It was a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon on a gorgeous spring day. The sun decided to hide behind the clouds, keeping it a cool 74 degrees. The extra wide residential street was aligned with huge oak trees stretching as out and up towards the sky.
Before the day began, I was taking an early morning run around the neighborhood and saw rows of tents being set up with a variety of offerings…jewerly, antiques, clothing, crafts and even some food vendors setting up their stations. I saw streets being block off with barricades and the calm and relaxed smiles on people faces as they conversed with each other, slowly setting up their stations. What’s happening here today? I had to come back later to find out.
As we strolled through the street, the rest of the tents were set up and there was a small, scattered crowd just wandering as we were; quietly, calmly browsing and enjoying the day. Then we heard it…it came from afar but we could hear it clearly. “Lemonaaaaadddddeee, cooooookies….” It was a voice of a young girl, about 10 years old, riding her bicycle down the street, advertising her booth. The voice was getting a bit louder as she got closer to us. “Lemonaaaaadddddeee, coooookies….” The voice was determined, bold, authoritative, yet gentle and authentic, not at all needy. She demanded respect, and it was obvious that she had it. The vendors around her wished they had the same boldness and charm. And she knew it. She was proud and she knew that once we tasted her lemonade and cookies, we would be changed forever. We looked at each other and smiled, “Wow! That girl is something. She’s gonna be somebody!”
We eventually made it to the lemonade stand. And immediately realized that this ain’t your mama’s lemonade stand. No offense to mamas. But, oh my! It’s was the lemonade stand of all lemonade stands. Oh the details…down to the sign that hung above the stand that was painted with a child’s font with a backward “E”. Three other kids (younger) were attending the stand; one greeted us and the two others were in the back prepping the cups and ice. Once our order was placed, the fresh lemonade was delivered immediately with a smile. One child then led us to the cookie display table and while we were browsing through the cookies…she came…on her bike. She was obviously the boss. She rushed to the stand and called out the order with her same authoritative, yet gentle voice. She handed them the $5 bill and they gave her (3) $1 dollar bills in change. She folded it neatly in her hand and held the new cup of lemonade on the same hand, keeping the (3) $1 dollar bills between the cup and her little palm. I looked over at her and said, “Oh, you deliver too?” Without missing a beat she said, “Yup, I know how to ride one–handed.” And with a quick turn of her handle bars, she took off down the street, into the sunset.
I don’t know how many people she inspired that day, but I am certain it was a big number. As an entrepreneur, I am easily inspired by those who are all in. Not just because they are passionate, but also because they believe in their mission. They believe in their products, and they believe that it can change those who come to be a part. It’s given by the way they speak, think and act. You can clearly hear it in their voice…spoken with determination, boldness, authority…yet with gentleness and authenticity…it’s not at all needy.
Oh, and the lemonade? It was the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted. It changed me forever…
Well, it’s February, and if you are like me, you’ve made your New Year’s Resolutions before the year began. And if you are like 95% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions, you’ve already broken most of them by now. Ouch.
I just heard this story, and it inspired me to write. It’s about a father and his daughter running the Boston Marathon. The male my age would have to run 26.2 miles in less than 3:25 hours to qualify for the race. That’s running less than a 7:50 minute pace. That’s really fast. I currently run a 10 minute pace. That’s really slow, but don’t judge.
Heartbreak Hill is a 88 feet vertical rise from an elevation of 148 feet to 236 feet, it comes during the last phase of the race between the mile 20 and 21 mark. Conveniently, this is also a time where a runner’s muscle glycogen storage is most likely to be depleted…a phrase referred to by marathoners as “hitting the wall.” (Data stolen from Wikipedia AND personally experienced). This is where we figure out what lies deep within us. With complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, and knowing there are still 5-6 miles left to go, what’s going to get us there?
At Heartbreak Hill, the daughter catches her breath and asks her father, “this is so hard, why are we doing this again? Without missing a beat, the father replies with the most profound answer….wait for it…. “We are practicing not quitting.”
Perseverance is one of the most important skills you can have as an entrepreneur. And it’s just that, a skill. Some are naturally talented in this skill. Some are not. But just like anything else, we need to practice to continue developing our skills to persevere, to endure, to NOT QUIT. How? Here are some ways to overcome quitting.
- Watch someone do something impossible: I don’t know about you, but I love hearing stories about each entrepreneur and what they’ve endured to get to where they are today. Small milestones in my own life which have redirected my paths were inspired by people I’ve met and from the stories I’ve heard. I’ve even gotten to watch close friends endure through the pain and got to experience, first-hand, the triumph that came after. It’s inspiring! Seek out the stories that will inspire you. I do this everyday through videos, podcasts and books. I hunger for it; I need it to keep me going.
