I had the opportunity to be interviewed on KSL this week about business ideas. In this segment we talked about the 5 questions you need to ask to get your business idea off the ground.
It takes a lot more than four minutes worth to explain these steps, but this quick interview will help you figure out if your business is viable to take the next steps. Watch the segment below!
I had the opportunity to be interviewed on Live on Purpose Tv with Dr. Paul Jenkins. The subject was how to become an effective working mom. What else would you add to the list?
Before this month comes to a close, I want to acknowledge how awesome August is in the life of Michelle. I’m celebrating FOUR major anniversaries.
FIVE years ago, my first book hit number 1 on the Amazon Bestseller list.
TEN years ago, a number of things happened. I quit my corporate sales training job, built out my speaking business and expanded my marketing consultancy. AND I started working with Kelly Anderson at Startup Princess (and got my first social media account). I ran my own agency and promotional products company not the side for years, but this year, with a baby in tow, I went on my own and built partnerships that changed my business and life forever.
FIFTEEN years ago, I married my husband. Good Stuff.
TWENTY years ago, I started my first business, Doodads Promotional Products. It was 20 years ago this month when I started my entrepreneurial story. This business isn’t my life’s mission, but it’s run “in the black” every year since it’s inception and it has funded EVERY other of my business ventures. When I needed to produce and record my first speaking event, I sold more pens, mugs and t-shirts to pay for the production company. When I needed a new website for a new venture, I sold some folders and CD cases to a long time client.
I don’t promote this business anymore, but I do try to keep existing customers happy and 100% of my business comes from repeat customers or referral each year. I’m still grateful for this company that practically raised me. I was 19 when I started it. Doodads taught me about business to business marketing. It taught me about tangible marketing and campaigns. It taught me about systems and hiring help so that I could focus on revenue generating activities. It taught me about competition and differentiation and that people weren’t just buying a pen, they were buying me. It taught me about customer service and it taught me about myself. I have said many times, owning a business is the best personal development tool EVER.
So, in these final hours before it’s September, I acknowledge the Augusts of my life. Without which I would be monumentally different. Too bad I didn’t do anything incredibly awesome this year so that I could add to this list in five more years for the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. LOL
Here’s to August!
The following summarized blog post is the chapter “Power Team” in my latest book “Make It Happen Blueprint“. For the whole chapter and to read the rest of the book go to your favorite bookseller. This book is available online and in brick and mortar stores near you.
Practice – POWER TEAM
THE THREE LEVELS OF SUPPORT
Choosing your power team is just as important as choosing how to spend your time. You need the right people in the right place at the right time in your life. I like to think of the power team in terms of a pyramid with three levels. Each level serves its own purpose, and each is critical in its own way. Odds are that you already have people who support you on the various levels. As we discuss each one, think of who in your life fits in that category, and who else you could include to expand your power team and operate at your desired peak performance level. You may even want to write names down as they come to you. And remember, just as you need people on your team, peak performers are part of other people’s power teams as well.
1. Foundational Support
Every pyramid needs a strong base, and your power team is no different. The foundational support level is comprised of people who assist and can have responsibilities delegated to them. Since peak performers know their strengths and delegate the rest, they rely on the people in the foundational support level to help them get things done.
Lower Level Tasks
There are two types of tasks that are typically delegated. The first, is lower level tasks. These are things that should be handled by an assistant, a contractor, or someone at a lower pay level. That doesn’t mean the tasks, or the people doing them, are of lower value. Delegation is simply a way of dispersing tasks to the appropriate level of expertise.
I love Ken Blanchard’s book The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey. In it, Blanchard talks about the concept that “All monkeys must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare.” This single principle has guided my professional life for the last 14 years.
Hire and train the right employees, contractors and vendors to help you do admin activities so you can focus on your core strengths.
Skill Based and Upper Level Tasks
The second type of task that can be delegated involves things that are either above your level of expertise or require skills that you don’t have. These are called skill based or upper level tasks.
For example, I have a client who is a graphic designer. After going through a delegation activity with her, I noticed she was spending one to two hours a week, sometimes more, on bookkeeping. As a creative person, she should spend most of her time creating art, graphics, and marketing materials. Instead, she was crunching numbers and tracking payments. Not only did she hate doing it, she really wasn’t good at it—no offense, of course.
