Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

You know you’re really good at what you do. You offer tremendous value. You make people’s lives better. Maybe you even help them make more money.

Yet chances are pretty good that for the sake of getting business through the door, you’ve been tempted to take on clients at ridiculously low fees. Or worse yet, you’ve agreed to work with clients that you knew from the start were a train wreck, just waiting for you to help make it happen.

There you have it: The perfect recipe for instantly turning the business of your dreams into the nightmare of your day.

How does this scenario sound instead?

What do you think about working exclusively with clients who appreciate you, who value the expertise you bring to the table, and generously (and gladly) pay you for it?

I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like the makings of “business nirvana,” where you work exclusively with “high-end” clients. You see, high-end clients are those whose values, business mission, and vision inspire others, including you as their consultant or coach. These clients take action and produce results in the real world. They’re simply fun and energizing to work with.

The curse of low-paying, lousy clients: Is there a cure?

But even with great clients like this, far too many service professionals end up undervaluing their worth. And so they end up under-charging. Or worse: Repeatedly giving away tremendous value for free.

Let’s take a look at this more closely. The “Client Profitability and Resonance” dashboard, shown below, displays a hypothetical roster of clients, based on their level of profitability and “resonance,” that is, whether you have good chemistry with the client (or not).

Starting in the left lower-quadrant, these are clients who aren’t very profitable to work with and they have the worst “chemistry.” In the short- and long-run, you’d best AVOID these clients at all cost.

In the left upper-quadrant, these clients are profitable, but the chemistry with them isn’t great. They are HIDDEN LIABILITIES because these types of clients tend to be less appreciative of your business and more likely to dump you with barely a moment’s notice.

Moving on to the right lower-quadrant, these clients with whom you resonate well, but they aren’t as profitable to your business as they could be. No matter how fulfilling it may be to work with them, you’d do well to UPGRADE these clients to higher levels of profitability.

Finally, in the right upper-quadrant, you have your HIGH-END CLIENTS, the clients who are the most rewarding to work with AND the most profitable.

Which quadrants do your own clients fall into?

If the majority of your existing clients are NOT in the “BEST CLIENTS” category, there’s room for upgrading your business model and best practices. That includes raising your fees and being a lot more selective about your clients.

A High-End Client Tractor Beam?

If you’re ready to give up hourly fees, chronic underpricing, working with borderline clients, and giving away tons of free consulting and coaching time, I can to show you how to work exclusively with high-end clients AND get paid based on the value you provide.

I invite you to be my guest for the “Paid Sessions That Sell: How to Get Paid to Get High-End Clients” webinar. This complementary webinar is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th at 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).

To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

If you’ve ever experienced frustration in getting clients to start working with you, or ended up working with clients who don’t pay you what you’re worth, this webinar will open up your mind to an approach that I think is just ground-breaking. And it’s not just because you get paid to prospect. It’s ground-breaking because you learn how to:

  • Eliminate all “tire-kickers” (who simply waste your time)
  • Select only high-end clients to work with
  • Markedly increase your conversion rates (in some cases, 75% – 90%)
  • Set your fees (and get paid) based on value and results produced
  • Get PAID while you prospect!

To your freedom, contribution, and prosperity,

George

P.S. I used this very approach over seven years ago to create an annualized, six-figure revenue stream in just 73 days, when I started my business from scratch. And it’s not just me: I guided one of my clients to create his annualized, six-figure revenue stream in 70 days!

P.P.S.I’m excited to share this approach with you because it’s so powerful and effective for cultivating a solid connection with your prospective client, winning new, high-end business, and ultimately, providing outstanding value to clients at all stages of your relationship, even from the very beginning. To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

The Wrong Way to Start a Business

The Wrong Way to Start a Business

Based on true stories (names changed to protect the guilty)…

Helen: James, great to see you again!

James: Helen, it’s been a long time! What have you been up to?

Helen: Oh, lots of things! But the biggest news is that I’m working on a potential large-scale project with a software development company. They’re having trouble with employee morale.

James: Wow, that’s interesting because I’ve recently worked out a powerful method of selecting the right people for selecting team members and leaders. And then getting team members to work well together. It’s called the “I-Factor Method.”

Helen: “Really? That sounds great!

James: Yes, it really works well and I have stats, testimonials, and case studies to back it up. My only problem is there’s just one of me and I don’t have the time or energy to handle all the work.

Helen: Well consider your problem solved. I’ve been using an approach that I call the “Fruit Fly Factor.” This approach is revolutionary; it allows the users to essentially clone themselves and leverage their time and energy.

