Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

March 2012

Recent Posts

The recent economic downturn has found highly-skilled professionals on the unemployment line. With employment options limited, inventive professionals exercised their ingenuity and launched their own business.  In fact, the US Census Bureau states that small businesses without payroll – those who classify themselves as free lancers, self-employed, or solopreneurs – make up 70% of America’s 27 million companies with annual sales of $887 billion. To you we say, Welcome!

And, as someone who has been on both sides of the equation as a business owner/entrepreneur and a strategic business coach working with entrepreneurs, consider this a PSA (public service announcement): Don’t Grow it Alone!

Don’t grow your business alone. Not only is business increasingly complex today, you also want to unlearn the employee mindset and learn the entrepreneurial mindset. Working for an organization, no matter what size, doesn’t prepare you for the topsy turvey world of entrepreneurship.

You’ll love the freedom and flexibility and will, simultaneously, need some structure. Don’t grow it alone!

You’re highly skilled in your core competency and will need to learn an entirely new and different industry and all it involves – entrepreneurship. Really – don’t grow your business alone!

You’ll thoroughly enjoy the peace and quiet of your home office and will need an objective opinion and a safe place to further develop your thoughts and vision free from judgment and criticism. Your friends aren’t that person. Seriously – don’t grow it alone!

As an entrepreneur, accidental or not, what advice would you share with those just entering into the wild, wacky, wonderful world of entrepreneurship? (Beyond not growing it alone.)

If you’ve never worked with a strategic business coach before, you might be curious what the process of coaching looks and feel like.  Although the experience of business coaching is unique to each entrepreneur, each coaching call follows a similar structure.

Strategic business coaching, done right, is a collaborative process between you and your coach.  Your business coach may function in a variety of roles depending on your needs. At Synnovatia®, we offer a unique role that varies from coach to mentor to advisor to trainer to consultant. Ultimately, the final responsibility to act upon and achieve strategies and goals discussed is up to you.

(Want to experience strategic business coaching first hand? Click here to contact a coach and schedule a free demo.)

Here’s the business coaching call structure we follow at Synnovatia®:

Before the Call

Complete a Strategy Call Prep Form 24 – 36 hours in advance of scheduled call. The Strategy Call Prep Form is an online tool used to:

  • help you become clear and focused on your most relevant needs
  • recap progress towards goals
  • communicate your successes, challenges, and objectives for the call to your coach.

Close your email and/or IM programs immediately before the call to avoid distractions.

Put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign to circumvent interruptions.

Strategy Call Agenda

At the designated time, your strategic business coach initiates the call to you. These can be by phone, Google Hangout, Skype, FaceTime or whatever method you and your coach determine works best. Strategic business coaching appointments vary in duration from 30 – 60 minutes. Here’s the general coaching structure for a 30 minute coaching call.

0 – 3 minutes:  Greeting

Establish desired outcome from the call (In the beginning of the coaching engagement, your coach may take the lead in establishing the call objective.)

3 – 10 minutes: Review progress of previous commitments and/or plan of action

Adjust plans as needed based on feedback received from progress report

10 – 20 minutes: Discuss, collaborate, and brainstorm various strategies to achieve desired outcome

20 – 25 minutes: Determine appropriate plan of action and/or commitment for the week

25 – 30 minutes: Wrap up

Confirm next appointment

Share learning or insight gained from strategy coaching call

Sound simple? It is. Yet the benefits gained are ever-lasting.

Has your curiosity been peaked? Click here to schedule your free coaching demo.

Like peanut butter and jelly, the future success of your small business may be in developing meaningful partnerships.  And, with the right type of planning, “teaming up” can prove to be a match made in heaven. Without advanced and thoughtful planning, partnerships can be hell.

As with any good relationship, victory begins with the quest for self-discovery and awareness. It’s essential to ask:

  • What is your intended purpose for developing a partnership?
  • What do you expect to gain from the association?
  • What assets do you bring to the partnership?
  • How does a partnership fit into your business plan?

