Excellence Expected: Small Business Action - Define, Challenge & Conquer Your Biggest Issues!
Summary: Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @MrAsquith - get in touch with any feedback to be featured in the show! Define, challenge and conquer the BIGGEST issues facing the modern small business owner. With powerful episodes from the world's finest business experts, each episode challenges one specific issue and provides detailed, actionable takeaways that you can implement immediately within your business. Featuring John Lee Dumas, Guy Kawasaki, Rand Fishkin, Jeff Sanders and Dragons' Den's Doug Richard along with multiple thought leaders, global business people and numerous NY Times / Amazon best-selling authors, Excellence Expected exists to help you live the life you want by dominating the problems that face every entrepreneur on their journey. This isn't just another interview podcast, this is the straight-talking, accountable and actionable show that features one problem, one expert and multiple solutions every single episode. Don’t forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!
In this episode I discuss why I’m putting Excellence Expected on a hiatus. For more information, read “Why I Stopped Podcasting & 5 Lessons I Learned Along The Way“. Don’t forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!
How would you define the entrepreneurial spirit? Would it be the ability to zone in on problems and provide solutions? Would it be the knack of finding exactly the right product that flies off the shelves as soon as it’s stocked? Or would it be a flair for marketing and salesmanship? Well, all of those are part of it, but according to our guest on this episode of the number one small business podcast, Bob Burg, the entrepreneurial spirit is embodied by those who always strive to bring value to those around them. You can bring value to those around you as a small business owner, but owning your own business isn’t required to have the entrepreneurial spirit. Even if you are working for someone else, you can always strive to bring value to your employer. Working this way could create opportunities for you to become an ‘intrepreneur’, or someone who works to create opportunities for themselves at the same time as for their employer. This can be a great way to get started in business as it means you can focus on your own projects outside working hours without having to worry about how you’re going to cover your expenses. Starting to think of your own enterprise without cutting ties and risking it all is a much more comfortable way of doing things If you’re in business, then providing value for your clients can be the differentiator between you and your competitors. These days, technology has levelled the playing field for most products in terms of price and selection, so providing additional value that can help you stand out from the competition is a must. Bob’s five elements of value are excellence, consistency, attention, empathy and appreciation. If you can show these elements of value during all your client interactions, then you will soon have clients for life. Money is an echo of value! People spend their money where they feel they are getting value. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: Can a subtle shift in focus have a profound effect on my business? About Bob: Bob Burg is a world-renowned speaker, sales trainer and author. His books have sold more than a million copies and his most successful, The Go-Giver, has been translated into more than 20 languages. Bob has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and salespeople achieve their goals by adjusting their focus. Bob’s Actionable Tips: * Learn from others. Cut down your learning curve by learning from other people. Read books, watch videos, listen to talks – always be a learner! * Focus on providing value to others. Don’t focus on the money. Of course, money’s important, but if you really want to make a lot of it, you should be focusing on providing value. By doing this and providing real value, clients will continue coming back to you again and again. Money is an echo of value! * Remember that people will do things for their own reasons. We shouldn’t focus on telling people about us and our business, but on listening to their needs and desires. Top Quotes: * “I define a system as simply the process for predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles. The key is predictability.” * “Anyone can be entrepreneurial whether or not they’ve started their own business.” * “Many hugely successful entrepreneurs started their businesses part-time. They did it in a very comfortable way.” * “It’s about shifting one’s focus from getting to giving.” * “Money is an echo of value. The value must come first.” Bob’s Links: * Bob’s Site (http://www.burg.com/) * The Go-Giver Site (http://www.thegogiver.com/) * The Go-Giver – Bob Burg (http://goo.gl/EWW7HJ) * The Go-Giver Podcast (
Most of us live our lives with a solo economic dependency, meaning that we have only one main source of income. If we aren’t putting in the hours at our jobs or businesses, then no income is being generated. This main source of income is an active income; we need to be there, producing and getting results to make any money. Wouldn’t it be great to have a passive income stream, whereby we could make money without putting in the long hours? Luckily, there are no more ways in which to generate passive income than ever before. We all have remarkable tools at our fingertips that can, we some initial setup, start generating the passive income that can make a difference in our lives. There are plenty of resources online about different ways to start a passive income stream, but perhaps one area that you may not have thought about is real estate. This seems like an area that would require a large investment of time and labour in order to produce any kind of income, but our guest on this episode of Excellence Expected is going to talk us through his experiences and how buying and selling land can be both hugely profitable and largely passive. Mark Podolsky, of The Land Geek, has more than 15 years’ experience in buying and selling raw land in the United States. Mark believes that he now only devotes a couple of hours a week to buying and selling land and the income generated will passively generate over a number of years. In many cases, it’s easy to find out about land on which the property tax has lapsed, meaning land can be bought for much cheaper as it’s clear that the owners no longer want to hold the property. The land can then be sold on with the help of a broker or acquisition manager for cash or through financing, with payments coming in like clockwork over 8-10 years. Say for example that you bought some land for $3,000. You could sell it immediately for perhaps $12,000, or, you could sell it through owner financing over 10 years for $30,000. Every month during that time period, a chunk of largely passive income would be generated. And this is not solely an option for those based in America. Mark has worked with people from all over the world. This model has helped Mark choose and design his own lifestyle as he now works because he chooses to, not because he has to. The certainty that his passive income exceeds his fixed monthly outgoings allows him to devote his time to projects that feels are worthy of his time, such as volunteering, coaching and education. People crave certainty and contribution, and having a passive income like this gives you the certainty you need to be able to contribute to the thing that you are passionate about. