Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurial mindset’

The Goal is Bettering Your Best

Who do you compete against?  You might say your team members, other leaders in the company, or other companies.  What if you thought about competing against yourself?  What if your goal every day was not focused on those outside but instead focused on yourself?  Yes, normally I’ve said not to focus on yourself but others.  In this case, focus on yourself and better your own best.

Lead, follow or step aside

Lead, follow or step aside

When you focus on all of the people and factors outside, it is easy to be overwhelmed.  There are factors such as the economy, the job market and the weather which you cannot personally control.  Being powerless and out of control is not a feeling entrepreneurs building a successful business readily identify with; they certainly do not strive for a feeling of being a victim or being powerless.

You have 100% absolute total control of competing against yourself.  You are in control of striving to better your own personal best.

“I am in competition with no one.  I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone.  I am simply trying to be better than the person I was yesterday.”

Better Your Best

Of course you observe what your co-workers, team mates and the other companies are doing, but the focus is always on bettering your own personal best.  Focus on improving your own statistics and suddenly you glance at the leader board and everyone is chasing you.

Athletes strive to shave seconds off of their time, score more points through improving their techniques, and increase their endurance in order to perform at their best for longer periods of time.

In network marketing we track our ads placed, leads generated, follow up contacts, and sales generated.  We monitor our marketing costs in relation to revenue generated.  Our goal is always to improve our own individual statistics.  Statistics do not make you profitable but statistics are a quantitative method of measuring your progress in building a successful business.

Beauty of a rose

Symbol of beauty and appreciation.

Think Like a Flower   

“A flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”

Concentrate on your own blooming success.  Focus on bettering your own personal best.

When you focus on improving yourself through personal development and professional skill development, you will automatically improve.

It is not a matter of having the latest and greatest iPhone or software, though having the best tools does help; it is a matter of improving your skills in utilizing that software.  It is about improving your skills.  It is about bettering your own personal best.

golf lessonA golfer was struggling to improve his score.  As he was considering yet another purchase of new clubs, the pro came by and casually said, “It’s not the clubs.  Instead of buying new clubs, take lessons.”  

In network marketing, owning the most efficient and most applicable software certainly helps.  Owning it isn’t enough, it is learning how to use it most effectively which makes the difference.  It isn’t the software; it is your own skills.  Take lessons from your mentor/sponsor and improve your own skills.  Focus on bettering your own personal best.

“Competition is a good thing; it forces us to do our best.”

Your own personal competition is the best motivator possible.

One day you will look at the leader board and discover that everyone is chasing you.  That is a good thing because the more time they spend trying to figure out what you are doing and analyzing your performance, the less time they are spending on developing their own skills.  You continue bettering your own personal best and continue leaping forward building a successful business.

“The moment you become wrapped up in worrying about competition, you’ve missed the message of your own destiny.”  Valarie Hurst

But how????

The most direct method of improving your statistics and thus your results is to select one aspect at a time.

Select the top item on your “I want to be better at this” list.

If you are time-challenged and need to maximize your productivity during your limited time availability, select an efficiency generating software.  Once selected, contact your sponsor immediately and learn all of the nuances of the software.  Software by itself is similar to a book on your bookshelf which you never open – money spent without value gained.

Contact your sponsor and learn the most efficient and productive ways to implement the software.  Time, money and energy are all critical to the entrepreneur building a successful business.  You can purchase the best software on the market, but until you use it in to its fullest capability, it is just money spent.  Learn the best tricks, tips and techniques to use the software and then go do it.  It’s putting it into action with knowledge which makes it valuable software.

It is not a fact of ownership, but of skilled implementation of the knowledge combined with the ownership which is most productive.

Master it and Move On

mirror“We are really competing against ourselves; we have no control over how others perform.”  Pete Cashmore

When you have mastered one element on your chosen improvement list, select another.  Roll up your sleeves and start working.  Check them off one by one.  Personal development and professional skill development are your keys to building a successful business.

“The only way to succeed is to not worry about what anyone else is doing.” 

The Key to Success is Constantly Bettering Your Own Personal Best

Make a list of skills you choose to improve.  Achieve them one by one.  As long as you are focused on bettering your own personal best at all times, you are building a successful business and a successful person.  Don’t worry about what others are doing.

“Look in the mirror. . .that’s your competition.”

Are you seeking more success in your life and career? Inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation.  www.Elaine4Success.comwww.Elaine4Success.com/Contact

Success is a Wild Wonderful Adventure

Leadership brings with it the opportunity to inspire and empower.