Because she hated this task, she ended up dreading it every single week. Sometimes it got pushed into another week and then pushed into another week. By the time she got around to it she had to spend an entire afternoon, or even a full day bookkeeping and invoicing just so she could get paid. For her, bookkeeping was something she needed to delegate to someone else.
When I pointed this out, she said, “But Michelle, I can’t afford it.” So I asked her, “Well, how much do you make an hour?” She replied, “It depends on the project, but about $75 to $100 an hour.” To that I said, “Okay, so for the $150 to $200 a week you are spending on bookkeeping you could afford to hire a professional to do it for you.” Light bulbs went on, and I think she may have done a dance on the spot. The point is, as an entrepreneur you do not have to do everything yourself!
Take a look at your current to-do list. Better yet, look at some completed lists or back lists. If something is not in your area of expertise, and if it is not something you really want to be doing, you should be delegating it out to a professional who can do it better. Or, you might even consider finding an assistant (temporary or long-term) who can do it faster or for less money than it would cost for you to do it.
I learned this lesson early on when I started my first business, a promotional products company. I would spend a lot of time putting stickers on catalogs, writing the addresses, and mailing them out, before I realized I could have a neighborhood teenager do those things for significantly cheaper. Delegating the tasks freed up my time so I could focus on marketing and getting new customers. What was even better was the fact that I had some happy neighbor kids who were getting paid to do something other than flip burgers. They liked the money, they were learning to work, and I had time for more important activities.
If you’re an entrepreneur and could use additional help in this department, two chapters in my book The Time Blueprint For Entrepreneurs are all about the hows and whys of delegating.
If you’re not an entrepreneur, get creative about the ways you can utilize others strengths and resources to get the “monkeys” off your back and build the foundational level of your power team.
2. Core Friend Support
The middle level of the support pyramid is for our friends and family members. These people are our cheerleaders—sometimes, quite literally. They are the ones who are sitting on the front row at our events, by our sides during key moments in life, and celebrating every victory with us. They also have their arms around us when we lose. We can trust and rely on them.
Typically, this level is where people naturally have the most support. However, if you find yourself lacking in this category, I have a couple of suggestions to help you build a stronger power team of friends.
Connect with like-minded individuals. Networking events and social groups are a great way to seek out like-minded individuals. There are so many options! Professionally, consider chambers of commerce and other groups with potential to strengthen your business associates and friends. Personally, consider sports teams, clubs, and organizations surrounding interests or hobbies you enjoy.
Consider what kind of friend you are in return. With some honesty and transparency, some of my clients have discovered the reason they are weak on this power team level is because they haven’t been supportive of others, and now there’s a social void in their own life. Never fear, because it’s never too late to repair what might seem broken, or make connections with new people with similar interests.
One thing to note about this level is that the people in it often change over time. I’ve noticed in my life how friends change as my lifestyle and my circumstances change. With a handful of exceptions, the friends I had in junior high school are different than the friends I have now. I would assume that’s the case for you as well.
Also note that there are a lot of friends that I love but I don’t take their business advice. They are good sounding boards, but beware of advice you take from a friend.
3. Mentor Support
Mentor or coach support is the top level of support I picture mentors and coaches as being above me. In other words, they are the people who know what I want to know, and they have blazed a trail for me to follow. I want and need their support to help me get to my destination faster.
Mentors come in many forms. They can be a friends with knowledge or skill sets you want to learn. They can be business associates that teach and train you. Whatever form they come it, they are knowledge givers, coaches, and consultants.
I worked at a television station while I was in college. My boss was a nice, smart man who to this day is one of the most organized and polished people I know. He even had a specific system for ironing his shirts so the creases would be just so. He never had a hair on his head out of place, and all of his folder tabs faced in one direction.
I remember being surprised when he told me one day that he had hired a life coach. Honestly, I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud. I couldn’t believe Mr. Perfection needed help achieving more in his life. I critically thought, “If you can’t figure out how to handle your own life, you might have bigger problems.”
The irony is that I’m a coach now. I get it. Even though I am a coach and work with clients across the country and in various parts of the world, I still pay coaches to help keep me on my A-game. I find coaches with a skill or expertise that I want and then I learn from them. Coaches help me “get there faster” in my life and business, and I see my coaches as prime examples of the mentor support I’ve had to help me be a peak performer.
