Business Building 101

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Once inside you'll learn:

Discover the top ten major pitfalls that cause so many business owners to struggle and fail
Why the NLP and Coaching Market has dramatically changed (and what this means for you)
Find out what the #1 challenge facing every business owner trying to start up or build today is
Learn the top 3 things every business must get right in order to thrive

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Business Building 101

  1. 1. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 0
  2. 2. Table of Contents Times Are Changing ..................................................................................................................................... 2 Nothing Is Certain, It Never Has Been .......................................................................................................... 4 The World Has Changed ............................................................................................................................... 5 What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There .................................................................................................. 7 3 Fundamental’s Every Business Must Get Right .......................................................................................... 8 1. Establish a Beachhead ....................................................................................................................... 9 2. Become a Specialist ........................................................................................................................... 9 3. Focus On Acquiring Leads And Creating Clients .............................................................................. 11 10 Pitfalls To Avoid When Starting Or Building A Highly Successful Business ........................................... 13 Pitfall #1: Crucial Blind Spots .................................................................................................................. 13 Pitfall #2: Seeing & Seeking What Really Isn’t There .............................................................................. 15 Pitfall #3: Not Knowing ‘The Goal’ .......................................................................................................... 16 Pitfall #4: No Market Research .............................................................................................................. 18 Pitfall #5: Not Customer Focused ........................................................................................................... 19 Pitfall #6: Lacking Clarity & No USP ........................................................................................................ 20 Pitfall #7: Inverted Business Priorities .................................................................................................... 21 Pitfall #8: Poor Time Management & Resource Allocation .................................................................... 23 Pitfall #9: Misunderstand and Use of Marketing .................................................................................... 24 Pitfall #10: Working All The Time............................................................................................................ 25 Where are you now? Where do you want to BE? ........................................................................................................................ 28 Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 1
  3. 3. Times Are Changing As I sit down to write this report, I become aware of the first time I started learning NLP ten years ago and all the great trainings and teachers I’ve had along the way. I can still remember the feeling of excitement, rushing through my body when my mind really got the big idea – “that NLP can really help enhance and change people’s lives rapidly”. I was studying a lot of material at the time about all manner of personal change subjects but NLP was (and still is) the best technology out there for giving you specific strategies and tools to achieve your goals, aspirations and dreams. I think, for many of us, when we sit back and think about it, the idea that NLP is accessible to all of us, regardless of background or circumstance, and can give us more freedom for our lives, was one of the big draws to learning the field. Much time has passed since then. NLP practitioner trainings with six, seven and eight hundred people were not uncommon. Now even the largest schools with big promotional campaigns and call centers are finding it tough to fill the training room, with even one hundred. Is the field of NLP facing a major change? Ten years ago, the coaching industry was, for the most part, still in its complete infancy. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some very good friends while learning NLP. I’ve learnt a lot about human beings and the way we process experience. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from great teachers such as Dr. Bandler, John La Valle and Michael Breen amongst many others. The story of how this small field started, and how tens of thousands of people, the NLP community, went on to apply what they have learned is a special one. There hasn’t always been harmony but the underlying thread has always been exploring what is possible and understanding how to do things quicker, better and give people more choice. The technology created by Dr. Richard Bandler and John Grinder has filtered into an enormous variety of industries. From education and school kids today who can now learn quicker and faster, to therapy and the countless people whose lives have been greatly enhanced, to Politics where one NLPer helped a U.S. President’s in crisis. The field appears to have no end and supports the view that NLP is truly a meta-discipline of disciplines. The number of people impacted by the work of NLP is literally millions. That is pretty wild when you think about it. Hundreds of thousands of people have been trained to the Practitioner level and many thousands gone on to become NLP Trainers. Some of us have gone on to “study the Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 2
  4. 4. structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from it” for what will probably be our lifetime. And there are people today who are actively taking NLP into fields it has never had a real presence in before. Yet there is one area where there is an immense lacking. The report you are about to read is a serious look (not that we should ever take ourselves too seriously) at one of the major gaps, apparent for many us who have learned NLP. That is, those of us who, go on to start a business using NLP as a cornerstone in our toolset, typically have very little experience in building or running a successful business. In effect, as a field, we have no explicit expert strategies to follow. The problem per se isn’t with NLP, of course, rather it is the natural gap that results when you give people a set of great tools, the attitude of “anything is possible” and the desire to help each other. There have been some NLPer’s who have ‘modeled’ entrepreneurs before, but as yet we do not have a widely available coding of a massive body of human activity. This report looks to contribute specific distinctions that I have learned over the past three years while involved in both selling and producing a variety of products and services, that at their cornerstone, are based on the technology of NLP. It is not designed to be the last and complete word on this subject by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this is the beginning of a conversation about business building, and in this first instance, three things every business must get right to succeed and ten pitfalls to avoid. If you are someone who aspires or indeed already owns a coaching, training or consultancy solo practice; you will want to read this report in it’s entirely. Get a notepad out and take notes where relevant. Like everything in life, having more information is nice, but if it is going to make a difference, you need to put it into action. There are many real world insights here that can help you achieve greater results and pinpoint possible pitfalls you might be in or would certainly want to avoid. As NLPers we have been given an incredible set of tools to “figure out what works”. As an international community we have access to some incredible resources, and intellectual capital that we can bring to bear on helping each other bootstrap our businesses, to create more freedom, higher profits, love and possibility for everyone. If you’d like to receive more free business building information, then please visit http://www.nlp-times.com now and sign up for our newsletter. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 3
