Category: Business

Debunking the Myth of Overnight Success

Guest Blog: Debunking the Myth of Overnight Success

Something I tell my clients all the time is this: there is no such thing as an overnight success! This month’s guest blog is from credit.com and it is all about just that. Building a successful business takes time, so you’ve got to be patient. This guest blog will help you find the inspiration to do that.

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Both in the business world and in your personal life, anything that’s truly worth doing takes time, dedication, and hard work. It’s easy to glamorize success when people make it look easy — but it rarely is. If you believe in the concept of overnight success, you’re likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Behind every great CEO, inventor, and entrepreneur is a mountain of struggle, failure, and doubt. They likely took a long and winding road to get where they are today, and that road is where they learned, grew, and improved. So instead of wanting to fasttrack your way to success, remember to slow down and embrace the learning curve.

Need some inspiration? Check out the infographic below on eight famous leaders and how long it took them to become successful.

The following graphic is from credit.com.

overnight-success

The One Test to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

One Test to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

Now that you have your business ideas from the last blog post, it’s time to find out which one makes money! This can be the scariest part for some of us, because it means we have to connect with others, and potentially risk failure, judgement and rejection. 

But just remember – you can do this! There are millions of entrepreneurs out there that have taken their one-of-a-kind, unique path to running a business. 

However, this stage can bring with it some bumps in the road! I want to mention those quickly so that you can avoid them.

Avoid These to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

  1. DON’T spend all of your time and resources focusing on the things that do not matter right now. This includes a logo, tagline, fancy website, or whether your business should be an LLC or sole proprietorship. None of these details matter at this stage.
  2. DON’T get feedback on your idea from well-meaning family and friends who will probably tell you it’s a great idea anyway! General feedback from non-customers won’t put money in the bank.
  3. And most importantly, DO offer free or discounted products and services to actual customers so that you can get concrete feedback about what works and what doesn’t. This way you can improve and make what you sell amazing. 

Now, onto the test. This is called the Common Sense Test, and it consists of four simple questions. This test will help you evaluate your ideas and eliminate those that either won’t be as possible or simply don’t measure up. 

Here’s how it works. If you can’t answer yes to all four of the following questions, cross the idea off your list. 

The Common Sense Test

  1. Do I have the real-world experience, skills or abilities to provide this product or service, or am I willing to work really hard to get them?
  2. Am I will to focus a majority of my free time on this for at least the next six to twelve months?
  3. Is the idea aligned with my goals and values? 
  4. Is there a clearly defined, easy-to-reach market of people already spending money on this kind of product or service?

So which business idea of yours is viable and will be profitable? 

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

As a marketing consultant, brainstorming ideas is one of my favorite things to do. It’s an opportunity to be creative, shut down the inner critic, and just have fun. If you’re looking to come up with a business idea or expand your business in new ways, this blog will help you through three approaches to brainstorming business ideas

The first step is to open up a new document or your journal and write at the top: “Business Idea Brainstorm.” The outcome in this exercise is to come up with 10 business ideas and have fun doing it. You are more than welcome to come up with more than 10 ideas, but you must have at least 10. 

We’re coming up with 10 ideas is because it’s a big enough number to inspire you to mentally stretch yourself so that you can come up with new insights and new connections. Plus, once you start to organize and test your ideas for viability, you’ll be able to eliminate a few ideas quickly. This is a good thing as it will keep you focused. When you’re ready, dive into the three approaches below. 

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

Approach #1: Scratch Your Own Itch – Several entrepreneurs have found success solving problems they have themselves. They bring new services or products to the market that provide solutions to the problems they face. So, think about your own life. Is there are recurring problem or frustration that you wish there was a better solution for? 

Approach #2: Consider Your Strengths, Skills & Interests – I personally believe that we are all born with a unique set of strengths, talents and skills. There are problems in this world that you are uniquely qualified to help solve. So, get curious about who you are and what you do naturally. How can you use your strengths, skills and interests to solve problems for others?

Approach #3: Shop Around for Inspiration – Go idea shopping by checking out other businesses in industries that you are interested in. Chances are other companies exist in a market that you’re interested in that can help inspire your own business ideas. What can you do better or differently in a totally unique way?

Once you have your ideas, review them and think about which ones are viable. Consider the revenue model – can you make money with this idea? What about the competition – is there any and how can you stand out? Think about the market – who are they and how can you position your product or service in a way that makes their lives easier, more convenient and more joyful? 