Though I have paid people to coach me, I have also used the help of free mentors, mastermind groups and accountability partners who I consider to be an important part of my power team.
The people you spend your time with can effect your projects and dreams in big ways. They can cheer you on, support you and help you grow, but they can also discourage you or be negative with their “let’s be realistic” comments. Be careful about who you include on your power team, and the time and energy investment you make in people who are raining on your parade.
I feel very blessed to have amazing people in my life at every level. I couldn’t accomplish what I do without employees, friends, family members and coaches who show up in powerful ways to help me be a peak performer.
Take some time to nurture your own relationships and help your power team understand what their support, at any level, means to you! Gratitude can be a great currency for strong relationships.
Who is on your Power Team? Who has helped you on your entrepreneurial journey?
Get your own copy of the Make It Happen Blueprint PLUS see who’s on MY power team in this amazing High Performance Bundle offered until March 21st.
Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on September 17, 2013
There’s an old abandoned house on a street that I drive frequently. It was probably built in the ’50′s or ’60′s and it was probably a gem in it’s day. Sadly, it’s been ignored over the last decade and I though I saw people there before, I haven’t seen any sign of habitation in the last year and a half.
And yet, I’m always drawn to it. There’s an open window on the top floor. It was open all winter long. It’s STILL open. I wonder what’s in there. Birds? Bugs? Squatters?
SOMEONE has to “own” that property – even if it’s a bank. Does anyone care that the house is completely vulnerable to the elements, to “visitors”, to anything?
Last week as I drove by I saw the public notice that the home is going up for auction. Though the property is probably worth something, I imagine that the home might have little value left.
What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? (Leave it to this girl who can apply ANYTHING to a life or business principle.)
Where are you vulnerable in your business? Where are you vulnerable in your life? What open windows do you have that are wreaking havoc on your prosperity?
A lot of us have known vulnerabilities. Perhaps it’s a staff member or contractor with poor performance. Maybe we’re operating without a business plan or marketing plan. Maybe sales are low this quarter. Maybe you’re wondering what the the legislative changes are going to do to your health insurance coverage. Maybe you haven’t posted your labor law posters. (Gasp!)
Others of us have vulnerabilities lurking below the surface. We may even be sabotaging our success, and we don’t even know it. It’s often the things we DON’T see that are causing the biggest problems. In my opportunities to consult and chat with entrepreneurs across the country, I have found four major vulnerabilities to small business success:
- Poor Time Management – Just because you dream of sitting by the pool, sipping your favorite beverage while you bask in the sun, doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in a lot of sweat BEFORE that dream becomes a reality. If you have a hobby business, have hobby hours. If you’re trying to grow a thriving company, put in a full days work. Wasting hours away on Facebook and calling it “work” won’t put money on the table. My mortgage doesn’t get paid in “likes” or “shares”. It’s paid in dollars earned by hard work and in PLANNED time I spend on revenue generating activities. If you KNOW this is a current vulnerability of yours I created a free video series called “Working SMARTER, not HARDER” you can access. Time is either your greatest asset or it is your greatest liability. Use it well.
- Bleeding (sometimes blindly) Financially – I share this in open disclosure because there have been times in my business where I didn’t “understand” the numbers so I ignored them. That business is no longer in operation. Luckily, I’ve had other successes because I DID understand the numbers and I made that a priority. Though I’ll readily admit that financials are not my strong suit, I DO know that getting help from an awesome tax advisor and a financial planner were worth their weight in gold. So was hiring someone to help me with invoicing (which I hate doing…I’d rather be working on the marketing and relationship stuff).
- Lack of Confidence (masked or accompanied by crippling procrastination) – I share this last, but perhaps this is where I’M the most vulnerable. I get a great idea then sit on it. I’m jazzed about a new coaching program or event and I do nothing. At times, I’m so scared of failure that it’s easier to do nothing. Perhaps this is an over share, but as a recovering procrastinator, I want to be real with you. Sometimes things don’t get done because I’m scared I’ll do it wrong. That’s why coaches, mentors and accountability partners are something I can’t do without. Even though I’m a coach, I still invest in what I call “Trailblazer” training. I want coaches that help me GET THERE (wherever THERE is in business) FASTER, so that I can help my clients do the same. Though lack of confidence sounds harsh, sometimes our efforts to grow our business and our paychecks comes from lack of accountability.