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: Creating your first passive income stream. About Mark: Mark Podolsky bought his first parcels of raw land in 2001 and built such a successful passive income that he was able to leave his job only 18 months later. In the intervening 15 years, Mark has made over 5,000 land deals and now runs The Land Geek, which, through podcasts and training courses, aims to pass on the knowledge that he has acquired on the subject. Mark’s joining us on this episode of Excellence Expected to share his story and three actionable tips that can take you closer to generating your first passive income stream. Actionable Tips: * Take imperfect action. If you want to get passive income the first thing you need to take some kind of action. If you get bogged down in doing it perfectly, you’re not going to get it done. This stops so many people in their tracks. Don’t let that happen to you! Take imperfect action and the more you learn, the better you will become. * Get educated. Today’s the best time ever to learn anything. You can use the web to search for great, free resources that will help you create passive income based on your interests and skills. Check out some blogs and podcasts and you will be...
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” We’ve all heard that expression, haven’t we? And it’s a great saying when it comes to the benefits of education and passing on the skills that have served you well. As entrepreneurs we want to help people, solve problems and pass on our knowledge, but there are times when we have to forget this phrase and just give people the fish. Let me explain. Let’s say you’ve been having trouble with your car and you take it in to the garage to find out the problem. The mechanic has a look, a quick tinker under the bonnet, and then he hands you an overall and a spanner. Time for you to learn a little bit about car maintenance! You wouldn’t know what to think, would you? Sometimes we just want the fish and we’re happy to pay someone with more knowledge than us to help us out. In the world of web, design and digital, it’s easy to think that our audience will share our enthusiasm for how things work and products and services that we find innovative. However, what you might find interesting, others may not. Therefore, when thinking of building a business around something, we need to keep in mind the audience, because there’s a risk of spending time, money, and energy on something that there is no market for. The idea that you have may solve a problem, but is it a problem that people are willing to pay to have solved; does it have broad enough appeal? We need to understand their particular pain points and which of your services that they will value. Don’t start off by giving them your tools, give them an end to end experience of how your services could make them and their customers feel. Don’t start the other way around. If they want to know more about your tools and processes, then great, that’s something that you can discuss afterwards. Always show off the very best of your business with an end to end demonstration of how your service could solve clients’ particular problems. A great example of this approach is Apple. The whole experience, from walking into the Apple Store to using your new MacBook for the first time, is a prime example of being given the fish. You don’t need to think about which graphics card, processor or operating system you want. You simply buy the computer and turn it on. Building a new PC, on the other hand, can feel like a lesson in big game fishing that not everyone wants or needs. The vast majority of people want a computer that allows them to do what they want with the minimum of fuss. When dealing with clients, remember that while some people want to learn how things are done, most people just want to be given the fish! Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: Which is the right approach with clients? Actionable Tips: * Ask customers what they really want. Let them tell you about their problems rather than pitching to them. Most people will say your idea is great just to be nice and not to hurt your feelings. Letting them discuss their specific problems is so much more valuable because you can then set out to provide tailored solutions. Ask as many people as you can so you can to start spotted trends. * Learn whether they are willing to pay for it. You audience may complain about a particular problem, but is it big enough of a problem for them to actually pay for it? * Give them the fish! Don’t try and teach anyone, don’t consult them on it, just give them the solution that will solve the problem that they are experiencing. Teach them how to use the solution, make the most of the solution but not how to build the solution. Top Quotes: * “We pay for convenience, we pay for value: we pay to be given the fish.” * “We find an idea and we stick on it without talking to people and we end up creating a product or service that people don’t necessarily want or need. Or,