James: No kidding. Well if we could put the “I-Factor Method” together with the “Fruit Fly Factor,” we’d be sitting on a gold mine!

Helen: Yeah, that’s a great idea!

James: Let’s start a business together!

Helen: Yeah, lets!

James: Let’s shake on it!

Helen: Deal!

Helen and James both burned a lot of midnight oil, trying to get their business model off the ground.

They were so excited about this new business idea, that both of them took their attention away from their existing businesses. So now cash flow was a big problem.

But after a year of struggling to agree on marketing plans, their marketing message, and compensation formulas, Helen and James were barely on speaking terms.


Yeah, I know. This scenario sounds overly simplistic, doesn’t it? But the sad reality is this type of scenario plays itself out, in various shapes and forms, on a daily basis.

Last year, I wrote an article about the power of collaboration, through the experiences of young children working on a project together: Is the “Competitive Advantage” Really An Advantage? The Case for “Collaborative Advantage”. It turns out that that younger children were more effective in working together than the older ones. As adults in business, the problem is that most of us don’t understand where to start, what to consider, what to ask, or how to proceed, when it comes to working with others, either formally or informally.

So whether working together in a formal partnership, a joint venture, a consortium of businesses, or some other form of collaboration, most of these undertakings are doomed from the start.

Most people get so excited about their ideas and about working together, that they missed key steps of laying a solid foundation for their collaborative efforts.

And one of those key steps is writing out your agreements. Agreements are simply statements of what you are committed to achieving, how you will work together, who is responsible for what, and so forth.

Not exactly the first place you’d think to start. It’s just not as exciting as working on your product development, or going out to market your services. But in the absence of agreements, chaos reigns.

In my own business experience, I’ve been burned more than once through lack of agreements. And so have some of my clients (before they started working with me).

These experiences fueled my quest to figure out how to successfully collaborate with others, formally and informally. Fortunately, I came across the work of Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D.

As a specialist in supporting healthy, happy relationships, Dorene has used her background as a social worker, therapist, and coach to help countless entrepreneurs and business leaders achieve success—in spite of seemingly insurmountable differences with their business partners, colleagues, and collaborators.

Based on our shared commitment to ushering in a new economic era based on connection, collaboration, and communication, Dorene and I are both on a mission to support entrepreneurs in learning how to work with others, synergistically and in ways that ripple benefits far beyond the business itself.

If you are considering or currently are working on a joint effort with one or more other people, we would like to share our combined experience, ideas, and insights for how to get started on a solid foundation.

Join us on Tuesday, January 17th at 5pm Pacific Time for the “Collaboration Catalyst” teleseminar.

 

During this 75-minute session, you’ll learn:

  • Why working with others is the business model of the future.
  • The single most important place to start when considering working with one or more individuals or businesses.
  • How to select and choose good collaborators.
  • The three essential elements you need in your agreements, the absence of which will guarantee failure.
  • And much, much more.

Who can benefit?

If you are currently involved in one or more of the following (or planning to be), there’s a good chance you’ll learn things that could mean the difference between outrageous success and costly failure:

  • Partnership
  • Joint venture
  • Strategic alliance
  • Consortium
  • Working on a team

P.S. If you’re sick and tired of working as a “Lone Ranger,” with or without a “Tonto,” be sure to join us. What we have to share will open your mind to another world of practical options!

P.P.S. Even if you’re not interested in learning about working more effectively with others, I invite you to read the article I mentioned above what young children can teach us about the power of collaboration. Here’s the link again:  Is the “Competitive Advantage” Really An Advantage? The Case for “Collaborative Advantage” 

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Last week, I wrote about what I think are practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. I wrote about the first four, which are listed below in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.

1. Time and Productivity Management
2. Storytelling
3. Marketing
4. Selling
5. Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
6. Verbal Presentation Skills
7. Written Presentation Skills
8. Visual Presentations Skills
9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
11. Turnkey Systemization

 

Today, I’m going to describe the next four critical skillsets:

  • Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
  • Verbal Presentation Skills
  • Written Presentation Skills
  • Visual Presentations Skills

 

Business Financial Management, Including How to Read Financial Statements
If you’re going to run any business, ultimately you have to become profitable. That means you have to learn how to manage business finances. A great place to start is by learning how to read business financial statements.

When I started out in the business world, I had no idea what a P&L was or to do with a Balance Sheet. My accountant and other professionals tossed these terms around as if I should have been born knowing this stuff already. It took me a while to figure out that a “P&L” or “Profit and Loss Statement” was the same thing as an “Income Statement.” And it’s one thing to understand the “lingo,” but another completely different thing to figure out what the numbers are telling you.

