#BusinessStrategy

7 Signs Why Going Hyper Local & Offering Super High-Touch Interactions Are the Ultimate Future-Proof Strategy: The Hidden Business Gold Mine You May Be Overlooking

7 Signs Why Going Hyper Local & Offering Super High-Touch Interactions Are the Ultimate Future-Proof Strategy: The Hidden Business Gold Mine You May Be Overlooking

As a kid growing up in Japan, I used to daydream about what might be out there waiting for me beyond the ocean lines. 

Because I lived in an island nation, my excitement for the unknown and the future was that much more intense. Unlike living in Austria or Bolivia, islanders are truly isolated by oceans. We simply have no concept of “just crossing the border.”  In other words, living abroad is very foreign to us.

I had all sorts of romantic & wild notions about the idea of living abroad & how different and special my life could be.

Fast forwarding 10 years to when I found myself in the US as an exchange student, I realized it wasn’t all that I imagined as a kid. Right then & there, I realized I took so many things for granted when I lived in Japan, especially things my parents had provided for me. 

This was a priceless lesson in my teenage years:  Appreciate everything; do not take things for granted, however small they may be. How ungrateful I must have looked in their eyes, dying & rushing to get out of where I was, all just to be let down by reality later on?  Like a deserter tumbling down the sand dunes, I ran towards a flowing spring of water, only to discover it was a mirage.

Wanting to rely on getting easy leads online is a lot like this story.  Many of us often romanticize what it would be like to get online prospects into our sales funnel semi-automatically by offering free, downloadable cheat sheets, check lists, webinars, video trainings, etc.  Heck, we can even invest a little in paid ads.  How wonderful it would be!

Now your brain will go haywire with all kinds of expectations.

“No more networking.  No more cold calling.  No more selling.  No more RFP’s.  I don’t even need to leave my house.  Better yet, I can sit by the beach with my laptop & WIFI… I’ll hire help remotely.  People will just buy my stuff online… One-to-one is so yesterday.  One-to-many is the future!”

Still Trading Time for Money? Overcome These 5 Key Hurdles and Finally Stop Charging by the Hour

Still Trading Time for Money? Overcome These 5 Key Hurdles and Finally Stop Charging by the Hour

Are you sick of tracking time for your own work? Are you sick of constantly reminding your team to track time with an app like Harvest for pricing purposes?

You probably recognize that tracking time itself is a stand-alone task that eats away valuable work hours. You are also aware that trading time for money isn't a sustainable business model, and you want to stop this vicious cycle.

But... (I know there's always a *but*) you aren't sure how to go about making the change?

I also started out by selling my services on an hourly rate basis. It’s OK. We all need to start from somewhere.  Although it was nerve-wracking in the beginning, I made the switch, even with existing clients, from charging hourly to value-based (a.k.a. expertise-based) pricing. If you are wondering how I did it, wonder no more. 

In this post, I'm going to share the top 5 hurdles that keep you from making the switch to value-based pricing & what actions you can take right now to overcome each hurdle.

If you are a solopreneur reading this, you'll get a ton out of this post.  Guaranteed.  By the end of this post, you will see clear steps towards value-based pricing that will allow you to gradually make the shift. 

But this is not just for solopreneurs.  Many established, full-on service businesses with physical locations and FT employees are still trading time for money by billing based on hourly rates.  In most cases, there are legitimate reasons as to why they continue to do so. 

Even then, I always encourage them to switch to value-based pricing, as the benefit of doing so is immense.  We’ll go over that in detail later.

Here’s the good news.  Unlike 15 or 20 years ago, when there were fewer options to charge for services, we now have plenty of options we can explore.  Thanks to the evolution of internet-based services, especially SaaS/MaaS, it’s much easier for customers to accept new pricing models.

In other words, they are more open-minded.

This allows even traditional service businesses to change their pricing & billing with less resistance. 

How to Conduct A Business Detox the Right Way – Missing This 1 Crucial Step Will Undo All of Your Efforts

How to Conduct A Business Detox the Right Way – Missing This 1 Crucial Step Will Undo All of Your Efforts

You know that yucky feeling you get when you see something that has so much “build-up” that you just want to wash it all away?  Whether it’s the way you feel about your hair being coated in product or your brain jammed full with daily to-do’s or not knowing what’s in your bag, I am sure you’ve had this feeling before. 

There is so much going on that you don’t even know what to keep and what to get rid of unless you just dump it all on the table.

The same thing happens to our business after running it for some time.  Conducting a business detox by removing all the build-up can bring in so many new business opportunities without actually starting anything new. 

Imagine being free from the anxious thoughts of having to offer something new or to try new marketing to gain more traction.  You just need to detox your business first by eliminating stagnant areas, which will allow things to run smoothly & effortlessly.

This is, by far, the most underrated, low-hanging fruit when it comes to business transformation strategies.

Visualize a gem covered with thick mud and clay that gets purified with fresh, clear water, revealing its true form.  That can be your business!

If your business is in the season of growth and expansion, what you don’t want to do is to amplify your mess.  Many entrepreneurs tend to focus more on adding things to their businesses over subtracting time-wasting activities, and that’s not a way to go.  For more on how to find out whether your business is “scale-ready,” check out my previous post here. (Insert the link)  

“Oh gosh! Right, I’m ready to detox my business!  Where should I start?”

Glad you are game. But hold your horses for just a minute.  Here, I am going to unearth this one crucial step business owners tend to overlook.  It’s possibly because it’s not often discussed in the business community.  Can you guess what that is?

Supercharge Your “Non-Stop Referral Pipeline” in 15 min or Less Each Day by Doing These 11 “Referral-Inducing” Activities

Supercharge Your “Non-Stop Referral Pipeline” in 15 min or Less Each Day by Doing These 11 “Referral-Inducing” Activities

I have a random question for you.  What cell phone carrier do you use? 

I’ve been using Sprint PCS forever.  Frankly, I don’t even know why.  It’s not so much that I am loyal to them, but more so that it works, and they don’t bother me much.

However, there were a few occasions over the years when I seriously considered switching to another carrier, and I finally had to ask them:

 

“Why are you (Sprint PCS) giving so many incentives to NEW CUSTOMERS & not the ones who have been with you the whole time?!”

 

Can you relate? 

I don’t think it matters which carrier you use.  In the US, as far as I know, carrier companies are obsessed with stealing customers from their competitors and completely neglecting their existing customers. I can see that it has loosened up a bit recently, but 5 to 7 years ago, it was so painfully obvious that the only thing they cared about was acquiring new customers.

To make matters worse, most of the carriers have a hefty penalty in place for those who want to switch carriers before their contract expires.  It’s a punishment for leaving your carrier. 

How’s that for CX (customer experience)?  I say it’s a crappy one, for sure. 

You must have seen this pop-up window show up on any website asking, “From 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?”  This is a part of NPS (net promoter score) in the world of CX.  In this case, I would score low for how likely I would be to refer Sprint to my friends.

To be clear, I am not ranting here about Sprint. I’m using this example purely to make my point for this post.  If this idea of being mistreated and under-appreciated resonates with this you, a long-time customer of any brand, you know how your existing customer may feel about your service.  So, let me ask you:

How have you been treating your existing customers lately? 

Behind the Scenes 3: Create Your Signature Workshop from Scratch

Behind the Scenes 3:  Create Your Signature Workshop from Scratch

Finally, the dust is settling after this year-long effort of creating a versatile signature workshop, which is to be repurposed into various content.

My mission for this series is to share the process exactly as it unfolds.  As you might have noticed, I have plenty of other posts that clearly outline how to do things for your business. This series does the opposite of that.

I’m baring it all this time in order to give you taste of the mess that goes into it.  As a result, my hope is for you to feel less intimidated by any business projects that you commit to in the long term.  Creating a signature workshop can provide many opportunities to grow your business relatively fast.  I hate to see you putting this off because you feel it is too big of a task to tackle. 

It's never pretty & it's perfectly OK.

Also, I want you to see how some things happen in a way that you could not have guessed. Both good & bad. 

This leads to another mission of mine- to prove that action creates clarity.

I often hear, "I need to know exactly what I'm doing before I get started."  Sure.  Have a plan so that, at least, you see a rough path in front of you. But my problem is the word, "exactly."

Sorry to disappoint, but you are not going to be able to know that unless you start.  What you can do instead is to course-correct along the way based on what you discover as you go. 

This is a kind of ambiguity that many get hung up on. The only thing I can tell you is... trust Nike's slogan- just do it.

In this post, I'm going to show you what that looks like. Trust me, by the time you finish reading this post, you will feel like you are a lot more “put together” than I did.

To do this, let’s break it down in 5 sections.