As you define your idea and develop a strategic plan to execute it, you’ll be well on your way to running a profitable business! And if you need help, you know who to call. 🙂

25 Free List Building Techniques

25 Free List Building Techniques

All entrepreneurs need list building strategies. However, when first starting a business, you may not have the funds needed to invest in advertising or expensive marketing. This is why using free list building strategies is imperative to growing your business. 

But keep in mind – there’s a hustle at the beginning. It’s the tough work, the grunt work and the hard work that nobody wants to do. Here’s the thing though, nobody can do this step for you. You have to choose the strategies on your own and you have to be creative. If you’re committed to changing lives and having a long-term profitable business, you must build an audience. 

Building your list takes time, so you have to be patient. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

Below you will find 25 free techniques you can use to build your list.

  1. Include clear and specific calls to action in all of your content marketing. 
  2. Make it easy for people to share your content either through social media channels or forwarding options in emails.
  3. Use a pop ups on your site.  
  4. Optimize thank you pages with referral requests or social sharing prompts. 
  5. Highlight a piece of your blog content on a social media platform and start a conversation around it.
  6. When at events, bring an iPad and sign up people on the spot.
  7. Keep SEO in mind when you create content. 
  8. Consider a HelloBar on your site to tease a specific offer.
  9. Be helpful and kind on forums.
  10. Be generous and offer testimonials for other businesses.
  11. Keep an open mind for collaborations, partnerships or co-sponsored events with colleagues. 
  12. Thoughtfully comment on other people’s blogs. 
  13. Be a case study for vendors.
  14. Create something amazing for your market that everyone just has to share it.
  15. Lead a regular meet-up or event in your town that supports fellow businesses or the community.
  16. Be featured in blogs or in other media or work with influencers.
  17. Get interviewed about your message, your story, your mission, your business, etc.
  18. Do live speaking engagements.
  19. Be a guest in virtual events.
  20. Be a guest teacher in someone else’s program or event.
  21. Guest post on engaged blogs that serve your ideal customer.
  22. Write articles for other people’s newsletters.
  23. Submit your business to directories. 
  24. Create a referral program that incentivizes new clients.
  25. Teach workshops or seminars to generate interest in what you do.

There are, of course, more ways to build your list than what’s listed above. Regardless of whatever you choose to do, always do it from the heart. 

Want more tips like this? Check out the blog for more helpful business and marketing advice!

CGC - Business Models 101

Business Models 101

This month, I’m talking all about business models, particularly what they are and why you need them!

Basically, your business model (or revenue model) is a roadmap for how your business will make money. In other words, what are people buying from you? Your customers have to pay you for something. Without paying customers, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.

This sounds incredibly basic! But all too often, I will hear: “I want to start a community to empower women,” or, “I want to curate creative material online.”  When I ask them how they plan to make money from these ideas, they’re not sure. Yes, you can absolutely create a blog or community or a movement, but it wouldn’t be a business until you have people paying for it. A business sells things (like a product or service) to customers in exchange for money.

If you want to build a profitable, sustainable business that you can rely on for income, you must be absolutely clear on what people are buying from you.

Here are some simple and straightforward explanations of what can be purchased from you.

Most businesses sell products or services, or a combination of both.

For example, if you sell jewelry or oils or clothing or wine, you’ve got a product-based business. You deliver a physical product and your customer pays you. Conversely, if you are a coach, yoga teacher, hair stylist, or photographer, you’ve got a service-based business. You deliver a service and your client pays you.

But let’s say you make money offering training or advice, you may have a mix of service and product offerings, such as one-on-one consulting (service) and digital programs (product).

Or perhaps you fall under other categories. Maybe you’re a blogger, and you make money through advertising for companies. Or maybe you’ve created a software, and companies pay you monthly for technology use and support.

So, how will your business make you money?

 

Money Isn't the End Game - Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

Money Isn’t the End Game: Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

In rounding up our entrepreneurship theme for the month of May, let’s talk about why it’s important to start a business for the right reasons.

We’ll begin with a quote: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

The gist of this quote is this: Don’t go into business to make money. Success comes when you enthusiastically follow your passion.

Could that be the secret to success?

How many times have you heard people say, “I’m going to start this side business so I can make enough money to quit my day job and do what I really want to do.” Or, “I’m starting this side business so that I can make some passive income while I focus on my real passion.”

And were they successful? Unlikely. Why? Because if your heart isn’t truly in your business, people will feel it. It will be nearly impossible to sustain your business because it doesn’t have heart, passion and purpose.