Leadership is putting into practice our philosophies, vision and life ethics.  It is more than the words we say, but our words and actions linger as our impression on the lives of others.  Building a successful business is a delicate, yet indelible image.

Actions create results; the inspiration and empowerment for those results begins with significant words of wisdom.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya AngelouJim Rohn

I’ve been writing about the icons of industry.  Here are some of my favorite words of wisdom from the masters of business.

“You’ve got to find what you love.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.”  Steve Jobs

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Edison

Young Thomas Edison

I never did a days work in my life. It was all fun.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”  Henry Ford

“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.”  Seth Godin

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules.  You learn by doing and falling over.”  Richard Branson

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”  Zig Ziglar

“As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big.”  Donald Trump

Put Fun on your Priority list

De-stress – Add Fun to Your Life

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”  Walt Disney

This last one has been posted on my office wall for decades.

“Excellence is:

The result of caring more than others think is wise

Risking more than others think is safe

Dreaming more than others think is practical and

Expecting more than others think is possible.”

As an entrepreneur building a successful business, select your favorite words of wisdom from the masters and create your own for future generations.

Are you seeking more success in your life and career? Inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation.  Go to  www.Elaine4Success.com or contact Elaine at Elaine@Elaine4Success.com

Customer Service is Key to Long-Term Success

Top Fortune 100 companies are obsessed with delivering outstanding customer service.

What does it take to consistently deliver outstanding customer service?

Words create memories - good or bad

Words create memories – good or bad

Who is responsible?

Of course it is the customer service department, but it is also every employee.  The company reputation is derived from the impressions generated by every employee.  You never know who is listening.

Difficult to Build and Quick to Lose

It takes time and concentrated effort to build a solid reputation.  Unfortunately, that stellar reputation can be damaged far more quickly than it can be built.

In the “pre internet” days of the 1980s and before, it was commonly accepted that one happy customer told 3 and an unhappy customer told 10.  Now with a few keystrokes, an unhappy customer can tell hundreds.

Remaining diligent about customer service is extremely important.

Starbucks is an excellent company.  Yet even the best can stumble.

May 1, 2014 I received an email directly from Starbucks reminding me that my Starbucks card ending 6279 has a balance remaining.  After searching my cards and being unable to locate that one, I search Starbucks.com.  Still unable to locate the card, I called customer service.

The woman who answered the customer service line first told me that the card did not exist.  When I explained about the email from Starbucks (addressed to the current and correct email address) she requested to put me on hold.  She came back and said the card did not exist.  I calmly read her the short but specific email.  She requested to put me on hold again.  When she returned, she verified the exact balance remaining on the card and that the card was registered to me.

Now we’re making progress, or so I thought.  She next stated, “That card was closed in 2006.  You have a balance on the card but since the card is closed, you can’t use the balance.”

“May I ask why I received an email only a few days ago reminding me that I had a balance on the card?”  She replied, “Yes, you do have a balance on the card, but you can’t use the money.  The card is closed.”

Excellent customer service would have been to honor the balance since the reminder notice had indeed come from Starbucks and was the accurate amount.  (Truthfully, it was less than $20.)

Bad customer service was to acknowledge the card number and balance remaining as mine and then decline to honor it.  She did not even apologize for an email having been sent by Starbucks regarding the un-used balance. She matter-of-factly stated.  Yes that was your card and that is the balance remaining but there is nothing I can do.  The card is closed.  “Anything else I can do to help you today?”

Guard Your Customer Service Reputation

If you make a mistake, and we all do, acknowledge it and make it right with the customer to the best of your ability.

The old Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” concept is still valid today.

Excellent customer service does win friends and influence people.  Bad customer service influences people to do business elsewhere.

It takes twice as much money to win a new customer as to retain a current customer.

It takes time and effort to build a good reputation.  Enough careless disregard for customers and the reputation can plummet.  I’m certain I am not the only one who received that “balance remaining” email.

Are you seeking more success in your life and career?  Inquire about hiring Elaine Love as a business and communications professional – business coach, presentations coach/trainer and content writer.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/about or www.Elaine4Success.com

 

 

Difficult to Build and Quick to Lose

It takes time and concentrated effort to build a solid reputation.  Unfortunately, that stellar reputation can be damaged far more quickly than it can be built.

In the “pre internet” days of the 1980s and before, it was commonly accepted that one happy customer told 3 and an unhappy customer told 10.  Now with a few keystrokes, an unhappy customer can tell hundreds. 