Once you’ve determined that a partnership would, indeed, fit into your overall strategy, the next step is to identify the companies that would be a potential match.  Conducting extensive research to find the perfect “mate” will be crucial to your success.  Inquiries to make include:

  • What companies reach the market that we currently serve?
  • What businesses make products or provide services that relate to our business?
  • What ventures have a vision and values that are similar to ours?
  • What companies have expressed an interest in collaborating with us?
  • What enterprises have similar standards, work ethic, and commitment to excellence that we have?

Once you completed your homework, you’re ready to begin building a partnership that creates a win-win for all parties involved (owners and employees, alike).  The path to successful partnerships does not have to be littered with misunderstandings and disagreements.  Honest and open communications, up front, can clear away any potential barriers to performance.

Areas to discuss include:

  • Purpose and vision – why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • Performance targets – what objectives and goals reflect what both parties expect to gain from the partnerships?  Are they realistic based on the amount of resources both parties are willing to put forth? What needs to be achieved by when?
  • Working agreements — what responsibilities is each person willing to take on?  What are the norms of acceptable behavior?  How can you best work together to achieve your goals?
  • Problem solving — how will you utilize the talent of both partners to solve problems?
  • Decision-making – what process will be used to make decisions?  In the event of an inability to arrive at a mutually beneficial decision, who will be the final influence?
  • Managing differences – What is our plan for resolving conflict?

For a complete list of discussion points to create a successful, stress-less partnership, download Keys to Successful Partnership: A Planning Checklist. (The original author is unknown but we think s/he is brilliant for creating this list.)

Your business coach can assist with facilitating your partnership discussion. And, remember to engage a mutually agreed upon attorney to help you draw up your final partnership agreement.

Several years ago, the explosion of the internet caused several industries to become extinct. Some business owners, like those in travel, found themselves without a business. Recently, the Huffington Post released an article entitled, America’s Ten Disappearing Industries, outlining the industries most likely to become a thing of the past. On the flip side, the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), released their report of the industries looking to grow today and in the future.

What can you do to ensure your business doesn’t become a relic?  Here are two growth strategies for immediate consideration:

  • If your business is one of the potentially disappearing industry, you’ll want to rethink your strategies. You may need to reposition your business to keep it growing.  And, you don’t want to wait until your revenues are trending down. At that point, a business turnaround is much more difficult and costly to implement.
  • If your target audience part is on the “endangered species” list, you may find your business shrinking by association. Review the industries targeted for growth. Identify the industries in which you can get a foothold. And, do it now! As we all know, it takes time to develop a reputation and presence in a new industry.

Are you ready to put your business on the winning side of the equation?  You can read Scott Nicholson’s analysis of the CEA report, Linkedin Industry Trends: Winners and Losers During the Great Depression.

Website bounce rate is one of the most important metrics you should be tracking in your analytics. Bounce rates tell you what percentage of visitors click-away after viewing only one page of your website. This is obviously a critical statistic when you are trying to convert browsers into buyers. A simple mistake in your website strategy and design can send visitors away even if you have the best product or service in your industry.

Here are 5 factors that may be boosting your website bounce rate and tips to more effectively optimize your site:

