Building a business is grueling and there are many things that will distract you from your original intent. While growth and change is good, there are some “traps” that you can fall into.
As your business grows you will be pulled in a thousand directions, more often than not you will end up serving functions that are not your core strengths.
You may also step outside of your normal realm of business to appease a client or go after some “easy” money. All of this will defocus you and your business, and in no time at all this can start a downward spiral of both financial and reputational damage.
How do you avoid these traps?
Play to your strengths
Every entrepreneur has a particular strength (or two) that has contributed to the success of the business. Often what lands up happening is that you take on different functions to ensure the business is managed and clients are serviced. But these functions detract you from what you are really good at.
If you are very effective at sales and marketing or finance or product development then do that, because that’s what got you there!
You don’t have to be good at everything, rather surround yourself with other people that are good at the things you are not. Diversity is strength! Jack Welsh has always been a firm believer in a strong management team and this strategy enabled him to build his empire.
Focus on your competitive edge
Focus on your competitive advantage or value proposition and build on that! To get ahead and stay ahead you need to be clear and have a laser sharp focus.
That focus should always be playing to your company’s strengths – your competitive edge. And while you focus, never be afraid to fail. Failing is learning but learn fast and turn the lessons into actions.
Related: Competitive Strategy
Add more value to your customers
I believe to expand on your business you need to look at it like a series of rings from small too big.
You start at the smallest ring and then when you are ready, take one small step to the next ring. This step should be the next logical complementary product or service.
The more complementary the better, as this will allow you to serve your existing base of clients on the back of an existing trusted relationship.
Offering more value to new and existing clients creates not only more revenue but greater loyalty. The less you are entrenched in your customer’s business, the easier it is for them to move to the competition.
Clear your headspace
In order to understand your customer’s needs and keep an eye on the market, you need to take a step back and assess from time-to-time.
Related: 4 Time Killers You Need To Eliminate
Being too operational and burning yourself out, is not a long term success strategy. You will get some of your best ideas when you take a step back from the business and get some headspace.
Having a balanced life isn’t a suggestion, it’s an absolute necessity. If your management can’t run the business for a week while you are away, then there’s your first problem to fix.
Practice This Important Skill To Get Your Way Every Day
Listening is a powerful tool to deepen trust and understanding.
“Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” – Richard Branson
Did you know that an anagram for the word listen is silent? As an entrepreneur, have you ever found yourself frustrated trying to speak to someone who would not be silent and simply listen?
Whether you were immersed in a conversation with a client, at a company meeting or stuck in the negotiation of a business deal, it can be annoying when someone interrupts the flow of things, stealing away from your experience.
Related: Are You Listening Enough?
It can be especially difficult when you have an urgent need to communicate something important or accomplish an objective and you need to get your way.
However, did it also occur to you that perhaps you’d been the first to interrupt, thus neglecting to listen? Oftentimes, though largely unintentional, we force our opinions upon others, simply due to a lack of awareness.
The act of listening seems like it should be natural. However, in the business world, it’s one that needs to consciously be developed to manifest greater success. The act of listening varies from situation to situation, but it can be used as a powerful weapon to overcome adversity and ignorance.
So, ask yourself: Are you merely hearing, or are you actively listening? If your honest answer isn’t a favourable one, consider these five steps as reliable ways to not only connect on a deeper level with people through listening but to get your way as well:
1. Repeat or rephrase to demonstrate understanding
First, listen intently to what was just said. Then, either repeat or rephrase it so you know you’ve understood. Even better, your listener will know you did what mattered most – took the time to actually listen. This forces you to stop thinking about a response. Later on, if your audience makes a strong claim about what was said, you’re able to reference what you did to ensure mutual understanding.
Related: (Video) Shut Up and Listen!
Of course, when dealing with difficult individuals, there’s not much that can be done. As is the case with every rule, there’s an exception, and for this one, this is it. To avoid this kind of situation, should a critical conversation be on the horizon, consider taking notes. When it comes to listening, it’s one of the most sincere forms of flattery.
Also, be sure to pay close attention to listen to what is not being said, too. Like subtle body movements and other nonverbal cues that will alert you to critical information that will help you to get your way. Pay attention to them. They will help you to get a better feel for where a discussion is headed and how you can be more persuasive.
In his international bestseller What Every BODY Is Saying, former FBI counterintelligence officer Joe Navarro states, “Just as careful listening is crucial to understanding our verbal pronouncements, so careful observation is vital to comprehending our body language.”
