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How You Can Help A Friend With Their Business

one2one-sm.gifLess than a year ago, my good friend Adam Kayce decided to change careers.

For years Adam was a successful intuitive healer and teacher who helped countless people work with and heal their personal issues and physical diseases. As a teacher, Adam could explain the most complex ideas about consciousness and healing to people in ways that were easy to understand.

It was as a teacher that Adam got his first experiences working with businesses. Soon, he was focusing more on bringing spirituality and personal development into the workplace. And he loved it.

So this past fall, Adam decided to close down his healing practice and begin working as a business coach. Now his focus is on helping people find the “purpose and meaning behind their work, so you can attract and serve the people who love what you do.” (his words).

And so was born, Monk at Work.

Why did I tell you this story (other than Adam being a close friend)? Well, in our latest one2one conversation, Liz Strauss asked me

What do you do when your business is going well and close friend's is not?

My answer…YOU HELP!

monkatwork.jpgWhat else could I possibly say?

Like most new business, Adam had to endure the early, lean stages of Monk at Work. All the pieces were in place – knowledge, experience, expertise, great service and products, and…great looking blog (if I do say so myself). What he lacked was clients.

That’s where I knew I could help. I knew that I could use my own success to help my friend get started toward his. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the core of my work is to help businesses go from where they are to where they want to be.

Adam consulted with me on blogging, marketing strategy and relationship building. We talked a bunch about how to use the conversations on his blog to create momentum around your business. We talked about blogging as a central marketing strategy. I helped him with solutions for increasing his website and product reach. I even introduced him to people who are now fans of his work.

More than anything, I think what I’ve done is help Adam understand how his website/blog are the foundation for his marketing efforts. And now, Monk at Work is building momentum. Am I responsible for that – not really. He still had to put what we talked about into practice. I simply filled in his gaps in knowledge and helped him focus his efforts using his website/blog.

Do you have a good friend who’s struggling with their business? What can you do to help them?

And Liz, since we’re having a one2one conversation,

What tips can you offer for writing quality, conversational blog posts and website copy?

Oh No, My Blog Audience Isn't My Target Market

one2one-sm.gifDefining your target, or niche, market is very important to the success of your business.

If you know what you do, the next step is to know who you do it for. Even better is knowing what problems they face that you can help them solve through your products and services.

But what if your blog audience isn’t your target market

This is exactly what Liz asked me in our latest one2one conversation:

What advice would you give to a friend whose audience wasn't his niche market group?

Boy, there are a lot of ways to go with this one.

First thing, celebrate that you have audience to begin with. Many web-based business struggle to get people to visit their site in the first place – let alone having an interested audience that interacts with you.

Next, take a look at your blog, website and marketing message. If you’ve been trying to reach your niche market and have ended up with a different audience, there’s a number of things to consider:

  1. Perhaps you’ve not been found by your niche yet. It is possible, especially in the blogosphere, that you have a large audience of bloggers who just like you, your writing, your perspectives on things but that don’t need your services. The easy answer to this is you have to hang out where your niche market is hanging out.
  2. Perhaps you’re a little off on who your niche is. It’s easy to go off track. As a business owner, you should periodically review your marketing message with who your targeting versus who’s responding. Often, it’s just a few tweaks that can get you back on track.
  3. Perhaps you want to write for your niche, but are influenced by your traffic reports. It’s so easy to redirect your blog’s focus a bit because of traffic. It may feel great to write about off-niche topics that get you Dugg, that get large volumes of traffic or that generate lots of comments (I love it too) – just be sure to ask if your business needs are getting met.
  4. Perhaps you don’t know your real niche yet. One big advantage to blogging is that you’ll be writing often on topics related to your business. This gives you ample opportunity to explore who it is you want to work with. You may find that what you thought was your niche market really isn’t.
  5. Perhaps your niche isn’t your passion. When you blog daily on a topic, it can get old quickly. So watch yourself. See what you really have love for writing about. You may find that your niche market isn’t your true passion. If so, I’d suggest re-evaluating your niche market.
  6. You could, simply, be in the wrong business. It does happen. You set out to start a business in a certain area only to find that the it doesn’t fit. Or maybe what you thought you could provide your niche, you really can’t do. Don’t dismay, simply take a look at whether you’re in the right business or not. You can always change what you’re doing.

