A Cold, Hard Business Lesson We All Need to Learn

It’s never about you.

It’s a cold hard lesson because it’s a fact, but at least it’s rooted in care. Behold:

It’s never about you, no matter how good your work is, or how beautiful, or how worth it.

No matter how much you need the money.

No matter how passionate you are about your work and what it does.

If you want a healthy business, it’s always, only and exclusively, about them:

Your buyer, and whether or not their life gets better by buying.

This attitude shows, and creates trust – a requirement for sales.

And if you can also step away from the sale, be 100% ok with it if they don’t buy, you build even more trust.

And you can’t fake that.

The only way you can create that level of trust is if you genuinely, really, have “the right decision for them” as your first and foremost interest.

But doesn’t that contradict the notion that a business must make money, and that you need to look out for #1 first?

No contradiction at all, because the more trust you create in others, the more you’ll end up selling.

That’s why in the enrollment conversations I have with potential clients, I’m not trying to sell anything.

I show up, I serve, I coach.

That either makes someone want to work with me, or not. Whatever’s best for you.

Cheers,

Martin

I’ve Been Underserving You. Sorry About That

Do what I say, not what I do… don’t you just love it?

Me, I don’t.

And yet, I’ve been giving you the wrong example.

Here’s the deal: these emails coaching emails I send each day, they serve a series of purposes.

* It’s a public service – a free virtual coaching experience for those who benefit from it

* It’s therapeutic for me: it forces me to stay on track with my business goals, and it’s a daily return to performing an act of service, which is ultimately what each business is about. To serve a customer (and please, don’t ever say that you ‘service’ your customers. They’re not a car, but I digress)

* It’s a way to show you how email marketing is done

* The list goes on, but I’ll end it today with: it’s a fantastically fun and effective way to create clients

But here’s the rub: The last half year or so, I’ve been doing it wrong.

Meaning, I’ve been showing you how not to do it.

Why? Because I’ve stopped including a daily call to action (CTA) which is ultimately what will get you the buyers.

Oh I use CTA’s frequently, for example when I ask you to reply, to read a certain book, to implement something in your life and so on.

But, that happens to benefit my business because of a certain set of circumstances, unique to me and my business and my audience.

And, it’s showing you a wrong example.

So yeah. Sorry.

This became clear to me yesterday, when I saw a client send one of her own daily emails, where her CTA was ‘Click the link to share this email’.

Which isn’t bad as a CTA, but clearly you are more likely to get a share than a buyer.

After all, when you ask someone to do thing A, they’re probably going to do that thing, and not thing B.

But when you want to sell something, shouldn’t you be asking for the sale? Shouldn’t you be inviting people to consider buying from you?

Would you like another rhetorical question?

So if I want you to grow your business and leading by example is the name of the game, it’s only normal to show you how it’s done.

Now that doesn’t mean that you need to turn every email into a hard sales pitch. In fact, don’t do that. It would decimate your list.

But there’s nothing wrong with being in business, and if you want to sell, there’s nothing wrong with *looking* open for business.

And no, talking about your art or your book or your massage therapy isn’t enough.

Showing it isn’t the thing.

I mean, are you a museum or a gallery? Are you a library or a book store?

If  you want to sell it, say so.

Not in a pushy or aggressive way, that’s not necessary. Don’t be a used car salesman or telemarketer, except in writing.

Be a trusted advisor, whose interest is for the buyer to make the right decision for themselves, even if that decision is to not buy (today).

How that’s done?

Like so, for example:

A coach is someone who makes it safe for you to look in the mirror.

Someone who guides you through a process where you do the things that need to be done, in order to get you the results you want.

It’s fun but it requires commitment.

It’s effective, but only if you’re willing to do the work, so it will only work for a specific type of individual.

Is that you?

Then hit reply, and let’s talk.

Now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

95% content – designed to serve, engage, inspire, educate or a mix of these – and 5% pitch.

You can do it too, and you’ll see sales go up if you do.

Cheers,

Martin

Being in Love… But With What?

I’ve spent a great deal of time contemplating love, recently.

Not the interpersonal human love, but Love as a deeper, higher, divine, or transcendent concept.

And I realised that I’m in love with the wrong thing. (Bear with me – this article will help you with your business).