When running a small business, it can be hard to say no to new opportunities that present themselves. Your friends and colleagues will always be introducing their latest ideas to you and deciding which ones are deserving of your time can be tough. Entrepreneurs are like magpies, dazzled by the latest shiny new object. We love to find innovative new ways of solving problems, useful products and the next big thing in services. And that’s all part of the fun of being an entrepreneur, but if we’re not careful, we can end up committing our time to too many projects and spreading ourselves too thinly. Formulating ideas are often the most exciting part of new businesses, those one sentence pitches that capture the imagination and set the cogs turning in our minds. However, this excitement can blind us from the reality of developing an idea into a business. Ideas, as exciting as they are, are cheap. It’s the execution that takes an idea and makes it a realistic business proposition. And execution can be difficult, time-consuming and costly and there are no guarantees that they’ll be any return on our efforts. We all want to find new opportunities and grow as entrepreneurs but taking on every new opportunity will dilute our attention, time and money. How, then, can we assess each new opportunity to see if it’s something that’s right for us at this moment in time? Well, I’ve found that if I’m really honest about my ultimate goal or goals in life and business, then by asking just one simple question, I can decide what’s right for me right now and what I need to pass on. Everyone’s ultimate goal is going to be different and remember this is an ultimate goal, not just a goal for the next year or even the next five years. This should be a goal for the next ten or twenty years. Maybe your ultimate goal is to run a business that lets you spend more time with your family. Maybe it’s to create a business that allows you to be location independent. Or maybe it’s to retire before you’re 50 years old. Whatever your ultimate goal is, you need to be certain of it and you need to keep it in mind when an opportunity arises. The question that you need to ask yourself about any new opportunity is this: By saying yes to this, am I going to get closer to or further away from my ultimate goal? By asking this question, we can validate new opportunities against ourselves and our long term goals. It helps us to say yes or no to things with some confidence and not just through arbitrary feelings. Whether we say yes or no, this question leaves us in a much better position that simply going with our gut. Perhaps we say yes because we think that the opportunity will take us closer to that ultimate goal. Great! And if we say no, we know that we are saying no because we’ve assessed the opportunity against what we want to achieve in the long term. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I better assess and deal with opportunities as they arise? Actionable Tips: * Have a very clear plan where you want to be in 10-20 years and set your ultimate goal. What is your ultimate goal? You need to create stepping stones to that ultimate goal and you can’t do this without having a clear idea of what it is. Is it financial freedom? Is it to have the flexibility to spend more time with your family? Is it to be a billionaire? Everyone’s ultimate goal is going to be unique to them. * Never turn down the opportunity to listen to an idea. Don’t turn away opportunities because you feel too busy. Listen to pitches, get the facts and learn as much as you can. Let people tell you what they have in mind. Listening to an idea is in no way a commitment and you never know when you are going to come across the next opportunity that will take you closer to your ultimate goal. * Validate opportunities against yourself. Ask yourself if the opportunity will take you closer to or further away from the ultimate...
The growth of the tech startup scene over the last decade has brought the idea of the pivot to the attention of entrepreneurs worldwide. A company pivots when it moves from one business model to another. Uber, YouTube and Twitter are just a few of the big names that came about when their creators pivoted from their original ideas. The reasons behind why companies pivot are varied and unique to each original business and it can be a tough process as I have recently found out through personal experience. If you’ve been following the podcast and my Startup Diaries, you’ll know that I’m currently on the Ignite accelerator program with Adam and our app, Cavalry. Well, Calvary has been shelved for the time being. After a lot of soul searching, it was decided that we wouldn’t be able to get the most out of the 14 week Ignite experience with a service that required us to build a double-sided marketplace, one of the toughest business models out there. This left us with three choices. Go home, create something new in the same space as Cavalry or come up with something completely new. Going home and wasting a fantastic opportunity was never on the cards and creating something new in the same space meant that some of the same issues would be still be present. Therefore, we’ve pivoted and created something new and exciting in hardly any time at all that has not only reinvigorated us but has also received great feedback from the Ignite mentors. And that is a huge relief, because the idea of pivoting a business can be difficult to wrangle with. Firstly, it’s easy to think that you’ve somehow failed and it can be difficult discussing the pivot with others as you think they might judge. They won’t, of course, but it can be hard to quiet your own mind which is often more critical of you than anyone else in the world. A pivot is a positive reaction to something that wasn’t right. A failure might be walking headfirst into something that you knew wasn’t right, but it’s certainly not making a positive change based on new information. It’s also easy to think of your idea that’s not working at the moment as rubbish, as something that will never work. It’s easy to think that but it’s not true. You’ve put a hell of a lot of work into that idea and it may not be right at this moment in time, but there’s no need to destroy all your hard work and bin your idea. Put your idea on a shelf and keep it ready for when the time is right. If you thought it was a good idea at some point, then it’s a good idea, wait for conditions to change. A pivot can be tricky and it can feel a little painful, but it needn’t. It’s a sensible, positive change in direction based on validated learning and new feedback. Onwards and upwards! Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I deal emotionally with pivoting my business? Actionable Tips: * Don’t judge yourself or be afraid of telling people that you are pivoting. A pivot is not in any way a failure. A pivot is a change in direction based on validated learning and feedback. It’s a positive reaction and something that you should do if things aren’t right. * Don’t destroy your idea. Perhaps the time isn’t right for your idea at the moment, but if you place it on a shelf, it will be ready for you when the time is right. Don’t destroy your idea because you can’t see it working. You may run into an opportunity or a person that give the idea new life. When that time comes, you will be ready to go. * A pivot is a huge learning curve. Pivoting your business can give you some of the most valuable business knowledge that you will ever receive. After you’ve pivoted, take some time out to record all of your thoughts and experiences about the process. This will allow you to get everything out and realize that a pivot is in no way a failure. Secondly, it will allow you to take a step back and learn a great deal from all of your experiences.