  5. 5. Nothing Is Certain, It Never Has Been “Today nothing is sure, and life is one long struggle. People have to make choices if they are to get anywhere. The best lesson I learned was to just do it. It’s doesn’t matter what it is, or how hard it might seem, as the ancient Greek, Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of any work.” "A journey of a thousand miles starts with that first step. If you look ahead to the end, and all the weary miles between, with all the dangers you might face, you might never take that first step. And whatever you want to achieve in life, if you don’t make the effort, you won’t reach your goal. SO take that first step. There will be many challenges. You might get knocked back – but in the end, you will make it. Good luck!” ... and keep taking steps.... Richard Branson's “Screw It, Let’s Do It” There is a lot of fear right now “out there” in many people. As we look at the global economic situation (April 2009), day after day we are being bombarded with reports of people losing their jobs, companies folding and massive corporate scandals. We could say that the emotional mood, of millions of people, has dramatically changed. As attentive NLPer’s, we can see many large and small patterns of behavior and thought play out. We see great examples of poor logic and emotional amplification going on in the media all the time. It seems like “nothing is sure anymore”. People who are worriers, worry, people who get excited easily see the possibly that anything could happen, others who see opportunity and chance and will take an entirely different set of actions. As NLPer’s, we have a responsibility to ourselves to stay out of the vicious cycle fear and paralysis, and if we so choose, to be a force for good for others. We each have spent time studying the processes of communication and how the response to words, sounds and images etc have a dramatic impact on the nervous systems. Many of us have developed good skills in influencing and changing the worldviews of others. Yet over the past year I’ve seen a growing trend – that we are not applying the toolset to ourselves nearly enough. Having had the feedback of thousands of NLPer’s, skilled at all different levels, and from all different training backgrounds it is clear that we have forgotten that in times of uncertainly, the only place anyone ever creates true certainty is from within. It’s a process. And there are many ways of running specific thoughts, emotions and using our body to create the feeling of certainty in us. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 4
  6. 6. If you are already running a business and are facing tough times, then you already know you have important choices to make, and today you can begin to plant the seeds for more promising results. If you are looking to start your own practice but haven’t yet, then what is stopping you? Are you searching for an external, artificial feeling of certainty? There is a massive difference between being well-prepared and waiting and waiting for a mass of clients to drop into your lap. Has the thought ever crossed your mind that “a year from now you may have wished you had started today?” The World Has Changed “Instead of being interested in what is new; we ought to be interested in what is true.” Pfeiffer’s Law The world has changed dramatically over the past decade. The world has even changed a lot in the past nine months. Can you remember how you felt about your business and your life back then vs. any challenges or worries you have today? There are job roles and industries that exist today that didn’t exist ten years ago. The world and business is never static. And during the continuous change, the challenge to acquire, and maintain good customers has continued to grow. Both the NLP and Coaching market has dramatically changed. Today the world is awash with coaches of every different type and nature. You can hire a coach for everything from time management, to parenting and even to retail shopping! Yet people, in the majority, are not happier; if you believe the latest statistics. Much of the western world seems to be still on the hamster wheel. Are you? Even though the marketplace has changed, there are new coaches starting up their practice as if it were the world of 1995, and furthermore these new coaches refuse to differentiate their offering. They look and sound like everyone else. For most, their offering gets lost in the noise, they don’t get the clients that they want, and end up complaining about how bad “things” are. As NLP trainers, the demands and expectations of first time NLPer’s, and even seasoned students, has changed. People are unwilling to do more. For many the idea of attending 21 day trainings or large group trainings seems insane. Just about everyone in the western world is Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 5
  7. 7. overloaded with information, options and is time poor. Surprisingly, the majority of the offerings in the field of NLP haven’t changed. In today’s modern world where customers can hop on a plane, have instant and immediate access video sites and “peer to peer” sharing networks, the days of large scale “practitioner” trainings may be coming to a end. (If indeed they are not already dead). Most participants, it would appear, aren’t there to learn NLP or Coaching for its own sake, per se. They want it to fit into their life, typically in a non-intrusive way. So looking at today’s trend for NLP and Coaching business, we have five key points: Your clients desires and needs have changed. Has your offering? While most continue with the “same old, same old”, we are beginning to see some training companies offer lavish NLP training experiences, promising a career for participants, and “turnkey” businesses and not just “a certificate”. These programs are tailored towards a different end of the market and charging $20,000 per delegate. This is, in many cases, four times the cost of their competitors. While the differentiation is interesting; we still need to see the results and whether they will be in business 5 years from now. In the past, a potential customer typically had only a few training or service providers to choose from. The choice was limited and the clear leader was apparent. Now, the picture is not so clear. But the change isn’t just with the customers; we are seeing it in the industry as a whole. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 6
  8. 8. The variety and types of coaching and “rapid change” trainings out there has exploded. Today a quick search on Google, just for the UK, shows 273 companies all paying to show up for the term “life coaching”, ‘191 companies on “NLP”, 149 companies for “coaching training”, 117 companies for “executive coaching”. And this says nothing for the number of “organic” and naturally indexed search results. Your new or aspiring business will be in competition with at least hundreds of others, often offering the same “product” at the same or similar price points and typically with no real differentiator. The world has changed, has your business proposition and marketing? What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There Yet, a few savvy NLP and coaching companies have even begun to tap into the power of the “network effect” in order to get more and more people to their trainings. They have changed their business model, assumedly because they wanted greater customer volume and ultimately more profits. And so far it is a strategy that seems to be working. How? Well, one of the bigger ways to make more money is to pay people who bring you customers. Not a stingy 5-10%, but rather 20%, 30% or even 100% of the initial sale. (This is part of the reason why there are so many paid search results above. In actuality not all are companies). If you have a product or service that converts well, this type of approach can lead to rapid and continuous stream of customers and ultimately larger profits. However, most NLPers and coaching companies are behind on this trend and so are totally reliant on a limited marketing budget, outdated thinking (covered under pitfall #9 below), and fewer sales. Yet there is still ample opportunity to setup and run a highly profitable coaching or training business (or consultancy business), but it will require adaptation to the new conditions and a different attitude and skill set. As Earl Nightingale said years ago: “If you have no successful example to follow in whatever endeavor you choose, you may simply look at what everyone else around you is doing and do the opposite, because –The Majority Is Always Wrong. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 7
