What if they have it all wrong?

What if what the experts have been telling you about their success formula is something that mostly only works for them?

What if successful marketing and business success strategy was totally unique to the individual?

I am a big fan of uniqueness.  It is no accident that we are all so distinct from one another.

What if that uniqueness came into play not only with the gifts and talents we have to give but also in how we operated our own small business?

I’m coming to see that truth more and more clearly.

Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.   Frederich Buechner

That’s my favorite career coaching quote yet I now believe that there are two additional roads intersecting at that essential crossroads.

I believe that your core business calling can be found only at the intersection of these four paths.

1). the product or service that you are most eager to create.

2). the work activity that gives your deepest gladness.

3). who and what you care about the most right now.

4). what value point others most need from you offered how they want it.

Let’s look at eagerness in this article.

Just like fear cannot exist in the presence of love, resistance cannot exist in the presence of inspiration.

You can’t run out of inspiration either. I’m talking about a special vein of inspiration that is tied to right action.

I’m talking about eagerness.  Right now think of something that you are eager to do.  Does any resistance come up at all?  I didn’t think so.  Here’s a powerful distinction for you.

The relief or avoidance of resistance is, running away from what you want.

The inspiration of eagerness is, running towards what you want.

Nike is wrong! Inspiration works better than discipline. Just doing it is the old way. 

When you find and engage your natural eagerness it’s easier to get what you want because a natural flow takes over.  Here are my principles of eagerness that will tie it all together for you.

Eagerness leads to willingness which leads to action which leads to success.

Eagerness is a natural response to authentic desire and only exists in the absence of fear.

The fierce and passionate qualities of the heart are more prevalent when we are actually doing something, so the more active the experience the more authentic the desire.

Two of our most basic desires are to create and to connect.  When we are creating or connecting we have already moved from eagerness, through willingness and into action.

Can you see why the most certain route to success begins within?

Would you like me to coach you in the discovery of your eagerness free of charge?

 In your comment please share which of your paths are the most underdeveloped?

 

Top Ten Tips For Authentic Business StartUp Success

Can you really find authentic business startup success while being practical? Yes, it’s really the only way to be happy and make money.

If I had only 15 minutes to share the best business startup advice I tell you to use these tips as your guide.

1).  Starting your own business can be challenging so you can’t play small.  Don’t hold back or water down your desires. Go for the highest vision of what you can imagine, then you’ll have more energy and others will want to support you. Pioneers don’t compromise or conform. Business success comes from the energy of holding nothing back. Give it your all and prosper.

2). Hold a grand vision of what you want. See that vision daily. Get pumped if you can’t get pumped you’ve chosen too small. If I could wave the magic wand of outstanding success over you and your business, what would that look like? Imagine that. It’s the energy of how you feel and what you see that will carry you through the tough times.

3). Authentic business startup success does not usually happen without massive, inspired action. Learn the language of marketing and how to ask for what you want. Then ask boldly and often.

4). Try lots of stuff and smile when you fail.  If that traditional advertising campaign does not yield the results you expected, try something different — maybe an online advertising or social media campaign.  Love yourself for having the courage to make frequent mistakes. Mistake making is a normal part of the process. You will not succeed without missing the mark more often than not. Love yourself even more than you think is possible.

5). Place yourself compassionately in the shoes of your customers. Be vulnerable and connect. Be human and share how you are, like they are. Tell it like it is, authentically.

6). Enthusiastically love your work, yourself, your language, your marketing, your customers, your mistakes, your joy, your pain and your trials. Love it all deeply and completely. That’s the only way you’ll care enough to persist.

7). Hold frequent conversations. This is my best business startup advice. Conversations create opportunities. You’ll see things you couldn’t see previously, by listening and expressing authentically.

8). There is a deeper, purer river of meaningful service flowing within you and you must tap it in order to flourish and thrive. When faced with critical decision go deep within. Your heart knows the way. Your mind just wants to see what others will say.

9). Always look for the sunny side. It’s there. A new business startup will not succeed without sustained focus on what’s working well. Know, think about and talk about what you want. Leave the negativity to the nightly news. Only fools think and talk about what they don’t want. Park the self-judgment permanently.

10). Practice compassion, self-love and gratitude. Look for what you truly appreciate about yourself and your business. Be grateful and build on those.

When you want to get really clear on how to make the leap with confidence – apply here.