Running a small business at the same time as looking after a family can place huge demands on your time. Add in a couple of hours a week (if you’re lucky!) for yourself and there really isn’t a great deal of time to deal with anything unexpected or urgent. If something like that occurs, something is going to get bumped and you’re going to be in trouble in one or more areas of your life. Productivity, therefore, is always on an entrepreneur’s mind. But are you thinking about productivity in the right way? Is productivity just a to-do list of activities to get done before 9 o’clock? Or is it something much deeper? On this solo episode of Excellence Expected, I’m going to take you through what I believe productivity to be and how I strive to be more productive every day in my own life. Actually, I don’t really like using the word ‘productivity’ as I feel that it gives people the idea that productivity is an end point, a destination. If you want to be able to run 10 miles, you have a defined goal in mind and once it’s been achieved you can move on to your next target. Job done! Productivity isn’t like that though. As you, your business and your life change, what it means to be productive will change too. Even if you’re doing the same things every day, there will always be ways in which you can improve your impact. There will always be new ways you can experiment with your working processes and time management. In my mind, productivity is a continuous process of development and, for me, ‘productivity optimization’ is a better way to think of it. It’s a deeper mind-set that you adopt not a series of quick and easy hacks! Seeing productivity as a process of optimization allows you to constantly break new ground in how you use your time effectively. It allows you to experiment, test out new ideas of how best to use your time, and win back some precious time for yourself. Giving yourself the time and space to test out new ways of doing things can be difficult, especially if you are working with other people who are frequently looking to you for guidance or support. On the journey of productivity optimization, you need to be a little ruthless with your time. Perhaps people come to you for help because they know that you will drop everything to help them out. Of course, we all want to help people, but you need to ask if their request can wait half an hour, an hour, or until this afternoon? More often than not, it can wait and by putting people off temporarily you will have created a buffer around yourself that will allow you to focus on your most important and urgent tasks. There are going to be times when you need to drop everything, but the vast majority of requests can be handled a little later. Productivity is a journey, not a destination and productivity optimization requires testing, tweaks and refinements every day to get the most from your time. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I manage to stay productive when there are so many demands on my time? Actionable Tips: * Treat productivity as a journey, not a destination. People often treat productivity as something akin to a fitness goal, something that has defined parameters. Productivity is not a promised land that we reach, it is a process that continues every day. We should all be striving for continually productivity optimization. Measure and test new tweaks to find out what works and what doesn’t. Each day can be a step towards further optimization. * Don’t treat your different projects and work outlets as siloes. Put all of your work from your different projects into one pot and prioritize each of the tasks that you need to do based on their urgency and importance. By keeping everything together and not trying to split your time into different segments. This can not only make you more effective, it can also make you feel better throughout the day. * Don’t listen to the noise.
Differentiating your business from a whole host of competitors can be tough and most of us fall back on what we think we should say when asked how our company differs from the rest. ‘We offer a professional service to the highest standards of quality.’ But your competitors say that too! ‘Our prices offer fantastic value.’ Well, unfortunately the prices of your main rivals do as well. What is the real and valuable difference between your business and any other in the same crowded marketplace? This is exactly the issue that we are challenging on this episode of Excellence Expected and joining us to offer his expertise is Andy Hanselman. Andy believes that the most successful businesses ‘Think in 3D’ meaning that they are ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’. That is, that the difference between them and their main competitors is geniune and valuable to their customers. Thinking in 3D goes beyond the platitudes that many of us are guilty of using when describing how our businesses stand out from the crowd. Not every business already has a difference to work with but it’s something that you can work on in a number of ways. Consider your ideal client and think about what you would need to do to attract and keep them. If you can narrow in on the customers that you find ideal, you will be able to differentiate yourself within your niche by doing everything you can to make a particular type of client happy. That will attract more clients of the same type. The best differences are those things that your competitors aren’t doing or, even better, can’t do! If you can provide these things, then you will be one step ahead of the rest. If you still think that you and your business are just like others in your industry then remember the power of your personality. You may be selling the same products at the same prices as the business next door, but how you deal with clients is unique to you. Make sure to delight your customers with deeply memorable customer service and you could well have them as clients for life! Listen to this episode of the number one small business podcast to hear more about Andy’s philosophy and what you can do to differentiate your business from the rest. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I differentiate my business from those of my competitors? About Andy: Andy Hanselman is a consultant, business coach, public speaker and author with over 20 years’ experience of helping businesses achieve more. Throughout his career, Andy has seen that it’s the businesses that ‘Think in 3D’ that succeed. These are the businesses that are ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’ from their competitors. Andy’s joining us on this episode of the number one small business podcast to discuss how you can stand out from the crowd, create remarkable experiences for your customers and build the culture you want and need for your business. Actionable Tips: * Choose ‘em or lose ‘em. Identify who your best customers are. How you measure best is going to be different for everyone, but think about value for money and value for time. Work together with your staff and get their feedback. Once you’ve identified your best clients, work out what’s important to them and adapt your business to suit. * Create a dialogue with your best customers. Open up to your customers and ask them the reasons why they do business with you as opposed to your competitors. Ask them their opinion on what makes you special or even what they would like to see you do better in the future. Your customers have a wealth of information that can help you create a more 3D business, all you need to do is ask! * Stand in your own queues. Experience what it’s like to be a customer of your business. Ring up, check the website or sit in the foyer. See things as your customers do and you’ll be able to remove some of the blind spots that you have about your own business.