  9. 9. Most businesses, as far as I can see, are doing just more of the same. In the current market that usually means cutting training or service price in the hope that will attract more customers. But it is in most cases almost certainly the wrong strategy. Notice very few of the long term successful companies are. If you cut price and so does everyone else, then all you will compete on is price, in the customers mind. This is a clear indication you don’t hold the requisite ‘mind-space’ as the expert or go to person in that area of the market. And this tells you also there is opportunity for growth here. If you think “price” is a problem, then re-position and communicate your new offering (and that might also include providing a payment plan.) Those who do this, and really get into the “worldview” of their clients’ needs, will succeed and weather the downturn much better than those that don’t. 3 Fundamental’s Every Business Must Get Right Before we get into the ten major pitfalls of starting and building a highly successful business, let’s look at three fundamentals every successful business must get right. 1. Establish a Beachhead The first of these is in order to succeed today you must find or create a niche. If you try to be all things to everyone; then you are speaking to no-one. In today’s marketplace it key that you have a tightly fit niche. Yet, most people starting up or indeed in business today try to be all things to all people. As world famous venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki says: “Most entrepreneurs try to avoid market niches. They strive for broad appeal to large, horizontal market because they see successful companies that are broadbased and assume they must be, too. … Nothing could be further from the right approach. To build [the next successful start-up], you have to start in a small niche, establish a beachhead, and (with luck) move out from there.” Rule Number 1 is get clear on who your market is and how you will serve them. Don’t define yourself as a ‘life coach’, or an ‘NLP trainer’ etc. Focus on the result you create for your clients. By focusing on the results of your service you can talk directly to your clients needs. You don’t make them work to figure out if they can use you. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 8
  10. 10. In actuality, your customer has almost zero interest in your label or training, they are only concerned with answering three questions: • • • “What can you do for me?” “Why should I do business with you?” “What will I get and/or avoid if I use your service?” 2. Become a Specialist There is another good reason why you will want to choose a tight niche and that is the current market today has changed. We are living in a massively attention deficit economy. Big businesses know this. So do you now. Ask yourself; “How often do I read all the emails I get?’, ‘How often do I open, read and consider all the sales items I get in the post?” Almost no-one does any more. How many books, you have paid for, are left unread? Is there a big pile nearby right now? How about audio programs and other material from training courses? The list goes on and on. Therefore possibly the number one challenge facing all businesses, established or starting up today, (and this includes most of you) is getting and holding people’s attention. Remember this. In today’s world, where even the TV networks are losing market share overwhelmingly to the Internet, and where services like “TED” and “Academic Earth” bring expert speakers online for free, and answers for most questions are only a “Google” click away; people are spending less time paying attention to conventional advertising in making decisions. Your customers can go to places like Expert Village or Pirate Bay and get access to the information that they want. Advertising revenues have shifted massively from print material to online advertising and product placement in TV. This is because companies know most people are not deleting these formats out. So companies have to come up with subtler ways of getting past your barriers. The same applies for your customers. Is this going to change your coaching, NLP or consultancy business? Of course it is. In fact it already has. Having a business sign saying “open for business”, or a few once-off adverts in a newspaper or magazine, will no longer draw the crowds. Last week, a trainer with 22 years experience in selling prior to setting up his training business, told me, it was even proving difficult to sell ‘free’ trainings in the current economy. Yet, those Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 9
  11. 11. free trainings were a life blood for getting people to attend his paid events. Most people who start up training or coaching businesses will not have anything like 22 years of real world sales experience before starting their practice. Yet sales and marketing is the lifeblood of most businesses. This isn’t the kind of topic touched on in most NLP or Coaching trainings. It certainly hasn’t been covered effectively by those who do. Another widely known training company told me that in the last five years they have seen a shift where over 90% of their sales for B2C trainings come in over the Internet. The reality in today’s world is the majority of your audience will not ring you up before deciding to buy … or worse, deciding not to buy! So if you want to stand out in the current market you need to niche and become a specialist in your chosen area and serve that area superbly. For me, when I started out first doing trainings, I focused on bringing the best bits of NLP to help 3rd and 4th level University graduates and professional people in Ireland and the UK secure jobs with the top 1% of financial service employers. Many of my clients went on to work throughout Europe and the US, and companies and universities who would never previously have considered external trainers for this type of training invited me because of the very tight niche “mind space” I had. Was it because I am so great? Not at all. I only applied what I have learnt and been taught in a different market, and specialized in one area which allowed me to stand out in a crowded industry (NLP Training companies). So ask yourself: what beachhead could you service exquisitely? By specializing, you are able to hold that specific area in your prospects and clients mind as THE expert. Some people have started up and sold successful business that were oriented around just one product (Starbucks, IKEA) or service (smoking cures, height phobia, etc.). Generally speaking, most people believe that a specialist can charge a higher price and have perceived superiority over a generalist. It is in built into most of us that a specialist will cost you more (but you also perceive that they will be more knowledgeable and skilled than a generalist on their given area). Being a specialist can have a powerful draw effect on your customer. In the drinks industry, Coca-Cola continues to dominate as THE drink of choice, even though it is NOT the best tasting drink in the market. A million taste tests between Royal Crown Cola and Coca-Cola showed RC Cola tasted better (57% to 43%). It didn’t matter, Coca-Cola had the better “mind-space” and marketing strategy to dominate than RC. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 10