These are some of the things I’d want to discuss if a friend – or if you – contacted me for help.

There are many facets that go into having a successful business. One is the way your feet are facing when you begin the journey. That’s why it’s often good to stop, pull out the map and take a look around before you end up lost.

So Liz, what would you suggest my friend do if they looked around and found themselves lost with their business?

Of course, the answer I give and the question I pose is not just for Liz.

Small Business Goals: What's Your Business Strategy?

Did you see the response Liz Strauss gave to my latest one2one conversation question? I asked her how she keeps clarity in her business?

clarity in business and in life comes from knowing where I've been, where I'm going, and what I value on the days that tragedy strikes…

It’s a great read.

So what question did Liz ask us at the end of her post? Well, it’s a goodie…

What do YOU wish for your business when it grows up?

one2one-sm.gifHave you ever thought about it that way? Have you ever considered that your business, like your life, goes through stages of development?

A mastermind partner asked me a few months ago where on the human development scale I considered my business. I told him that my business was in its late twenties.

Having been a web designer for more than decade, I’ve certainly grown from infancy and toddlerhood. About 4 years ago, I’d say, my business was in its early teens – where I was growing out of just being a child and now taking on greater responsibility.

That’s also the time I was transitioning from being just a website designer to a full-spectrum, web-based business developer. And that’s what really brought my business into its latter teenage years. Now, rather than just building websites for my clients, I began teaching them how to use their websites to actually grow their business. That was a huge step in my development – just as our teenage years are.

I’d say it’s about two years ago, as I began doing more consulting, coaching and teaching – without necessarily building a website – that I entered my early twenties. Now, I had some direction and was branching out into something new, yet I was a bit raw in my approach.

Then along comes blogging and social media. Having been someone who built a successful business simply from growing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships, it was natural to take to blogging. But the rate my business has expanded has been a surprise. It’s changing rapidly. That’s why I say my business is in its late twenties – time of the Saturn Return (I just wish there was a better name for it).

As my business prepares become thirty, I continue to refine what it is I can do most best for my clients. I’m a fine web designer and a pretty good coder – and I’ll continue to build websites for the foreseeable future.

Yet anyone I speak with quickly learns that my real talents are in consulting with, coaching and teaching my clients how to use the web to meet their business needs. After all, what good is having a website or a blog if it’s not producing results for you? What’s worse is what’s the point in spending lots of money for a beautiful design that gets you little or no return.

What I’ve found is that while most people have or want a website, few really know how to use it to grow their business. They buy a site, or put up a blog on TypePad, write some copy and wait. But there’s more to do – more to understand – than just putting out a website. That’s where I can help.

So how will this mature? Or in Liz’s question – what do I wish from my business when it grows up?

If I look backward from the future, I’ll have taught countless businesses how to use the internet and social media to engage in conversations with their target market that lead to mutually beneficial relationship and increased profits. While my focus market has been solopreneurs who are ready for a large increase in business, I’ve also helped a variety of larger companies create strategies for building stronger relationships with their customers.

Personally, I do most of my work by phone or computer (or whatever cool new device Apple creates) which has given me ample time to be a good husband and a very hands-on father. I have traveled a bit for work, though not too much and I often take one of my kids with me so they can see what I do (okay, really for more bonding time).

My home life is relaxing and gentle. I often begin my days with a brisk hike in the mountains behind our home or a paddle in the lake a few miles away. And more than anything, I have a nice separation between my home life and my office life. Though we do take longer vacations from time to time when I work a few hours while we’re away just to keep my clients moving forward.