Taking out a loan can be daunting process. Whether it’s a mortgage for your first home or a new car, there are a lot of details to keep in mind when looking for the best possible financing option. When applying for a loan for your small business, it can be even more confusing. You may only need the loan for a short time or you might work alongside partners which can further complicate matters. Joining us on this episode of Excellence Expected is David Waring, who is going to offer his expertise of this very important small business topic and tell us what we should look for when considering finance and what we should avoid. One of the main issues when small business owners start looking for a loan is that most of us don’t know the best type of financing for our businesses. There are so many different providers, all with different terms. What’s more, new financing avenues are becoming popular. Peer-to-peer lending has grown in popularity in recent years alongside the growth of the internet and this democratization of finance of seen many new providers enter the market. With so much information to consider, applying for a loan can seem like a minefield. David’s advice is to plan ahead as best you can. If you can give yourself more time to consider all of the different options, you’ll be able to do more homework on various deals and hopefully find the best financing option for your business. You’ll also be able to make sure that your finances are in order, which can give you a better chance of getting a better deal. Of course, that’s not always possible and there are always going to be times when we are caught off-guard by life and business. Bear in mind though that the faster that you need money, the more that you will have to pay for it. Financing can be a complicated and stressful process so David’s overarching advice is to do your research, take your time and plan ahead! You need to research the cost of the loan thoroughly so that you know the true cost of what you’re getting into. Know the payment terms and make sure that you can pay the loan back early if that’s what you want to do. Keep your financial records up-to-date and your taxes in good shape. This makes your business a much more attractive prospect to lend to. Finally, plan ahead if at all possible! Maybe you don’t need any financing right now, but perhaps you can envisage some growth or some expenses in the next six months. Get the ball rolling as the best value loans often take the longest to apply for. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I find the best loan for my business? About David: David Waring is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fit Small Business and Fit Biz Loans. He has a wealth of experience in small business management and marketing. David’s site helps more than 300,000 small business owners every month cut through all the jargon and get right to the important information. The site includes in-depth articles, reviews and how-to guides about almost every small business topic. Fit Biz Loans offers excellent advice to small business owners as well as low rate business loans. Actionable Tips: * Know the cost in terms of APR and total amount before taking out a loan. This is the single most important aspect to consider when it comes to small business financing. It can be easy to dive into something in times of need but you can end up tying yourself up in knots for the next decade or more! * Make sure you have your finances in order before applying for a loan. If there is money coming into your business that is not on your tax return, then the banks or financing providers will not take it into consideration when assessing your suitability for a loan. Your taxes should be done and you should have an up to date balance sheet to show that your business is in good financial health * If possible, plan ahead! It’s much better to borrow money when you’re able to and ...
Content marketing has become hugely important to small businesses but it can be difficult to create engaging content on a regular basis. Some find it difficult to write blog posts, others find it hard to create imagery and sometimes we don’t even know what to create content about. Not only that, but there are some businesses and industries that are more conducive to content creation than others. How can we get started with effective content marketing so that it has a tangible effect on our businesses? Our guest on this episode of the number one small business podcast is Kate McQuillan. Kate has used effective content marketing to build and grow her business and she’s going to talk us through some of the strategies that can be used by any business to increase visibility and engagement. One of the main problems we face is not knowing what to create content about. Kate’s advice, which can be applied to any kind of business, is to maintain a list of all of the questions that your customers ask. You can go through each question and write a blog post to offer answers and advice. This gives you a huge amount of targeted content as you know that your clients are actively seeking out these answers. They’ve probably Googled the question before asking you, which means plenty of other people will be doing the same thing. Use the question as the title of your blog post and others will find your helpful answers. You needn’t have a flashy infographic to get your start in content marketing, you can simply use your industry expertise to make a start. Soon you will start seeing the benefits in terms of traffic! Another fantastic benefit of content marketing is that it can open channels of communication with prospective clients and existing customers. Engage with those who have read your blog and commented. Get into conversations and find out other areas that they would be interested in. By asking what people want, you can give them exactly that. Soon, you will have shown yourself to be an expert in your field and a small community will be forming around your content. These can both increase your engagement, visibility and, most importantly, then number of your clients! Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I create engaging content to promote my small business? About Kate: Kate McQuillan is the founder of Ireland’s largest pet sitting and dog walking business, Pet Sitters Ireland. Along with her husband Michael, Kate has turned her passion for animals into a very successful and scalable business. One of the main drivers of visitors to their site has been content marketing. In fact, Kate estimates that 70% of visitors arrive at her site via blog posts that she has written. Kate is now using her content marketing expertise to help others in her niche through her new business, Pawsome Media, and her podcast, Pawsome Marketing. Actionable Tips: * Make a list of all the questions that you’ve been asked by your customers. This lets you know the information that your clients are looking for online and the areas that they are concerned about. You can answer all of their questions with blog posts, creating a knowledge bank of great content that will draw more and more people to your business. For the most visibility, title the blog post exactly as the question has been asked. * Create high quality images to be used in every area of your business. Anything that you put out on Twitter, Facebook or blog posts should be accompanied by nice images. Spend a little time to find something eye-catching and make sure your branding is included. This can have a fantastic effect on your levels of engagement. * Engage! Don’t make everything that you publish be about you and your business. Make sure you are engaging with your audience and providing the content that they want. Measure the trends and ask what they would like to see in terms of new content.
