Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Man looking out at mountain range
Oct 14

The happiness paradox: What you should (really) wish for

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

What do you wish for? What do you dream about?

More profit in your business? A higher salary? Perhaps a tattslotto windfall? 

That way, you’d be happier, less stressed and more fulfilled, because you could finally live the lifestyle you’ve always desired, right?

Well, I’m not so sure. Let me explain why.

Money and meaning

Don’t get me wrong: Money is important. We all need it to buy food and shelter to survive. And, even if we’re not on the poverty line, most of us could ably justify why we need more than we have right now. 

But what’s interesting is that money alone won’t actually make us happier and more fulfilled.

Indeed, research shows that once our lower order needs are met to a basic degree, they stop affecting our happiness. Princeton professor, Daniel Kahneman, surveyed low, medium and high income earners to find out how happy they were. Not surprisingly, the medium income earners were happier than then low income earners, who were on the poverty line. But, interestingly, the high income earners were no happier than then medium income earners. 

In other words, once you’ve reached a certain threshold, more money doesn’t make you happier. Real fulfillment lies in the realm of our higher order needs – in particular, the need to ‘live meaningfully’. Renown Psychiatrist and Viennese Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, put it eloquently:

“For too long we have been dreaming a dream from which we are now waking up: the dream that if we just improve the socioeconomic situation of people, everything will be okay, people will become happy. The truth is that as the struggle for survival has subsided, the question has emerged: survival for what? Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” 

Of course, that’s not to say we don’t enjoy meeting our physical needs – like taking a holiday, having a hot bath or eating an ice cream. But in the long run they don’t lead to genuine fulfillment. 

So what does? 

Empirical research has revealed some surprising truths. Playing a great round of golf, taking a hot bath or going on a holiday to Hawaii may be thoroughly enjoyable, but those activities are all essentially focused on you, and thus don’t usually create meaning. 

An incredible paradox is at play here: it’s usually when we don’t focus on ourselves that we derive the most meaning and fulfilment. When you orient outwards, away from yourself, and focus on the impact you can have on others and on the world, you’ll often find the most meaning.

Again, here’s how Frankl expresses it:

The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it … Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Then you will live to see that in the long run … [happiness] will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” 

Steve Jobs: The pinnacle of success?

In case you need some evidence for this perspective, take Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs – one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history.

In November 2015, a deathbed essay that Jobs left behind after he passed away in 2011 began circulating on social media. It’s a sobering take on the meaning of his life. Here’s an extract:

“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.

However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…

Now I know… we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth… Should be something that is more important: Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.

Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.”

While this essay hasn’t officially been confirmed by those close to the Apple founder, his biographer Walter Isaacson did record Jobs expressing regret at the end of his life about how he lived, including failing to make enough time to raise his children.

So how do we apply these ideas to our lives so we don’t regret the life we’ve lived? 

Finding your purpose

Thankfully, it’s not difficult. It simply requires you to stop and consider what’s important to you in life – your values – and in particular the values that relate to the outward-focused impact or contribution you’d like to make to the world.

You see, David Brooks in his bestseller, The Road to Character, draws a sharp distinction between two kinds of values: what he calls ‘resume’ virtues – the achievements associated with material and personal success – and ‘eulogy’ virtues, the ones that are often spoken of at funerals. This latter category comprises the virtues and strengths that make you the kind of person you are, the ways in which you leave a lasting impact on your family, friends and the world. And it’s when we live in alignment with these eulogy values that we derive most meaning and fulfillment.

One powerful approach to help you uncover those values is an exercise called ‘Finding your purpose’. It requires you to do something that might seem a little strange at first: you’ll need to write your eulogy (not physically, but in your mind’s eye). 

Here’s how it works: Imagine you’re at your own funeral, looking down at your loved ones, friends, acquaintances – everyone you’ve ever cared about. Then, take a few minutes to consider what you hope they’d be saying about you, about the kind of person you were, what you achieved, how you impacted them and their lives. Once you’ve done that, ask yourself: What were the most important words or phrases that came up? Were there some common themes? 

Those themes represent your core values. If you can, summarise them in a simple, concise purpose statement – a bit like your slogan for life. 