2. Make your listener feel important
This isn’t easy, but if you can completely focus your attention and energy when listening, people will like you more. As stated above, the people you engage with want not only to be recognised but to be understood. When you don’t actively listen, it’s all but impossible for a favourable impression to be made.
Make your listener feel like they’re the only person in the room. Give them your undivided attention. Resist the urge to look around or check your phone. In today’s day and age, with so many competing distractions, this kind of focus is rare. You’ll be remembered and respected as someone who does things differently.
Former President Bill Clinton was famous for his ability to do this. No matter how long the engagement, treating people properly can curry favor for a future need. It’s no secret that people typically will help those they like, right? Needless to say, it’s much easier to get your way when you’re liked, and this is a great way to increase the likelihood of that happening.
3. Resist the urge to always be talking
In any business-related conversation, you’d prefer to be in the “driver’s seat,” right? Believe it or not, during a negotiation, the person who speaks the least tends to be perceived as the one in control. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs believe the opposite – if they’re busy talking, they’re in control.
The truth of the matter, however, is that he or she who’s loudest frequently comes off as aggressive, egotistical or even desperate.
By listening, you learn. As you learn, you gain knowledge and wisdom. As you grow wiser, you’ll gain influence and become more charismatic. If you develop your listening skills and become an exceptional listener, you’ll be amazed at how attentive people will be when you finally do speak your mind.
Now that you have their attention, you can share everything you’ve learned from your conversation and you’ll know exactly what to say to get your way.
4. Be present in the moment and listen to your intuition
Imagine for a brief moment that you’re in a conference room at a large networking event. The majority of your peers can’t wait to “vomit’ all over you with mind-numbing information about what they do, how they offer it and why you stand to benefit.
Sound familiar? It’s a familiar scene for relationship-driven entrepreneurs.
Yet, what’s funny about all this is that it really takes only one introduction to the right person for your business to take a quantum leap forward. So, rather than trying to meet everyone, focus on how you feel around those in attendance before introducing yourself.
Are you ready to learn the secret of being a great listener? Simply pause for a moment and take a deep breath.
When you breathe deeply and in a controlled manner, you’re forced to focus on the present moment. This allows you to sharpen your self-awareness as you observe your surroundings with clearer and broader vision.
In this deeper, more intuitive-driven stage of listening, you’re free to release tension and doubt, helping prepare you for difficult questions, rejections or even objections. When not placed under pressure, you’re able to listen with your entire self: the body, the mind and the heart.
Bringing consciousness to your breathing develops intuition. With intuition on your side, you’re prepared to listen and (and learn) through the lens of your highest logic. The result? Others feel content and confident. Even better, you’re in a position to truly connect, as opposed to correct. All this from taking a much-needed breath or two before talking.
5. Invest in building “relationship equity.”
Have you heard of the term “relationship equity”? It’s become very popular recently. Truth be told, there’s a reason for it – every time you demonstrate the ability to listen, you deposit “relationship credit” into your audience’s account.
Then, when it’s your turn to speak, the chances of the favour being returned with deliberate listening are increased. If not, gently remind the other person of the fact that you gave her the stage to speak her mind first and you’d simply like the same respect and courtesy now.
By listening first, you’ll influence others to reciprocate and return the favour. Reciprocity is a powerful subconscious tool to creating influence according to behavioural scientist, Robert Cialdini, in his latest bestselling book, Pre-Suasion – A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. As an entrepreneur, you can use reciprocity to your advantage through listening.
People not only need to be heard, but they deserve it, too
Both inside and outside of the working world, at the core of each one of us, lies a need to be understood and accepted. Active listening is a simple method that supports emotional intelligence. It not only makes others feel special but also demonstrates your ability to focus.
With this new focus, we can now effectively shift our attitudes from those of want and neediness to those of gratitude and even compassion. Actively listening summons feelings of security and stability in others. This is important, as it is actually an evolved form of recognition.
Even in business, listening is one of the best gifts that can be given. Listening magnifies your perceived value and validates your power of authority as a leader and an expert in your field. Intentional listening unlocks greater self-awareness, which is a state of consciousness that leads to joy and fulfillment.
In this state, you have a much better chance to influence conversations and get your way by listening, as long as you have the best intentions in your heart and that it is for the highest good.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Ways To Develop A Success-Oriented Mindset
Confidence empowered entrepreneurs to take decisive action, and decisive action is what builds confidence.
Take a minute to imagine an entrepreneur you deeply respect. Think of that person at the start of his or her career, working on a product or service that will eventually make it big. Regardless of whom you’ve chosen, chances are the entrepreneur in question had a success-oriented mindset from the outset.
