Hope & Fear (3/5): Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy

November 17, 2008

One of the silver linings to a bad economy is that it forces us to grow as entrepreneurs. Innovation is what drives business growth. In other words, doing something BETTER adds value to people’s lives, and that’s what gets them to open their wallets and buy from you.

In good times, we all get a little lazy. Why innovate when we don’t have to, right? But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And when the survival of your business is at stake, that’s some damn good necessity!

When innovating, remember that there are two perspectives. On one side of the table is the seller. On the other side of the table is the customer. Let’s first look at the “bad economy” situation from your customers’ side of the table…

Provide the Most Valuable Solutions

Your customers are not interested in your products or services. They ARE interested in solutions to their problems. So your job is to solve the problems of your target market. And no matter what those problems are, a struggling economy will tend to make them worse. So the solutions you provide are needed even more. But, there are many others who provide similar solutions, so you need a way to stand out.

In my opinion, the best way to stand out from your competition is to do things BETTER than they do. In other words, create more value for your target market than your competitors do. To create the most value for your customers, you need to maximize your productivity. In other words, they will choose you if you produce solutions to their problems more effectively than anyone else.

Now let’s look at the situation from your side of the table…

Focus on Your Customer’s Problems, Not Your Own

In a good economy, a business can hang up their shingle, and as long as you provide a decent product or service, customers will buy from you. In a bad economy, people tighten their belts and don’t spend so easily. As I’ve already pointed out, they may still need your product or service (maybe even more so), but they are afraid to buy it.

So your job is to communicate better. And communication includes two parts: listening and speaking. Start by becoming a better listener. Listen to what your customers’ fears are, listen to what they really want, and listen to how they want it.

Now let me ask you a question: How well do you listen when YOU’RE stressed or fearful? Not very well, right? The more peaceful you are, the better you’ll be able to listen to your customers and really HEAR how they need you. And once you know that, then you can educate them on how perfectly suited your product or service is to solve their problems.

To summarize how to grow your business in a bad economy:

  1. Increase your productivity so you can create even more valuable products and services for your target market
  2. Cultivate your inner peace and confidence so you can listen better to your market and hear what their fears and problems are
  3. Educate your market on how YOU are perfectly suited to solve their problems

The entrepreneurs who thrive in a bad economy are the ones who respond most quickly to the needs of their market. This ability to respond (your response-ability) is magnified tremendously by the practice of Peaceful Productivity.

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. Do the response-able thing for your business, and sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Keep in mind, the businesses that thrive in a bad economy will likely become the leaders in their industry when the economy gets booming again. This is an awesome opportunity to really grow as an entrepreneur!

Learn more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the third in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)
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Use “Ethical Bribes” to Get What You Want

October 28, 2008

My cousin, Carleigh, is an actor. Several years ago, after an amazing performance, she told me about her acting technique. In every scene, no matter what the scene was about, she focused on what her character WANTED.

She told me that every character in every scene wants something. It may be obvious or it may be subtle. Actors who remember this fact create characters that feel real to us.

Now in real life we don’t ALWAYS want something from the people we interact with. But much of the time we do. And wanting, especially frustrated wanting, can be a big obstacle to Peaceful Productivity.

So I’m going to outline 3 steps to help you get what you want in a way that serves the highest and best good for all involved.

STEP 1: RESPECT

Understand that people are not a means to an end. They are human beings, just like you. They may or may not choose to give you what you want. And you must respect them enough to let them make that choice without judging them if you don’t like what they choose.

Respect includes listening to them, understanding what THEY want, and respecting that. As Stephen Covey puts it, seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Without respect, you are using that person. And no one likes to be used.

STEP 2: ENROLL

You might know for a fact that what you want is truly in the best interest of the other person. But if they don’t know that, if they don’t FEEL that, then they’re likely to say no.

Enrolling is giving someone an exciting vision of what’s possible. It’s in those feelings of excitement and possibility that people love to say yes.

When a person is enrolled, saying yes to you will feel natural to them. When they are not enrolled, your question will feel like pressure to them. And no one likes to feel pressured.

STEP 3: BRIBE

Bribe is a word with negative associations. What makes a bribe “ethical” are the first two steps. Without respect and without enrollment, your bribe becomes manipulative. Another way to describe the ethical bribe is “sweetening the offer.”

Even when someone knows and feels that a choice is in their best interest, even when they feel respected and excited by the possibility, they still might say no. Why? Habit.

We are so bombarded by people asking us for things, whether it’s personal favors or telemarketing calls, that we build up a resistance. We say no first, regardless of the situation.

The ethical bribe gives a person an excuse to say yes to something that’s good for them.

EXAMPLE

Let me use my Peaceful Productivity Group coaching program as an example:

Respect

First, I show respect by letting my prospects know up front that THEY get to choose if the program is right for them or not. My job is to provide as much information as I can to help them make the best choice for them.

I do this by introducing them to Peaceful Productivity in a free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind: You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” I also outline exactly what the program includes so there are no surprises. I also give them my personal phone number to call me if they have questions.

And I even offer a no-hassle guarantee so if they join and find out it was a mistake, they’re not trapped and they don’t lose a penny.

And beyond all that, I offer to help them find a DIFFERENT program or coach that fits them better, if they’re not happy with me and my program.

Enroll

I enroll people in the excitement and possibility of the Peaceful Productivity Group by giving them a powerful EXPERIENCE in the free teleseminar.

It’s not a teaser. It’s a stand-alone interactive teleseminar full of valuable and actionable advice and information.

At the end of it, they can choose to take that experience and go off and never talk to me again. But when I explain that what they are feeling at that moment is something they can feel again and again each week in the Peaceful Productivity Group, my intention is that they will be so excited by that possibility, they will join.

Bribe

Finally, I sweeten the offer by including ALL of my products and services in the group membership. You can see the full list of extras here:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

And I’ve just added a few more ethical bribes:

If you complete and submit the group program application, you get a downloadable recording of my “Productive Planning” teleclass, whether or not you join the group. In this teleclass I outline a 6-step planning process that’s perfect for when you have too much to do and not enough time.

If you submit the program application within 24 hours of requesting it, you get an mp3 of a song I recently wrote and recorded called “Where I Want to Be.” Know that I have no aspirations to be a professional musician. This is just something fun that I hope you’ll enjoy. 🙂

And finally, if you join the Peaceful Productivity Group by midnight on Thursday, you get one month of one-on-one coaching from me (a $358 value). My minimum coaching term is normally 6 months, so this is something you cannot get unless you join this group.

ACTION STEPS

  • How will you put this 3-step process of Respect, Enroll, and Bribe into practice in your business or personal life?

I’d love to hear your ideas, comments, and questions.

Always remember the first two steps. Even if you’re not comfortable with the ethical bribe, the more you treat people with respect, and the more you enroll them in your vision, the more they will want to do for you.

As long as they feel empowered to choose what and when, people LOVE to give.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt