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Reinvent Yourself – Make Money With Your Know How
Is There Another Way to Make Money?
Am I crazy or did making money suddenly become more difficult? That alone is causing many of us a lot of stress. I’m a lot like you in that I have had a very successful business, but over the last few years it seems that all the ways I used to make money changed. The message changed. The tools changed. In fact, for a lot of us, even our customer changed.
How about your industry? Did your industry take a hit? Are you in a race to the bottom? It used to be easy to be profitable. These days, even though people still need you, have you lowered your prices to the point where you are on the verge of workaholic insanity or even bankruptcy because your margins have disappeared? It used to be that we just did what we do. If we told people where we could be found and delivered a good product, the rest was easy.
It is tempting to blame it on the economy and dig in our heels, but let’s talk turkey: What do you do that people want to pay good money for?
I watch or am asked to watch a dozen videos and webinars each week. Each expert is promising me incredible financial results if I just use their failure-free lead generation, Internet marketing, sales, search engine, money-making system. If you are truly like me, though, you watch them and most leave you cold. I wonder if I will really get the results they promise. They make it sound too easy. But there is a little voice inside my head telling me that they are right. I should, we all should, be using our knowledge to make our lives easier.
As I started to see my own expertise emerge, I was startled how time after time I noticed my clients’ expertise as well. As we started to see ourselves and the market for our product differently, we became happier. We started to envision selling ourselves in a new, more profitable way. Not only that but it also became interesting and fun again. Our optimism and our vision came into focus.
It is great, but it isn’t easy. Don’t let anyone tell you that reinventing yourself is. But if you look at yourself and your business with new eyes, you will have a new spring in your step.
Here is what I have discovered: You must do five things to start renewing yourself.
Why are you on this planet?
What have you done for a long time or studied and know a lot about?
What do you do really well?
What is your story?
How can you package your unique talent?
When you have completed these steps, you will be ready to build your plan. Best of all, you won’t feel at odds with yourself, your customer, or your market. You’ll be refreshed and excited.
What do you have to lose? More sleepless nights and nagging thoughts? I have a better dream for you: An evergreen business that will bring out the best in you. How does that sound?
What is your Mission?
A big part of overwhelm is forgetting who you are.
Susan knows a lot about running a call center. For the last 25 years, she had successfully employed a phone sales team and built a comfortable business, lifestyle, and savings plan. Her clients are other small-business owners who need someone to make calls, create leads, and set appointments for them, and they would rather have someone else do it for them. When I met her, she felt just plain beat up. The economy had taken its toll on many of her customers. Some had gone out of business, and others just couldn’t afford her services anymore. She thought that maybe she should sell the business or lay off her staff and just be a one-woman shop. But those ideas left her feeling tired and overwhelmed. As we started to work together, we dove first into her mission and her vision.
It is predictable to think that the “mission statement” looks like those wordy pieces of dreck that hang on corporate walls. These are statements that no one understands and not one believes. You may think this “statement” is a piece of marketing copy that you will be putting in your brochure and on your website. Not so fast. I am asking you to do some navel gazing and dig deep. What is really important to you? Why do you do what you do? You don’t have to show it to anyone yet. So let ‘er rip.
Over the next few weeks, Susan realized that she started her business because she is a great salesperson and relationship builder. She truly enjoys the great conversations she has on the phone. She enjoys her staff of people who are inquisitive and have the ability to influence. Her Mission is to change the perception of salespeople and create an environment in which they feel valued for their contribution.
Additionally, she craved travel. She felt trapped in her office. Even though she was revitalized by her refound Mission, her vision was to change her lifestyle, and that idea brought a skip to her step. While she couldn’t see it yet, she started to think about how she could travel and be true to her mission.
As I’ve been trying to reinvent myself, I’ve spent an incredible amount of energy copying other people. “Fake it til you make it” is a legitimate strategy until it exhausts you. Overwhelm comes from the energy spent being something you are not. In Susan’s case, someone she could no longer be.
