2300 people.

You can only scale phone calls so far.

What I learned here by doing this stripped-down version of a launch — a minimum viable launch — now gives me the confidence to invest more time and effort to follow the textbook more closely.

In fact, if you want to take a look at what I would do differently in launching my next product, just sign up to receive my updates.  You’ll be the first to see the article where I do the postmortem on this launch.

The 5 Dips I Experienced During my Product Launch

  1. Launching in the margins of my life.
  2. Setting expectations too high for my first day.
  3. Failing to have my bonuses figured out ahead of time.
  4. Relying too heavily on email. I should have made more time to call.
  5. Under estimating the power of the final day.

 

 

Finally Getting Noticed

Finally Getting Noticed

I know many of you are hard at work breaking through the noise that clamors for the attention of your target audience.

Me too!

If you are like me there are times when you wonder if you are doing the right thing, and if you’ll ever get noticed.

This makes it so special when you do get noticed and someone pays you a compliment.

It is absolutely priceless when you find your voice and people start resonating with your message.

This is what made it so special for me to see that one of my products got reviewed on a new site called smartBusinessPlanet.

This site is put together by Mitch Aunger (of Planet5d.com fame) and Abby Sayers.  The sole aim of smartBusinessPlanet is to be a clearing house where solopreneurs can sort through all of the bajillions of resources available in the market.

Think of it as a Rotten Tomatoes for solopreneur education materials.

[Tweet “It is priceless when you find your voice and people start resonating with your message. @JasonROwens”]

I was fortunate enough to pop up on their radar a few weeks ago when they published this article on my Sales Workshop 6 Disc CD series.  Check out the review here.

Also, they are doing a free book giveaway as part of launching their site.  I was surprised to see the caliber of the books they are giving away — completely free!

[Tweet “Free business books mailed straight to your door! http://upvir.al/2863/lp2863 @smartBizPlanet”]

What I’ve learned since the review was published is that Mitch and Abby are looking to review more products in the upcoming weeks, and it is quite possible that they might review your material as well.  Drop Abby a line here to submit your product or service for review.

[reminder]What are the most important things you want to learn this year? Continue the conversation on facebook, twitter, or linkedin.[/reminder]

1 Shortcut to Scale Your Business

1 Shortcut to Scale Your Business

Information products

Savvy business owners know the power that products have to jumpstart stalled sales efforts, create new relationships, and scale your business like never before.

Nowadays it is so easy to create very high quality information products, a category which includes podcasts, ebooks, hard copy books, online videos, CDs, and DVDs.

Most computers come with just about everything you need to be up and running in full “product creation mode” in no time.

Couple this with a few well-placed freelancers who can help with editing or design, and there is no limit to what you can create.  Be aware, however, that there are few subtle nuances that can spell success for failure here.

The Always-Increasing Price of Free

In 2009 you could give away just about anything that was in an ebook.  iPads were the new rage, and everyone seemed to have a Kindle.

These new users were hungry for digital content to put on these new tech toys.

Now here we are several years later, and the price of free has changed.

[Tweet “Make it so good that people want to share it!”]

Customers are more sophisticated, and they won’t just give out their email to anyone for a free chapter of your book.

What has changed is that people’s appetite for free has increased like crazy.

To stay relevant you have to provide more and more value — translation: doing more and more stuff for no immediate payoff.

You have to give away so much value that it will cause people to rave about you.  I don’t say this lightly, and I know first hand how difficult it can be.

One Man’s Story of Growth

Check out this evolution chain of one podcast for one very notable figure in the expert/guru world.

  1. Started podcasting about 3 years ago. Did it all himself. No intro music. Lots of editing. By his own admission it took him 2-3 days to do one podcast.
  2. Refined his process to remove the time-consuming part of editing and found that no one cared about his missteps on the broadcast.
  3. Added intro music and started having more guests. Refined his process even further to reduce production time to less than one day per podcast.
  4. Today he has a host and moderator, full intro and outro music, and a complete line up of guests, not to mention a sizable following.  His podcast is essentially radio broadcast quality.

Granted, not every listener expects this level of sophistication for every newbie. My emphasis here is that this level of growth is available to every one of us!

[Tweet “A phenomenal amount of growth is available to every one of us!”]

Through a consistent stream of high quality content, this man developed a substantial following and several very lucrative revenue streams because he went the path of free and stuck with it.

If you follow a similar path, you can scale your business in no time.

The 3 Golden Rules to make the most of your free products.

  1. Make is Sharable.
  2. Make it actionable.
  3. Hard copy is ok.

Make is Shareable

Sounds basic, but dig beneath the surface here.  I don’t mean sharable in that it is possible for you to share it.  Instead I mean make it so good that people want to share it.

Rule of Thumb:  If you feel your product is so good that you should charge money for it, then you’ve probably added enough value.

Make it Actionable

This isn’t the time for “high-level overview”.

You can’t afford to be theoretical here.  Your readers are going to insist that they be able to put your content into action right now — today.

If you can’t deliver that, you are dead.

Hard copy is ok!

In our world people are too quick to jump to digital versions of our products, but don’t miss the opportunity to go old school on this one.

I can’t tell you how many times people have lent me a book because they were amazed by the authors slant on some issue or technique.

So, don’t be afraid to go old school if you want.

[reminder]What steps can you take right now toward creating a rave-worthy scalable product? Continue the conversation on facebook, twitter, or linkedin.[/reminder]

 

 

 

1 Reason to Stop Blogging

1 Reason to Stop Blogging

About a year ago I had grown so frustrated with trying to grow my business through blogging — that I quit blogging entirely.  It was the best move I could have made.

I believed the “grow your blog, grow your business” hype.  After all there are so many examples of where it worked for people.  The internet seems to be littered with stories of people who narrowed their blogging focus, found their tribe, and cashed in.

I wanted a piece of the action, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me.

I had plenty of great things to say, but I just couldn’t find an audience.

Writing took a lot of time, I wasn’t seeing any tangible results, and I was simply losing patience with it.

Game over.

What I Did Instead

Instead I stopped trying to get organic traffic and just picked up my phone.

I started pitching my speaking engagements — If readers won’t come to me, I’ll have to go to them.

It worked!

[Tweet “The #1 most overlooked way to generate more revenue fast?  Your phone!  Start dialing today!”]

In all I booked 40 speaking engagements in 12 months and the craziest thing happened — people started coming up to me after my talks saying things like:

  • “If I give you my email can I get a copy of your slide deck?”
  • “More people need to be talking about that ‘effectuation’ topic you shared.”
  • “Your session was the best one I heard all day.”

I couldn’t believe it.  All the validation that I was craving through blogging just didn’t happen, but I found it in public speaking.

Who knew?

Why Did I Start Blogging Again?

Of course the big question is: Why are you blogging again, Jason?

Simple.  I know the long-term benefits of sharing my message in written form.

I now know — thanks to some guidance from Mitch Aunger at Planet5D.com — that it could take years before I have enough critical mass to start seeing tangible results.

But the effort is so worth it.

I get to hone my craft of writing, and I get to refine my message (both of which are topics that I speak about in depth on my membership site, myBusinessGuild.com).

[reminder]What is ONE thing that you should stop doing, which, if you stopped, would make room for something else much larger in your life? Continue the conversation on facebook, twitter, or linkedin.[/reminder]