 

1. What I've Done for This 3rd Round of Workshops

2. What I Did Differently to Prep

3. Challenges I Faced

4. My Takeaways: Things to Improve & A New Plan to Move Forward

5. What Does All This Mean to You?

 

7 Surprisingly Easy Steps to Handle Difficult Conversations with Ease

7 Surprisingly Easy Steps to Handle Difficult Conversations with Ease

As a business owner, you will face conversations that you perceive as "difficult" or "confronting" from time to time.  Some of you may have more experience than others by holding a managerial position at a corporation.  But even then, having rather unpleasant conversations as a business owner is a whole other category, as you are the face of the company.

There are no other bosses to blame.  There is no brand name to hide behind and say, “They made me do it!  I’m just a messenger!”

As your business grows, your responsibility of looking after your business as a whole and assessing the overall well-being of it also grows significantly. 

It could be about firing one of your employees, especially when you break my golden rule- "No family or friends for hire."

It could be about unhappy customers demanding to speak to you.

In some cases, it's about your customers wanting a refund.

It may be that you need to tell vendors you want to stop working with them.

Or, you want to fire your client. 

 

They all sound unsavory, don’t they?

How would you say you feel when realizing you may have to handle these business matters?

Dreadful?
Heavy?
Depressed?
Exposed?
Confronted?
Conflicted?

Is your immediate reaction:

Wanting to avoid it at all cost?
Defensive?
Apprehensive?

 

What if I told you, by the end of this post, you may look forward to having these conversations because you have just acquired a new perspective? 

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 3: Three Ways to Future-Proof Your Niche

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 3: Three Ways to Future-Proof Your Niche

"I don't niche down, and let me explain why it works for me."

This tweet caught my eye earlier this year while I was working on pt. 1 & 2 of this "Niche Down" series.  I was intrigued.  This statement challenged what I practice and promote, and, immediately, I wanted to know more.

It originated from an influencer who seemed to be doing extremely well.  I always liked his overall message, although I'm not part of his target audience.  So, I happen to follow him over Twitter.

Once I got to the post where he explained why & how not niching down was the way to go, I realized his definition of "niching down" was… a little off.  In my eyes, he was totally niching down. 

He just didn't see it that way.

Note, I have no intention of calling someone out just to make a point that I'm right or nitpicking on what “niche down” should be. Doing so doesn't give value to anyone, including me.

Instead, I saw this as an opportunity.  I was so glad that I saw the tweet.  This was an indication that the concept of niching down may not be so straight forward for some, and I needed to articulate more clearly as to how to get this done right, so that no one wastes time or effort.  

The irony is that his business is clearly defined and niched down, but he tells his audience he does not believe in niching down. This can be confusing to many entrepreneurs.

In this final post of the 3-part series, "How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer," I'm going to lay out how to future-proof this process so that you are well on your way to success. 

But before diving in, let’s address what is going on here with this influencer.

This 1 Simple Exercise will Help You Stay in Alignment with Your Business Emotionally & Strategically

This 1 Simple Exercise will Help You Stay in Alignment with Your Business Emotionally & Strategically

Entrepreneurship comes with a full of surprises at all times.

If you are an aspiring business operator or an entrepreneur, you can probably relate to this statement. 

Right?

Just by looking at this year alone for my business, there were a few twists and turns I did not anticipate.  After all said and done, they were all good.  Yet these unexpected happenings can take you off the rail rather quickly ending up losing sight of what truly matters the most in your business.

When something good and unexpected happens, you do want to keep the momentum going to get the max out of what life throws at you.  Once that settles down, you might feel a little "off" about your business overall, and that's normal.  I have been there.  Many times.

In my previous post, I have covered the importance of simplifying your business in order to scale.  While you experience highs and lows through your business, being skillful at working continuously on simplifying your business depends on how much you feel aligned with your business emotionally and strategically.

In case you are wondering, emotional alignment and strategic alignment - both need to be met.  You can't just pick & choose if you want to achieve the best outcome possible for your business.

Here, I'm going to share a fun & simple exercise to achieve both at the same time.

 

Want to Scale Your Service Business Fast? Find Out Whether Your Business is “Scale-Ready” Right Now.

Want to Scale Your Service Business Fast?  Find Out Whether Your Business is “Scale-Ready” Right Now.

Do you know how to tell whether a Ramen joint is a good one? 

You test the place by ordering the simplest version with just broth, noodles and a few garnishes. No meat, no shellfish, no other exotic or expensive ingredients. 