In today’s hyper-competitive markets, people not only want to feel seen and heard and understood, they want to know that the companies they are supporting care. They want to know that these companies are dedicated to something real and true. These are the companies that have a definitive and inspiring reason for being in the world that goes beyond just financial profit.

Remember this not-so-inspiring fact: nearly half of all businesses fail in the first five years.

Unless you have a strong enough purpose for your company to exist – which means an emotional link between what you’re working to create and why you want it out in the world – you will most likely not follow through on the work that it takes to launch a business and the stamina that it takes to keep it going.

To be an entrepreneur takes a fierce commitment to the hard work day after day after day. The most successful entrepreneurs are not motivated by financial gain. They’re motivated by three things: a drive to make a difference, a deep love of the game, and a desire to use their talents to impact the lives of others.

While building anything from the ground up is incredibly challenging, if you have the right reasons, you’ll have the resilience and perseverance you need to become a success.

Bottom line: don’t start a business to make money, start a business to make a difference.

CGC - How to Set Your Offerings at the Right Price

How to Set Your Services and Products at the Right Price (& Why I Don’t Like Discounts)

When it comes to pricing, you have to think about your big picture – your overall brand, the competitive landscape, and how you want to position yourself in the broader marketplace.

You will want to create and review a pricing model for each offering you have within your business, whether it’s a service, product or both. For each offering, from a revenue standpoint, keep two things in mind: 1) how your offering fits into your business suite (which is all the things you offer), and 2) how you want to position that particular offering in the broader marketplace.

You’ve got to ask yourself: How much revenue do you want to generate with this offering? And how much of each offering do you honestly think you can sell?

Then you have to know your costs. This includes upfront costs, variable costs, fixed costs, and anything that’s an ongoing cost. What do your profit margins look like when you factor these into your pricing model?

(Note: When you’re making your cost/expense estimates, I recommend making a list of everything you need and then contacting vendors and resources for pricing quotes. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend you do as much as possible on your own. It’s always best to start as simply and as inexpensively as possible. )

After getting clear with your budgeting, it’s all about running the numbers and making some predictions. If this makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, just remember that we are all making guesstimates. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to pricing, and these projections get us going. My suggestion is to underestimate what you’re going to sell and overestimate what you’re going to spend.

Now, a quick note on discounts: I personally do not believe in discounting.

I believe in providing as much value as possible for the right price, but discounting that price at any point is not recommended, unless you’re beta testing something, or providing a specific service to a valued client base. An example of the former could be when you first launch a new service and you want your current client base to give it a try in exchange for some valuable feedback. In this case, you can discount for a testing phase of your service. An example of the latter could be if you decide to customize one of your services differently for a particular group of people, or a particular client. I often provide a discounted rate of a customized service to a local wellness community that I work with. I’ve been a loyal member of the community since it first started, and I continue to work with the owners regularly, so the discount feels good, and I’m able to provide services for those who may not be able to afford me under regular circumstances.

To some people, discounting makes sense from a marketing and sales perspective, especially when you’re desperate for cash.

However, and unfortunately, discounts are most often perceived as, and representative of, the following:

  • Lack of confidence: If you believe in what you do, you should sell it at the standard price.
  • Bad precedent: You’re setting the standard. As soon as you lower your prices, your customers will start to expect it going forward.
  • Lower perceived value: Most people value something based on its price. Throwing in a discount tarnishes the value you’re trying to provide.
  • Untrustworthiness: Let’s say you’re trying to make a sale, but it’s not going well. If you’re selling your service at its regular price at the start, and then you quickly provide a discount at the end to win the sale, your customer is going to question your honesty.
  • All about the price: The last thing you want to focus on during a sales conversation is the price, and that’s exactly what happens when you offer a discount. It’s hard to sell something based on price rather than value.
  • Profit cuts: What will the discount do to your revenue? You have revenue goals, and the only way to meet them is to stick to your planned pricing model.

So, unless you’re testing a launch of a new product or service, or you’re very comfortable packaging a service at a discounted rate for a particular group, then you shouldn’t discount your services. In the end though, it’s all up to you.

Just remember to do what feels good.

CGC - Clarity Exercise

Clarity Exercise: What You Want, Why You Want It, and How to Get It

If you want to create any result in your business, or even your life, you have to know two important things: what you want and why you want it.

When starting a business, we often jump in with as many service offerings as we can think of, and chase as many customers as we can – whether or not those services and customers are in line with our most authentic and true business vision.  

