May 30, 2011

The 30 Day Entrepreneur Challenge: Networking & Follow-Up

Nothing you can learn in school, online, or through a book can compare to networking. Business is more about who you know than what you know. You can have the greatest product, but if no one knows about it, you're done.

All successful entrepreneurs have strong personal networks. Success doesn't happen in a vacuum. We all need feedback and the more brains, the better. Most people don't consider networking valuable, because it isn't sexy. Networking is hard work. It's like building a relationship. You can't just walk up to someone and try to sell them something. We buy from people we trust. People need to develop trust and that happens over time.  

You can attend several networking events and come away empty. Sure, you have a lot of business cards, but you can't remember anything about the people you met. Instead, create a game plan based on the following questions:

1) What's my goal for networking?

2) What's my style of networking? (Introverts network differently than extroverts)

3) How will I follow up with contacts?

Meeting people may be easy, but what matters is follow-up. Just because you have a name, phone number and a business card doesn't mean much. 

Follow-up by sending an e-mail, call them or set up a time to grab coffee. Be curious about what they do. Be interested in their success more than yours. Listen more than you talk. Offer to help them. People aren't stupid. If you're trying to sell them something, they can smell it.

Building a relationship can be an end in itself. Better you become friends and see where it takes you, than be known as a dirty salesman. 

In summary, think of this as a two part process. 
First, make the effort to connect with others. 
Next, follow-up with the ones you want to get to know better. 
Treating networking as a relationship takes the pressure to perform out of the equation. Sell yourself by being you. If people like you, they're more apt to do business with you. Your network is your greatest asset, build and develop it daily!  

May 23, 2011

The 30 Day Entrepreneur Challenge: The Need for Accountability

Most entrepreneurs aren't short on ideas. The problem is acting on them. It's easy to daydream about possibilities without making any progress. 

Entrepreneurs tend to work in isolation and lack the incentive to finish their goals. 
Enter accountability. The first time I experienced accountability was in a coaching relationship. I felt this need to complete my goals before I talked with my coach. Maybe it was fear of letting him down, yet no matter the motivation, the important part is my goals were achieved.  

Here are some suggestions for creating accountability in your life:

Mastermind Groups
Group accountability not only motivates you to accomplish your goals, but collaborating and brainstorming together can produce sharper, more refined ideas. Mastermind groups create structure by having an agenda and sticking to it. Without structure, you accomplish nothing. Most Masterminds are paid groups offered through an organization. 

Individual Coaching
If you're ready to really start moving, find yourself a personal coach. You set the agenda, pace and goals while the coach keeps you accountable for doing what you say. Think of it like having a personal trainer for your mind. A coach encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and challenges you to be your best. Look for a certified coach and ask for an initial free session to test the chemistry between you two. 

Find a Mentor
Maybe your cheapest option, but probably the hardest to find. Instead of looking for the perfect one, find multiple mentors specializing in different areas. A mentor speaks wisdom into you and helps you avoid pitfalls. Ask your mentor to keep you accountable and be honest about what you expect of them. Stay hungry, be eager to learn and do your best to accommodate to their schedule. A mentor may not charge, but their time is invaluable.

Notice "friend" wasn't listed here. Professional accountability is better. The more serious you are about accomplishing your goals, the more serious you need to look for accountability. Remember, iron sharpens iron and nothing great is accomplished alone. 

If you're interested in monthly group or individual coaching, please contact Scott.

May 16, 2011

The 30 Day Entrepreneur Challenge: Focus on Your Strengths

Last week we started by setting the vision and goals for your business. Now it's time to start working towards making your vision a reality. 

The most successful people in any industry do one or two things really well, then delegate the rest. Being balanced, or a jack of all trades, is a myth. No one wants to hire a generalist. Customers want specialists. 
How do you identify your strengths? If you don't know what they are, I'd suggest taking the StrengthsFinder assessment. In only 30 minutes, this online test reveals your top 5 strengths which become the essence of your brand. Think of your strengths as the "means" to accomplish your goals.

Strengths also become part of your core values. Strengths are based on who you are, not just what you do. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have so what you choose to focus on usually comes to fruition. That means if you dwell on your weaknesses, you will probably fail. If you focus on your strengths, you will most likely succeed. 

Think of your mind as the rudder of a ship. It controls your direction, attitude and actions. Today you have the choice to focus on your weaknesses or your strengths, which one will you choose? 

Need help identifying or developing your strengths? Contact Scott and he'll coach you through the process.

May 9, 2011

The 30 Day Entrepreneur's Challenge: Vision & Goals

What is your ideal business?

All businesses start with an idea, but your personal vision of that idea defines the direction. Without direction, there's no target to aim at. What is your personal vision for your business?

Once you have a clear picture of what you want to see happen, it's time to set some goals to make your vision a reality.

Start with S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific - the more specific, the better
Measurable - if it's not measurable, it's not a good goal
Achievable - can you accomplish it?
Realistic - are you being realistic about your goal?
Time Oriented - put an end date on it or it won't happen

Imagine looking at the second story of a building as your vision. Taking the stairs, one step at a time, represents the goals it takes to reach your vision. The larger your vision, the longer it will take to get there. 

Don't get stuck at the beginning stage. A coach can help give you the guidance and needed push to clarify your vision and lay out goals. If you need help getting started, contact Scott for the added push in the right direction!