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, 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


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: (men, just ignore all the pink in her material)

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

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.

Why the Typical Marketing Funnel Is a Bad Way to Grow Your Business: The Case for High-End Clients

Why the Typical Marketing Funnel Is a Bad Way to Grow Your Business: The Case for High-End Clients

You’re probably already familiar with the diagram of the typical marketing funnel: You start by offering freebies to everyone in your audience, “freemiums” they are sometimes called.

Next, you offer low-priced products and services. After that, you offer medium-priced products and services.

Then after that, you offer still higher-priced products and services. Once you reach the tip of the funnel, you’re offering premium-priced products and services.

In theory, this sounds great and makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now notice that as you proceed down this funnel, that increasingly fewer people take you up on your offer. And that makes sense, because as you start charging higher fees, fewer people are going to buy. That means that you need to start with a large number of people, who funnel down from “free” to paying you something, even a little bit.

Here’s the big problem:

If you’re going to make any money, you need a lot of people, paying you a little bit, to generate significant revenue.

Suppose your annual revenue target is $100,000. If you sell a low-priced program or product for, say $100, how many sales do you need to make? 1,000, right?

If you need to sell 1,000 of something, then how many people need to know about your offer? Let’s suppose your conversion rate is 10%. That means you need to present your offer to at least 10,000 people in order to have 1,000 of them buy whatever you are offering.

So where are those 10,000 people going to come from? (Okay, so maybe your conversion rate is higher than 10%. Well, even if your conversion rate is 20%, you still need to present your offer to 5,000 people).

Of course, you could build your list up to 5,000 people. But that’s going to take some time, even if your strategy is simply partnering with someone who already has a list of 5,000 or more.

Isn’t there a faster way to go?

Over six years ago, when I started my coaching business, I had no “list” of potential clients. In fact, I had no website, no business cards, and no reputation as a business coach. And, since I had left my plastic surgery practice, I had no significant income. Clearly, I needed to generate revenue quickly!

I didn’t have the luxury of spending time to develop a large email following. Social media didn’t really exist back then.

So I took the direct route: I set up a 3-hour seminar, invited anyone and everyone who had a remote interest in my topic of “earning more, with less stress.” After that event, I offered a free strategic consultation (I don’t offer them for free any longer). For anyone who was interested in my services after the initial consultation, I offered them a 12-month long premium coaching program for $1500/month. I only needed to enroll seven clients, resulting in a monthly recurring revenue of $10,500/month.

Effectively, I created an annualized recurring revenue stream of over $100,000 and I accomplished that within 73 days of setting the date for my live seminar. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was an unusual accomplishment. And I also didn’t realize that I had started at the “tip” of the marketing funnel. I was simply doing what I knew I needed to do, in order to avoid having to go back to plastic surgery to make money!

Since then, I’ve coached other clients to create rapid revenue streams, hitting the annualized six-figure level within 70-90 days of starting to work with me.

Lessons learned

1. If you need to generate significant revenue quickly, enrolling clients who pay a premium for the value you provide is the fastest way to generate significant revenue. In other words, price based on value, rather than hourly or on “what the market will bear.” If you need a little help in that area, be sure to get on my Value Pricing for Prosperity special interest list; I’ll be running an open-structure webinar on this next week and only people on that list will be invited.


2. Start or solidify your coaching or consulting business by working private with clients (rather than starting group programs or investing time in developing a product). When I started, I remember lamenting that I didn’t have any “passive income” products to offer. So offering private coaching was the only valuable service I could offer. Good thing, too, because this forced me to focus my work only with high-end clients. I didn’t have this definition back then, but my good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton from Action Plan Marketing (, has a great definition of a high-end client:

  • They are “ideal clients.” That is, clients you can really make a difference with and whom you love to work with.
  • They are “long-term clients.” These are clients with whom you can offer programs and services for a year or more.
  • They are “high-paying clients.” They understand the value you offer and are willing to pay you more than average clients will.

3. Use your experience in working with high-end clients to guide and inspire the creation of lower-cost knowledge-based products. Top internet marketer, Clay Collins (, puts it best: “Working with customers is the best R&D activity I know of (despite all the [complaining] that’s done about trading time for money.)” I’ve worked with a number of private clients who struggled with revenue and getting clients until I taught them how to use my “Get Paid to Get Clients” system to effortlessly enroll clients, using introductory sessions that they gladly pay for; I’ve turned that approach into a program that costs less than one month of private coaching with me. (If you’re interested in advanced notice for the next program, fill out the form below.)

Ready to help build the Value Pricing for Prosperity Resource Kit?

Ready to help build the Value Pricing for Prosperity Resource Kit?