  12. 12. Your niche can be developed but only through tightening your focus and serving your customers extremely well. By doing so, prospects can more easily choose you as the person “to trust” in a world with too many choices. 3. Solid Focus On Acquiring Leads And Creating Clients Regardless of what business you are in, you need to focus religiously in the early stage on developing a large list of leads and creating clients. There are many ways you can do this. You should always have multiple ways of develop leads and creating clients. Be different and open to opportunity. For example, one of the largest U.S. NLP trainers is giving up to 40% of all future sales of new customer’s revenue that affiliates help get to his programs. Most NLP trainers I’ve spoken to would never be willing to do that, because of a fear about loss of control or a loss or revenue – and as a result will lose out on a larger revenue potential. If you were to give me one Euro and I gave you one Euro fifty cent back every time, I suspect you would be willing to give me Euro’s all day long. Would you not? Yet, many companies (noting that the majority of companies in our community, are one and two person outfits) I’ve seen seem to resist the idea of making more money, if it means they have to share a percentage of the revenue with someone else. This is a big mistake. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 11
  13. 13. Personally, I think this is a big reason why we haven’t seen more large training companies dominating the top of the market. Have you been making the same mistake? As the competition for getting people’s attention long enough to have them “trust you” and “desire your service” continues to become more competitive; everyone is going to have to reconsider how they attract and acquire news leads and clients. And everyone will need to do this on an ongoing basis. Ultimately, I suspect many businesses will have to change their trainings and business model, so they become can attract more clients, identify exactly what their customers want and still make a healthy income. As dangerous as this may sound, if the only reason you want to become an NLP Trainer or Coach is to teach others about NLP or Coaching then you are almost certainly going to face a strong uphill battle. The reality is, regardless of what type of training business you are in, your prospect now has massive choice over who and where they decide to buy. And often times will have made their decision before they ever speak with you! By keeping these questions at the forefront of your mind, and coming up with creative ways to keep doing them better, you will find your revenues will continue to grow. Now, not every business such as NLP trainings is as heavily dependant on the Internet for customers and prospects. You may say to yourself “I’m a corporate trainer and my business Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 12
  14. 14. isn’t dependant on the Internet”. If this is the case, the same three questions apply; it is just that the MEDIA to do this is different. Just about every successful corporate training or consultancy business does well because of a thriving referral or endorsement network and word of mouth marketing. Yet, that still requires active communication and relationship building activities with your potential prospects and people who have access to the ultimate end clients that your business is dependent on. In a recent study on marketing and advertising, over 80% of business respondents outlined that “Googling” and “emailing a friend or contact” was their predominant method they used, for getting help when facing a challenge or looking to hire a service. So as a new or existing business owner, you should ask yourself: • • How active is your network? Do your friends, family and clients know exactly what you do? (the value you offer i.e. help people make money, help people overcome lifelong fears and not the job title “principal trainer”) 10 Pitfalls To Avoid When Starting Or Building A Highly Successful Business The journey of entrepreneurism is exciting, challenging and rewarding. Almost everyone who travels it will experience one or more “failures” along the way and some never give it a real go, to realize they really can make it. Business building is rewarding and exciting. Yet for all the excitement and rewards there are many pitfalls to avoid. The nature and type of pitfalls change depending on where your business is at (start-up, rapid growth, maturity, decline). This report focuses on the ten common pitfalls that new and early stage entrepreneurs should look to avoid when starting or building a highly successful business. Pitfall #1: Crucial Blind Spots If you’ve never started a business or grown up in a family where running a small business was the norm, then you almost certainly have wide gaps in your knowledge set. Even seasoned business people make massive mistakes when they try to start a new venture. Running your own business is very different from having a role in someone else’s company. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 13
  15. 15. Over the years I’ve meet many people who have wanted to start their own solo practice, yet they didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. If this describes you, then make the time before you start your own business, to get some hands on practice of key business roles. Regardless of where you are, there are a couple of key questions every business person must answer. Let’s look at these below … The reality is some markets are not viable or worthwhile to be in. You may find, after spending tens of thousands of pounds and endless hours that you’ve struck a dry well. That is a very painful, but common experience for many new entrepreneurs… but also seasoned entrepreneurs as well. (And of course if you are in that situation now, then the first thing to do is stop digging and change course, regardless of how painful that may be). So the first order of business is to make sure there is water in the pool, before you jump in! You can only do that by really thinking through up front how the business will work and how it will make money. Most aspiring business owners jump right past this critical area. Having done this analysis several times for various business ventures in the last two years, I have saved both myself and my investors the loss of $1M, when a last minute evaluation, made it clear that a new venture was not going to be as profitable as we thought. Never be too attached to any business idea. Most people we’ve surveyed, who want to start training or coaching businesses, come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Yet most typically have a strong corporate background. This usually, in my experience, is a disadvantage. Because when you work for a corporation you are typically cocooned from the real money facing side of business. So when you first start out you don’t have any experience of where you focus should be and how to win clients. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 14