When you have a clear sense of what’s truly important in your life, you can start to become more deliberate – more mindful – about making choices that keep you in alignment with your values. And when you’re living in alignment, you’ll feel more fulfilled, more resilient, better able to cope and more motivated. Oh, and by the way, you might just help to create a better, more refined world in the process. 

So, back to our original question: What should you really wish for? Here’s my suggestion: Ask for the wisdom to identify what values are truly important in life, and the strength to live those values each and every day. (And, yes, of course, there’s no problem wishing for some more money too!). 

All the best,

Joel.

Oct 14

Why most businesses fail to thrive (& what to do about it)

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

By  Joel Gerschman  Uncategorized 

Allow me to be blunt. 

Chances are you haven’t yet achieved the kind of business – and lifestyle – you’d hoped for. Chances are you’re working too hard for not enough money, feeling stressed and frustrated by a business that’s not truly serving your life. 

Am I right?

If that’s true for you, then the next question is “Why?” You’re skilled at what you do, aren’t you? So what’s the problem?

The right mindset and skill set

While there are many reasons that businesses don’t thrive, perhaps the most common is this: you haven’t developed the right mindset and skill-set.

You see, most new businesses are formed by ‘technicians’ – that is, people who are genuinely skilled in a certain technical field and decide they’d rather work for themselves than for someone else.

Take Howard for instance. He’s the protagonist in the bestselling book we recently co-wrote, The Mindful Entrepreneur. He was using an early form of e-learning to help his former employer to launch a successful B2B website and community. So he thought: “Why can’t I do it for myself? That way, I could control my destiny, make my own decisions, choose when I want to work, earn more money and even make an impact on the world.” Well, that was the dream, but it didn’t exactly pan out that way – at least not until he learned a new mindset and skill-set.

And that’s exactly the plight of so many business owners. Their new business takes off with lots of energy; yet despite their skills and experience, they struggle to make their businesses work.

Does that sound familiar? Why does it happen to so many of us?

Understanding the cause of the problem is often the key to finding the solution.

The technician’s mindset

In this case, the problem starts in your mind. It stems from a fatal assumption that people make: that because you’re good at doing the work of your business, you can therefore create a business that works. Unfortunately, it’s untrue. It’s a myth. World-leading business guru and someone I consider of one my own mentors, Michael Gerber, calls it the ‘Entrepreneurial Myth’ or E-myth – and it’s the central reason that most businesses fail to thrive.

For example,  shortly after starting his business, Howard realised that there were many areas with which he was unfamiliar – such as creating a marketing strategy, raising funds, bookkeeping, collections, and managing staff, both onsite and remote. Here’s how he describes it:

‘Yeah, I figured it out by trial and error. I learned how to do some of it by my own effort. But the truth is, I probably just ignored certain things because I wasn’t sure what to do – like marketing strategy and financial management. I struggle to get my head around the financial side – bookkeeping, accounting, spreadsheets, taxes, depreciation and all of that. So I focused on what I knew I was good at – the hands-on work of designing, developing, and selling our core e-learning services to customers.’

And to his credit, Howard’s business grew on the back of his passion and energy and experience and skill in doing that work. But at some point, he reached a plateau. Or ‘the edge of cliff’, as he put it at the time. Here’s Howard again:

“I was so busy and stressed just doing the technical work that I had no time for thinking about growth. There were fires to put out. Complaints to deal with. Urgent administrative work to do. And, truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure how to grow the business even if I did have the time. What was even worse was that I wasn’t even happy doing what I was doing any more. I wondered what it was all for. And that’s when I realised: To move my business and my life forward, I needed a fundamentally different mindset and skill-set.”

To use the terminology that Michael Gerber uses in his classic book, The Emyth Revisited, you can’t just be a great technician; you need to be a great manager and entrepreneur too.  

Become a great entrepreneur

And therein lies your challenge: to be successful, you must effectively balance three distinct ‘roles’. At times, you’ll need to be a technician, doing the operational work of the business – the work that actually delivers value to customers. At other times, you’ll need to be a manager, overseeing, planning, organising and supervising others to ensure they get the work done effectively. But, perhaps most critically, you’ll need to think and act like an entrepreneur, doing the strategic work of building the business itself – clarifying your vision, innovating new ways of doing things, identifying new markets and opportunities.