Exploiting Your Authentic Edge

Do you know your authentic edge in the marketplace? Are you exploiting it for maximum value? Your authentic edge is the value that only you can provide in the way that only you can provide it.

I’ve never understood or agreed with those who claim that everything has already been invented, thought up or created.  That belief dishonors your individuality and your unique purpose.

I believe that each of us has an authentic edge that is a combination individual identity, desires and meaning. That combo, when enthusiastically expressed, is your positional advantage in the marketplace.

So how can you best identify and cash in on your authentic edge? This previous post will help you sharpen your edge.

But the best way to identify it, is to boil it all the way down to its core value.  Blow away everything but the three drivers (identity, desires and meaning) and see what paths become apparent when all distractions are removed.

Less is more. Simplicity is more attractive than complexity.  In my experience, the more complex a situation – the longer it takes to change it.

It takes longer because it requires more thought.  Since we tend to over think important decisions, more thought almost always leads to even more thought and costly delay.

If you really want to make the most optimum decision and take confident action use the following formula.

Simplicity leads more swiftly to clarity. >

Clarity encourages decision. >

Decision leads to action. >

Action further clarifies. >

Authenticity increases the probability of your decision being the best decision you could make now.  When it’s your best possible decision, then you are going to be at your highest level of confidence while following through.

Trust yourself.  You know far more than you think you do.

Less is more.   I wonder if my coaching clients would be better served if the only thing I coached them on was how to best identify these three critical drivers?

Identity > Who you are
Desires > What you want
Meaning > What matters most to you

The combination of these three will point to an obvious decision and follow-through actions.  Work it and you’ll begin to see clearer paths.

We all have a major decision to make that we aren’t making.  The best way to make it, is to ask more powerful questions to drive your quest.

What decision once acted on, would best honor who I am, get what I most want and positively change what matters the most to me?

The answer will point you in the sure direction of your highest value, which is your authentic edge.  What’s your authentic edge?

On October 20, join me for this Free phone class  Micro Business Startup Success; together we’ll find the edge of your highest value.

Choose the Right Tool

My Dad subscribed to the brute force method of fine carpentry. He believed everything could be fixed with a big screwdriver and a hammer. If a door frame wasn’t quite plumb, just loosen it with the screwdriver and give it a couple of whacks.  Tools

Business can be like that. If something isn’t quite right we can often force it into place with a few good whacks of hard work and effort.  But these quick fixes in business and carpentry often come back to haunt us because we were addressing only symptoms.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.  Abraham Maslow

When challenged we tend to reach for the life or business tool that gives us immediate but temporary relief – rather than looking at core causes and selecting a tool that eliminates the problem permanently.  Your life and your business works to the degree that you apply the right tool to make it work.

But what can you do when you know you don’t have the right tool for the job? You could apprentice with someone with a bigger toolbox.

If your life or business feels like you’ve whacked it into place once too often, perhaps it’s time to hire a professional coach with more of the right tools in his box?  Coaches are paid for resourcefulness.

By focusing on what, you the client,  most want to create, it’s our job to suggest practical tools, methods, approaches, concepts and exercises that will accelerate your focused progress.  If what you need isn’t already in my toolbox, you and I will create a customized solution to resolve your issue.

Remember the story of the craftsman who saved the day by getting an essential piece of machinery running again?  He inspected the machine, took out his hammer, tapped once and fixed it.  Later his customer was surprised to get a $500 bill for a five minute fix.  The craftsman explained his bill. “That’s $5 for tapping and $495 for knowing where to tap.”

Professional business coaches not only know what tool to use but they know when to tap, where to tap and to what degree.

Here’s a tool I often use to clear the air and see where we are.  Continuing with our hammer theme, a few words from a master.

Hammer time – Break it down.  MC Hammer

Breaking things down so you can see where you are is essential to business prosperity.  From my observation, we make business far too complicated.  Lately I’ve been on a quest to ruthlessly simplify my own business.

Ruthless simplification is powerfully transformative.

The effect of uncovering and releasing foggy purpose activities is astonishing.

Business coaches are paid to guide business growth.  You don’t need to hire a coach to maintain – you hire us for movement.

Break It Down Business Tool

I’ve found that the best way to break something down is to decide where you are in this laser-like process.  Regardless of what you want from your small business, your growth opportunity will be at one of these stages.  Select the stage where you think you are and then apply your answer to the accompanying question.