  16. 16. Many successful business people, have had a least one or more mentors (formally or informally) who have helped them when they were starting. This is also true for many of the most successful training schools you have heard about in NLP. Michael Breen told me: “I have always had mentors, outside of the NLP world, from a variety of industries and backgrounds. My mentors were from the world of Crisis Management, NGO’s working in the third world, Wall Street, “Big 5” (at least at that time) consultancy and a publisher of textbooks. What I got from them (at least when I listened and took heed) was wisdom about the world and circumstances far beyond my own. In fact, I would say that I could not have done the really cool things I have done without their input. If I’m totally candid, every problem I’ve faced came about through not heeding their advice. The trick is that you’ve got find the right person, know their strengths and learn how (and when) to trust them.” So wherever you are, ask yourself: “Who do I know that could help me get off to a great start?” Or better yet, go find yourself at least one mentor who can help you along the way. If you are already established, who do you know who could help you get to the next level? Whenever you face a challenge in your business that you can’t seem to get a handle on; look to find someone who is two or three rungs up the ladder from where you are and ask them what they would do. Often you will be surprised by the wisdom a person a few years ahead can offer. Pitfall #2: Seeing & Seeking What Really Isn’t There Another common error for many business people is seeing and seeking validation about their business, product or service idea without ever checking if the market agrees with you. For many the story goes like this: You have an idea and the more you think about it, the greater you think it would be, so you tell it to a few friends or family, more to tell them about the ‘great idea’ without ever being interested to hear what they actually think, and so without any further checking, you go ahead and invest large amounts of time and money. This is what we call “Shooting yourself in the foot”. Hopefully if you’re lucky it will be just that and not result in losing your savings, house or home. There are very real and serious costs for being out of tune with the market. Both big and small businesses make monumental failures every day. But the difference between a big company and a small company making a major product or service mistake is usually the big company has other revenue streams or funds to keep it floating. As a start-up it may appear that you will often have to “bet the farm”, but even if you do, this should be based on a well thought through evaluation and calculated risk, not just a pure guess. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 15
  17. 17. You don’t have the luxury of a large failure after you have committed large amount of your resources to your new startup or existing company. Therefore it is critical that you evaluate, up front, how desirable your offering truly is to the market. This means talking to real customers or better yet putting a pilot service out to the market and see if it sells. As the saying goes “When money talks, people listen ... often without interrupting”. If you hear the sound of zero sales, you will have got invaluable feedback. Yet both big players and ‘small fish’ can fall prey to only seeing and seeking validation and ignoring better ways of doing things and ultimately serving your market. For example, during the early days of the Personal Digital Assistant, Apple C.E.O. John Sculley introduced the Newton as THE information technology tool of the future. The Newton was followed quickly by a succession of rivals, but all suffered from the same problem; none could get the handwriting component to work. The PDA failed to get a mass audience. It is estimated that over $1 Billion was spent by the combined industry in trying to get PDA’s to recognize human’s handwriting. Palm, who initially failed to get this approach to work, took a different approach. They were no longer constrained by seeing things working only one way. They realized that people are smarter than appliances and so “let’s get the people to adjust to the interface on the PDA”. And so Palm spent just $3 million to launch the Palm, less than onehundredth of what Apply reportedly spent on the Newton. If you are starting up a business today or looking to start a new training or coaching service, how have you verified, in the marketplace that what you offering will work? Pitfall #3: Not Knowing ‘The Goal’ “Nothing Happens Until Someone First Sells Something” Anonymous The third most common error made by striving start up’s is that they often don’t know what the true goal of a start up is. In the startup stage, your core purpose is to make sufficient revenue to support the basic needs of the business. That means you have at least six months of money in the bank. But you are not targeting survival. You need to be focused on growth – on getting as much early sales in as possible. (This can also do great things for your morale – when you see the first orders come in). Therefore, in the early stages you have to make “Sales” (and everything around that goal) job number one. Once you have identified a need in the market, at least 70% of your time needs to be spent on activities that make the cash register ring. Failing to makes sales a priority will mean that you eat through your cash reserves. As they say in the famous board game Monopoly “When the money is gone, the game is over!” Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 16
  18. 18. Many new Coaches, Trainers and Consultants will spend 70-80-90% of their time doing up brochures, business cards and proposals and maybe 5 to 10% of their time on the sales and marketing activities that can lead to clients. This is almost certainly “death-knell” behavior for a new solo practice. Therefore you need to ensure you manage your cash very well and that you have a realistic timeframe of the sales cycle. The sales cycle refers to how long it takes to close a sale from the time you first get in communication with a prospect until the time you have the business. It is not unusual to be a much longer period than you think (even having extended your thinking about the cycle to include room for “error”). If you are a new training company and trying to get in the “front door” of a big company to offer training services, that sales cycle could easily take six months and there is no guarantee of a sale at the end. As a coach you may have decide to do two calls over a month period proceeded by following up with your “free client” - which results in 7 weeks before you get a paid client. Each industry will be different, as will sales cycle time. Your sales cycle along with your conversation rate (how many leads you need to get before you secure a customer) will have a big impact later are trying to forecast your cash flow and revenues. As a startup you can decide to go for profit or growth in order to get yourself started. For most, the safer path will be to go after growth, as long as you can scale up to meet the demands of an increasing client base. But this all rests on the foundation that you have a product or service that the market wants ... or could be educated to want (although this is a more time consuming and expensive option). So when looking to understand the core goal of a start up business make sure you ask yourself: The bottom line is if you don’t do the sales and marketing activities week in week out to help your business grow, it will not and your business and income will suffer. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 17
  19. 19. Pitfall #4: No Market Research & No Clarity “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create” David M. Ogilvie Eight out of ten new product launches fail within the first three months. Having a great idea is the easiest thing to do in the world. Success in business, as in life, is a lot to do with hard work, good planning and luck! If you are about to start a new venture offering a coaching, training or consultancy service you should be asking yourself: “How is what I am going to be doing different from what is already on offer, and needed by the marketplace?”. Most people fail to do their research and market assessment before they ever spend any major money and simply think that putting a few ads in your local newspaper or yellow pages will send a flood of traffic to your door. This is not the case. The world is awash with NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainers. And while the demand for such courses varies dramatically from country to country, even well run businesses have challenges getting good numbers on their courses. How will what you are offering be better or different and, most importantly, is that “better” or “difference” called for by the market? The good news is, when you do your research well and take the time to understand the needs of your market; you can find under-served areas of the market which you can target in on. Some very useful questions to start this process of market and competitor research include: • • • • • • • • • • Is there a definite “pain point” in the marketplace or is this just a “cool” idea I have? Is there strong supply and demand for the product or service I am offering? Are people in my target market/area already paying money for someone to resolve this problem? Where is the market heading? Who are my competitors and what is their USP and offering to the market? How does my offering stand in relation to them? Do I or could I have a competitive advantage? What is the average sales cycle for this product or service? Do I have realistic financial objectives and the resources to meet them? How will I acquire leads and what means will I use to market and sell to them? Finally, is this an area where I can serve my niche exquisitely and is there the possibility for a long term, repeat custom with them? One of the most important areas to understand, but that is often overlooked when starting a business is: “What is your motivation for getting into business?” Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 18