- Drip Marketing Activities instead of GUSH Marketing SYSTEMS – Do you want a pipeline that drips or that gushes? Make marketing a scheduled priority! I’ve already talked about this, this week, but if you missed my thoughts on this subject, check out “Marketing: A Search for Systems & Schedules that Work” & “How To Create A Simple & Effective Social Media Strategy”
I know there are more business and life vulnerabilities than just the four listed above. These are the ones I see most frequently. Can you resonate with one or more? If not, ask yourself the question:
In what areas of my life or business am I susceptible?
Then for ALL OF US, we need to be asking ourselves the question:
What is that vulnerability costing my business? In most cases, there will be financial costs. However, don’t forget intangible costs as well: maybe a lack of connection to our business or mission. Maybe a decrease in connection with a spouse, child, family member or friend. Maybe it’s a sacrifice in quality of life. (A LOT of these trace back to poor time management. If you don’t know where to start, start there!)
Just take a minute to think through your business and see what areas you should be focusing on in the next month, 3 months and 6 months. It’s never a bad time to set a goal and close windows and doors that are opening you up to financial loss and more.
While were on the subject…Do you need help here? Personally, I have a 3 slots that opened up for my 6 or 12 week “Revive My Startup” coaching program starting the week of June 24th. Or if you just need one-time support to “Jump Start My Startup” in a one time strategy session, I do only 6 of those a month. You can learn about both here. I’ll do a complimentary 30 minute consult for you to see if there’s any chemistry between us and if my knowledge base can assist you. We also have Fairy Godmothers in every expertise waiting in the wings to fulfill your needs and help you overcome your own vulnerabilities in life and business. We’re here for you!
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. If you’re having trouble in ANY area going it alone, get help. We’re here to help you Make a Wish and Make it Happen!
Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on May 30, 2013
Plan. For some of us it’s a four letter word. Though some parts of my business, I’ll admit, are a little fly by the seat of my pants, I’m pretty serious about my yearly planning.
Here’s how I do it (This is how I plan for my businesses, in another post I’ll talk about how I handle my personal annual planning through an exercise I like to call New Years Roles & Goals):
I start with a look at financials and see if I’ve met my money goals. I dig deeper and then look at how many new customers I acquired the previous 12 months and look especially at the percent of repeat customers. I look at customers that have been previous customers but didn’t order at all last year. This provides me a whole lot to look at and spend most of my review time here.
Next, I look at where I spent my marketing dollars and track my return on investment for each of my ads, events, networking groups, etc, individually. (If you don’t currently track your return on investment for your marketing dollars I suggest you make this a priority this year. It’s very enlightening.) When I was studying marketing back in college, I learned that your marketing efforts over time should yield a four times return on your initial marketing investment. In today’s marketing, you should be excited if you can get a two times return on your investment. That’s why it’s so critical to see if your marketing dollars are, in fact, turning into qualified leads and customers.
Then, I review my processes and see what can be streamlined, outsourced or delegated. This is my favorite part. I get serious about what I want to focus on and what I can have someone else do. This is where I get empowered in my personal goals and what I want to spend time on in the coming year.
Finally, I set some goals. I make a vision board, and I post both where I can see them everyday.
This quarter, I’m rewriting my business plan from start to finish. When I started Doodads 15 years ago the internet wasn’t nearly as beneficial as it is now. The internet has completely changed how I interact with suppliers, place orders and involve employees (who work from home!). So, I’m starting with a clean slate to see what I come up with. I’m excited and scared at the same time. Send chocolate.
If you haven’t done so already, you’re probably saying, “This is too much work!” Planning isn’t meant to be daunting, but it’s meant to be thorough. And it’s meant to provide you a clear view of the past so you can move forward with confidence. In time, your planning will become something you crave instead of something you curse.
I believe in the adage (that some credit to Benjamin Franklin, though the internet wasn’t clear on final credits) “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So my charge to you: it’s not too late. If you haven’t already done your annual review, make plans to do it now.
I know that this isn’t the only way to plan. How do you do it?
Until then, happy planning!
I enjoyed speaking for a group of passionate entrepreneurs at Grow America. I shared the biggest mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make and how to avoid them.
It’s a lot easier to learn from others mistakes. Have you learned any other great tips for being successful in entrepreneurship?