Answer these questions:
Who are you?
Why are you on this planet?
What is wrong with the world that you intend to fix?
What will the world look like when you have fixed it?
If you are going to dedicate yourself to reinventing yourself and making money, please be strategic about it. By strategic I mean that you need to align what you plan to do with who you are. You will love life a lot more if you are doing what resonates and is meaningful to you and everyone else knows when you are doing something and speaking about something that resonates and is meaningful to you.
We are all searching for honestly and authenticity. These days you can only be successful by connecting with people for whom your mission resonates. When you make that connection, making money and delivering your mission are easier. Stop the painful attempt to be someone else. Be yourself.
What do you know?
What have you done for a long time or studied and know a lot about?
After Susan became clear about who she is, I asked her to think about what she knows a lot about. When prompted, she admitted that she knew a lot about how people behave when receiving a cold call. She knows the words that open the door and how to put people at ease. She understands when to call and what to say. She had done it for so long that it was like second nature to her. She had also successfully trained dozens of past employees in these same skills. People came to her not just to make these calls for them but also because she had a reputation as a person you could trust to help build these skills.
Have you been in your business for so long that you can do it with your eyes closed? It can often feel this way as well when you have been in a course of study for a long time. For you it seems like breathing. You can’t recognize that other people haven’t a clue as to what you are talking about.
Customers say you’re an industry expert.
People ask you for your help and offer to pay you for your advice.
People are helpless without you.
Customers refer friends when they have complicated problems.
Believe me when I tell you that I am overwhelmed like you and if you can make my life simpler at the moment I need you AND I don’t have to do it myself. I’m putty in your hands.
What if you could take what you know really well, that which may or may not be obvious, and you could sell it? When you can articulate what it is and then dumb it down-way down-so that even a simpleton like me can understand it, you are onto something.
Here are some other examples I’ve seen of people’s expert skills that have great value. They are as broad as they are simple, and we need them. Consider:
A carpet cleaner helps people with difficult and immediate spot removal.
A mortgage broker helps people who lost homes to buy again.
A bookkeeper teaches QuickBooks to other bookkeepers.
A veterinarian gives blow-by-blow surgical procedures.
A landscaper shows how to plan backyard spaces.
A plumber shows how to unclog a drain.
A Web designer teaches others to make their own websites.
A business coach teaches how to create a business that runs without you.
Determine what you know. Do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Chances are your expertise is as deep as it is wide. But when you look for it, try to see what other people see. Ask others what they see if you can’t. Out of that will come the amazingly simple thing that you can do that others wish they could do too. Surprise: Your expertise!
What do you do really well?
It may not be what you think. I have many things I am adequate at doing but not great. I have only a few things I am great at and one sweet spot. You may have a hard time recognizing your own greatness, or you may think you are absolutely brilliant at everything. In either case, narrow it down.
If you have been in business for a long time and are an expert in your industry, what would your best customer say you are really good at doing? Why don’t you ask a few of them? They will tell you EXACTLY why they bought your product or service and what makes you unique. The results may surprise you. The process of narrowing down your sweet spot or unique ability is freeing. It allows you to focus on the most important thing you do and, I hope, allow you to release lots of the other stuff.
Susan discovered that her sweet spot wasn’t making the calls herself. Although she had the knowledge, she was at her best when she was grooming others to make great calls. Her sweet spot was teaching what she knows. She is a comfortable teacher and speaker, and over the years she had developed some tools that she used to train newbies to the call center. Many of her past employees were now working in sales and making great commissions in other industries. In fact, she felt she could teach in just about any forum: one on one, classroom, stage, video set. Her unique ability was teaching by presentation.
You may be a good writer, but you are also great at editing. You are an excellent manager, but you are also great at having difficult conversations with people. You may be good at baking pies, but you are also amazing at selecting fruit.