Remaining diligent about customer service is extremely important.

Starbucks is an excellent company.  Yet even the best can stumble. 

May 1, 2014 I received an email directly from Starbucks reminding me that my Starbucks card ending 6279 has a balance remaining.  After searching my cards and being unable to locate that one, I search Starbucks.com.  Still unable to locate the card, I called customer service.

The woman who answered the customer service line first told me that the card did not exist.  When I explained about the email from Starbucks (addressed to the current and correct email address) she requested to put me on hold.  She came back and said the card did not exist.  I calmly read her the short but specific email.  She requested to put me on hold again.  When she returned, she verified the exact balance remaining on the card and that the card was registered to me.

Now we’re making progress, or so I thought.  She next stated, “That card was closed in 2006.  You have a balance on the card but since the card is closed, you can’t use the balance.” 

“May I ask why I received an email only a few days ago reminding me that I had a balance on the card?”  She replied, “Yes, you do have a balance on the card, but you can’t use the money.  The card is closed.” 

Excellent customer service would have been to honor the balance since the reminder notice had indeed come from Starbucks and was the accurate amount.  (Truthfully, it was less than $20.)

Bad customer service was to acknowledge the card number and balance remaining as mine and then decline to honor it.  She did not even apologize for an email having been sent by Starbucks regarding the un-used balance. She matter-of-factly stated.  Yes that was your card and that is the balance remaining but there is nothing I can do.  The card is closed.  “Anything else I can do to help you today?”

Guard Your Customer Service Reputation

If you make a mistake, and we all do, acknowledge it and make it right with the customer to the best of your ability.

The old Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” concept is still valid today. 

Excellent customer service does win friends and influence people.  Bad customer service influences people to do business elsewhere.

It takes twice as much money to win a new customer as to retain a current customer. 

It takes time and effort to build a good reputation.  Enough careless disregard for customers and the reputation can plummet.  I’m certain I am not the only one who received that “balance remaining” email.

Are you seeking more success in your life and career?  Inquire about hiring Elaine Love as a business and communications professional – business coach, presentations coach/trainer and content writer.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/about or www.Elaine4Success.com

Lessons from Plants

Plants are like people; they don’t like change.  Plants and people resist change even when the change can be in their best interest.  Plants have so many lessons to teach humans.  “What?”

 

Need

Beauty of a rose

Plants teach people health and beauty

 

Think about what plants need.

 

  1.  Light.  Plants like varying degrees of light and sunshine; however they all require some light to grow and thrive.

 

  1. Water.  Without any water, plants will wither.  Just try neglecting houseplants for a few weeks when you are out of town and they will look very sad on your return home.  Ask any farmer who does not have an irrigation system during a period of zero rainfall.

 

  1. Food.  Plants draw nutrients from the soil, fertilizer, and plant food.  The leaves on my numerous houseplants grow smaller when they do not receive nourishment for a long period of time.

 

Each summer, the larger geranium pots leave the comfort of the bay windows and travel outside to the deck to bask in the warm rays of summer sunshine.  Admittedly, they do complain when they encounter an unwelcome hail storm or intense wind.  They have a right to be upset.  The marvel is that they all recover, expand and flourish beyond their original magnificent blooming mass.

 

Change

 

By early October, their leaves are starting to shiver in the evening and it is time to readjust to the inside atmosphere.

 

Plants respond with yellow leaves and sometimes with an unexpected cricket nesting in the plant.  That is undoubtedly a surprise to the plant, cricket and myself; we all adjust.  If possible, the cricket gets transported back outside.

 

Plants readjust and thrive to bloom and flourish all winter.

 

Plants and People

 

Light – Throughout all of documented history, highly successful people have walked outside.  Being outside in the fresh air, moving and gazing far away has been a common behavior pattern of highly successful people.  There is something about the sun’s rays which warm not only the body but also the soul and the creative instinct.  The one exception which comes to mind was Howard Hughes; if you recall, he had become such a hermit that when he passed away the Treasury Department had to confirm his identity with fingerprints.  People need light, preferably natural light outside.

 

Highly successful people recognize the value of light, fresh air, and exercise as important contributing factors to fresh ideas.

 

Water – The average human body is 57 to 60 percent water.  According to the Mayo Clinic, your body depends on water to flush toxins from vital organs and carry nutrients to your cells, especially the ears, nose and throat.  Lack of water can lead to dehydration and loss of energy.  Can you really afford to deplete your energy? Personally high energy allows me to accomplish my daily tasks, both personally and professionally.