- It’s just around the corner: We don’t know what we don’t know. But what if we knew it was just around the corner? Sometimes our biggest deals are one phone call away or just one meeting away. I don’t want to miss it. Stay positive and practice not quitting. Because today might be that day, if not, it could be tomorrow.
- Think about the why: Without knowing the “why” we can get lost in the journey. The marathon father knew the “why”, it was to help him and his daughter grow in their skill of “not quitting.” Maybe he knew that this skill, if mastered, would be a game-changer for him and his daughter. Maybe he knew that this skill, if mastered, would affect the outcome of his business, his relationships and his own success. Isn’t that what we are all hoping for? “Why” is our motivator, our roadmap and our guide to getting us there. Know your “why”.
It’s February. It’s time to buckle-up and re-motivate ourselves to finish the race. It’s just the beginning, but let’s start the momentum today, and let’s have a strong tomorrow. Let’s look for opportunities around the corner, and let’s figure out WHY we are going there. What’s at the end of the finish line? Is it worth our pain? Is it worth NOT QUITTING for?
Are happy people grateful people? It makes sense. When you are happy, you are grateful, right? Not really. I think we all know people that have everything that you would think to make them happy, but they are not happy, and they are certainly not grateful. On the other hand, we also know people that have experienced everything that would make them unhappy, but they seem to remain happy.
It turns out that study after study of looking at human behavior and psychology, people that are grateful tends to be happier. So the more accurate statement would be, “Grateful people are Happy People”. No matter what circumstances comes your way, if you remain grateful, you become a happier person.
“In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
I am grateful this morning. Thanksgiving has always been a day to reflect on my own life to give thanks to those who I’ve come to know this year. So, a special shoutout from me to you, THANK YOU for your continuous partnership and allowing BOS to be a part of your success! I am so grateful for you.
Some of the most powerful hours of television are aired during the olympics. Not only do they cover the footage of the neck-to-neck competitions and the victory celebrations, but mostly, they focus on the back stories of the featured athletes and what they’ve overcome to be the best in the world. Their stories have power. They inspire, motivate and even challenge us. These background stories also help us emotionally connect, and I often find myself rooting for someone because I feel like I know them.
Marketing is about connecting with your audience. And in order to connect with your audience, stories must be told. Here’s an example of an iphone commercial that uses this story-telling strategy to engage with the audience emotionally. Rather than highlighting the features and functions of the iphone, they simply tell a holiday story from a misunderstood teen expressing his love for the family through technology that the iphone offers. Brilliant!
Google uses the same strategy and emphasizes the importance of family rather than the product itself by showing how a father connects all of google’s technology and tools for his child.
So, what does that mean for us? We don’t have an advertising budget like Apple or Google to create engaging and beautiful videos which emotionally connect the audience to a brand. But what we do have are the stories to cultivate client loyalty and to continue to attract new clients into our business. Craft your stories and share them on your company blog, post them on social media, email blast them through your newsletter or tell them during your seminars, other marketing functions, and/or sales meetings. Also, keep in mind the following 3 types of stories that you can share to effectively gain trust and loyalty.
Your customers’ stories: Just like your own story, your client also has a story. Ask permission to share the story of how your product or service helped them overcome their challenges. These stories will attract other companies facing similar challenges, and they will more likely work with you.
Educational stories: Use stories to educate and explain concepts and strategies to your clients. Use your own personal examples or analogies. It’s what people will remember and resinate with.
Your own personal story: Tell your own personal story. Share how your company was birthed and what brought you into the industry. Share your failures and your pivotal moments of success. Be authentic and even vulnerable to really get the people to know you. They will learn to trust you as you share your experiences, failures, and life lessons along the way.
Pause for a moment and think of all the services you currently use in your life; your financial advisor, your dentist, your hairdresser, your house cleaning services. Chances are, you were recommend to them by someone you know. Even in your business, your IT services, the printer you use, your accountant, your creative services (wink wink), even to the coffee you drink were probably given to you as a reference from someone else, right? Studies show that 71% of online shoppers read reviews before buying. What others think about your business is important to them. Studies also show that referred customers were both more profitable and loyal than normal customers. Referred customers had a higher contribution margin, a higher retention rate and were more valuable in both the short and long run. (see the actual study published) On top of that, customers say that referrals rate #1 in the utmost importance in determining who they buy from, what they buy, and what services they hire.
We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust. Say what? Okay, I’ll say it again. We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust. We naturally seek out wisdom and experience from people we know and trust, and the more credibility that they have, the more influential they become in the decision making process. I was meeting with a potential client a few weeks ago and about half way through the meeting, I realized that our conversation was already moving towards intricate details about the project. Apparently, the decision to choose my services was already made. His comment to me was that he completely trusted the person that referred him to me and that was more than enough to make his choice. We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust.