The development of social media has made it so easy for all of us to connect and to spread the word about ourselves, our projects and our businesses. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have changed the way we do business and it seems like there’s a new platform coming along almost every week! With all the excitement and accessibility of social media, it’s easy to forget the power that more traditional media holds as a means of growing your business. Our guest on this episode of the number one small business podcast is going to talk through how you can make inroads into traditional media streams and tap into a huge audience that can help your business develop. As soon as something new comes along, plenty of folks believe it spells the end for what went before. Remember when the first Kindle was introduced? It was supposed to be the end of the paperback but books are still around. Diversification doesn’t equal extinction, and the same is true of today’s media. Sure, lots of us like to watch TV on-demand, to cut out everything we don’t want on the radio by listening to podcasts and to cherry-pick the news stories that matter to us online rather than trawling through the newspaper. However, traditional media sources still have the largest audiences of all. Plenty of people still love sitting down to watch the evening news, listen to the radio throughout the day and read their favourite columnists in the papers. These are the comforting, reliable news sources that we’ve grown up with and people are far more likely to trust and believe in something they hear from one of these sources than any other. That’s great, but how on earth can you get your business to be featured in the media? Well, in some respects, it’s an extension of things that you might already be doing. We’re all experts in our industries and we might use the knowledge that we have to answer questions on Twitter, make videos for YouTube or speak at industry conferences. Traditional media channels regularly speak to industry professionals for more information about relevant news stories. Making yourself known to be an expert in a particular area and then making yourself known to particular journalists could lead to an appearance on the radio, local or national TV, or in the newspaper. If things go well, you could become the ‘go-to’ professional for a particular niche. It’s all about letting the right people know your speciality, using some techniques to present yourself and your knowledge well and being available to talk. The potential audience for a couple of minute piece about a news story in your niche is huge and has the potential to make a big impact on your business! Joining us on this episode of Excellence Expected is Pete Walter. Pete has worked as a TV producer for both MTV and BBC News and knows just what it takes to get an appearance in the media. He now runs his own business helping professionals deal with the media and to get the most from a mutually beneficial relationship. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I gain the attention of the traditional media to help my business? About Pete: Pete Walter is a media coach and the founder of Deal with the Media, a platform that aims to help businesspeople of all backgrounds improve their media skills. Pete spent the earlier part of his career as a producer making programs for MTV and the BBC. In 2008, he moved to BBC News where he worked with worldwide stars and experts in almost every field imaginable. Pete’s with us on this episode of the number one small business podcast to discuss the business opportunities that exist or those who feature in traditional media, how you can improve your chances of being invited to contribute and his tips for making your story irresistible. Actionable Tips: * Get active on Twitter. Journalists spend a great deal of time hanging out on Twitter.