I don’t see myself ever really retiring. Though at some point I’ll likely decrease the number of clients I work with at any one time. I’ve worked hard and made a nice, comfortable amount of money, but I haven’t sacrificed my family nor recreation to get there. Looks like I just found the next evolution of my business…

…Back to today, I do have a blog design to finish for a client who’s wants to hire me for the next six months as her blog coach. See how this all begins?

So, my question to Liz (and to you) is:

How can social media/blogging help businesses stay� customer-centered?

If you got this far in reading, I’d love to carry on this conversation in the comment box. I’ll kick it off, and please join me.�

The Key To Promoting Your Business Is…

one2one-sm.gifWhat Liz and I have been discussing in our latest one2one conversation.

Most recently, I asked Liz the question:

What do you feel is necessary to create an effective strategy to promote a business?

Okay, so I didn’t ask a light-weight question. I know that. Just like I know there’s no one right answer. That’s what makes the conversation interesting, if you ask me.

Liz’s answer was great, “…the way I get from strategy to execution is really to have a strategy, one in which outlines in detail what we are building.”

Which somewhat leads me to my answer to the same question – since Liz returned it to me.

For me, the key to strategy in promoting a business lies in clarity. Yeah, I know…you’ve heard enough about clarity. Yet, for me, it’s the foundational stones to creating, promoting and growing your business.

What’s always worked in my business is first to have as much clarity as you can around three points: who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. I’ve seen all my own success stem from clearly defining myself in these first three questions.

It’s taken some time, but I’ve learned not to slouch on these questions. Who I am is very important because I’m, personally, the foundation around my business so I need to know, clearly, what I bring to the table. What I do is far more than what I provide. It’s a look at what problem(s) can I solve for people. And who I do it for considers who are the people who have the problems that I can help them with.

Next I ask myself (and my clients) how: how do you do what you do. I can’t even begin to express how much my business changed when I took a long look at not just what it is I do, but how I do it. My eyes opened to things about my business that I never had considered. And I’ve watched this in many of my clients over the years.

Finally, I ask one final question: where can I find the people whose problems I have the solution too? Since I need to know where to promote my business I have to know where the people I can help are looking for help.

My goal is to get as much clarity around each of these questions as possible. And since I know I’m constantly learning, changing and growing I forget about getting it perfect and just get it clear.

From the clarity I gain through answering these five questions, I now have a light-weight strategy for promoting my business. A little polish on the message and a few decisions around how to reach my target audience, and I’m off to the races.

The key, is to keep everything clear. If I find something that isn’t clear, I stop and track back where it may have become unclear. Then I take the time to clarify that bit of cloudiness.

Which brings me to my next question I’m asking Liz (and you):

I’ve always seen you as having a great deal of clarity around your blogging and your business. What do you lean on to help you keep that clarity?

Please, join in the conversation – either below, in the comment box – or at Liz’s site.

How Business Strategy Can Be About Love

In our latest one2one conversation, Liz asked me:

How important is strategy to your business? How does your strategy get built?

Great question, huh? I can’t wait to see how I answer it.

one2one-sm.gifOften, I’ve heard Liz quote Steve Farber as saying, “Serve the people who love you with the services you love.” Well, that’s what I’ve been doing for more than a decade.

Loving what I do is literally the cornerstone that I’ve built my business upon. I can’t do it any other way. I have to love what I do first. Otherwise, I won’t be very effective in what I do.

What do I mean by love? Well, when I get out of bed in the morning, I’m excited to race down to my in-home office and get to work. It’s like being a kid every day all over again.

Sure there’s days that I’m not excited; days when owning my own business is a grind. What’s important is that the majority of the time, I’m excited to sit down behind my desk, flip on my computer and begin working for my clients. So I do what I do because I love what I do.