 

How much water do you need?  Exercise, climate and your individual body determine the ideal amount of water for you.  Every day our bodies lose water through breathing, perspiring and bodily elimination.  The average recommended intake for men is thirteen cups per day; the average recommended intake for women is nine cups per day.  Nine cups equals two quarts plus one eight ounce cup.  Thirteen cups equals three quarts plus one eight ounce cup.  The commonly reported recommendation is eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day which equals two quarts. The amount is probably because eight times eight is easy to remember.

 

This is also why it is so important to have fresh clean water available to people all over the world.

 

Food – The value of nutrition cannot be underestimated.  Nutrition companies, juice drinks, vitamins, and whole food supplement products flood the market and permeate the air waves on a daily basis.  This cures belly fat and that cures overweight or loss of energy or loss of sexual prowess.  Pills, juices, lotions and potions flood the market.  Why?  It sounds as if people would rather take a chemical substitute rather than eat properly.  The debate on organic verses genetically modified is another issue.

 

The one common factor is that all agree on the importance of proper nutrition.  The difference is how they recommend that people ingest that nutrition.

 

Just as plants need nutrition, so do humans.  Malnutrition statistics by country range from 53.3 percent to zero.  United States is one percent; there are 49 countries with a better rating than the United States.  It is shocking to know that Greece, United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, Germany New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, South Korea, Australia, Hungary, Iceland, Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Viet Nam, Japan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Belgium, and Sweden all rank better than United States; we are reportedly the richest nation and yet we have deaths from malnutrition.

 

Change

 

Plants resist change.  Humans seem to resist it more and we possess the power and ability to execute change.  Highly successful people welcome change.

 

If these facts on light, water and nutrition did not receive your attention to the need to change our behavior, what will it take?  Plants have lessons to teach people about how to be healthy, thriving and beautiful.  Plants can rebound from nature’s storms, insufficient water or poor nutrition, so can people.  We have the intelligence to make wise choices with our light, water and nutrition.  We can change.  We can be healthy, productive and flourishing.  Highly successful people make a choice followed by action.

 

Have questions about maximizing your energy and potential productivity?  Let me help.  Join me at www.Elaine4Success.com or www.ElaineSpeaks.net.  Hire Elaine Love as your coach and as the keynote speaker or workshop leader for your next event.  Whether you are seeking to improve your career situation, personal life or gain more expertise with effective persuasion, hiring a coach will assist you.  Time is slipping away, live the life you are destined to live.

Unconsciously Harming Our Families

We are unconsciously harming our families.  Almost a decade ago I met Deanna Latson, devilGoToHealth.com.  Pronounce that carefully.  Deanna speaks on college campuses and organizations throughout the world.  Her focus is eating healthy and living in a healthy environment.

 

Even though I knew she was right and made minor changes to my diet: eliminating my daily diet Pepsi, cutting back on dairy (She advocates eliminating cheese; I’ve cut back considerably, but not totally eliminated cheese.), and eliminating as many processed foods as possible.  Even though my diet was healthy and my exercise routine was extensive, these changes improved my quality of life.

 

The major impact hit when my small grandson was diagnosed with Celiac.  Now the toxins in life became personal.  Even though it had been around me, I had not noticed how many of my friends and their family members suffered from various allergies and diseases – all of which were intensified by using harmful household products.

 

New awareness awakened the information Deanna had presented years earlier and increased my desire to locate a source of healthy household products which were convenient to purchase and economical without sacrificing quality.  After about six months of searching, the answer finally appeared.

 

Amazing how something can be in front of you for years, but it has to become personal before the total impact hits.  If you have listened to the Tread Climber commercial, you heard, “You could have changed your life way earlier.” I feel the same way about the toxins.

 

My life has improved, my grandson’s life has improved and the lives of so many of my friends have improved.  All because of a wake-up call and taking action.  To my delight, the cost is actually less than the harmful products.  Who knew?  If I can help you by sharing my research, please contact me.

Fabulous 5 Daily Activities

Taxes are going up.  ObamaCare continues to roll out more complications, contingencies and costs.  The

Push past emotional blocks

Push past emotional blocks

dollar is losing its former high status in the world economy.  Our national debt is rising.  Is all the news doom and gloom?  No.  As entrepreneurs, we still have a business to run; ideally running that business at a profit.  What can we do?

 

Running Your Business? 