The same goes for discovering the best Burger, Arepa, Dumplings, Pizza, Curry, etc.

Why?

The reason is: Simple dishes have nowhere to hide. They'd better be darn good with very limited ingredients.

With a fewer ingredients, it comes down to how a creator of that dish crafts ingredients by adding just enough skill to make it shine.

This is, by far, the hardest thing to do.

Instead of hiding behind bells and whistles, a creator must resist the urge to show off for the sake of his ego and let his dish do the magic.

 

Adding is easy. Subtracting is hard.

 

Not only is it hard to strip a dish down to bare minimum, but it's also hard NOT to feel inadequate.  Since it is so simple, the dish will be judged by the level of confidence, knowledge, and restraint that a creator possesses.

I know what you are about to ask.

“How is creating a simplest dish even relevant to scaling a business?”

The simple strategic concept below can help you create new milestones to scale your business. Also, you will find whether your business is “scale-ready” by answering 5 statements.

So, read on.  

 

Behind the Scenes 2: Create Your Signature Workshop from Scratch (Updates & 3 Tips for Digesting Feedback Effectively)

Behind the Scenes 2: Create Your Signature Workshop from Scratch (Updates & 3 Tips for Digesting Feedback Effectively)

It has been more than 6 months since I posted my first update on how I created my signature workshop in 3.5 weeks while I run my regular business.  In the post, I also shared what worked and what didn’t.

If you haven’t checked it out, you might want to do that first so that you get the backstory before diving into this one.

My original intention was to share my process of creating one then testing it so that you would be inspired to work on yours.  Since then, a lot has happened.  So, it is time to invite you back to this topic and see how it has evolved.

In this post, you are going to learn 2 things:

1.     Updates on how this effort of perfecting a workshop took an unexpected turn & what I took away from the experience.

2.     Tips on what to do once you collect feedback from participants.

By the way, you would appreciate knowing this fact, that I did not make this a priority for my business during the first half of this year.  What I am about to share did not come from actively promoting or developing the original workshop. 

Things just started to happen without me doing much to it.

Now, please don’t take this the wrong way.  I am not in anyway suggesting you to lock up your workshop and throw away the key and, expecting an offer or an invitation will magically appear without you lifting a finger.  Although I wasn’t actively working on it, it has always been on the back of my mind. 

This is key so that once you spot an opportunity, you can pull it out and look at it again from another perspective.  We will go deep into how to execute this in this post.

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 2: The Fine Art Painting Method

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 2: The Fine Art Painting Method

This is the part 2 of the 3-part series covering the topic of “How to Niche Down When You Have So Much to Offer.” 

Just to recap, part 1 covered the “what” and “why” of niching your services down like fine dining restaurant menus. (embed the link.)

I purposely used the fine dining model as an example to convey my point of how a refined, high ticket item will allow you to create a highly profitable service business without burning yourself out while executing.

In part 2, it is going to be all about “how” to explore your niche that works.  

With all the noise over on the internet, many are dismissing the fact that there are many, many highly profitable businesses that you would never hear or read about. 

Not only are they so profitable that they don’t need to conduct any sales, marketing and advertising campaigns, they are content with the kind of freedom they have with their lives without losing their love for their work.

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, let me tell you about my acupuncture doctor as a real-life example.  He is a multi-millionaire that you will never hear about (unless I tell you, of course.)

No fancy office. 

No fancy sign outside.  You’ll walk right pass it.

Occasional ads on one local super niche newspaper. 

That is about it.

He’s been running his business all by himself (no staff) at the same location for nearly 20 years.

You must be wondering, “What does he do that is so different from any other acupuncturists that is so profitable?”

Clients from Hell: 51 Ideas You Can Implement When Your Top Paying Clients are Ruining Your Life

Clients from Hell: 51 Ideas You Can Implement When Your Top Paying Clients are Ruining Your Life

You must have a horror story or two that involves "clients from hell." This may be a no-brainer, but I was surprised to find a website dedicated to sharing those horror stories. (https://clientsfromhell.net/) It seems they even have a podcast about it.

On the flip side, if you haven't had any experience dealing with clients from hell in your service business, you are leaving money on the table. 

“What?!,” you might ask.  You heard it right the first time. You are losing money.

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 1: The Fine Dining Menu Strategy

How to Niche Down Your Services When Your Business Has So Much to Offer Pt. 1: The Fine Dining Menu Strategy

Who says you can’t learn anything by just watching Netflix?  You can.  If you pay attention, that is.