The problem is that most business owners are so focused on the day-to-day technical work that they never even begin thinking about how to better manage or build their business. That’s the ‘technician’ mindset at work.

Technicians spend their time working in their business, hoping that things will eventually change and they won’t have to work so hard for so little in return. But the reality is that things won’t change. Not until you change the way your business runs. And that requires a new way of thinking and acting:  the capacity to work on your business, not just in your business.

Working ON your business

Working on your business requires you to step outside of your day-to-day technical work. It means looking at your business objectively, as if it were something independent of you. Imagine you’re 5000 feet above your business, looking down on it, critically. That’s what entrepreneurs do, because only from that perspective can you truly begin designing your business to grow and to operate as smoothly, efficiently and profitably as possible.

How exactly should you begin working ON your business? It depends on your priorities.  

Here are three common areas that you can use to spark your thinking about where to focus your energies first.

Rapid Growth

If you’re either just starting your business, or perhaps you’ve been in business a while but you’re struggling to grow your customer base, start by:

1. Developing your business strategy. Without an underlying growth strategy, you’re flying in the dark. Check out this post or for general advice on creating your business strategy or this post for advice on differentiating your business. 

2. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to focus on sales and marketing strategies to grow your customer base, your revenue and your profit

Break Free

What if your primary concern is having more freedom? Let’s say you already have a solid customer base, but the business is dependent on you, saps all your time, and stresses you out. If that’s the case, then I suggest you start by:

1. Developing your business strategy. That’s the foundation for your business, and you can’t skip it.

2. But then, rather than focusing on growth, concentrate on organising and systemising your business to run smoothly and efficiently, so you have the infrastructure to grow further. If you try to grow without the systems in place, it can all fall apart too easily. Check out this post for more on how to systemise your business.

Focus and fulfillment

While growth and freedom are important, it’s equally critical to stay sane, focused & fulfilled while building your business. In fact, your ability to run a successful business depends on your ability to remain balanced and motivated. The state of your business and your state of mind are more closely intertwined than you might think.

In my experience, many business owners are facing urgent issues in their business – like cashflow problems or production and delivery fires. And therefore they want to get stuck into either growing their business or setting it up to run without them. And that’s fine. But don’t ignore the need to remain focused and fulfilled. Check out this post for strategies that you can implement today.

Where to next?

So there you have it – three areas to choose from to begin working ON your business. Why not begin focusing on one of those areas today? 

And if you’d like more guidance on how to develop these three areas, you can grab the step-by-step Growth System program for free right here. 

All the best,

Joel.

Man Stressed from Wealth Mistakes
Feb 18

4 wealth-building mistakes most business owners make – and what you can do about it

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

As a business owner, you’re heavily focused on your business – which is understandable. But this may also mean you’re not taking the time to consider how you can build assets – and wealth – outside of your business.

You may also think that you have plenty of time. But before you put off planning for for the future any longer, there are some suprising (and sobering) facts you should consider.

I’m a strong believer in connecting peope with the right experts, so I’ve asked one of Melbourne’s leading financial advisors, Reuben Zelwer, to share with us his top 4 wealth building mistakes that business owns make – and some advice about how you can avoid them…

  1. Your retirement could last 30 years or more

A male currently aged 65 has a future life expectancy of 19 years and for females currently aged 65 it’s 22 years[1]. But these are just the averages and they are increasing steadily. As these trends continue, your retirement could stretch to three decades, or maybe even longer.

  1. You shouldn’t rely on the age pension

The full single rate age pension only provides around 25% of average weekly male earnings. What’s more, qualifying for the age pension may become more difficult in the future, given our population is ageing.

  1. You shouldn’t rely on an inheritance

Your parents may end up spending all their savings and may even need to downsize their home to help make ends meet. So, if you’re relying on an inheritance to fund your retirement, you could be disappointed.