Ninety two percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
So now knowing that referral marketing (word-of-mouth marketing) is effective and powerful, how do we implement it into our own business? Here are 3 ideas to consider.
1. Ask for it: Once you deliver the excellent services your customers expect and they recognize you as a credible, valued resource, just simply ask them in person or in email to refer you to others that need your services. It a very logical and organic next step in the relationship. Technology can also come into play by simply sending them a survey through a free service (Survey Monkey) or ask them to rate you on a third-party site such as Yelp and/or Insider Pages that combines customer reviews. Also, ask for testimonials that can be incorporated on to your website and your social media platforms.
2. Coupon it: Print coupons that show %OFF or $OFF your service and distribute a handful to your clients for them to pass on and even for their own use for their next service. Make the offer simple and easy to understand and make sure the client’s information is noted on the coupon so they can be acknowledged when the coupon is being used by a new customer.
3. Reward it: Offer an incentive that they cannot ignore: cash, gift cards, free services, a hug or a high five. Whatever it is, make it awesome. Create a simple online form for your clients to submit referral client information, and when those referrals become your paying client, pay the big reward. Here’s the online form I created to capture and to reward my clients. By the way, feel free to fill it out and recommend me; there will be a $100 CASH for your reward as your referrals contract me for website services!
I parked today at the beach. If you knew me, one thing I don’t carry around is loose change. This has been my problem for years. I need to park, but I don’t have change. I even came up with a simple solution of carrying rolls of quarters in my glove department of my car, but once it ran out…who’s got time to re-fill it? Not me. So, I keep running into the same problem…no change – no parking. I envision that someday, one beautiful day, I will be able to park at a meter and not have to bend over with my iphone flashlight to look underneath my seat for a couple of loose quarters.
That day was today. I went to my favorite spot this morning for a run. I boldly parked in front of the meter, pulled out my iphone, clicked on my parking meter app, punched in my meter number, chose my minutes and off I went. In fact, when the time was about to run out, my app gave me a quick alert and asked me if I wanted to add more time. I was already near my car so I said to my phone, “no, but thank you and I love you.” Just kidding, I didn’t say that out loud, that was just my inside voice.
The truth is that this parking meter solution started with Imagination (ability to envision things that don’t exist) moved on to Innovation (applying creativity to come up with a unique solution) and ended with Entrepreneurship (applying innovation to bring ideas to life to the rest of the world). Tina Seelig, the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, talks about how this is the “Inventure Cycle”: capturing the attitudes and actions necessary to foster and bring breakthrough ideas to the world. Simply put, we are just one idea away. But we need to turn that idea into action. And while actively pursuing, we must have persistence and inspire others along the way. That’s entrepreneurship. It doesn’t matter where we work or what we do, if we possess the character of persistence and we are able to inspire others, we are entrepreneurs.
So the puzzle and quilt thing…there are two kinds of people: one who builds puzzles and the one who makes quilts. The one who builds the puzzles looks at the box cover to see exactly what their life is supposed to look like and they put the pieces together to achieve it. But, what if there’s a piece missing? They stand paralyzed and frustrated, not being able to complete the puzzle. Then there are the ones who make quilts. They take all things at their disposal and put them together to create solutions to their problems. They live with imagination, apply creativity and innovation to solve problems. Then they put their innovation into action, and with persistence, they inspire the city of Newport Beach to put their devices on every parking meter which then inspires me to download the app on my iphone so that I can go running without loose change.
Let’s make quilts together, it’ll be fun!
As a new Entrepreneur, I am constantly seeking wisdom and inspiration from others who share their stories of failures, triumphs and “AHA” moments that re-shapes and/or launches their business to a new level. It has become my daily ritual to carve out some time to listen to podcasts, watch videos and read blogs to educate, feed my inspiration and to create aha moments of my own. These are my top 6 that I listen to and why:
1. Pat Flynn: He shares his strategies on his successful online business and he interviews entrepreneur guests to teach marketing techniques that helped them grow their business. Very insightful and Pat is very genuine and real. I have implemented more ideas from listening to Pat then anyone else. This is my favorite Podcast.
2. John Lee Dumas: He interviews one entrepreneur per day, 7 days a week. He asks the same questions in a same tone with the same emphasis on the same syllable…hahaha! However, there’s something to be said for consistency, because the interviewee is usually very prepared to answer each question. I actually like it because the questions still leads to helping the interviewee share their story of their success, failures and aha moments.
3. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders: This is a recorded seminar series on entrepreneurship at the Stanford University. Guest speakers are crazy brilliant and have accomplished much. This fascinates and inspires me the most as the guests have taken it to a whole another level.