See, I wonder why I have so little patience lately. It’s unlike me.

These drawings I do, it’s almost as if I can’t bear spending time on them.

(Aside from the drawings you see daily and which I make on my iPad, I also draw with ink on paper, and it’s especially clear there: no patience).

Part of the reason is that I really like Japanese art, where something like three strokes can depict an entire personality.

And yes, I know that the only way to get to that kind of skill is if you spend years (or rather: decades) practicing.

And the strange thing is that I respect that, and that I’m able to work like that.

For instance, back when I was a tailor. Never mind the many years of learning – even when that phase was done, I still had to apply ridiculous amounts of patience, every time I made a suit.

80 hours of work for a two-piece. At a minimum.

And 80% of that time, sewing by hand.

Some 400 tiny hand stitches, for each side of the chestpiece that lines and shapes the outer shell cloth – and that’s just on the inside. Another 500 or more for the outside and finishing. On each side, left and right.

A double-breasted suit can have up to 6 buttonholes in the front, plus 4 on each sleeve. Each one done by hand, placing stitches less than a millimeter apart. An hour for each one, more than an entire day of making buttonholes. That picture? Less than half of the inside of one lapel, all stitches done by hand.

In other words:

Patience? I’ve got it – in spades, buckets, and wheelbarrows.

But when it comes tot drawing? I want it done, done now, done fast.

And as I write this, something is becoming clear to me:

I’m in love with the result, but not with the process.

As a tailor, I loved – absolutely adored – the process. Seeing the progression of the stitches lining up, noticing the irregularity, seeing the exact moment where I got up to pour some coffee, because there’s this tiny skip in the line at that point.

I loved seeing all the hundreds of individual pieces come together, seeing the 2-dimensional pieces turn themselves into 3-D.

But with drawing? I’m not there. Not yet.

The lesson here?

The end result is nice. It’s good to love it. It’s the goal you’re trying to reach.

But if you don’t also love the process, you’re missing out. If you don’t love (which is not the same as enjoying – the one can exist without the other) the process, you’re frustrating, and maybe even sabotaging, yourself.

Because by only loving the end result, you’re robbing yourself of falling in love with the process.

Why this matters to you?

Because your business result (the recognition, the money in the bank, the thrilled clients who paid you a high fee and so on) are a beautiful goal and something to love.

But if you don’t also love the process of building up to that, you’re letting your impatience take the fun out of it.

And where’s the fun in that?

So I’m going back to the basics: I’m going to practice doing the work in drawing, for love of the process. Forgetting about the result while I’m at it.

What about you and your business… what about being in love with the process, regardless of the results?

Cheers,

​Martin

Turning Pro & Things That Ain’t Fun?

By now you’ll know that I’m big on fun.

Having fun, sharing fun, making things fun.

In business and in life in general.

But that doesn’t mean that life can be an ongoing hedonistic indulgence.

I mean, where’s the fun in getting your car serviced, or changing diapers, or filing taxes, or taking out the trash?

It would be highly puerile and immature to not do any of the things that just ain’t fun and can’t be made into fun. It would also mean problems: car won’t start, baby stinks to the highest heavens, IRS wipes you out, and the trash would pile up to epic heights, much like what happened to Sara Sylvia Cynthia Stout in the Dr. Hook song (brilliant lyrics, look it up if you’re in the mood for a chuckle).

In other words: there’s non-fun stuff that you just can’t get around. Has to happen, or else.

And this matters a lot in business.

Especially when it comes to acting like a professional whilst being a creative or an artist.

Because let’s face it: we’d rather be in the studio, right?

Except that’s the attitude of an amateur.

The pro is different. He or she acknowledges that there’s stuff that has to happen, or else.

And the pro then proceeds to make those things happen.

A true professional is someone who is able to suck it up, and get the not-fun things done ASAP, so as to get back to the studio ASAP.

And the one thing that’s the hardest, for most people?

Marketing. Showing up. Being – and looking – open for business.

Getting your name and your work out there.

Finding, and communicating with, your potential buyers.