Strong businesses are built on strong foundations. To create this foundation, you need clarity, because clarity equals power. The more clear you are about what you want and why you want it, the faster and easier it will be to create results.

Below is an exercise in clarity. Take out a pen and paper and get started!

What do you want?

Whatever it is, you have to be crystal clear about the outcome. If you just started, maybe you want to get your first 10 paying clients within the next 6 months. If you’re already successful, maybe you’re looking to double or triple your profit. Or maybe you’ve been at this for awhile, and you want to take more time off and automate more of your business. Write it down.

Why do you want it?

Now that you know what you want, you have to have a really good reason for wanting it. Without a clear why, there’s no emotion or excitement. If you have enough good reasons to do something, you’ll do it. Write it down.

This is effective!

If you have enough reasons to have your business, you’re going to follow through. When you’re clear on what you want and why you want it, you become unstoppable. Research proves it. Dr. Gail Matthews, a Psychology Professor at a University in California, did a study on goal setting with 267 participants. She found out that you are 42% more likely at achieving your goals just by writing them down.

How do you to get it?

Now, let’s talk about steps you can take right now to start getting the results you want. Here is a highly effective brainstorming exercise that you can use for literally anything that you want. First, take out a piece of paper. At the top of the page, select a goal from the list you came up with earlier, under “What do you want?” and write it down. Then, you will come up with a list of 20 ways you can bring this goal to life. What are 20 ideas you can think of to make this happen?

Let’s consider an example.

Say you’re a health coach, and one of your goals is to increase your profits enough to put aside money for an emergency savings account. You want this, because a savings account provides you with financial security. So, here are some ideas to bring this idea to life:

  1. You can launch a new service, like a bridal program, if that’s your market.
  2. You can create a new product. Perhaps you enjoy blending oils and can sell them.
  3. You can commit to attend 2 networking events per month to increase your contact list.
  4. You can raise your rates.
  5. You can create a referral program to increase client intake.
  6. You can put yourself on a strict budget.
  7. You can automate your business management to online platforms so that you spend less time on admin work and more time with clients.
  8. You can talk with your friends about your goal and see if they have ideas or opportunities for you.
  9. You can join a coaching association and market your services within their platform.
  10. You can host paying workshops or classes.
  11. You can be a guest host in someone else’s workshop or program.
  12. You can build a strategic partnership with a colleague and pass referrals or build a program together.
  13. You can collaborate with a yoga studio to provide a service or presentation for their members, if that’s your market.
  14. You can create an opt-in offer on your website to increase your leads and your client base.
  15. You can lead a regular meet up that supports other business owners and shares references.
  16. You can submit a guest blog or article to a relevant publication.
  17. You can work with influencers to help get the word out about your services.
  18. You can submit your business to directories.
  19. You can train yourself to optimize your website.
  20. You can attend the Empowered Marketing Workshop Series to get better at marketing and learn new ways to market yourself.

Hope this helps provide some clarity in your business. Good luck in making your business goals possible!

CGC - Empowered Marketing Workshop Series

New Workshop Series Starting Soon!

Many business owners out there never put “marketing” and “easy” in the same sentence.

After all, it can be complicated! How many times have you researched the latest marketing tactics only to feel confused, frustrated, overwhelmed and unsupported? How often do you find yourself spending time throwing marketing ideas at the wall to see what (if anything) sticks?

Good news: I can teach you how to market your business.

I can help you put an end to:

  • Hounding clients who aren’t in alignment with you or who don’t want to pay you what you’re worth,
  • Banking on discounts and deals,
  • Duct-taping your marketing strategy together, and
  • Expecting free marketing webinars and downloads to change your circumstances (there’s a reason they’re free).

How can I help you? I relish in developing plans and protocols. I enjoy being knowledgeable about all things marketing. I thrive on organization, and I love simplification. I use these skills to help my clients make marketing easy. And yes, I just used “marketing” and “easy” in the same sentence.

If you want to learn how to use smart, honest online marketing to reach more people, align with the right customers, and convert more visitors into buyers, this workshop series is for you.

Introducing: The Empowered Marketing Program Workshop Series

Through this series, you will finally be able to market your own business with confidence. You will gain the tools, skills, and insight to become a master of your own marketing. You will feel empowered to put your marketing in your own hands, ultimately fueling your profits, your purpose and your passion.  

Workshop Schedule:

Taking place every 2nd Wednesday from 12:00pm to 2:00pm for 7 months

Workshop Location:

Tribe – 1819 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60657

Is this Workshop Series for You?