Clarity – What do I need to see more clearly?

Decision – What unmade decision demands my attention?

Creation – What do I most what to create now?

Action – What can I do now?

Then work with your business coach to apply tools of clarity, decision, creation or action.   Apply the right tool, at the right time, with the right touch and you’ll produce your desired outcome.

Business like life is neither difficult nor easy.  Both are how you see them and how you make them.

Have the courage to apply ruthless simplification to your own life or business?  Join me on May 20, for this powerful, free, group coaching experience:  Making Room for What You Want.

How To Play a Bigger Business Game

istock_000005171756xsmallIn my small business coaching, when I come across struggling small businesses, it’s often because they lack the driving focus of a clear business purpose.  Is your business purpose clear enough to burn your boat on the shore?

Using the game model of business building provides a committed purpose.  Playing the game of business is more focused, effective  and fun.

Games have beginnings, midpoints and ends.  Games have ground rules for guidance.  Games have clear objectives and you know when you’ve won.

But the business game model doesn’t work if you just go through the motions.  Uninspired business building sucks almost as much as working in a job that does not bring you alive.

Fortune favors the bold.  Virgil

In order to engage massive inspired action, one must be pumped about playing a bigger business game.  What does playing a bigger game mean to you?

To truly play a bigger game one must embrace:
1).  Greater Decisiveness
2).  Unwavering Commitment
3).  Laser-like Focus and
4).  Swift Follow-Through.

Be inspired to a Viking-like commitment.

Playing a bigger business game is not rocket science.   If you’ve ever competed, you know how eager you are to score and win.  Do you have that level of eagerness in your business building?

If not then perhaps you’re following someone else’s business dream and not your own.  It’s hard to get pumped up about a second or third place dream.

Winning requires enthusiasm.  Without enthusiasm, bold commitment feels more like obligation than eagerness.

Do you feel more obligated than eager to build your business?

Then you may want to play a bigger business game.

Recently I offered the experience of this game at no charge.  Just being on the phone and present with others who are bold enough to go for a bigger game is a lift in itself.

The opportunity to be stretch coached on your most pressing business challenges is invigorating.  I coached my top three strategies to play a bigger business game.

But are you committed enough to follow-through?  Many aren’t and that’s why I raised the participation bar for this free experience.  Here’s the class description.

Breakthrough Business Coaching; How to Quit Messing Around, Turn Your Life Around & Play a Bigger Game

To the degree that your life sucks, your business suffers.  Everything’s connected to your fearful thoughts and it all counts.  It’s time to quit underestimating your capacity.  If you’re ready to set aside your fears, boldly turn things around and play a bigger game to win; here’s your shot.

This call is not for wussies or for those who cannot focus enough to follow-through with simple requests.  After registering you will receive an email from Tom that requires another action.  If you can’t follow-through, please don’t waste the time of those of us who are seriously intending to create a breakthrough.

Of 14 who registered, 7 followed through and 6 of those 7 actually showed up.  Raising the bar allows the cream to rise to the top.

Would you make the cut?

It’s challenging to play a bigger game while standing on the sidelines.  It’s impossible to play a bigger game if you’re still in the stands watching others play and win.

What do you think of the game business model?

Five Tools to Sharpen Your Authentic Edge

Your authentic edge is based on who you are, where you are in your business development and what you’ve experienced.  That edge drives your personal power.  It’s your natural positional advantage in the marketplace and you’ll struggle to the degree that you fail to exploit it.

When I first began following  small business owners on Twitter it appeared as though  everyone had a thriving online business.   A client also noticed this and asked, “Where are all the regular people?”

It matters little where anyone else is, even if they are further along in their business development.  Here’s what matters, are you exploiting your authentic edge?

An outside focus will dull your authentic edge by positioning you in the  reactionary hell of deadly comparisons.  Success comes from looking within to determine the purpose of your business and that purpose must have a whole lot of you in it.

Many contend that Walmart hurts small businesses, yet you’ll find thriving exceptions in every town.  News of a so-called global economic crisis permeates the airwaves, yet many one-woman and one-man shops are flourishing, right now.

When your eye is on the competition or the economy, it dumbs you down and dulls your true source of power. Your authentic edge is found within and keeping it sharp is essential to your business success.