  1. You might not have enough super either

Many business owners have neglected their superannuation in preference for keeping working capital in the business. Even if you have been making some basic contributions, don’t assume that these will mean you have enough super to get you through your retirement. Research conducted by Rice Warner Actuaries revealed that Australia has a shortfall in super of close to $1 trillion[2], which means many Australians may not have enough super to fund their retirement.

Start planning now

Thankfully, with a bit of preparation, it’s possible to plan for a long and comfortable retirement. Strategies like salary sacrificing into super, making lump sum contributions (including from the proceeds of a business sale) are all smart strategies to consider to boost your super, and some of them generally have tax benefits too.

Educate yourself or get expert advice

The best way to see how your retirement savings are currently tracking, and find out what you could do now to increase your super for retirement, is to take some time to educate yourself or find an Adviser you can trust. They can help you set realistic goals and put a plan in place to achieve them.

I hope these insights help you build and protect your wealth for the future. And if you want more wealth building insights, grab Reuben’s really helpful FREE guide, The Five steps to Financial Wellbeing, right here: http://adaptwealth.com.au/

Wishing you much success,

Joel.

Important information and disclaimer

Reuben Zelwer is a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner and the principal of Adapt Wealth Management which specialises in comprehensive financial advice for executives and business owners. www.adaptwealth.com.au

This article has been prepared by Reuben Zelwer of Adapt Wealth Management which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Paragem Pty Ltd (AFSL 297276).

Any advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Accordingly, reliance should not be placed on the information contained in this document as the basis for making any financial investment, insurance or other decision. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

——————————————————–

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 2013.

[2] Rice Warner Savings Gap at 30 June 2014.

Concept of negative statistics due to crisis
Jun 25

Why sales and marketing strategies won’t grow your business

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

I’m really sorry.

We’ve misled you. Not deliberately or maliciously, of course. I think most sales and marketing consultants are good, honest people who are just trying to help.

But when we fed you specific strategies to help you grow your business, we probably misrepresented what it takes to truly grow.

You see, many people think that growth is about diving in and implementing a range of practical sales and marketing strategies. Like distributing brochures, email campaigns, print media, google ads, SEO, social media, lead magnets and so on.  

Well, I’ve got news for you: if that’s all you do, don’t be surprised if you see limited results.

So what does it take to truly grow your business? What does it take to increase sales and revenue?

Clarify your business strategy

Don’t get me wrong: you do need to dive in and implement practical sales and marketing strategies.

But before you do that, you need to be clear on your overall business strategy first.

You see, many business owners begin implementation without really thinking about their underlying business strategy: who their target market is, what their unique, driving needs are and how they’ll meet those needs better than the competition. Those are foundational strategic questions.

And though it’s much easier to ignore this strategic step, it’s also a recipe for limited success.

Take the classic case of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers. As a teenager, he famously became the most successful paper delivery boy in Chicago’s history. How?

His strategy was simple but powerful: rather than take a random, door-to-door approach (which had a 10% success rate at best), he looked up all the newly wed couples in the Births, Deaths and Marriages register – and only visited their houses. His success rate was astronomical because many of them had just moved into a new home – and that’s exactly the kind of person who’s in the market for a newspaper subscription!

How did he do it?

Answer: he didn’t start with a practical strategy like knocking on doors. He started with deliberate, well-considered business strategy – he identified who his target market was and only then did he begin implementation.

Can you see the difference?

5 questions to fuel your growth

If you want to achieve real growth, you’ll also need to start by defining your overall business strategy. In particular, you’ll need to ask yourself 5 critical questions:

  1. Purpose: What impact do you you want your business to have on your customers and stakeholders? If you think of growth as journey, your business purpose is the engine that powers you along that journey.
  2. Clarify your Values: What attitudes and behaviours are critical to achieving your purpose? Like a compass guides a traveler along their path, you need clear business values to guide you and your team along your growth journey.
  3. Create your Vision: What will the future look like if you’re successfully fulfilling your purpose? Which markets will you target? What products or services will you sell them? Where geographically will you sell them? What will the result be? Set a destination for your growth journey, so you know where you’re heading.
  4. Differentiate your business: How will you differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd, so you can achieve your vision? Give customers a reason to choose you over your competitors.
  5. Set Strategic objectives: What goals or objectives will you set to track your business performance as you move along your growth journey? Without metrics to measure your success, you’re flying in the dark.