 

How many times have you reached a point in your business when you experienced a bit of a slump in profits?  What did you do about it?

 

During the initial growth days of Mountain Castles, I was focused from morning until night calling on Realtors, devising new ways to attract clients and servicing the clients already under contract.  The business of running the business soon consumed all of the time and active personal marketing dwindled.

 

We know what happens when marketing decreases.

 

What Worked Before?

 

Go back to the basics.  What activities were you doing when your business worked the best?  Chances are that you were doing one or more of the “Fabulous 5” Daily Activities.

 

  1. 1.      Daily action plan

 

At least the night before write out the most important tasks to be accomplished the next day and exactly what time you would dedicate to each activity.  Follow through.  (My preference is to lay out my entire week on Sunday for the upcoming week.  Each primary activity has its time slot.   Non-business emails and phone calls are ignored during that time.  Turn your phone off and minimize your email program.)

 

  1. 2.      Prioritize Activities According to Goals

 

If the activity will advance you toward the achievement of your goals, do it.   If the activity takes you away from your primary goal, eliminate it.

 

Are your goals written?  Thoughts about goals rather than written goals are merely wishes.

 

Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).

 

Specific Goal – weigh 120# by June 30, 2013

 

Measurable – scales do not lie (no fair standing with one foot on the floor or in the air.)

 

Attainable – if the current weight is 130, a reduction of 10 pounds in 105 days is certainly attainable.  If the current weight is 230, that goal would not be attainable without surgery.

 

One or two pounds reduction per week would certainly be within reason.  Gradual weight reduction is more likely to stay off.  Note, I did not say lose weight; if you lose it, you may find it again.

 

Relevant – A goal to weigh less at precisely the time you open a chocolate shop would be a conflict.

 

Timely – The specific goal included a completion date.  Setting checkpoints along the route is advisable.  In the example above, the weight reduction was one pound every ten days; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

 

Analyze each of your goals according to this formula.  Since it is difficult to go in multiple directions at the same time, it is recommended to set a maximum of three main goals with every minor goal tying directly to one of the three major goals.  In the weight loss example, it could be exercising three times per week.

 

  1. 3.      Income Producing Activity

 

Lead generation and following up on leads fills the sales funnel.  It is a simple progression – marketing – leads – follow up with leads – sales – delivery of goods or services – customer service – profit – repeat orders.

 

Regardless of the marketing method: paid online marketing, social media, printed marketing, or personal contact marketing, leads must be generated.  Income producing activities are critical every day.

 

  1. 4.       Personal Development

 

Customers always relate to you first and the product second.  Unless you are the only possible source for the product and they desperately have to have the product, buyers purchase from the salesperson who emotionally connects with them.  Patricia Fripp, first female president of the National Speakers Association said, “You only have to connect with your audience emotionally if you want them to remember you and what you said.”

 

Personal development is knowing yourself.  Celebrate what is going well in your life and constantly strive to improve other elements one by one.  Personal development is key to a peaceful and productive life.

 

Journaling, meditating, listening to educational/inspirational/thought-provoking material, reading books and magazines with informative content and attending motivational seminars all enhance the opportunity for personal development.  Invest in yourself by completing the exercises in Emotional Ice Water.  The best information in the world will not help you unless you take action and apply it to your life.

 

  1. 5.      Cultivate an Attitude of Success

 

When you believe in yourself, believe the best in others, associate with positive minded leaders, and take action on those constructive thoughts, you will progress.  Bob Moawad said, “You can’t make footprints in the sands of time if you are sitting on your butt.”

 

Think positive, take action and achieve your goals.

Failure was not an Option

As a single mother with two young boys, earning a living was not optional.  There had to be a better way than working

Small Business Marketing Outlook

Small Business Marketing Outlook

from 11 pm until 7 pm seven days a week making donuts.  Bakeries, hair salons or bars tend to stimulate conversations.  Tourists, enthralled with the charming ski resort atmosphere, verbalized their desire to purchase a vacation home in the picturesque valley.  Realtors were certainly anxious to accommodate the potential purchasers.  The stumbling block was the lack of property management for single family homes.  Ski resorts not only have significant snowfall but that was the winter with 40 and 50 degree below zero temperatures.  Would you leave a half million dollar investment vacant for most of the year in those conditions?  Neither would they.

 

Idea Formation

 

The idea of starting a property management company specializing in single family homes kept nudging at the edge of my mind.  “Elaine, you don’t know anything about property management.  You don’t have the money to start a company like that.  You’ll need vehicles, equipment, and a real estate broker’s license.”  As if my own negative self-talk wasn’t enough discouragement, the comments from friends, family and business associates ranged from “That’s a dumb idea” to “You’ll go broke.”