Expressed Authenticity > Personal Confidence = Business Success

Greater confidence will help you to complete more often, risk more frequently, bounce back from mistakes more easily and kick more marketplace ass.

Since confidence comes from within how can we keep our edge sharp enough to act boldly?

Here are five tools to keep your edge razor sharp.  Ask yourself these questions, note the answers and feel your confidence build.

1). Passion

What do you really care about?  Are you sure?  Try this one.

If you woke up tomorrow morning and had all the time and money you could ever need, what would you still care enough about, to want to make a difference?

2). Willingness

Early in our business development we have more time to deliver exceptional one-on-one service.  Express your willingness to do so.  Those who are ahead of you in earnings or business development, just don’t have to give as much individual attention anymore.  You both can, but you have the edge because you will.

What’s the greatest value that you can offer right now, that the big guys can’t or won’t?

3). Empathy

When people know that you really get them, that understanding leads to connection.  I hope you’ve selected a business purpose that you’ve personally experienced or are experiencing.  If you’ve felt the same pain as your market then it’s easier to be real.   Molly Gordon writes about empathy as a powerful marketing strategy.

In which area do you really understand the pain of others because you’re there now or recently have been?  What’s working well for you that they may not yet know?

4). Imagination

We all unwittingly set our own limits.  We get to make all the rules in our own mini-empires.  You get to imagine a business that perfectly suits who you are.  When you hold yourself in high regard, you’ll build your business in a way that will ideally serve you.  By honoring who you are, you’ll also be in the best position to generously serve others well.

Specifically where do you need to rewrite the rules to expand opportunities?  In what area of your business objectives are you thinking way too small?

5). Practice

Is it truly authentic to practice so much that repetition creates mastery? Yes!  I like how Steve Pavlina explains Steven Covey’s habit of sharpening the saw.

Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that engaged authenticity should come easily.  It does for some and it doesn’t for others.  If you haven’t been blessed with an obvious natural talent, then you have been blessed with the necessity of honing the ones you have.   Steve Chandler thinks practice is the most powerful trick ever.

What strengths have you been afraid to express?  What natural talents scare the hell out of you?  If you practiced the same strength for one hour daily, how might that change your life?

I’m challenging you to sharpen your authentic edge beginning now. The latent advantage of authentic business building is that the owner remains eager to do the work.  When work is not a chore you’ll naturally be more productive and attractive to ideal clients.

Which tool do you need to use the most to sharpen your authentic edge?

I feel a definite bond with those of you who are building your business authentically.  I also admire those of you who want to start a small business built on a foundation of who you are.

Let’s connect on Twitter.

Grounding Your Small Business Vision

This post presents an effective and strategic decision-making process that will ground your small business vision in a rock solid foundation.

Work this process and you’ll have a big picture vision to create your ideal business in the coming year. Before taking action, it’s important to zoom out and see the big picture of what you want to build.

Zooming out and deciding on an ideal business vision is an essential step before zooming in to decide on tactics and actions, for two reasons.

1). You’ll be better able to prioritize, focus and act on what you want.

2). You’ll be better equipped to discern which outside offers and influences are aligned with what you want and which are not.

This clarity will reduce overwhelm and allow you to fully commit. Commitment does not follow indecision; and, success is not reached without commitment.

To nail down your business clarity it’s enlightening to first look through these three filters so that your existing beliefs can be supported and/or challenged as needed. We only know what we think we know, so checking in is wise.

1). Decide on your overarching business model.

It’s important to decide on a business model in advance and make decisions congruent to that model. This decision will minimize internal resistance and allow your confidence to build.

In essence, no model is good or bad. However, model congruency is essential for success. It’s ineffective to jump back and forth between models because then there is no solid foundation to build upon.

I use an authentic business-building model that says business success is generated to the degree that the individual engages and expresses her unique capacities. In this model, the authenticity of the business owner equates to greater world service and greater value exchanged.

A slightly different business model is: identify a need and fill it. This model places emphasis on one’s ability to accurately find a target market with a clearly definable need and to develop products and services to fill that need. So the need becomes the primary alignment factor in making strategic decisions and all other considerations are secondary.

A third model is: create a business to sell. This model places an emphasis on creating systems that anyone could direct. The business intention is to create measurable value which builds so the business can be sold at a profit and run successfully by the new owner. Thus clearly defined, detailed procedures and universal systems are the aligning business building criteria. Franchising is an example of this model in action.