  20. 20. Have a good look in the mirror and answer these questions: • • • Are you willing to do long days (and nights), make the many sacrifices (initially) and live frugally to get your business off the ground? Do you have the nerve to face down uncertainty again and again (where necessary), to stay driven and motivated to keep doing what needs to get done, without throwing in the towel? Why do you really want to start your own business? Honest answers here can save you a lot of time, money and heartache later on. If you know you only love the function (i.e. the coaching, training or consultancy aspect) and not the business of business (bringing in new and repeat clients, handing accounts etc) then it is most likely your commitment and resolve will not last and you will incorrectly prioritize key business building activities. Consistency counts when you are starting up, and even more important once you are established. You are much better off finding a business area where you can employ your strengths and your passion to build a successful business than “try out this training thing” for a while or imagine that “life coaching – looks like easy money” etc. Success in business often takes time, and those who are willing to stay the course, and constantly look to improve and adapt will enjoy the rewards. Pitfall #5: Not Customer Focused The purpose of a business is to find and serve customers at a profit. Yet too many new businesses have almost zero knowledge about who is their customer. How can you serve someone’s needs if you don’t know who they are and what they want? The clearer you identify precisely who is your customer, and what are their needs the more successful you will be (assuming you can implement well and out maneuver the competition). Most people when asked who is their customer reply by giving a “class or category” statement, yet this is rarely the case. Rather than saying anyone who is interested in Coaching, you might say “my customer is aged between 25-38, mostly male, making an average of $35,000 a year, living in X city” etc. This gives you a total different level of clarity when communicating, marketing and selling. Solo practices and big businesses that do well, do so because they are very focused on their customer, know what it is they want and deliver it to them at a price point that produces a good profit. McKenna Breen Training, the most successful NLP training school ever created, focused intently on identifying and serving the marketplace with something their customers really wanted (7 day training programs, inexpensive prices and tuition from Dr. Bandler, the co-founder of NLP). Every successful business you can think of does the same thing. So it is key that you focus on your customer, and get to know them very well. Do you? Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 19
  21. 21. Failing to identify who your customer is (down to the income, background, gender, desires, fears and age etc) will result in slow sales and disconnect with the market. If you don’t know who your real customer is then you won’t know how best to serve or market them and most importantly what media they use to identify providers of what they want. Many new business focus on how great they are and talk almost nothing about the needs of their clients. If you want greater success in your business then make sure you place your focus on the customer and identifying what it is they really want. Pitfall #6: Lacking Clarity & No USP Building a successful business can be challenging. 90% of businesses that start up, never make it past their third birthday. Somewhere along the line, something or things go wrong and the business suffers and dies. You try, try, try and fail to get the results you want and for many this can be too demoralizing. A big part of that failure can be traced back to a lack of clarity by the entrepreneur. Every day you are working in your business and you don’t have clear priorities, connected to the goals of your business, your business and revenues will suffer. Simply put, as a start up or solo practice business, you can’t do everything you want. You have finite resources. Your biggest problem will not be finding a good opportunity, rather it will most likely be knowing how to filter out the good opportunities from the lemons and quickly being able to bring your product or service offering to market. If you already have started a business are you clear what your major goals are, what needs to happen first, second, third and how all of these activities are connected to the end outcome that you want? Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 20
  22. 22. A second sub-area around having clarity is making sure you have a clear unique selling point. Your USP helps buyers differentiate you from your competitors and, over time, the rest of the industry. In your own business, you will want to ensure know what your USP is and verify that this is it something the market wants. Having a clear idea about what you are trying to achieve and linking that with your USP will enable you to enjoy greater success than companies who do not. Unlike other areas of life, in business, you don’t get an “A” for effort, you only get an “A” for results. Give yourself an edge by getting clear on what you are trying to achieve and link it to what the market wants. Pitfall #7: Inverted Business Priorities Anyone familiar with the armed forces will know that the structure of any operation is run by three principles, known as the three M’s. They stand for: The Mission The purpose of what you are doing. Think of this as the objective you are pursing. The Men The resources you must have or develop in order to achieve the Mission. And Me Your responsibility to orchestrate your resources in order to achieve the Mission. The 3M’s are all connected and are key to success in business and life. If you neglect one over the other then you will greatly reduce your chances to achieve your objective. In business many new entrepreneurs will only focus on the things they are good at or love doing at the expense of the other two. They have poor time management habits and waist valuable resources. They focus mostly on the third M. They think the mission is to make them feel good and not to do whatever it takes to get their business off of the ground. This isn’t finger pointing, it is simply that some people don’t want a business. They may have thought they did but aren’t yet aware of the cost and responsibility of running your own business. Typically, they don’t focus on identifying, acquiring and utilizing the resources they need in order to achieve the mission. And often times they don’t know what the goal of business is. (Pitfall #3) These well intended folks may not be suited to the entrepreneurial life, and would be better off firing themselves, or radically changing their behavior so they priorities by the mission, the men and themselves last. Successful business owners focus on the mission first – to generate revenues and target growth. They focus on ‘the Men’ aspect constantly, acquiring, developing and employing the intelligent use of Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 21