Because even if you’re a full-time creative and manage to live off your work, you’re not an actual pro unless you also make showing up and all that goes with it, part of your work. (I know: harsh. But it’s important that you get the pro attitude&behaviour into your life. Also: I didn’t make this up, but got it from Steven Pressfield’s brilliant book War of Art which I HIGHLY recommend. And I’ve just bought the followup ‘Turning Pro’. He’s that good).

Anyway: as long as you’re still shirking the kind of work that literally every pro does, you’re operating on the level of an amateur.

The pro gets to build a thriving business, by virtue of acting like a pro, while the amateur will continue to struggle and fret and worry, until such time that they accept reality, and start acting like a pro.

So what side are you on? Pro or amateur?

If you’re the former, and you know you could do better but you’re not sure how to get better results, maybe we should talk.

I’ve built a career and a business out of helping people like you create your own pro business.

So let’s talk. It’ll be fun.

Cheers,

​Martin

And What If You’d Stop Squandering Your Resources?

And what if you’d stop squandering your resources?

Oh I know: you’re doing all you can. you’re leveraging all you’ve got: your cash, your network, your talents and skills and your audience.

But I put it to you that despite all that, you’re still squandering your resources.

When you’re stuck, you know that action – any action – will get you unstuck. Except, do you actually leap into action?

When you’re confused about what to do next, you know that talking to someone impartial and experienced will help you gain clarity. Except, did you pick up the phone?

When you feel unable to complete certain tasks or projects, obviously it will help you to learn some more skills. But I’ll venture that you have a pile of unread info-products in your download folder.

When you’re stressed, you know that meditating or going for a nice long walk will calm you right down. Unless you don’t meditate or walk.

When you don’t have a plan for making your big dream come to life, you know that writing things out, and planning them, will be the start of a plan that might actually work. Except there’s all those updates to scroll through on Facebook and Instagram first!

The common element in all this?

Your untapped potential. Resources such as the ability to learn, to take action, to plan and to create clarity: all those things are yours to use, and they work. IF you use them.

It’s so easy to feel as if there’s a shortage in this or that area of your life. But there’s probably not a single so-called shortage that can’t be fixed by using your own, innate resources.

Question is: do you actually use them? Do you put your many talents to use, or do you let them just sit there idly?

C’mon people. You were built to be a problem-solver and a maker of things. And you have all the tools you need to solve problems, and to make whatever you want to make.

Those resources in you, they work – but only if you use them.

Do you? All of them? All the time?

Cheers,

Martin

What Beliefs Are There?

Beliefs are powerful, powerful things.

They can save your life, or they can kill you.

For example, someone with a grave illness and little chance of survival might be given a placebo, and they really believe it’s going to cure them… and somehow the placebo effect kicks in and they recover. Plenty of documented cases show this.

But a belief can also kill you. The sad examples of people taking drugs, believing gravity has no grip on them, and falling to their death while trying to fly, are there.

And inbetween those two extremes, there are many ways in which your beliefs will either hinder or help you.

It all comes down to what you believe to be true or false.

Beliefs are strong. So strong that they can cause the mind to act up and deny evidence, no matter how compelling it is.

Say an artist doesn’t believe that they can live well off their art. But one day a ‘miracle’ happens, and they sell a piece at a really good price. That’s evidence that the belief just might be false.

And yet, it’s very easy for that person to argue against it. “It was a fluke” or “I could never reproduce that” or “That happens once in a lifetime”.

Problem is, beliefs influence how you think and act.

And whatever you believe to be true, your mind will look for confirmation of it. And if it can’t find confirmation of the belief, it’ll re-engineer your perception so as to make false proof look like it’s real proof.

This is what psychologists call confirmation bias, and it’s a nasty little bugger.

Very often when we struggle with things, the problem is a hidden belief, somewhere in the background.

Something that tells us that the evidence can’t be true or right.

So it’s really useful for you to start looking at the beliefs you have.

And when you struggle, or you can’t seem to get the results you ought to get, ask yourself:

“What belief is there?”

“What belief is there that’s holding me back? Causing me to sabotage results? Making me ignore evidence?”

What belief do you have, that stands in the way of getting what you want?

Cheers,

​Martin

What If… (How Would You Like Your Eggs…?)

What if building a business wouldn’t have to be a struggle… but a joyful process of discovery instead?

Where you play with moving parts, see how they fit together – what if you would play at building a system, instead of slogging through all those things you don’t enjoy doing?