The Netflix series, Chef's Table, is a secret obsession of mine.

The show is about the stories of highly regarded fine dining chefs who take you through their journey by candidly sharing their anguish, failures, creative process, adversity, breakthroughs, desire, resistance, recognition, and perfecting their craft as a chef as well as a business owner by finding their own voices through food.

Behind the Scenes: From Transactional to Transformational Workshop Creation

Behind the Scenes:  From Transactional to Transformational Workshop Creation

Do you have a signature workshop that showcases your expertise? 

If not, I strongly encourage you to create one because what sets a live workshop apart from other marketing activities such as Facebook Live, and short videos that are embedded in your site talking about your offers is that people get to see you in action.  It serves as a good sample of what their experience might be to work with you.

I have met too many agency owners and service business owners who have never considered this as part of their biz dev effort or their sales funnel.  That is truly a shame.  

Think about this for a second by putting yourself in your prospects’ shoe:

Is Being a Generalist Bad as an Entrepreneur?

Is Being a Generalist Bad as an Entrepreneur?

If you ask me, my answer will always be, "Absolutely not."  Being a generalist is a must-have requirement for all entrepreneurs.

That’s the answer to the question.  As much as I just want to finish this post right here (as I tend to look for excuses not to write), I know I need to explain, not only how to become a good generalist, but also why it is important to be one. I will do exactly that. So, stay with me. 

Recap: Battle-Tested Tips to Create Explosive Growth in your eCommerce Business

Recap: Battle-Tested Tips to Create Explosive Growth in your eCommerce Business

Here are the take-aways from my June 19th fireside chat with Tai Odunsi (Wizker.com), to discuss his entrepreneurial journey as an eCommerce brand owner.

We experienced a massive tropical rain storm in NYC, that night. As my luck would have it, it was the biggest one yet this summer. Still, there were plenty of eager attendees who braved through the storm to witness firsthand the testimony of an author turned into an owner of a product-based brand. It turned out to be a very intimate, and special event.

10 Leads in 10 Weeks Challenge: Sales 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs Who Hate Sales

10 Leads in 10 Weeks Challenge: Sales 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs Who Hate Sales

In my previous post, I wrote about how to take the entire December off without feeling guilty (and having battle plan for January) by start planning for it in late summer. The whole point of this idea was to accentuate the importance of understanding what your top three must-accomplish projects are for your business. (You can revisit that post here.)

Now in early September, we only have 10 solid weeks left this year, not including the time after Thanksgiving week. That’s right, just 10 weeks!

How to Take the Entire December Off: A Guilt-Free Method for Service-Based Entrepreneurs

For many, December is sort of a wash in terms of operating a business. When I was in the music business many years ago, getting the last two weeks off in December was a “given,” and I don’t quite recall what I was doing during the first 2 weeks of December other than cleaning out my office and going to holiday parties or hosting one for the label I worked for.  I’m sure those holiday parties did not help in sharpening my memory… Those darn parties…

As an entrepreneur, though, it is incredibly difficult to draw a clear line to be able to say to oneself, “Okay, since no one is really working, I’m turning everything off in December.” In your mind, there is always something to do, and there is always something to fix.

Master This and You'll Never Have to Chase Prospects Again.

Master This and You'll Never Have to Chase Prospects Again.

Recently, I was very fortunate to have Pia Silva as the guest for my live event in NYC (www.meetup.com/GrowthDrivenEntrepreneursWorldwide) to celebrate the release of her book, "Badass Your Brand - The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit."  The whole room was energized after the interview, and we all had a blast! 

Among all the value bombs Pia dropped, I handpicked a few major takeaways to share in this post so that you can apply them to your own business or side hustle projects.

Fed Up with Your Bookkeeper? The Reason May Mot Be What You Think.

Fed Up with Your Bookkeeper? The Reason May Mot Be What You Think.

If you are frustrated with your bookkeeper, most likely it is the sign your business has outgrown your current set up.  It is quite common for 7 figure business owners to continuously focus only on acquiring talent to carry out their core business to keep the momentum going for rapid growth because it is an intuitive move.  As a result, they overlook the backbone of their business such as Finance, HR and Operations to support growth.  

Here is the bottom line:  7 figure businesses with more than 6 or so full-time employees and with a physical office should have a full-time finance person at a minimum, not a part-time bookkeeper especially if you don’t have an accounting/finance background.  In other words, your frustration towards your bookkeeper is misplaced.