  23. 23. resources. And lastly the focus on themselves as an instrument to achieve the first two priorities, doing whatever the business needs. Initially that is to get the business off the ground. So if you are having challenges right now or are about to start a business, ask yourself: “Where have my priorities been?” Have you been focusing on “You” first or the Mission of your enterprise? If it is the former, then you know what you need to do in order to rapidly change the results you are getting. So to summarize: What actions could you take today to make sure you are constantly focusing on the Mission and Men over short term emotional desires and wants? Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 22
  24. 24. Pitfall #8: Poor Time Management & Resource Allocation “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing”. - Brian Tracy. A common problem that many businesses face is poor time management, productivity practice and resource allocation. As a start-up company, you are only too aware that you have finite resources. Therefore you need to use your time extremely wisely and ensure excellent allocation of the resources (time, money, contacts etc) that you have. There are many reasons for this including poor management of your time, focusing on the wrong priorities and not acknowledging you don’t have the competencies in-house to get the results you want. The problem is not that you will get some things wrong, everyone does, at all levels of business, and often more than once. The problem is when you don’t learn quickly from your mistakes and refuse to change key behaviors that are generating the results you don’t want. When you run your own business there are many things you need to get right, however if you ensure that all your activity is aligned with achieving your goals and you regularly check externally with where you are in the process and adjust based on the feedback, you will achieve much greater results. Take a minute to stop and ask yourself: “What wasteful or damaging patterns of behavior am I repeatedly doing, that is taking me further away from what I want?” Be totally honest with yourself. Everyone has some. These could be spending too much time on your marketing pictures and not enough talking with your clients. It could be just doing the next thing on your list, without ever asking yourself: • • “Is this the best and highest use of my time?” “What is the best and highest use of my finite resource to achieve my mission?” Whatever your counter-productive behaviors are to the “mission” you are currently working toward; make a conscious effort to identify and eradicate them before they become a serious business building problem. Many businesses fail because the person running the business did not recognize or choose to ignore a serious weakness in their business. This could be any number of things, but two of the most common are; not having the necessary skills to take the business to the next level or knowing what to do to overcome a significant problem. Yet in over 70% of small businesses that fail, once consistent pattern shows up again and again – the owner refused to get help before it was too late. There is no shame in saying you excel in one area but are terrible in another. But you can’t afford to fail to recognize or ignore a major weakness in your operation. Business building is a team effort. However even if you have great resources (internal or external) available to you, if you don’t know how to prioritize and utilize those resources on your most important activities then you will only experience limited results. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 23
  25. 25. Pitfall #9: Misunderstanding and Misuse of Marketing “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the problem is I do not know which half.” Lord Leverhulme, British founder of Unilever Marketing and Sales are the lifeblood to most successful businesses. Marketing can be described as the ongoing activity to bring the market to desire your product. Sales can be defined as the exchange of value, typically money, for a service or a product. Many new entrepreneurs make a major mistake by using the wrong type of marketing in trying to get the word out the product or service. For example, many new entrepreneurs can make the mistake of buying expensive offline advertising in a newspaper or magazine in the efforts to get “the word out”. This almost never works. The big ads you see in magazines etc with a picture and brand name beside it are often brand building exercise and NOT direct sales generating adverts. Remember the “advertising sales executive” who will sell you the advertising slot in their publication, typically has zero experience running or operating a business, and often when asked to validate how big the readership of your sub-niche is and what is the typical response rate to adverts etc placed, you find you are meet with silence. He or She simply doesn’t know but is keen to sell you the dream that because “our publication goes out to 500,000” you will have hundred or even thousands of responses. Most often it just doesn’t work that way (the reason why is for another time). In the early stages of a new company, Public Relations is what successful businesses often use to “get the word out”. And best of all, it doesn’t cost. Journalists have very busy schedules and are working to a deadline so if you can assist them with an interesting “human story” you can find you get “free publicity” and instant credibility which you can use in your advertising. In the current market where there is stories of strife everyday anyone who is helping creating jobs or showing an entrepreneurial flair has the possibility of getting some PR cover. There are many good resources out there to help you understand and tap into PR, so check them out. In addition to the points above, it’s worth mentioning that marketing is an ongoing activity. It is not a once off event, as so many new and even old entrepreneurs treat it. Often one article or advert in a magazine will not result in a sale. Even worse the thousands of pounds you spent can result in very low leads (i.e. new prospects). This makes lead acquisition very expensive. So always be cautious when spending thousands of pounds on “advertising”. Frequently, if you are willing to look around there are much better ways to use your precious cash to get the result that you want. Finally realize that in every marketing campaign there are three things you need to get right. First there will be a core market (a specific group of people you want to speak to), a marketing message (what it is you are looking to convey, which often you will also want a direct call to action (such as call X number now) and there is the media (the communication vehicle you use to communicate to your market. The time, in terms of both external factors occurring and the stage in the sales cycle the person is at will affect the marketing campaign. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 24
  26. 26. You need to get all four right whenever possible. Experience and listening closely to your customers can help you get it right the first time. However most companies will find that because they failed to understand fully what is going on inside their prospect/customers mind they have a disconnect in their marketing and therefore get poor results. While this can happen to everyone, your job is to work diligently to close the gap every time so that you connect directly with the needs/desires in your prospects mind and remove any obstacles to them getting what they want – your product/service! Measure your marketing results so you know what works and what doesn’t and be prepared to change tactics when you have a disconnect with your market. In essence there are many ways to mess up your marketing. Done right, you will get your market, marketing message and marketing media to resonate directly with your prospects which will lead to more customers. Pitfall #10: Working All The Time “Energy, not time is the fundamental currency of High Performance” Jim Loehr & Tony Swartz (Authors of The Power Of Full Engagement) Let’s face it, business building can be tough. Business building, for the most part, is not a sprint; it is more akin to a marathon with several sprints between key miles. When you start your business you can expect to easily work 18 hours days, seven days a week and sometimes for long periods (12-18-24 months) at a time. Now not everyone does this, but it’s much closer to the reality of running a start-up than the 9-5 schedule you had in a corporate job. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 25