If you can answer those 5 questions thoughtfully and honestly, you’ll have a rock-solid strategic foundation to fuel your growth. If you’d like more guidance on how to apply these questions to your business, try our Growth System program for free right here.

All the best,

Joel.

Businessman authoritarian order to raise the statistics
Mar 14

How to make your business run without you

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

Let me be controversial for a moment.

If you’ve already built a reasonable customer base, you should probably stop trying to grow your business.

Say what?!?

Okay, before you lynch me, let me explain.

You see, if you try to grow your business without the infrastructure in place to support your growth, it can all fall apart too easily. You need the infrastructure necessary to grow sustainably into the future.

And there’s another reason, too. Even if customers are coming through the door, there’s real chance your business isn’t giving you the kind of life you’d hoped for: perhaps it’s largely dependent on you and sapping all your time or maybe it’s creating constant stress and frustration as you continually put out fires. Either way, more growth layered on top of an already-pressured system won’t actually help you.

Break free

That’s why you’ll need a different approach. You’ll need to do something quite radical: you’ll have to ‘break free’ of your business before you can grow it. Let me explain.

Do you ever find yourself saying: “If I’m not doing it, watching it, making it happen… it just doesn’t happen – at least not properly!” It’s common. But it’s also debilitating. As my own mentor, Michael Gerber, often says: “If your business can’t run without you – if you can’t safely leave your business for a few weeks – you don’t really have a business; you have a job – with overheads!”

A business that truly serves your life, on the other hand, is a business that gives you the freedom to choose how much or how little you want to be involved. That’s what breaking ‘free’ means. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting ‘out’ of your business. It’s about choice.

But choice doesn’t just occur on its own. You need to create it. And the way to do that is to intentionally design your business to run smoothly and profitably – with or without you. You design it to run on-time, as promised, every-time, seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine, even if you’re not there – so it no longer depends on you.

That kind of business – the kind that just works, almost by itself – is called a turn-key operation. It’s the kind of business that builds a true, saleable asset that others would actually buy. It’s the kind of business that entrepreneurs seek to create. And, if you want to choose how to live your life, it’s the kind of business that you need to create too.

How do you create this turn-key operation?

Abdication, delegation & ownership

First let’s explore how not to do it.

If you’re like many business owners, your approach to managing your business often falls into one of two styles: it’s either largely ‘hands off’ or seriously ‘hands on.’

Put differently, you’ve either employed people, given them some tasks (with a small amount of training, if they’re lucky) and then sent them on their way, trusting (hoping) they’ll be successful. (Think of your bookkeeper, for instance.) Or, alternatively: you’re micro-managing their every move, frequently stepping in to ‘handle things’ in the fear that they’ll get it wrong.

Both approaches are understandable. But they’re also dangerous. Here’s why…

Take the ‘hands off’ approach, for example. Leaders sometimes call it ‘delegation’. But it’s not; it’s actually abdication. Abdication is handing over responsibility and then hoping for the best. And abdication rarely works. Indeed, why should it? Without the appropriate training, without a clear role definition and expectations, without clear, documented systems for how to do what needs to be done, very few people will succeed. Sure, you might be able to point to a few committed, motivated, self-starters. But they’re exceptions – not the rule. And they’re extremely hard to find (and keep).

And what about the ‘hands on’ approach? Unfortunately, it’s no better. When you ‘step in’ to deal with the tasks that others are supposed to do, two counterproductive things happen:

  1. Your staff begin to expect you to handle things and begin to feel disempowered; you create a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy as your continued lack of trust only reinforces the message that you’re not (really) relying on them to do it right; and
  2. You end up doing most of the work. And it’s usually technical, operational work – rather than the kind of entrepreneurial work that actually builds your business. The result is that you continue to be trapped in the vicious cycle of fighting fires and not having enough time to work ON your business (let alone to live your life).

So what’s the answer?

Thankfully, there’s a very clear, proven, step-by-step management strategy for empowering your people to deliver the results you desire… even when you’re not there.

It’s not abdication and it’s not micro-management. It’s what I call ‘taking ownership’.