What if you would make that process the goal, instead of whatever end-game spells success for you?

Because most all of us get stuck into doing the work that should bring us that coveted success-reward, thinking that if we work hard enough and long enough at those things we don’t enjoy, the reward will be worth all the effort and teeth-gritting.

But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?

What if you would only do those things that you enjoy and that you’re really good at?

And all those other things – what if you would delegate them, or replace them by other actions that are more fun, and that get you the same result?

Would be a whole different world, right?

So, what if that world could start today?

Because the notion that XYZ is required no matter how much you loathe it – that’s just a story you tell yourself.

Because everyone else says you should be on Instagram, does that mean you should too even if you don’t like it there?

Nah. Instagram is just a method to get a result: views and website traffic. And you can get those results in many different ways.

Martin says daily emails are good for business, but you don’t like the idea… does that mean you should do it anyway? Of course not. There’s many different ways to create relationships with your potential buyers.

If you want eggs for breakfast, you get to choose how you want ‘em: poached, fried, scrambled, and so on.

When you want a result and the default method to get it makes you cringe, ask yourself:

How else can I get the same result? In a way that would be fun?

Start this type of inquiry today, take action on the answers that come up, and there you have it: instant reduction of struggle and frustration.

And if you need help figuring out what other methods would work better for you?

Then I’m here for you, as always.

Cheers,

​Martin

Real Incremental Growth That Adds Up VS Unicorns

If your goal is to grow your business revenue by, say, 30%…

What would you do?

What would you tackle first?

Most people would pick one thing and then work hard to try and drive results up.

You could try to create more customers out of your email subscribers, or you could try to get more traffic to your website, or invest more time in social media…

But for any of those elements to cause 30% growth in your bottom line, that’s a tall order.

After all, any one element you pick to work on is only a smaller part of the total system that is your business.

So here’s another model to consider.

It’s based on the assets that your business has, and how you can improve the usefulness of those assets, in small increments that add up.

Any business will have these three elements:

1: Potential customers

If you manage to get seen and considered by more people, your sales and revenue will go up.

But instead of going for 30% increase of prospects, let’s try to raise the number by just 10%.

That doesn’t sound so crazy, right? 10% is doable.

2: Conversion ratio

This is the number of people who do business with you, divided by the number of people who find out about your product or service.

Example: if you have 200 website visitors a day and 10 people buy from you, that’s 10 divided by 200, which gives you a conversion ratio of 0.05, or 5%.

And getting your numbers up from 10 to 11… that shouldn’t be too hard to do. That’s only 10%.

3: Customer value

We all know that it’s cheaper to acquire a repeat sale from an existing customer, than it is to create a new one.

So, if your average customer currently spends $100, can you find a way to offer something else, and bring the total amount they spend with you up to $110?

Has to be a way to do that, don’t you think?

Maybe even as simple as – hey, novel thought! – raising your prices (I’m making assumptions here, but given the number of people I meet who charge too little, that might be you as well). And raising your rates by 10% shouldn’t be a problem, right?

The logic behind this thinking – that if you raise each of these three by just 10%, your total increase in turnover is 10% times 3, in other words: 30% – you can work on incremental growth across three primary areas, instead of trying to fix and improve one single element.

And further logic:

When we set out to create impressive changes and growth and we want it all to come from one area, we’re essentially hoping for a unicorn to show up.

You know, that magical, fix-it-all solution, the one thing that will make all the difference.

But there is no one thing that will fix everything. Growth comes from persistent improvement across a number of areas – not from some magical solution or miraculous turnaround.

Lust like unicorns don’t exist, neither do magical solutions. You’ll never have a breakthrough just because the universe thinks you’re such a nice guy or gal.

No, breakthroughs and increased results and growth come from strategic action, in the right areas, coupled with grit and the willingness to iterate and optimise until stuff works.

And I promise that will work much better than hoping for magic to fix your economy or business or sales.

Work the three areas mentioned, and try to get a 10% rise in each. There’s growth, guaranteed.

Cheers,

​Martin

What’s Broken?

When your car won’t start, you know that changing the tires won’t help.