 

Start-up Requirements

 

Call it naive, call it reckless, or call it desperate to sleep at night instead of work all night.  I sold the bakery at the end of ski season and enrolled in Colorado Real Estate Institute in Denver.  After six weeks of attending classes all day and studying all night and weekend, I passed the all-day test.  It felt so good to go home and retrieve my sons from the babysitter.

 

There was $4,537.32 to cover all start-up costs including school, purchasing a Jeep Cherokee to transport maintenance and housekeeping equipment and tourists.  Talk about a l-e-a-n start-up.  Failure was not an option.  The boys and I were “all chips in.”

 

Application

 

Now the work began.  Technical book knowledge helps, but the practical application is quite different.  Reading about how to ride a bicycle and actually doing it are quite different.

 

My first reservation was March.  Looking back, it was foolish to agree to receive payment upon check- in.  All of the preparations were ready.  The guest didn’t show.   I never made that mistake again.  Going forward, everything had to be paid at least thirty days prior to arrival.

 

The other property management companies also listed and sold real estate.  Presentations were made to each real estate company promising not to sell but strictly manage; in exchange they agreed to send referrals to me.

 

Challenges

 

Confidence soared with each new rental or property owner prospect and plummeted when a long dry spell ensued between new clients.  Creating a successful start-up on a tissue paper thin budget has its emotional as well as financial challenges.

 

The discouraging remarks of “It’s a dumb idea.  You’ll go broke” continued to pour in from all sides.  Each remark chipped a notch in my confidence but failure was not an option.

 

One day the Federal Marshalls called, “Elaine, the property you manage on Elk Ridge Lane now belongs to us.  Officer Tafoya will be out tomorrow.”  The owners appeared to be successful venture capitalists operating a car rental agency in Florida; there were no clues about their other venture.   The property went from successful rental to zero in an instant.

 

Growth

 

Eventually Mountain Castles outgrew the tiny dark office in my home and acquired an attractive office building location and employees.  The strategic plan was that the management fees for the homes and the commission from long term renters would cover all overhead.  Once overhead was secure and a financial cushion was tucked away, it was time to expand  into vacation rentals.  This venture required an entirely new target market for tourists and vacation rental homes, significant additional procedures including housekeeping and a complete reservation system.  The highest profit was in vacation rentals but also the highest risk and highest personnel requirement.  Welcome back the skittish nerves, but failure was not an option.

 

Remember when I foolishly thought that property management would be less hours?  No one locks themselves out between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday; it is always in the middle of the night.  The record was four times in one night by the same man; beverages were involved.

 

A solopreneur start-up was hard on my sons.  We did not have one uninterrupted holiday together in over fifteen years.  An owner or renter always needed something.  Rather than asking employees to work on holidays, the boys and I covered.

 

Innovation

 

Have you ever been at the crossroads where your business needed to grow or go?  That point came in 1994.  Competition was intense.  Going back to college thirty years after graduation brought its own set of doubts and fears.  Working full time, attending classes in the evening once a week for three years, and studying consumed my life.  There was a buzz in the air about the internet and email.  The idea occurred to design a web page and advertise reservations for property management on the internet.  A friend designed the page; it was the first web page in Routt County.  Thirteen weeks and many tweaks later, it generated its first reservation.  My master’s thesis, published in 1997, had three years of Mountain Castles history in it detailing the project of marketing reservations on the internet.  That crazy idea earned Mountain Castles the First Resort International “Innovator of the Year” award.

 

If self-doubts or the discouraging words of others had been allowed to stop Mountain Castles, that award would not have been received.  Failure is not an option.

Marketing on a Budget

 

Clutching at straws to make a marketing budget?

Following the crowd may work for some things, but not for marketing.  People flock to the “latest and greatest” and the price goes up as the market demand goes up.  Unfortunately, the results do not necessarily follow the upward trend of the prices. Be creative and ahead of the pack.

 

If everyone is doing it, it must be a good idea.

 

Warren Buffett, an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist, is widely considered to be the most successful investor of the 20th century.  He is reported to have said that if everyone is doing something, do the opposite.  If it was a good idea, it is not a good idea any longer.