How many things are you focusing on right now? If you’re anything like most other entrepreneurs, it is probably far too many and it still might not feel like it’s enough. This magpie syndrome that most of us have is both a gift and a curse. We’re idea machines, but it can be so tough keeping our minds on the task in hand. And if we’re focusing on so many different things, are we really focusing at all? We all want that laser-focus so we can get the most out of our businesses and achieve fulfilment in life. However, we often get caught up in what we feel that we should be doing and not what we actually want or need to do. What is it that you actually want from life? And how are you going to achieve it? You need to be a little bit ruthless with your time and cut out the things that you don’t feel are going to get you nearer to your goals. Remember, only you can define what those goals are. It’s a great idea to get hold of a notebook or use an app to keep track of the things that you want to achieve during each day. Twenty minutes spent planning your tasks in the morning could save you two hours over the course of your working day. Keeping a visual record of your tasks near you during the day is a fantastic way to overcome procrastination and get the most out of your time. Our guest on this episode of the number one small business podcast is the co-founder and CEO of Lemonly, John T Meyer. John has his own criteria for deciding if something deserves the required focus. Perhaps it will be different for you, but it’s something to consider as inspiration is a finite resource. We sometimes need to stop doing something to be able to focus on something else. John’s criteria for working out if a project will be fulfilling are: * 1) Am I learning from this process? * 2) Am I having fun? * 3) Do I enjoy working with these people? Which questions would apply to your goals? Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I find the one thing to focus on? About John: John Meyer is the co-founder and CEO of Lemonly, an innovative visual marketing company that specializes in infographics and data visualization. They aim to make data more digestible for a wider audience and they have worked with a wide variety of clients including the NFL, Smithsonian Museum and The Grammys. John’s here with us on this episode of your favourite small business podcast to discuss focus and productivity, specifically how we can figure out what is most important to us and what we should be spending our time and energy on. Actionable Tips: * Find the 80/20 in your business. Pareto’s Law is a principle that illustrates the uneven balance between inputs and outputs. 80% of the results in your business could come from just 20% of the input. Applying this formula to your business and your life can be incredibly powerful. Grab a piece of paper and draw a T. On the left, write the activities that you do that you feel are a waste of time. On the right, write down the high value activities that you do. These are the activities that really make your business better or life more fulfilled, that really have an impact. You’re probably going to see a lot of rubbish on the left and a few nuggets of gold on the right. This visualization can help you identify what you should be focussing on to improve your life and your business. * 8 for the Day – Spend 20 minutes to save yourself 2 hours. If you spend 20 minutes planning your day, you could probably save 2 hours. You need to maximize your time as best you can. Try this out – In the morning, write down 8 things (6 professional and 2 personal) that you want to achieve that day. If you do this every day, you will see that your focus and productivity improve. * Determine your business’ unfair advantage. What makes you certain that you are going to win? Once you know what it is,
Regardless of who you are or what you do, there are going to be times when you get stuck. It’s an inevitable part of life that everyone goes through from time to time. What’s not inevitable however, is getting unstuck. Some people just can’t get going again and others can’t even tell that they are stuck in the first place. More often than not, the reasons that people get stuck in their personal or professional lives is down to the perceptions that they have of themselves and others. This is especially the case when it comes to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Am I good enough? How is their business doing? Are we on the right track? Many of these thought patterns come from a desire to succeed and are completely natural, but when they start to affect you negatively then you run the risk of getting stuck. Strategic thinking is extremely useful, ruminating on the same things again and again is not. What’s needed when you start to think like this is a shift in perception. Perhaps you’re thinking that that is easier said than done, and you’d be right. But our minds and thoughts can be rewired to perceive things in new and healthier ways more easily than you may have thought. Our guest on this episode of your favourite small business podcast is Emmanuel Wolfe who works a speaker, coach and podcaster. Emmanuel aims to help those who have been stuck change their perceptions of themselves and the situations they find themselves in. Manny’s going to discuss in more detail some powerful techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy and how these techniques can alter how you perceive things by changing the nature of your thoughts and your inner monologue. Changing your perceptions can even be as simple as taking action instead of ruminating, getting some vigorous exercise or connecting with your friends and family rather than hiding away. Remember, pessimists and optimists experience the same events, but different thought patterns determine their perceptions and feeling about these events. Not only are optimists healthier and calmer, but they are also more resilient in the face of adversity. Isn’t it time to get unstuck? Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I get unstuck and shift my perception in order to become deeply effective? About Emmanuel: Emmanuel Wolfe is a podcaster, speaker, coach and author. He specializes in coaching people on how to become their optimal selves through a variety of techniques including the latest in motivational psychology, the latest neuroscience breakthroughs and good old fashioned hard work. Emmanuel is here with us on this episode of the number one small business podcast to discuss how we can change our perceptions of ourselves, our abilities and our pasts to get out of a rut and achieve a new level of excellence. Actionable Tips: * We get caught up in analysis, it turns into analysis paralysis. In most cases, imperfect action is better than no action. If you’re stuck, it’s better to try some things that don’t work than to sit at home and ruminate. Try something, however small it is. Don’t confuse thinking about doing things with actually doing things as some entrepreneurs do. * It clears your head, elevates your mood and releases endorphins. * Connect with others. When you’re stuck, seek help from others. Talk to your friends and family. Reach out. Do something, exercise and reach out. Top Quotes: * “Your message doesn’t mean anything if nobody listens to it.” * “The perceptions are all wrong but we have the ability to rewire them.” * “Not even the paragons of a certain industry will work for everyone.” * “Do something, exercise and reach out!” Emmanuel’s Links: * The Steep Side (http://thesteepside.com/) * Charismatic Beasts FB – Private FB