Once I set out to understand the “lingo” and how to interpret financial statement, I ran into further frustration: Many of the books on the subject were either poorly written, assuming the reader understood “financial street talk” or skipped fundamental steps, or they contained frank errors in their explanations!

Out of my own frustration with this experience, I created a plain English training on the basics of understanding financial statements. I’ll dust it off, if there’s enough interest. Just enter your email address here to let me know you’re interested.

 

Pricing Based on Value
I’ve written a lot about pricing over the past few months. Whether it’s a product or service, most entrepreneurs don’t understand how to set their prices and fees. The key to pricing starts with clarifying the value – the specific outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences – that you provide through your services and products. Then flip that around and ask yourself, “What are the outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences that people won’t get if they don’t use your products and services?”

Read more about pricing based on value here.

Verbal Presentation Skills
If you want to inspire support and enthusiasm for your vision, you’ll need to be effective at persuading people in seeing what you see. If you study the great leaders of the world, regardless of personality and style, have mastered the ability to motivate using their words. Just do an internet search for Martin Luther King (“I Have a Dream”) or Ronald Reagan (“Challenger Disaster Address”).

I know that a lot of people join Toastmasters to learn how to present. While I don’t have direct experience with this organization, I’ve heard good things about them.

But there’s so much more to being effective in your speaking, whether it’s one-on-one or one-to-millions. Singers and stage performers call this “stage presence.”

From a practical standpoint, most entrepreneurs aren’t going to study acting or singing in order to become more effective in their speaking. So you know where a great place to learn verbal presentation skills? From a radio talk show host. Really.

You see in radio, you don’t see people’s faces. So when you’re on the air, you have to be really tuned into the nuance of your voice – tone, volume, inflection, delivery cadence, pauses, breathing, and even body posture and gestures.

If you’re interested, I happen to know a great radio talk show host, Wayne Kelly. Wayne co-hosts the Wayne and Jayne Show in British Columbia. It’s not listed on his website, but if you contact him through http://www.onairpublicity.com/, he can help you develop a powerful “on-air” presence that will serve you in any and all conversations and presentations.

Written Presentation Skills
Most writers are not born that way. At least in my career, I haven’t seen a single newborn baby who could write. So get over it, if you are saying to yourself, “But I’m not a very good writer.” Writing clearly and in a way that compels the reader is a skill that can be developed. Now there are different types of writing, but here, I’m talking about writing compelling marketing copy and education-based marketing material.

Writing well means telling a story that engages the reader and pulls them along. Joe Sugarman, the mail order maverick from the 70’s and 80’s, was an early pioneer and master of marketing by telling stories. Here are a couple of great places to start: Triggers: 30 Sales Tools you can use to Control the Mind of your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade

and

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to Write Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters and Mail Order Entrepreneurs

Visual Presentation Skills
I used to think that all you needed to be successful was good verbal and writing skills. But the advent of high-speed internet becoming more ubiquitous has made it important to be able to communicate your vision through online presentations, video, and slide-sharing.

When it comes to a resource that lays out the essentials of what you need to know, I recommend Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.

Next time, I’ll write about the remaining practical skills that every entrepreneur needs to have:

  1. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  2. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  3. Turnkey Systemization

Until then, let’s hear from you. What other practical skills do you think are critical to the success of an entrepreneur?

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

As the job market has shriveled up, more people have become “unplanned entrepreneurs.” You may be one of them. I think this is a good thing. And also a bad thing.

The good thing is that people aren’t waiting around for our governments to provide solutions to problems that are multifactorial and complex in nature. Personally, I’m counting on the entrepreneurs of the world, not our governments, to see us through and beyond our current circumstances of financial, social, and political chaos.

The bad thing is that most entrepreneurs, planned or not, don’t really understand what they are getting into. They think to themselves, “I’ve got an idea for a product or service that’s going to change the face of the planet; let’s start a business!”

The other night, I was speaking with a couple of students from my alma mater, Brown University. They are part of the Brown University Entrepreneurs Program. With the preceding observations in mind, we discussed ideas on how to better support students who are either interested in learning about entrepreneurship or already have an idea that they want to bring to market.

A number of support programs for entrepreneurs have sprung up across the United States.

I took a look at the course descriptions and curricula for some of the programs offered at Brown. And while the material is interesting, my overriding concern was that a great deal of the material wasn’t immediately practical. This reminded of being in medical school again: One of my professors was either arrogant or ignorant enough to say “We know that half of what we’re teaching you is totally irrelevant information; we just don’t know which half that is.” I mean, come on, does knowing the total cross-sectional area of capillaries in the human body make me a better surgeon? I guarantee it doesn’t. But it was on one of my exams that I passed.