 

Even though Warren was speaking of investing, this works for marketing as well.  When pay-per-click first came out, it was “the new shiny idea.”  Prices were cheap and results were good.  Soon it became very expensive to obtain any positive results. When email first became popular, it was unique and effective.  If your inbox is like mine, it is now clogged with a few hundred emails a day.  Unfortunately, far too many of those are junk.

 

The world is going mobile.  Text is more current than email.  Mobile GPS works better than pay-per-click.  Stay with the curve or ahead of it.

 

What is the best idea for 2013 marketing? 

 

Business logic has remained constant for decades.  The methods, trends and implementation have changed but business principles are just that, solid principles.

 

Business magnates have subscribed to a philosophy of using the proven as their main focus while testing a new idea as their secret to success since the beginning of time.

 

Proven Successful Marketing Principles

 

Define your target audience.  Exactly who is your product designed to benefit?  Who will pay to receive the solution your product offers?

 

An anti-wrinkle face cream would probably be targeted to women age 30 – 60 living in middle to upper class neighborhoods in a metropolitan area.  Narrowing down your target market may seem limiting but it actually helps you focus your advertising on exactly the message that audience would want to hear.

 

What message would they want to hear?  They want proven results.  They want testimonials of people they know and trust who have used the cream and received positive results.  They want to know how long it will take to receive their desired result.

 

Determine when your customers want your product.  Starbucks coffee ads would be highly effective in the morning.  Selling a comfortable mattress would be well timed in the evening or early morning; having people view the ad when they are ready for a good night’s sleep or did not have a restful night.

 

In a ski resort, marketing ads would be most effective in late summer when the property management companies are placing all of their marketing for the upcoming ski season.

 

Catch the potential customer at the time they are ready to purchase or immediately before they are making a buying decision.

 

Make it easy to find you

 

Google is a wonderful tool for research, but unless your business pops up quickly on a smartphone, you may be lost in cyberspace.  Our world is mobile.  Include your address, a map to locate you and your main focus as a keyword. If they are hungry for a pizza, be certain that your name and location pops up on their phone.

 

If you don’t pop up when they are ready, it is as if you do not exist.

 

It does not cost you any more to include a few key details like your address and phone.  Make wise use of your marketing dollars.

 

Know your target market.  Know the message they want to hear and make it easy for them to find you.

Appearance Counts, Especially for the Owner of a Start-Up

Elaine Love

Dress for Success

The business start-up is more than an idea, a business plan, and initial finances.  Does it sound exciting to be able to work from home in your robe and slippers?  Ok, so you put on jeans, flip flops and a hoodie to go to the bank.  Unfortunately that will not create a successful image.

 

As an entrepreneur you are wearing all of the hats.  You are the President and CEO, the accountant, the receptionist and even the office cleaning and maintenance staff.  You never know who you may encounter on your trip to the bank.  What if you met the banker to whom you had just applied for a small business loan?  What if you met the ideal customer who could make a major purchase of your product or the individual who would refer you to that ideal customer?  Would your attire and manner convey the impression of a successful business owner?

 

Darren LaCroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, considers himself on duty for the client from the time he arrives at the airport to depart for his professional speaking booking.  A future audience member, meeting planner or corporate executive may also be traveling through that same airport at that exact time; they will form an impression which can influence current or future bookings.

 

My speaking and business coaching clients are encouraged to dress business casual with their hair coiffed and clean shoes; females have makeup and the guys are clean shaven.  Does it require extra effort?  Of course.  When you are properly dressed and ready to face the public, you carry yourself just a little more erect.  You smile a bit more and feel better about yourself.

 

As a new entrepreneur, can you really afford to turn away encouragement or financial support?  Probably not.  Did I ever experience such a bitter lesson?  Come with me to Steamboat Springs Ski Resort in Colorado in the early days of Mountain Castles Property Management.

 

It was an especially busy day with tourists departing and new tourists arriving within a few hours for the same five-bedroom homes.  Two housekeepers called in sick.  There wasn’t much choice but to leave my office, put on cleaning clothes and fill the housekeeping gap.  As I stepped into the house, the omen of trouble was immediate.  The sink was piled high.  There is a dishwasher; hadn’t they even washed one dish for the entire week?  My frustration mounted.  One peek into the oven revealed a disaster resembling a burnt out college bond fire.  After a couple hours of scrubbing, it was apparent that there were not enough cleaning materials with me to transform this catastrophe into the sparkling property necessary for the next guests.  I made a hasty dash back to the office to replenish supplies.

 

I entered the office looking especially scruffy and dirty.   I was suddenly face to face with one of my most affluent and impeccably attired female clients.  Neither apologies, explanations, nor excuses could possibly erase my unsavory appearance from her memory.

 

Yes, that appearance error was unavoidable, but what about the avoidable “too much of a hurry to bother” occasions?

 

As the owner, you are making the sales pitch for funding or product sales.  Though you won’t wear a three piece suit to sell products to an auto mechanic shop, it is always respectful to the client to dress up at least as well as they do and preferably slightly better.

 

The old adage of “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” holds ever so true for the appearance of the owner of a start-up.

 

Take the extra time to pay attention to your attire and grooming.  Your future business and future bank account will thank you.

Are you seeking more success in your life and career? Inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation.  Go to  www.Elaine4Success.com or contact Elaine at Elaine@Elaine4Success.com

Connection – The Object of Conversation

Conversations with friends

Connection, not just conversation is Key

Conversations should flow naturally and smoothly.  Relax and be yourself.  The more you are fully engaged and genuinely interested in both the topic and the person to whom you are speaking, the more comfortable it will be for both parties.

 

Key – It is called conversation, not monologue.  Both parties should be participating.

 

How to start a conversation

 

Every conversation is an opportunity for connection.  The people in front of you may or may not be your ideal client, but they may know the perfect client for you.  We are all connected to everyone else by six degrees of separation.  (“Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.”)

 

Questions

 

Questions are excellent conversation starters.  Allison Graham’s article “Hate Small Talk” said, Mastering small talk will help you find common ground to create a mini-bond with new contacts. Small talk may feel trite and unimportant, but it’s the small talk that leads to the big talk.”

 

What questions can you ask which will stimulate conversation and connection?

 

  • What brought you to this event?
  • When you’re not working or networking, what do you enjoy doing?
  • How did you happen to start in your line of work?
  • What organizations do you belong to?  (social, professional, service)
  • What are your vacation plans for this year?  (or holiday plans)
  • Name something positive which happened to you lately.

 

If the conversation lags but you really do not want to end it, be creative.  You know what interests you; keep moving from topic to topic until you find what interests them. Establishing common interests creates connection.

 

Appreciation

 

Comment on an attractive shirt or tie for a man or a blouse or shoes for a woman.  Be genuine.  Men like to be complimented on their attire as much as women do.

 

Mentioning a special award or accomplishment they or a member of their family has recently received is always a positive.  If you can take a photo of them receiving the award or a clipping from the paper and enclose it in your personalized printed note card, it makes a memorable gift.  Your thoughtfulness creates an emotional connection.

 

One of my clients gave me a gift of notepads with my company logo on them as a Thank You gift.  PrintPlace creates custom printed notepads.  These pads become a constant reminder of the appreciation of the giver and a reminder of the high quality of the printer.

You only have to connect emotionally if you want them to remember you.  People remember how you make them feel more than they remember your words.  Note cards create emotional connections; thoughtful notes are excellent follow up reminders of your conversation.

 

What Not to Say

 

Avoid Foot in Mouth Syndrome

 

Intense discussions about work, politics, religion or sensitive social issues are taboo – totally unacceptable.

 

Don’t always have to be right.  I once dated a man who said he was “often wrong but never in doubt.”  Even if you know you are right, this may not be the time to push the issue.  You will not win points.

 

When is it Time to Move On to the Next Person?

 

Body Language

 

Shifting feet, glances around the room and disengaged behavior in the conversation all say “It’s time to move on.  This conversation is over at this time.”

 

Smooth Transitions

 

If you are the one who desires to move on, offer to introduce them to “Ms or Mr X.”  It is a smooth transition and will most likely be viewed as helping them.

 

If you have made a solid connection, ask when they would like to get together for a cup of coffee and continue the conversation.  This is the perfect time to offer your business card.  Pull out your smart phone and coordinate calendars for your follow up meeting.  Make a note of the follow up time, date and a conversation note on their business card.  Ideally, they will make a similar note on your business card.

 

Be conscious of focusing genuine attention on them.  Ask engaging questions, make eye contact, give a firm but not crushing handshake, confirm common values and interests, listen and be appreciative.  Remain aware of body language both positive and negative.  Connect emotionally.  Make a smooth transition out of the conversation just as you made a smooth transition into the conversation.

 

 

 

 

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”Elaine spoke to our top leaders from 8 states, she gave us new and positive ways to connect with people
which is EXACTLY what we wanted. Thanks Elaine”
-Tom Fajardo, State Farm