This series is for conscious, soulful, big-hearted entrepreneurs that want to either launch a business or change the way they market their current business online. Whether you are an action-oriented, ambitious beginner, or already successful but want to grow your audience and revenue online, this is the program for you. This program is perfect for service-based professionals, particularly in the wellness industry, such as coaches, therapists, trainers, and practitioners.

What You Get at Each Workshop:

  • Lecture followed by exercises, along with in-class feedback from Christina,
  • Bonus take-home items from each workshop, including resource lists & tutorials, and
  • A special discount offer on one-hour, one-to-one marketing clinics, which can be used at any point during the series, as often as you’d like.

What It Costs:

$50 per workshop or $270 for the entire series (a 10% discount!)

Click here to sign up!

Workshop Dates & Learning Objectives:

March 13: Defining Your Marketing Goals (Free Session!)

Take this free workshop to learn more about the program and to begin the process of building a strong, profitable business. This workshop will provide you with clarity about what you want and why you want it. You’ll outline your purpose, the people you’re serving, and the product (or service) that you’re selling. This workshop is also an opportunity for Christina to learn more about your business goals and become more acquainted with you as a person and entrepreneur.

April 10: Workshop 1: Planning Your Strategy to Stand Out to Your Ideal Customers

  • Discover your exact ideal customer and learn to think like them.
  • Position yourself by selling outcomes, rather than services.
  • Find out your strengths and what makes you unique.
  • Create your unique selling proposition.
  • Map out how your services and/or products will revolutionize the industry.
  • Outshine the competition by simply making them irrelevant.

May 8: Workshop 2: Enhancing Your Website, AKA Your Digital Storefront

  • Learn which website platform is right for you.
  • Find out exactly what your technical capabilities are when it comes to website design and development.
  • Uncover your website objectives and how they will convert leads to sales.
  • Tap into what your ideal customer wants to see, read and experience on your website.
  • Understand everything you need to make your website successful.
  • Analyze your website’s effectiveness with a simple yet comprehensive checklist.

June 12: Workshop 3: Positioning Your Offerings to Maximize Profits

  • Enhance your service offerings in a way that makes your customers’ lives easier, more convenient and more joyful.
  • Come up with “outside of the box” solutions that will sell your services at rapid-fire speed.
  • Create a Before/During/After strategy to promote customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Learn how to position, price and deliver your services in a way that builds loyal and raving fans.
  • Understand why discounts are unnecessary and potentially damaging (except under a few circumstances).
  • Set your prices at numbers that feel great and make financial sense.

July 10: Workshop 4: Communicating Your Message to Go Viral

  • Get familiar with the pros of content marketing and how you can integrate it into your business.
  • Develop a strategic plan to stay connected with your audience.
  • Generate content ideas and develop a 3-month content calendar.
  • Understand the value of SEO in content marketing and how to integrate it into your plan.
  • Write irresistible headlines that gather clicks, conversions and could even go viral.
  • Offer value and insight directly related to what you are selling through content.

August 14: Workshop 5: Reaching Your Customers to Generate Leads Right Now

  • Find out why opt-ins on your website optimize and expedite success.
  • Create a smart, effective and winning opt-in offer for your website.
  • Learn why email marketing is the most essential and profitable strategy for your marketing plan.
  • Develop an email marketing plan with specific methods to promote your business.
  • Generate leads immediately and at no cost to you.
  • Explore 25 free list building strategies.

September 11: Workshop 6: Marketing Your Business with Proven Strategies

  • Become more comfortable with marketing and find out why and how you can become a phenomenal (and ethical!) marketer.
  • Consider 20 additional and effective marketing strategies that you can try right now.
  • Learn 4 research-driven pricing strategies to add to your marketing toolbox.
  • Create or enhance your current pricing strategies to sell better.
  • Get the best formatting formula that can be used for a PR pitch or a sales letter.
  • Write headlines and copy that makes traffic click.

Click here to sign up!

About Christina:

All too often, confident, capable entrepreneurs have business dreams that can help others and change the world, but they lack the marketing knowledge and skills required to make it a reality. That’s where I come in. I will arm you with the tools, strategies and resources required for you to do it all yourself – in a way that not only saves you time, but makes you more money.

I have a deep commitment to those that want to consciously and authentically make a difference through their businesses, and I want to help you get the word out. My passion is to help you build the business you desire and deserve through honest and authentic marketing practices.

Click here to sign up!