Creating a business is one thing, but growing a business is quite another. Very few of us are content with ticking along. We all want to experience as much growth as we can and we want to achieve it as quickly as possible. We’ll often try lots of different things to make this happen, but is the key to rapid growth more fundamental than we many of us think? Our guest on this episode of your favourite small business podcast is Jim Palmer, the Newsletter Guru. Jim’s experienced a lot of rapid growth across a number of different business ventures. The key to growth, according to Jim, is to focus on the fundamentals. And there is nothing more fundamental to running a business than the relationship you have with your customers. People get caught up in doing what they think they should be doing and they lose focus of what they actually should be doing. We think we should be using social media to promote the business, getting the website into tiptop shape or designing the perfect marketing materials. These things are all important but they should come after you have focused on, build and nurtured your client relationships. Without solid, genuine relationships with your clientele, you won’t be able to grow as quickly as you would like. New businesses come along every day and it’s those that see serving their customers as an honour that survive and thrive Those who see their customers as just numbers on a balance sheet, do not. If you can cultivate and look after a core customer base, then those customers will do a great deal of organic marketing on your behalf and bring in many new customers through word-of-mouth. People are much more likely to become your customer after listening to the recommendation of a trusted friend than after seeing an advert on social media. Jim’s advice is to take it back to basics. Remember, your customers have the power to fire everyone in your business, so serve every customer well and you could make them customers for life. This is the foundation on which rapid growth is built. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I kickstart my business’s growth? About Jim: Jim is a marketing expert, business coach and the man known worldwide as the Newsletter Guru. Jim also produces a number of business related podcasts and web TV shows that aim to help entrepreneurs build their businesses using his unique brand of smart marketing and growth strategies. Jim has written several books on marketing, growth and client retention and he also speaks at conferences and networking events around the world. Actionable Tips: * Serve first. It’s always about serving your clients. Your customer has the power to fire everyone in your company, simply by deciding to do business elsewhere. It’s an honour to have customers and there is a reciprocal nature to your relationship with them. * Tell them what else. It’s your job to tell your customers what else you do, inform them and let them know how you can serve them. * Raise your prices. Far too many people don’t charge an appropriate amount based on the value they are receiving from the customers’ perspective. Top Quotes: * “Long-term, sustainable, profitable businesses are always built on powerful relationships.” * “You can’t force trust, you’ve got to keep serving and developing your relationships.” * “Authenticity means being who you are in an authentic way as it relates to business.” Jim’s Links: * Jim’s Site (http://www.getjimpalmer.com/) * Exclusive Excellence Expected Content (http://getjimpalmer.com/excellence) Key Timestamps: * [02:13] Challenged Issue * [02:27] Jim’s Introduction * [09:31] The Challenges of Rapid Growth
We all love a good story, don’t we? Whether you enjoy watching movies or the evening news, listening to podcasts or the latest office gossip, stories are everywhere around us, even in business. The very best brands in the world tell us stories through their marketing, design and branding. Lots of small business owners think that storytelling is something that is only for the big boys, but our guest on this episode of Excellence Expected is going to explain why telling the story of your business is essential if you want to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps the most important, and most difficult, time to tell your story is when you are pitching your business to investors. You don’t want to come across as flippant or disrespectful and it seems like it should be an occasion to stick to the numbers and the facts. But this is time when you should be storytelling! People remember stories much more easily than they remember figures. Preparing the story of how your business came about, practicing the story and delivering it confidently can ensure that you and your business make an impact on investors. Using stories allows you to humanize your business and demonstrate that you have empathy with both the investors and your customers. There are several classic archetypes when it comes to storytelling and these models can be used in business just as easily as they can be used on the page or the screen. The following are the archetypes, an example work of fiction and a brand that has used the model in its marketing: * Rage to Riches – Cinderella / Johnnie Walker * Quest – Lord of the Rings / Lexus * Rebirth – It’s a Wonderful Life / Prudential * Adventure – The Wizard of Oz / Expedia Which type of story best describes you and your business? Can you spot other brands that have used these different story models? Once you work out the story you are going to tell, you need to practice delivering the story until it becomes natural and relaxed. Practice when you’re stuck in traffic or even in the shower and soon you’ll be able to tell the story with great confidence. Confidence will lead to you making a genuine, human Connection and if you can connect with the investors, the next step is Commitment. Confidence -> Connection -> Commitment We all tell stories every day, so why not craft one that could capture the attention of investors and help your business grow? John Livesay joins us on this episode of the number one small business podcast to share his thoughts on the importance of storytelling in business and how you can craft the perfect pitch for your business. Issue Challenged in this Small Business Podcast: How can I storify my entire business to solidify my pitch and gain investment? About John: John Livesay is a funding strategist who helps CEOs create a connection with potential investors through compelling storytelling. He also hosts The Successful Pitch podcast which profiles successful startups and reveals insights that can be of help to companies of all sizes. Prior to becoming a strategist, John had a hugely successful, twenty year media sales career with Conde Nast. Not only did he work across each of the company’s 22 brands, but he was also named Salesperson of the Year for 2012. In his new role, John has helped many businesses craft the perfect story for their pitch and he’s with us on this episode of the number one small business podcast to share his tips with us. Actionable Tips: * Be prepared and don’t wing it. Stack your moments of certainty. Get the butterflies in your stomach to fly in formation and remember your superhero pose. These are great tools to help you before the pitch. * Make sure you have a right-brain connection and are telling a story that is compelling and adheres to the classic structure of exposition, conflict and resolution.