Entrepreneurs who lack confidence or who have a pessimistic mindset will usually fail. It’s hard to motivate people to invest money in a new idea or work for a fledgling company if the entrepreneur behind it lacks confidence. But having a successful mindset isn’t just helpful for those who are launching a new venture. It can also help readers from all walks of life to make smarter decisions that result in better personal or business outcomes.
Here are 10 strategies that can help you develop a winning mindset.
1. Put yourself in challenging new situations
You gain confidence by overcoming challenges, but when you fail to put yourself in challenging new situations because you assume the outcome won’t be positive, you will be unable to grow.
Instead, develop a list of exciting challenges you’re interested in overcoming. They could include exploring a foreign city on your own or enrolling in a challenging business course at your local university. Even volunteering to help with a new project at the office can provide a challenging situation that will foster growth.
Whatever the challenge you select, be sure it is something that interests you; otherwise, it may be difficult to stay focused along the way.
2. Be open to finding a mentor
Mentorship is often discussed with regard to self-improvement and business success. But many professionals assume that finding a mentor is as simple as asking a senior professional for help.
However, as Sheryl Sandberg argues in the Harvard Business Review, finding a mentorship doesn’t work that way. Instead, professionals need to put themselves in situations where they can build real relationships with senior business leaders.
In time, after an existing relationship has formed, it may be appropriate to ask a senior professional for mentorship. That means readers will need to make themselves available to build professional relationships before they can secure a mentor who can help them grow.
3. Think of failure as a learning opportunity
Failure is an outstanding learning opportunity. If you find yourself succeeding frequently, it may be a sign that you aren’t challenging yourself enough.
Develop a mindset that views failure as an experience to learn from. By reframing failure, you’ll find it is easier to take risks. Adopting this mindset will leave you less prone to anxiety, which is key to creating a winning attitude.
4. Keep a folder of your proudest moments
While it’s important to focus on the present and future instead of the past, maintaining a collection of moments you’re proud of can serve as a helpful reminder when you’re feeling down. By periodically reviewing past successes, you may find inspiration for future projects. At the very least, you can use past successes as a way to build long-term confidence.
5. Surround yourself with top talent
Environment plays a significant role in creating our mindsets. After all, we’re social creatures and are influenced by those around us. Surround yourself with talented individuals who can teach you new things and who can encourage you to grow personally and professionally.
If you’re involved in the hiring process at your organisation, look for prospective employees who are better or smarter than you. This will help create an environment that can consistently encourage you to form a successful mindset.
6. Find time to disconnect from stressors
The average American works more hours per week than his or her counterparts in other developed countries. Furthermore, the average number of hours worked has been steadily growing since the 1980s. Unfortunately, work-related stress has been creeping up at the same time.
Readers should find time to disconnect from work-related stress that can make it difficult to adopt a success-oriented mindset. Traveling can be a good way to disconnect, as can adopting a daily meditation practice.
7. Develop a simple morning routine
According to lifestyle gurus like Tim Ferriss, we are shaped by our morning routines. That means it’s important for readers interested in developing a new mindset to develop new habits as well.
Since your morning has the power to make or break your entire day, consider creating a simple morning routine that positions you to have a successful day.
For example, waking up earlier than normal can give you time to focus on yourself in ways that might have otherwise been impossible. With the extra time you can go to the gym or develop a meditation practice to reduce stress, as mentioned above.
8. Set time-bound and achievable personal goals
More than 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. If you’re serious about changing your mindset, you should take a different approach to goal setting. Instead of relying on a New Year’s resolution, create time-bound goals that you know are achievable from the outset. Approaching goal setting from this angle will help to build your confidence, which in turn will reshape your thinking.
9. Listen to your instincts
Part of developing a winning mindset is learning to trust your instincts. According to the Harvard Business Review, we are usually capable of making smart decisions when we rely on our gut instincts.
Confidence in your instincts is a critical component of business success. While it’s usually ideal to rely on research and data to make decisions, there are a variety of scenarios in when empirical evidence is unavailable or inconclusive. In these situations, people with a winning mindset are comfortable making decisions with their gut. This serves them well in the long run.
10. Avoid stagnation
If you feel as though you aren’t learning new things in your personal or professional life, it’s time to change it up. Avoid stagnation in order to continue to grow. This will help you to face new challenges and overcome new obstacles.
Developing a successful mindset can take time. To get started, focus on learning new skills and putting yourself in new situations. By overcoming adversity, you’ll begin to develop faith in yourself.