Four kinds of clarity

Taking ownership for the way your business runs means that you need to create clarity for your staff around what they need to do, how they need to do it and track that it’s actually happening. When you do that, you’ll empower them to deliver the results you desire.

Let’s be more specific. Taking ownership means you’ll need to introduce 4 kinds of clarity into your business:

(1) Structural clarity, which is about killing role confusion, so everyone’s clear on what jobs need to get done and who’s responsible for each job.

(2) Job clarity, which is about clarifying the tasks and expectations for each job, so your staff know exactly what’s expected of them and can perform to their potential.

(3) Task clarity, so everyone knows how to perform the key tasks within each job. You’ll need to create production and delivery systems that work seamlessly every time, no matter who’s operating them, delighting customers and freeing up your time.

(4) Performance clarity, so you know whether you’re achieving the intended results.  That requires you to set up a management and reporting system to create staff accountability and ensure your finger is always on the pulse, even when you’re not there.

Of course, once you’ve done that, there’s one more step: you’ll also need to enroll your staff in the process. Don’t assume they’ll simply comply. You need to motivate them to help you achieve your goals.

Sound daunting? It’s actually quite straight-forward once you get the hang of it. If you’d like more guidance on how to apply this process to your business, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.

All the best,

Joel.

visual representation of steps to growth
Mar 14

3 steps to differentiate your business (and charge more)

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered how to get customers to choose you over your competitors… without simply dropping your prices?

If so, here’s a critical insight: to get customers to buy from you rather than your competitors, you’ll need to differentiate your business in their minds.

Let’s explore how…

1. Understand customer needs

To effectively differentiate your business, you’ll first need to understand what drives your target customers to buy – in other words, their driving needs.

Why? There’s no point trying to differentiate around needs that your customers don’t actually have. Advertising copy that doesn’t hit on your customers’ core, driving needs simply won’t work. If your target market is hard on cash and after a low cost product, yet you focus on your environmentally friendly qualities, you’re way off the mark.

So step 1 is to ask yourself:

What are the needs of my target market customers? And which of those are the ‘driving’ needs the ones most critical to their purchase decision?”

2. Differentiation strategy

Once you know what drives your customers to buy, you’ll need to make a strategic decision about which key customer needs you want to differentiate around – such that it will make you stand out in their minds.

At the end of the day, customers want their needs met – and if you can meet one or more of those needs better than others, you can effectively differentiate your business (and charge more as a result).

But be careful here. Don’t make the mistake that many businesses make. Differentiation doesn’t merely mean being unique or different. It that means that your business can meet one or more of the driving needs of your target customers better than the competition.

For example, all customers expect good value, fair prices and good customer service. That’s not better. That’s your threshold requirement to be in the game and not go out of business.

The real question is: What’s your unique value to your market? Is it your lower price? Better selection? Higher quality? Greater convenience? Speedier delivery? Better warranty? Exclusive source? More socially conscious? More fun? Hippest?

So step 2 is to ask yourself:

“Out of the ‘driving’ needs of my target market, which 1-2 needs can I meet better than others to differentiate my business?”

3. Legitimise your claims

There’s one more step. To make your differentiation claims compelling, you’ll need to legitimise them with as much objective, measurable data and reasoning as possible. Don’t just say you’re faster, longer-lasting, higher quality; prove it with some evidence: research studies, case studies, testimonials or your unique qualifications or experience.

And where you don’t have any evidence (and perhaps even if you do), consider linking your offer to a guarantee that puts your money where your mouth is – and therefore builds legitimacy.

Here are some examples of specific, measurable differentiators:

  • Fresh, hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.
  • No-hassle, no questions asked, money-back guarantee forever.
  • My telephones give you all the power of a fancy office system – for thousands of dollars less than the leading 3 brands (and here’s a pricing comparison table…)
  • On-time printing, or you don’t pay. Used by the following top brands…

If you’ve decided which customer needs you want to differentiate around, step 3 is to ask yourself:

“What tangible evidence can I provide to justify my differentiation claims?”

If you can answer these three questions for your business, you’ll build a compelling reason for customers to choose you over others. And while it won’t mean that you can suddenly charge exorbitant prices, the more unique value you provide, the more likely it is that customers will be willing to pay you more for that extra value.