  27. 27. The demands of starting a business can be grueling. Yet, however chaotic things can get, it is critical that you take time out of your business. Typically doing more hours, day in day out until your eyes go bloodshot will not help get the result you want any quicker. It’s a broken philosophy. A successful entrepreneur is the master of his business and not his business of him. This means he or she is intentional about when and how they work and manage their energy wisely. It is especially important when you start up that you take very good care of your body. You could describe business as the ongoing resolution of problems, at a profit. Problems you find in the marketplace, problems internally in how you get things done and so on and so forth. All of these activities and your desire to get things done can put considerable stress on your body. When you are stressed over prolonged period of time your ability to handle even mild challenges or crises goes down. Your immune system becomes depleted because you are not sleeping adequately and you are holding stress in your body. Before long you are constantly feeling jaded and run down. This does you no good especially as you need to work with continual focus on building your business. And here is a secret most people don’t know. Specifically, access to, and utilization of energy in your body is what allows you be most productive, not spending more time at something. Study after study has shown that, when people are constantly tired, have no positive outlet to release stress built up, and don’t exercise, will experience a serious reduction in their performance. This makes it very hard to keep your head up and focused on the mission you are in pursuit of. Therefore, if you plan on making your start-up a big success, you need to make sure you take time out to “recharge your batteries”. Failing to do so can have big consequences, on your success and your motivation to continue, if times get tough. As NLPer’s we all know how massively important being in the right “state” is for doing anything we want. It is something taught in just about every NLP course, yet it is something many new entrepreneurs overlook. As Michael Breen once shared with me: “Whatever ‘managing your state’ means in its fullest sense; it always and invariably comes down to self-knowledge, implemented through intelligent and carefully considered, strategic organization of your resources, to support you in what must be done. What you need will be different from what I need but part of being professional is knowing and taking responsibility for those needs. There always has to be an “adult” in the room. Take a look around. If you’re the only one there; then the adult is you.” You can be a successful entrepreneur who enjoys their life along with building a business, or you can be burnt out, tired and seriously unhappy if you constantly try and burn the midnight oil, night after night. If you refuse or choose to flat out ignore to set up your business to run efficiently; if you refuse to manage your output and productivity; if you refuse to control and regulate your resources; you will face burn out or fail or both. I’ve seen this happen again to many, many entrepreneurs. Indeed I made this Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 26
  28. 28. mistake myself when I first started out. I learnt something very valuable; in business the rewards you experience are not proportionate to the efforts. Sometimes you can be working every hour God sends you, and still get little or no results. Other times, by focusing on the right priorities you can get several thousand times return for your effort. The key when starting up is to know which activities give you the best and highest return. Running a business means taking more responsibility for all aspects of your life than you may be accustomed to. Yes, there will be times when you will need to take “heroic” efforts to get important things done, but these ‘sprints’ should be the exception not the rule. If you are constantly sprinting; it is a sure sign you are not prioritizing your activities appropriately or have let a bigger problem come in from upstream. Doing this over a prolonged period of time will have you “running ragged” and it will be hard to focus on anything when you constantly feel tired and run down. Your performance suffers and it won’t be long before you start making errors in trying to “rush things out” that with a good night’s rest, and concentrated focus, you could have achieved with relative ease. So here are some suggestions for staying in “peak performance” and ensuring you avoid this pitfall. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 27
  29. 29. Where are you now? Where do you want to BE? I started this report talking about how nothing is certain, how the world has changed and so has your market. But has your business begun to adapt to these changes? I’m sure as you read this, there were many things that resonated with you. This is only the start. Be sure you put the distinctions you learned here into practice, and you will find you will experience greatly results. Doing the activities I outlined is not a once-off event but a constant process you do again and again as you start to see measurable results in your business. I expect that the NLP and Coaching market will change quite substantially in the years ahead. And this is good news. For the few who focus on growth and plant the seeds for the future now – they will do well. But it only starts when you take a look at where you are now and decide where you want to be. You don’t need to do this journey on your own. Over the coming months I’m going to be releasing additional material around business building as I interview and meet with several successful entrepreneurs. If you want to be part of this, then register on our newsletter at NLP-Times. Already specific trainings and educational material on starting and growing a highly successful business as an NLPer, Coach or Consultant has started. On April 17th to 19th a select few will be attending the first ever business building workshop, in London, aimed specifically at Coaches, Consultants and Trainers – delivered by Master Trainer and multi-million pound business builder Michael Breen. It’s called the “One Strategy That Always Works (to build your business). People are making good money in this economy using the strategy, because it’s what people who are good at building their business do. Business building is a large topic, so this workshop will be focused on the critical area of how to use only the key resources you already possess to develop your business, find prospects and get more customers. It is focused on the first key pillar of any successful business – how to attract clients and generate more sales, more of the time. This is very timely given the challenges many people are having right now. The “One Strategy That Always Works” is a strategy that Michael has learned, used and taught (to his top coaching clients) who have used it very successfully in many businesses. It is the one strategy that is consistently present in a thriving business or coaching practice and absent in those that are not. It is designed to begin to fill the gap in your business knowledge on how to attract and secure an ongoing stream of clients. So if you would like to take your business over this economic hump or on to the next level then go check out http://www.nlptimes.co.uk now. We will talk again soon. Best wishes, Tom PS: The One Strategy Workshop will be an “intimate” group in size, as Michael will be spending time with each of you, focusing on your business’ needs. You can appreciate then that places are limited and once it’s sold out; no more places will be available, so you must book now to avoid disappointment. Visit www.nlptimes.co.uk to find out more. Copyright NLP TIMES © | Visit us online at www.nlp-times.com 28

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