Cold soup doesn’t get hotter if you add more salt. (I’ve tried)

Speaking louder to someone who doesn’t understand your language doesn’t help them understand you (happens to me each time I go to this one particular shop in town. Which is ironic because I do actually speak the language. But I digress).

One more example: shutting down communications when there’s a problem won’t fix the issue.

The underlying theme?

Trying to improve the outcome by ‘fixing’ something that ain’t broken.

And don’t think you’re immune: we (myself included) do it, all the time.

We see a system that isn’t getting us the results we want, we make an incorrect assumption about what’s broken in the system, and then we modify what might well be working brilliantly, while ignoring the one thing that is in dire need of fixing.

For example: that daily emailing thing.

I know that if you do it, and stick with it, and get good at it, it’s going to get you inquiries and sales.

Has to.

But if your list is small and it’s not growing, you won’t get those results.

And if it is growing but you’re getting signups from people who aren’t your ideal buyer: same thing. Cash register says ‘no sale’.

For you to then decide that daily emails just don’t work means you’re making an incorrect assumption.

Back to basics: systems thinking.

Every system is 100% perfect, for the results that it produces.

If you want different or better results, you’ll need to modify the system.

But before you do, it’s REALLY important to analyse the different moving parts in the system, and figure out the bottleneck or weak link or stuck cog, before you make any changes.

Otherwise, you just might break the system even more.

This – looking at what works and what can be improved – is one of the most fun parts of coaching people.

In many cases we discover that there’s a practical, technical thing that needs changing, but very often we find that there’s a psychological reason.

Sometimes in terms of beliefs (i.e. “people just don’t spend money” or things like that) and sometimes in terms of self-image (i.e. “I’m just not good at doing XYZ”).

Whatever the cause or reason, working with a client on changing the status quo is a dream of a job.

Because when you gain insight into what exactly is the thing you need to change in order to get different results, and you decide to take action on making the change?

Magic.

Let me know if you want some of that. We’ll set up a time for a 30-minute strategy session (no cost), and we’ll take a close look at what works in your systems, and what needs improvement.

Let’s see if we can’t create some magic.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Replace “Must” With “Fun”

All those things that you “must” do as a business owner…

Taxes, marketing, social media… shipping products, making sales… etc etc.

Wherever you look, you’ll see people tell you that as a business owner, there’s things you just have to do. Suck it up, it’s part of the game.

Well, I question that.

Because there’s a big difference between an outcome that you want or need, and the way to get that outcome.

For example: paying taxes belongs to being in business. It’s an outcome.

But who says you need to file your taxes yourself? (the way to get the outcome).

You can just as easily have an accountant do it for you, right?

Same thing with social media: the outcome you want is visibility and for new clients to find you and end up doing business with you.

But who says you need to run social media yourself? If you don’t enjoy it, why force yourself?

You could also outsource the job, or you could create a different way to connect with new clients, for example by using networking, or advertising, or participating in forums.

See, you can always pivot, change, create a different approach to get the same outcome, whether that means outsourcing or going in a lateral action.

But the one thing I don’t recommend anyone do, ever, is to force yourself to do things that you resent or.

When there’s a hundred different ways to choose from, each of which can get you the same outcome? Folly to do it in exactly the way you don’t like.

So here’s a simple tool to help you make life and business easier, and more fun.

Step 1: define a desired outcome. Make it specific, or even better: use the SMART goal model: A goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. So “Get more clients” isn’t a useable goal, but “Create 3 new clients this month” just might be.

Step 2: Consider the method you’re about to use for that outcome, and ask yourself:

a: is it fun?

b: can you make it fun? (for example, by turning it into a game, or a creative pursuit)

c: if you can’t make it fun, drop the method and ask yourself: what other method can I find or create that will get me the same outcome?

There’s many ways to fry an egg. Don’t let some guru or so-called expert sell you on the idea that this or that way (or worse: his way) is the only method you should use.

You should use the method that works for you, which automatically includes the notion that you enjoy it.

And boom: life suddenly becomes more fun, and business results become easier to attain.

Working with clients to find hacks or workarounds for the things they don’t enjoy is one of the most fun parts of my job, because it’s a process of you discovering how to use your creativity for reaching your goals.

Tell me that doesn’t sound good…

And yes, I’m here for you when you’re ready.

Cheers,

​Martin

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