The second step is to strive to be the best in the world at what I do – which is help people utilize the web to grow their business. When I say best in the world, I’m not talking about being the best on earth – not even close. Rather, I want to be the best in your world.

In other words I want to do such an amazing job for you that you “fall in love with me“. Not in the literal sense. But that you fall in love with our work together and where it takes you and your business. And that’s what I strive for.

As a strategy, I think both love for your work and the talent to be the best in the world are equally necessary as a business foundation.

For instance, I’m a pretty good plumber, but I don’t love doing it. Likewise, I love basketball, but no one’s lining up to sign me to an NBA contract. Neither, then, are viable businesses for me. One I don’t love and the other I’m not good enough at.

It’s important to know that about yourself. What do you love and what are you really good at? For me, these questions are more than foundational – they’re also strategic:

By loving what I do I’ll work to do my best work for my clients, which will lead to their falling in love with me which, in turn, will lead to them talking about me to their friends and colleagues which will generate more business. And the cycle repeats in ever growing concentric circles.

That’s why blogging, social media, word-of-mouth marketing and relationship business work so well for me. I’ve been doing it for years inside and outside the internet. Perhaps I can help you, too.

What’s your strategy for growing your business? How are you using your blog to execute your strategy?

Now, my question to Lizand to you, too:

What steps do you feel are important to take in order to move from strategy (plan) into execution (action)?

By the way, you have read Liz’s answer to my last question: what do you feel is an effective strategy to promote a business? Her answer is great.

The Part of My Business I Look Forward To Doing More Of…

Continuing our one2one conversation, Liz Strauss asked me (and you):

What's the the part of business, besides relationships, that you look forward to doing more of?

one2one-sm.gifOkay, so here’s how I read your question…”what other part of business, besides building relationships.” I hope this is what you meant, because my entire business is about relationships. From how I market to how I work with my clients, what I see in my business IS relationships.

But I can look through building more and stronger relationships at aspects of my business. So that’s what I’m going to run with.

I’ve been building websites for more than a decade at this point. So it’s mostly what I’m known for. It’s also the easiest way people can describe what I do to their friends, clients and colleagues. So more often than not, I get calls about website design.

What ends up happening, however, is that the people soon find out that I do so much more than most web designers. They learn that I understand business development, marketing, product development, copy editing, etc. And often, they hire me to consult and coach them while we’re working on their website.

So really, I’m really a born teacher. I know that sounds like a vast, presumptuous statement. Yet at every point in my life this fact has been mirrored back to me. In elementary school I used to show my classmates how to do math problems when they didn’t get it. As a baseball player I could spot mistakes in a teammate’s swing and help them feel the correction. Even when I had a private healing practice I would somehow find a way to explain complex spiritual concepts in a way that people just understood.

Even as a web designer, I’ve been very successful at making the technical easy to understand – even a neophyte. This gives clients the power to make their own, informed decisions about their business.

So like you, Liz, I am a teacher. I’m a teacher and I love to solve problems. And this has led me to doing more consulting/coaching/educating-type work. I love it. And it’s opened up a whole new part of my business.

Now people don’t have to need a new website to work with me. They can hire me to help them with any number of projects or aspects of their business: from service and product development to marketing, increasing traffic and building relationships to branding, utilizing a newsletter to just plain problem solving.

And best of all, they can hire me to help them learn how to use social media – blogging, social networking, etc, – more effectively, to grow their business or to increase the visibility of their blog. That I’m doing already with a handful of clients.

So that’s what I want to do more of…coach people to a more rewarding and successful business, consult with people to solve their business problems and educate people on how to do anything they need without being dependent on me. Does that make me a coaching strategist? Maybe.

So Liz (and you, reading this, too), speaking of strategy:

What do you feel is necessary to create an effective strategy to promote a business?

If you got this far, I’d love to hear your answers to either question. Join our one2one conversation in the comment box below.

And if you need some help with your business, let’s talk about it.