As promised, I’ve been developing a Resource Kit for you. And I now need your help…

You see, I’m not the kind of person who can develop ideas in a vacuum, sitting in front of my computer.
Instead, I feed off the energy and enthusiasm of others.

So here’s the thing:
I’ve got elements of this Resource Kit strewn across my computer. And I figure that the only way to get the various parts put together is to make it into an event.

So we’re going to turn this into a virtual “Value Pricing Resource Kit Building event.” This is how I see it working:

We’ll schedule 75-90 minutes of time for a web-based group gathering, using GoToWebinar. Then I’ll show you the material that I have put together so far on the principles and best practices of pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on other misleading factors.

Then, I’ll need you to tell me, what else you need to know to apply this in your business.

Fair enough? And we’ll build this thing together.

So, I’m thinking we do this on a weekday at 10am Pacific; that way, folks in Europe stand a better chance of participating.

To get the ball rolling, go to this blog post and post a comment to let me what you think of this idea. And while you’re there, let me know what challenges you face around pricing. Maybe mention so of the approaches you’ve tried. What has worked? What hasn’t? What has really backfired?

When it comes to pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on “what the market will bear,” or “hourly,” what are the challenges you’ve run into? What approaches have worked for you? What hasn’t worked?

Models and Frameworks: A Simple, But Sure-Fire Way to Enhance Learning, Retention, and the Value You Provide

Models and Frameworks: A Simple, But Sure-Fire Way to Enhance Learning, Retention, and the Value You Provide

In my work with participants of the current Get Paid to Get Clients Acceleration Program, one of the things we’re working on is codifying their “signature system,” or “Core Client Process.”

The Core Client Process is a step-wise methodology that takes your client, customer, or patient from where they are now, to where they really want to be. Said differently, it’s your unique approach to delivering your services and products and, in turn, delivering value.

You probably recall that I’ve written previously about how clients, customers, and patients buy outcomes, rather than process. But at a certain point, after they’ve learned about the value and outcomes you can deliver, they will want assurance that you have a reliable approach for taking them to the “promised land.”

I’ve taught the participants in my program the principles and “best practices” for defining and articulating your own Core Client Process. It would take a few hours to take you through how to do this, but I want to share something from this training that you can apply immediately in your own business… As you take clients through your signature system/core client process, show them frameworks and models that visually illustrate important concepts, principles, ideas, and structures.

Such visual frameworks and models support your “core client process” because they give you a way to tell a story visually. They provide your audience with reference points that are critical for understanding your way of seeing the world. In my own experience, these visuals (and the descriptions and explanations that I include with them in verbal and/or written formats) help my clients to see their “blind spots.”

Key Pillars of Life: This is an example of key aspects of being human. I use this for describing different areas for personal growth.


The “Kitchen Table” model of value delivery: I use this visual to describe the main ways that businesses can deliver value to their buyers.


Optimizing Human Performance Model: I use this model to illustrate the key elements that I objectively measure that help me to guide clients in selecting the best business development strategies, structures, and working environments that are suited for their unique style of thinking, decision-making, and taking action.


Sequence of Client Flow: I use this model to describe the various stages that clients go through when they work with a service-oriented professional or business.


Your Audience Will Value You and Thank You

Approximately 60-70% of the general population is comprised of visual learners. Including visual models and frameworks provides a visual reference that makes it faster and easier for learners of all types to grasp the concepts and principles you wish to impart.

If you include relevant models and frameworks into your conversations and presentations, whether in groups or one-to-one, they will serve to maintain awareness, learning, and retention. And they help the brain to process and store information, for easier recollection and application later on.

At first, this approach may take a little extra thought on your part, but in my own experience, remembering to present visual models and frameworks has become second-nature. I believe the extra effort is worth it; simultaneously, you’ll enhance the learning experience of your audience and enhance the value that you provide.

P.S. If you are interested in a training on how to define and articulate your own comprehensive Core Client Process, add yourself to the list using the form below. If there is enough interest, I’ll run a special training on the principles and best practices. And I’ll show you real-world examples of numerous ways to use your Core Client Process (including your visual frameworks and models) to work exclusively with higher-end, highly profitable clients.




The Upside of Selling in a Down Economy

The Upside of Selling in a Down Economy

Let’s face it: No matter how great your products and services and no matter how great your sales track record, selling in today’s tumultuous times is more challenging than ever. There’s no doubt that:

  • Prospective clients are increasingly cautious and hesitant about buying.
  • Sales cycles are getting longer and longer, plus there are fewer buyers overall.
  • Even existing, satisfied buyers are foregoing new purchases and making do with existing resources.