Let’s take the fruit analogy and get strategic with it. You are a baker, but your sweet spot is selecting fruit. Your Mission is to see organic fruit widely available. Now you are thinking of teaching other bakers how to pick the best organic fruit and promote their local farmers. Do you think there may be a market for that expertise? You will need to start a research project around the needs of organic fruit pie bakers. If that need does exist, you’re golden. But what about the needs of organic fruit growers? Could they use an expert pie maker to help their customers pick organic fruit? Great question!
Here is your assignment:
Make a list of all the things you do. Make it a long list. I know it is long, right?
Once you create the list, draw a line through all the things you know you don’t do great.
Next, draw a line through all the items that you really don’t like. You may be good at them, but we don’t want to keep them around.
Take what is left and put them on post-it notes and stick them to a wall, a flip chart, or someplace where you can look at them and play with them.
Take whatever time you need or as many times as you need to change them around, but put what’s left in order of best to least.
When you are happy with your order, what have you discovered?
Don’t worry about the research you need to do to discover if there is a market for your unique ability. Chances are you are already successful with your unique ability. You will next be looking for ways to develop your unique ability as expertise.
Tell Your Story
Why is your story so important to your success?
We are now remembering what it means to tell our story. If you go back to a more illiterate time, telling stories was the primary way we learned. The story could be a sharing of knowledge, morals, history, or events. This desire of ours to be enrapt by the story is stronger than ever before.
I don’t believe we have lost this tradition. Between the movies, Facebook, Amazon’s bookshop, and YouTube, we prove to ourselves every day that storytelling is alive and well. Here is the part that I find interesting: I believe that we are being called upon to tell about who we are through stories more than ever before. I believe that it is part of the dramatic shift of what we in the first world are needed to do, even when it is an idiotic cat video.
Susan went off to write her story. She started her story before she opened the call center, when she was working for a large phone carrier call center as a young woman. She told what she learned, which included how absolutely coldhearted the training, expectations, and delivery were in that center and how she vowed to do it differently. Through all the trials and tribulations of starting her business and getting happy clients, her story revealed an underdog mission that was heartfelt and believable. Would people want to learn what she knew once they knew her story? I think so.
Tell your story. People want to hear your story. They especially love the woe to win story. They love the hero’s story. They love stories of redemption or your discovery stories. They don’t really want to hear about how you were born brilliant and you remain ever brilliant. What they want to hear about is your honest path and how that has led you to where you are today-ready to share what you know. Start at the beginning and tell it all.
Please take this exercise seriously. Find your dream. Describe your frustrations. Flush out the characters. Share what you have learned and how it has led you here. This story will serve you and your customers over and over again.
How can you package your unique talent?
Now what do you do? There are dozens of effective ways to package your expertise, but some heavy lifting is required to figure out not only what you want to do but also what your customers want you to do. Most of us think exclusively about selling a product online. It is a big world out there. There is an ocean of customers in a sea of options. Your customers may be out there, and the Internet may be the best way to find them. But not necessarily. Possibly there is a live answer or potentially a combination of delivery methods.
Here is a short list of preparatory research steps you can take to decide what will be best.
SEO search of keywords to find out what people are looking for.
Poll your current customers about what they want.
Identify your ideal customer. Picture the person you love most and how your life would be if you only had more of them.
Research your competitors. What are they doing? What are they NOT doing?
Susan wanted to blend what she does well-her expertise and travel. What did she decide to do? She decided to coin herself The ColdCall Queen. She started a blog to start positioning herself and building an online presence. She decided to write a book about her knowledge as a form of calling card to develop her authority. She would follow that with a live seminar for people who wanted to pursue a career in sales. Her vision: she could deliver her seminars anywhere in the world. She could travel to speak. But mostly she got excited about her new way of looking at her business.
Question: How can you keep people coming to you, for what you do best, that they need, time and time again?
Question: What is the most obvious way to package your expertise?
Question: What is the one thing you can do to start packaging yourself?
The Million-Dollar Question: What is stopping you?
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