So here’s my gripe: I figure if you’re going to invest time, money, and energy in learning, wouldn’t you want to invest wisely? Wouldn’t you want to invest in gaining practical knowledge that you can apply to produce results?

If you’re a “yes” to these two questions, I’ve put together a short list of fundamental, yet critical skills that any successful entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire for (listed in no particular order):

  1. Time and Productivity Management
  2. Storytelling
  3. Marketing
  4. Selling
  5. Interpreting Financial Statements
  6. Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. Written Presentation Skills
  8. Visual Presentations Skills
  9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills

This week, I’ll address the first four skills; next week, I’ll address some more.

Time and Productivity Management
I don’t make any claims to being a master of time and productivity management. But I have have studied this area extensively and have a lot to say about it. I’ve studied the bestseller by David Allen, “Getting Things Done” and “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman. I’ve even hired various personal organizers to physically descend on my office space. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s time management software. And I’ve read lots of different books specifically on getting organized. But all the reading in the world hasn’t made a single bit of difference for me. And it won’t for you, either.

The problem most entrepreneurs have is that they don’t have a system, a true repeatable process, for identifying what to focus on what matters most and how to process and organize “stuff” that comes at you every day.

Personally, I’ve developed a workflow that I’ve synthesized from a variety of different resources. Perhaps one day, I’ll create a comprehensive training on this, but in the meantime, here’s are some resources from my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Hagen, that I’ve found extremely useful and practical: http://elizabethhagen.com/home-office-organization-products (men, just ignore all the pink in her material)

Storytelling
No I’m not talking about “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stories. I’m taking about story frameworks. Storytelling predates the written language by thousands of years. So the human mind has been wired to tune into stories. Effective storytelling has the power to influence people and shape the world. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. (I Have a Dream speech) and John F. Kennedy (Man on the Moon address). Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story

Marketing & Selling
Marketing and selling are two distinct skill sets that use different parts of your brain. Marketing is simply educating others, promoting your platform, your beliefs, your vision. The goal of good marketing is to attract potential buyers who are looking for what you have to offer and are ready to buy now. Now there are a ton of resources on marketing. You just need one to get you organized and pointed in the right direction. If you’re in the service-based business, I recommend The Fast Track Marketing Club for Independent Professionals http://actionplan.com/fasttrack

Created by my good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton, this program gives you a comprehensive, yet practical approach to marketing. This is the very content that helped me to overcome my own allergy to marketing and selling, years ago.

In contrast, selling is simply helping your potential buyer clarify their needs, wants, and desires and then guiding them through the decision-making process to arrive at solid plan of action. Of all the resources out there, I highly recommend SNAP Selling, written by my friend and colleague, Jill Konrath. SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers

I’ve attempted to give you a primer on some of the key skills I believe are important to your entrepreneurial success. No doubt, there are lots of other skills to develop. Next week, in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2, I’ll address the following skills:

  • Interpreting Financial Statements
  • Verbal Presentation Skills
  • Written Presentation Skills
  • Visual Presentations Skills

And I’d love to see your comments on other entrepreneurial skills that you think are important.

Do You Think You Can Change When Change Matters Most?

Do You Think You Can Change When Change Matters Most?

As we get closer to the end of the year and you’re looking forward to your new year’s goals for your business, ask yourself this question: How is your business working for you?

Like most of us, there are things you like and things you don’t like. There are things you wanted to accomplish – and did. And there are things you wanted to accomplish and didn’t. Then of course, there are the unintended outcomes, some good, some not so.

Let’s get back to the original question: “How is your business working for you?” How you answer this question depends in great part on your underlying beliefs. Said differently, the way you see your business and the world around you are directly connected to your own beliefs.

Your Beliefs affect your Thoughts. And your Thoughts affect your Feelings. Your Feelings affect your Decisions that you make and your Decisions affect the Action you take and the Habits you form.

If you want different results in your outer world and in your business, you’ll need to shift the elements in this cascade.

If you change your belief about something, you can ultimately alter your habits and what you do. But sometimes changing a belief is much harder than just saying it. Sometimes it’s better modify your actions, even if you don’t believe it’ll matter, at least not right away. In time, repetitive action will then affect your decisions, then your feelings about something, then your thoughts and ultimately help you change your belief. So working in either direction works: First change your beliefs or first change your actions.

Here’s a more important question for you….

Could you change when change matters most?

Most of us do believe this. But the fact is, most people will NOT change when change matters most. The book, Change or Die by Alan Deutschman, goes through the psychology of why people won’t change EVEN when change matters most. He describes about a study on people who had heart bypass surgery. Two years after their surgery, 90% of those people did not change their lifestyle. They were still smoking, still drinking, still overeating, still not exercising, and still not getting rest they need.

And these are the people who knew if they didn’t change their beliefs and habits they could die.

In Change or Die, Deutschman presents 3 keys to change

  1. Relate- form new emotional relationships that inspires hope and sustains hope
  2. Repeat- the desired actions-it helps you to learn, practice and master the skills that you need to change
  3. Reframe- these relationships give you new ways of thinking about your situation and your life

So ask yourself this question now: What would you like to happen in your business in the next 6 months or so?

After you answer this question, go through the three keys to change:

  1. Who can you form healthy, supportive relationships with to support you?
  2. What are the critical actions you need to take to produce your intended outcomes at the end of six months?
  3. How can you surround yourself with unconditionally supportive people and networks to a) hold you accountable for moving forward and b) remind you of your dreams, hopes, and aspirations, even if you forget them when the going gets tough?

Remember, you do have the power to change and you do have the power to make a difference. Now take these three keys to the kingdom and go get it done!

The Exponential Bottom Line: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Business Measures of Success?

The Exponential Bottom Line: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Business Measures of Success?

When I operated on a patient as a surgeon, I couldn’t just deal with the various anatomical and physiologic systems as if they were magically isolated. Indeed, the health of the underlying vascular system dictated where I could make surgical incisions in the skin and where and how far I could rotate skin, fat, and muscle to reconstruct a body part or close a complex open wound. I had to consider multiple factors, including the limitations and consequences of the factors individually and collectively. Clearly, integrating and adhering to fundamental surgical principles and “best practices” increased the odds of the surgery being a success – a life is saved, a limb is salvaged, a face rejuvenated.

In the business world, we deal with multiple, complex, and changing variables as well. But traditionally, instead of saving lives and limbs, the ultimate measure of success in business has been to ever increase the single bottom line of profit. To our great detriment, this goal has frequently been undertaken with an attitude of “success at any and all cost.” In large part, this mindset has contributed to the global economic turmoil and ecological endangerment that we find ourselves grappling with today.

As various parts of the world have dominoed into economic and social turmoil, I’ve felt an inner calling to contribute ideas and energy to lead and encourage fellow entrepreneurs to be part of the solution. A couple of years ago, I started hosting an interactive conference call series entitled, “Conscious Leaderpreneurship Conversations.” These calls were inspired by my desire to experiment and expand the blending and showcasing of spiritual awareness as the cornerstone of success and fulfillment in the entrepreneurial world and expanding the depth and breadth of how we, as entrepreneurs, can blaze trails into a new era of prosperity.

Inspired by these conversations, I’ve outlined five fundamental business principles and practices that I collectively termed the “Exponential Bottom Line.” In contrast to the single bottom line of profit, this term refers to five business practices that reflect how a business:

  • Enhances the quality and duration of the lives of People today as well as future generations to come.
  • Restores and renews the resources and ecosystems of our Planet.
  • Generates Profit sustainably, fairly, and responsibly.
  • Promotes Prosperity locally and globally.
  • Models and perpetuates Peace through its values, mission, vision, business practices, and ultimate impact on society.

While the specific practices and principles that I outline are nothing new, the context is. In fact, the “Triple Bottom Line” of “people, planet, and profit” has been championed for years. But to me, those three elements alone are still too “stingy.” It felt as though something was missing. So I added the elements of “prosperity” and “peace.” I assert that these five elements constitute a fresh, holographic, and integrated approach to how a “prosperity era” business makes its mark on the world.

Here’s my challenge to you
Embracing the mindset of the “Exponential Bottom Line” is one thing. Applying it in the real world is another. Under economic and a myriad of other pressures, existing mindsets, practices, and habits tend to persist and “die hard”.

Yet, consider what might be possible if we adopted the notion that rather than the singular focus of profit at any and all cost, we focused our entrepreneurial endeavors on playing a bigger game – one of challenging ourselves to define what each of the parameters of the “exponential bottom line” means to us and our particular businesses. The next step would be to apply and fold these ideals into our daily business activities in creative and innovative ways.

To play this game, it would take a commitment to reinventing our business models and practices. It would take a willingness to tell a different and bigger story about ourselves, what we stand for, what we’re willing to fight for.

If adopted by even a fraction of businesses and consumers worldwide, the practice of the exponential bottom line” ideals could synergistically shift the dynamics of commerce to effect lasting change and transformation in our global economy, ecology, and sociology.

Now, isn’t that a game worth playing? In what ways will you take this on challenge?