But rather than focus on the downside of a down economy, what if you consider the upside of the down economy?

Yes, you read correctly…the upside of the down!

The upside is simple: Consider that your opportunities for larger and longer-term gain are magnified because of the down economy.

While everyone else is running around caught up in the panic, you have an opportunity to shift your mindset about selling and your approach to how it’s done.

If you are willing to commit to making this shift, there’s a better than even chance that you’ll exponentially multiply the lifetime monetary value of your buyers as well as the difference that you make.

A Fresh Approach: Selling Based on Being Valuable
Unquestionably, fresh approaches and skills are required to successfully sell in this challenging environment. While sales strategies and techniques have their place and the quality of your products and services remains paramount, these factors alone won’t complete the sale for you.

Selling based on outcomes and value provided makes more sense than ever. By all means, sell based on the specific results, improvements, outcomes, and experiences that buyers get from using your products and services.

But I challenge you to take this to another level – a deeper, more meaningful level: Become more valuable to your existing and potential buyers by becoming known and valued as a trusted resource of information, expertise, and guidance. Some of the solutions to their problems and challenges may lie outside the realm of what your own products and services can directly provide, yet you can still point customers in the right direction. While this approach may make common sense, it isn’t commonly practiced. Nor is it consistently practiced. Are you up for it?

Valuable Ideas for Becoming More Valuable to Your Buyers
What follows are a few ideas on how to become more valuable in the minds, hearts, and eyes of your buyers. If you’ll commit to consistently practicing at least some of them, you’ll ultimately position yourself as a valued resource rather than as a commodity or, worse yet, someone who only cares about the short-term gain of the sale.

  1. Commit to learning what they specifically want to accomplish in their business or job and why it’s so important to them. Inquire sincerely and really listen. And dig. Don’t just accept the first three or so answers; those are typically superficial. Ask genuine questions about what they’re up to. Learn about their initiatives and goals as well as their challenges and concerns about reaching them.
  2. Create a success library. Do you have a readily accessible collection of articles, websites, audios, and other media that might be of interest to your customers? This may seem obvious for items that pertain directly to your products and/or services, but be sure to expand the breadth and depth of your value by including resources that are of value to your customers, but may not necessarily promote your products and services.
  3. Provide educational and training programs. Doing so positions you as an expert in your field and, in general, people like to buy from perceived experts, especially those they know, like, and trust. These can be live, in-person events and/or virtual events, such as teleseminars and webinars. They may be free or for a fee. And, to add greater depth of expertise and value, you can bring in other experts from complementary fields.
  4. Create a “success rolodex” and share it freely. You might not be the best solution provider in every case, but you probably know someone who is. Do you have a rolodex of proven, reliable collaborators, even those in the same field as you? While others in the same field may be viewed as competitors, they may better serve your customer’s immediate needs. If there is a spirit of generosity and best serving the needs of the customer, your competitors become true collaborators.
  5. Develop a mindset of contribution. Readily share ideas on how your prospective and existing customers can more readily achieve their goals and initiatives. Weave these ideas into your sales conversations. Yes, there’s a risk of confusing your buyers or sending them too far off track from what you specifically have to offer through your products and services. But if you approach this from the right mindset and a spirit of genuine concern for helping, then you probably won’t need to worry about that.

Gearing Up for Selling in a New Era of Prosperity
In a sense, selling from this mindset no longer is selling. Selling becomes an elevated form of education and sharing of knowledge; it becomes a means of contributing to the welfare of others.

This mindset, attitude, and approach transform selling to the realm of educating, connecting, and supporting one another and sincerely helping others to achieve their goals.

It avoids selling for the short-term gain, only to lose the long-term value of a client.

Making this a normal part of your selling approach is certain to position you as a leader and valued resource. Businesses will pledge their loyalty and send their referrals.

Ultimately, the economy will regain strength and resistance to buying will shift. Adopting this approach of “selling by contributing” will position you to:

  • Attract more and better customers.
  • Increase the average transaction size of each sale, and
  • Enhance the likelihood that buyers will buy more often and from you.

If you want to sell more and sell easier, then first give. Give of yourself. Give of your expertise. Give of your extended circle of expertise.

Do this, and you’ll transform the process of selling to the gift of contributing value, creating a following that is certain to exponentially expand.

Connecting with your buyers this way is more fulfilling. That connection leads to trust and that naturally leads to a collaborative relationship. Ultimately, this level of relationship enhances your ability to contribute to the welfare of your buyers and their own clientele.

This is a sure-fire approach in any economy – up or down. You win. Your customers win. Their customers win. Isn’t that an outcome worth striving for?