4. Michael Hyatt: He coaches and teaches on intentional leadership. He has great wisdom on business but he focuses on the heart issues of entrepreneurship and life. This helps me put things into perspective and helps me see the bigger picture.
5. Tim Ferriss: He’s the author of the book The 4 Hour Workweek. He has high-profile guests and interesting topics such as…”Getting Punched and Picking Winners” You just have to listen to figure it out.
6. Brendon Burchard: He’s a Motivational Speaker/Personal Development Trainer. He also teaches business marketing and helps teach pqeople how to grow their business. The content that he puts out there is excellent.
Hope you can find these resources helpful. Comment below to share with us who you listen to.
When we started our Private Tutoring business 10 years ago, social media didn’t play a significant role in helping the growth of our business. In fact, the market studies showed that 80% of the sales conversions happened after 7 brand impressions (your product or an ad is viewed by a customer). So you know what we did? Everything! We did print media, mass mailing, banners, magazine advertising and road signs.
One funny story, we purchased a couple of road signs and strategically placed them at stop signs where every car in the area would see them. Well, apparently, this didn’t comply with the city rules, so a city maintenance vehicle went around and picked them up each day to dispose of them. I just happened to know where the dumpster was, so, at night, so I would simply retrieve my signs back and set them back at the same location the next day. (Not recommended). The point was, I had to get my brand out there.
Well, today, social media has made it a little bit easier to create brand impressions through content marketing. Content marketing is a technique that creates content to attract a defined audience. This defined audience would eventually turn into raving fans (through building trust, relationship and loyalty), then your product or your services would be purchased by your raving fans at a very high percentage conversion rate. Boom! That’s all there is to it. So, now you are left with one question, how do we grow our defined audience of raving fans?
1. Create amazing content: You can offer something that no one else can; your thoughts, strategies, techniques and experience on how something worked, changed or impacted your life or your business. Stop selling and start educating your audience. For example, if I am a weight trainer, I might start blogging about “How To” workout secrets, or an amazing green smoothie recipes, or the latest diet myths, or the best workout app resource…list goes on and on. This will become more interesting and useful for the audience to read and it will also help build your defined audience.
2. Give it away for free: Offer your amazing content for free through your blog. Then, create a link to your blog through all the social media platforms and through your email blasts. Your goal here to have the whole world see it, to have the whole world visit your website, to have the whole world to sign up for more awesome content…and eventually, to have the whole world buy your product.
3. Get the name and email addresses of your defined audience: Easy to say but how do you do it? Give readers something in return for their email address (i.e. gifts, giveaways, promotional items, a chapter from your book, an ebook, a recipe or reports on topics of interests to them). If they commit to giving you their name and email, they’ve made a commitment on their end, saying they are interested in what you have to offer and it’s valuable enough for them to help in their business. This is the exact fan base you want.
Through content marketing, you are creating far beyond 7 brand impressions; we are now talking about hundreds of impressions that you are NOT forcing on them but that they are seeking out from YOU. This builds trust, this builds relationships and this builds loyalty. This will change casual readers/followers into raving fans, and those raving fans into your #1 customers.
I am a runner. I logged close to 1000 miles last year, and I am tracking to do the same this year. It is important to me that I have the right running shoes that are a proper fit and that allow me to run at my best. So why is that that when I am shopping for running shoes, I neglect looking for the features of how my next shoes can help me run better, faster and free from injury, but I first walk over to the specific brand section and I am immediately drawn to the design – colors, styles and overall look of the shoes before I even try them on?
Psychology breaks it down:
What is a brand? “It’s an emotional and intellectual association people make with a specific person or thing.” What does that mean? Well, it means that a pair of Nike running shoes is not just materials sewn together to protect and cushion your feet while running, it is a competitive, over–achiever with lean and defined muscular physique exclaiming “just do it!” A brand is filled with the characteristics, traits and hopes of a living person. It means that somewhere in my subconscious mind, I want to be that guy, and if I wear these shoes, I am half way there. I just have to work on the lean and defined muscular physique…P90X anyone?
Why we choose Design over Function? Because most of us perceive good design as someone who does good work. It manages our expectations and experience in many ways. How we feel at that moment is going to help us engage and even buy. And it’s directly influenced by the design.
What does this mean for you? When it comes down to it, design IS your brand. It reflects who you are, what you do, and what you care about. For your company, it reflects your culture, your purpose and your vision. Your website is like a room – the only room in your house you can show to the world. It’s where every item is displayed for the sole purpose of impressing visitors to buy products, follow your ideas, or use your services. Does your current website reflect who you are? I’ve added a quick checklist for you to find out.