Establish morning routines and build a network of talented colleagues and mentors in order to avoid stagnation and achieve moments you can be proud of.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Anatomy Of Peak Performance
Besides paying lip service to “positive thinking” what is the reality behind hard work and the remuneration for it?
“The quality of your life is dependent upon the quality of the questions that you ask”
– Tony Robbins
Positive thinking clichés
We all have heard repetitive clichés emanating from the mouths of our parents, teachers, friends and family such as:
- “Just work hard and you shall be rewarded”
- “What you sow you shall reap”
- “Think positively and all will be better”
- “Do not worry tomorrow will be a better day”
Yet most family members and friends will complain that they work hard but that, in their minds, they are overworked and under paid. Besides paying lip service to “positive thinking” what is the reality behind hard work and the remuneration for it?
The purpose of hard work
“Whatsoever your deepest driving desire is, so shall your thoughts be, as your thoughts are, so shall your deeds be, and your deeds shall echo in all eternity” – Upanishads
“As a man thinketh so is he.” – Proverbs
The only real reason for hard work is to build perseverance and “strengthen your spine” because it is very hard to give up on a cause if you have sincerely put in a lot of hard work. However take the time to consider that when you really love what you do and you live your purpose, long hours do not feel so long and hard work can even be energising as opposed to making you tired all the time. When you are driven by purpose and love what you do there is less stress involved within your efforts and better performance will result.
Of the upmost importance is the quality of the work that you put in versus the amount of hours spent doing your work. A razor sharp focus on the activities that serves your business purpose and vision which in turn increases profits is a requirement of smart work.
The Pareto principle applies here:
On average team members spend only 20% of their time on the activities that really serves the business purpose and vision and brings in the desired business results and 80% on activities that does not fully support business results or only to a very small degree. Smart and quality work is therefore ensuring a razor sharp focus and spending 80% of your time on the 20% of the activities that really drives business results.
“The quality of your life is dependant on the quality of the questions that you ask”
– Tony Robbins
How do I identify the twenty percent of the activities that bring in the profits and serves our collective purpose? Now, that is already a better quality question than for example: “Why am I so tired? Why am I so de-motivated? When you ask high quality questions you are already starting to train your brain to come up with better quality answers that will lead up to better quality actions, that is if the reader is brave enough to venture outside of the self-imposed boundaries of his or her own comfort zone.
The following table clearly highlights the difference between high and low quality questions. High quality questions that is answered and acted upon consistently leads to peak performance and lowered stress levels.
Low quality questions often leads to excuses that are void of solution driven thinking and increased stress levels:
|High quality question. (Peak performers should ask)||Low quality question. (That generally leads to poor performance)|
|What creative solutions can we come up with in order to generate more leads from our marketing campaigns?||Why is it so difficult to get leads?|
|Which accurate metric system can we put in place in order to measure all activities that will reveal which ones drive the most profit?||Why am I so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done?|
|What type of candidate with which type of characteristics do we need to serve our collective purpose?||Why is it so hard to find the right person?|
|How can we align all our processes and systems and remove waste (waste of time and waste of effort) to deliver better results?||I am so tired and demotivated, why is this not working?|
The three pillars of peak performance in business and any area of life
1. A laser focus on Purpose
Being purpose driven and doing what you love is a key factor in producing the desired results and delivering a great performance consistently. Then people start acting out of own accord and no longer have to be asked to do their work.
2. People skills
Sincerely care for people. Study and learn until you know how to speak to different personality types and respect different world views in order to get the best out of each individual. Inspire people to want to do what they sincerely love instead of constantly telling them what to do. Ask high quality questions to your team members to help them to train their brains to come up with high quality answers and solutions. Study human behaviour to understand your clients better and improve upon your people skills in order to enhance your customers’ experience of your product and service.
3. Technical skills
A high level of product knowledge, sales skills, and knowledge of all business processes and systems is of course a requirement of sustainable success. Technical skills only however becomes a potent driver of sought after business results when combined with highly developed people skills.
A peak performance equation
Carefully selecting from the key points of this article the following “peak performance” equation is created:
Being Purpose driven x Asking high quality questions x taking immediate action (no procrastination) x developing to a high level of people skills x developing to a high level of technical skill x Removal of waste (Time wasters and a waste of effort) = Peak performance.
**** Multiplication is used within this equation to portray the fact that all elements within this equation is necessary to create a peak performance environment. Therefore if one element equates to zero the answer is zero, and will not lead to a peak performance environment.
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