I hope this advice helps you to begin differentiating your business and standing out from the crowd. If you’d like more guidance and advice like this, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.

All the best,

Joel.

Sep 20

How to stay sane, focused & fulfilled while building your business

By Joel Gerschman | Uncategorized

If you’re like most business owners, you probably began your business with aspirations of wealth, freedom and fulfilment. But the reality isn’t so easy, right?

So let’s take a deeper look at what it takes to live a meaningful, fulfilling life.

The problem: Life in business

The demands of running your own business are intense. Unlike employees, who can often just clock-in, do their job and then clock out, the job of a business owner never truly ends.

You carry your business with you, always. If you’re not negotiating prices, influencing customers, managing staff, chasing cash-flow or doing one of the other myriad of tasks necessary to keep the business operating, you’re thinking about the business, about solutions, about opportunities or threats. So much for a balanced lifestyle!

Thankfully, our brains and systems are wired to cope with a certain amount of stress. You know the famous analogy about the line you see on the ICU monitor that constantly jumps up and down? It’s a good sign – you don’t want a static flat line!

But there’s a limit. Unless you have a way to manage the stressors, challenges and disappointments that life will throw at you, you stop being a good owner and manager. Running the business becomes onerous, and eventually life becomes unfulfilling. And when that happens, many owners give up or fight on until their bodies give up.

The truth of the matter is that business owners choose to live in a frantic world. Your clients want immediate responses, your staff need guidance, your suppliers demand payment, and all the while you need to provide for your family. And naturally, all this places incredible stress on you and robs you of the ability to remain calm and focused, let alone fulfilled.

So what can you do? Are business owned doomed to live stressful, unfulfilling lives?

The mindful living system: 5 key practices

Thankfully, there are practices that can empower you to stay sane, focused and fulfilled while building a successful business.

At their core, these practices are about living more mindfully – that is, becoming more aware, more conscious, of how you react to events, and then choosing more deliberately and intentionally how you’ll respond.

There are 5 key practices that comprise a mindful living system:

  1. Inspiration: Your first step is to identify your ‘core purpose’. Your core purpose is an expression of what’s really important to you in life – your values – and especially the values that relate to the impact you want to have on others. Crystalising those values into a clear purpose statement can inspire and motivate you to live up to that purpose, infusing your life with more meaning and fulfillment.
  2. Application: There’s a wide chasm between coming up with a purpose statement and living that purpose day to day. That’s why your second step is to apply your high-level purpose across the various domains of your life: from your home right through to your work. That means identifying clear goals for each domain as well as practical ‘actions plans’ to bring those goals to life.
  3. Interpretation: What happens when you’re faced with challenges and setbacks that threaten to knock you and your well-laid plans off course? Running a business is full of challenges, stressors and disappointments, which is why you’ll need to stay balanced and resilient even when the going gets tough. And that’s where the skill of reframing come in. Reframing is about interpreting challenges deliberately, not just reactively, and then reframing those challenges  in terms of opportunities to growth and learn.
  4. Reflection: What if what’s holding you back from achieving your purpose – and the success you’re after – is not some external setback or challenge? What if it’s you? What if you’ve made a mistake? And what if you’re not entirely sure what you should learn from it or what you should do differently in the future? This is where you’ll need to build skills for reflecting on and learning from unsuccessful experiences, even where the lessons are not obvious, so you continue to grow – personally and in your business.
  5. Integration: How do you ensure that these practices become integrated into your daily life? It’s one thing to learn about these ideas or try to them out once or twice. But it’s another thing entirely to make them a habit, a part your life, such that they affect you  and help you  in a lasting, ongoing way. That’s why you’ll need to integrate these practices into a step-by-step mindful living system that you apply regularly – not unlike  a fitness regime – with a way to hold you accountable for staying on track.  

If you can learn and implement those  5 practices, you’ll increase your sense of balance, focus and fulfillment, even in the face of challenges. And if you’d like more guidance on how to apply these practices to your life, you can try our Growth System program for free right here.

In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help.

All the best,

Joel & Aryeh.