It’s important to not be fundamentally rigid in your thinking because value can be gained by adopting principles of each model. Certain situations are best addressed by being flexible and applying the best from many models. This works as long as you first choose one model as your primary decision-making guide.

2). Be aware of semantical judgments.

For example, I’ve always preferred the phrase “true calling” to “life purpose.” For me, “life purpose” seems too permanent or rigid. I prefer “true calling” because it feels right to be called from within to my vocation. However, if I allowed my bias to direct my decision-making, I’d deny myself the available wisdom that’s offered in the language of life purpose. Look for useful wisdom and value regardless of the implied word meanings that it comes packaged within. This is another one of those sticking points that we need to be aware of. We just can’t see what we can’t see so use these filters to check for hidden sludge points.

3). First – be your own counsel.

There is no shortage of business advice available to us; but it’s often not presented in a way that can be easily adapted to our unique needs and abilities. It’s critical to identify the potential personal value of outside influences so we can separate useful tools from wrong path distractions.

Since we are constantly motivated by our unmet needs and by our drive to feel better, we’re frequently tempted to rush to a solution because a well-written offer appears to satisfy an emotional craving.

Essentially, every decision we make is made to relieve tension or to achieve an objective. Unfortunately, when we make a decision for tension relief – the relief is only temporary. That’s why it’s necessary to have a solid grounding in your own proactively determined, strategic decisions.

First, decide exactly what you want – then business building becomes simpler because your choices are less.

Have you stepped back and considered the big picture?

Ideally and specifically, what about your business do you want to experience differently next year? Use this chart to decide.

1). Add additional criteria if it’s lacking for you.
2). Decide if you want more or less of each, next year.
3). Rank the criteria in order of importance with 1 being the most important.
4). Looking at what you want, write out a description that energizes you.
5). Further solidify your vision by frequently feeling its manifestation as if you were already in the midst of living it.

Make your description powerfully attractive so you’ll want to power it up frequently. There are many effective tools available to accomplish this, from vision boards to mind movies. I like to record my own declaration, in present moment language, of the ideal business I’m in the midst of building. I record it with baroque classical music playing in the background and listen to it frequently.

Don’t be too concerned with the “how to” just yet. Options will gradually surface as you ground your vision by clearly deciding and committing to what you want. In my next post, I’ll share some tools to zoom in on actions that you can do now. From the vantage point of a grounded vision, we’ll discuss how to stretch your beliefs beyond what you see as possible.

Let’s talk. Do you have a business vision that pumps you up? What about your ranking surprised you? What business model are you following?

Experimenting For Fun and Profit

Sometimes the best way to stimulate a cash stream is to shake things up and play. Money is attracted to confidence. Confidence is a natural occurrence that seldom visits when we are tight and resistant. The best way to transcend resistance is playfulness.

Ever feel like you’re holding the reins of your business too tightly? Boldly and playfully experimenting could be just what you need in order to make a business breakthrough.

Remember how imaginative and carefree you were as a kid? Do you recall how authentic you were when you frequently lost yourself in play?

More and more I’m seeing a connection between experimentation, community, playfulness, confidence and authenticity. Soon I intend to give this topic the depth it deserves.

But for now how often do you break out in song in the midst of your workday?

Often in my small business coaching practice, I make agreements with clients, just so they’ll lighten up. Lots of stuff has been written about the benefits of play to enhance creativity. But it’s even more powerful than that.

Something happens in our minds and emotions when we fearlessly experiment. It shakes something up in a good way. Like my buddy Bill, a marketing expert says. “You got to try shit to find out about shit.”

Barbara Swafford at Blogging Without a Blog, interviewed me today about a recent experiment. Read about it on her blog here.

One key to successfully launching a small business startup is to define and win the inner game. It’s not so much the outside challenges that throw us off but the tricks and mind games we play on ourselves within. Most budding entrepreneurs need to lighten up and play a game that they can win.

Sometimes that means putting your heart on your sleeve for all to see. Liz Strauss at Successful Blog, is launching an authentic experiment right now. I’ll be playing over there, perhaps you’d enjoy it too.

How about you? When was the last time you just tried something bold and new, just for the hell of it?

Do you ever make your work a game you can win?

Think you might need to lighten up? Give it a shot – you may amaze yourself.