  1. No call to action. One of the main reasons visitors bounce from your website is that you haven’t made it easy for them to know what to do next. Attention spans are short (and even shorter online), so it’s important to make their experience smooth and natural to move from browsing mode to action mode. They want and expect guidance. They should know the next step to take within seconds of arriving on your website.
    • How to fix it: Place calls to action strategically and prominently in the right places on the page. They should be above the fold and specifically relate to the reason a visitor landed on your website in the first place.
  1. Too many options. While the call to action is important, having too many options will compete for visitors’ attention and cause confusion and frustration. This competition for attention naturally causes a higher website bounce rate and the probability that the prospect will click-away from your website without taking the desired action.
    • How to fix it: Stick to one option per landing page. If you want visitors to subscribe to your blog and buy your eBook, don’t ask for them to do both on the same page. Creating separate landing pages for each offer will reduce your website bounce rate and result in higher conversion.
  1. Unmet expectations. Visitors expect to see exactly what they asked for when they arrive on your landing page. If your page is about anything other than what is advertised, you can count on a higher website bounce rate and a loss of sales.
    • How to fix it: Make sure the messaging in organic searches and referring sites is authentic and leads prospective customers to content that piqued their curiosity. Remember that the source of the lead can be just as important as the content on your landing page, so beware of referring sites that send you unqualified prospects.
  1. Bad copy. Engaging, persuasive copy is crucial to reduce your website bounce rate and keep visitors wanting to learn more about your offer. The fastest way to lose prospective customers is to have dull, descriptive copy that doesn’t include the benefits of your offer.
    • How to fix it: Create benefit-driven headlines, subheads, and bullets that make it easy for visitors to quickly scan content to see how your product or service will solve their problems or fulfill their needs.
  1. Poor design. A visually unappealing website is just as ineffective as bad copy. Put them together and you have a page that makes visitors flee to another site almost immediately—even if your offer is better than your competitors’. Template sites are the worst and are recognized by savvy visitors right away. An unprofessional design will hurt your credibility and increase your website bounce rate.
    • How to fix it: Use high-resolution graphics, maintain your company’s branding, create an easy-to-navigate user experience, and make sure the copywriter and designer are literally on the same page. Your best bet is to hire a Web designer who knows your business and the intricacies of conversion optimization.

Avoid these common usability gaffs and implement these recommendations to reduce your website bounce rate and improve your conversion rate.

Author, Scott Siders, is the owner of Novo Writing, a company specializing in SEO (search engine optimization) copywriting and content marketing. Novo Writing works closely with businesses in a wide variety of industries to increase their exposure online, drive more traffic to their websites, and ultimately increase sales of their products and services. Novo Writing’s targeted online marketing strategies include optimized Web sites, article marketing, email marketing, blogs, social media, and much more. Get more information and start building a better brand by visiting, emailing, or calling 714.335.5677.

As an entrepreneur, it’s likely you’ve “sensed” when an aspect of your business was not working well. Something was off.  You may not have been able to put your finger on it but, one thing was certain, it created a sticking point for your business. Whether it was a marketing tool, a client, an event, a group membership…your gut was speaking to you, telling you something wasn’t fitting as well as it could. Unfortunately, the importance of trusting your gut isn’t a strategy you’ll find in many business schools. Yet, it’s one of the most effective tools in a successful business.

As a strategic coach, I’ve work with entrepreneurs who resist trusting their intuition. Why? In most cases, it’s because “conventional wisdom” speaks contrary to their gut. As a result, they continue to struggle against their inner knower rather than fully trust themselves. This can really slow down the speed at which a business grows.

We talk about developing trust with our clients. In fact, an earlier post, Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline, outlines the steps you can take, as an entrepreneur, to build trust and credibility with your target audience. However, we don’t speak enough about the actions you can take to develop the kind of trust that endures – that of trusting yourself.

The steps to developing inner trust are actually easy – do more of it.  The execution is not because of the perceived “risk” involved with making gut decisions. Trusting your gut is actually allot like skydiving. The more you do it, the better you get.

A few years ago, I participated in the Amgen California Coast Classic. The bike ride began in San Francisco and ended in Los Angeles.   I know what you’re thinking! What sane person rides 525 miles in 8 days – on purpose?  Besides it being a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, it was a fun and exciting personal challenge. Although I’m not Lance Armstrong, I did employ a technique used by professional cyclists to improve my performance – drafting.

Believe it or not, this is the same principle used to accelerate business growth. A strategic coach reduces drag, blocks the head winds of resistance, shares in the workload, and improves performance.  In fact, the faster your business is growing – or the faster you want to grow – the more important it is for you to engage a strategic coach with whom you can draft.

Wikipedia defines drafting as a “technique where moving objects align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag.” Most commonly used in cycling, car racing, and speed skating, drafting is also found in nature as demonstrated by a flock of geese flying in “V” formation.  Besides significantly reducing the energy required to maintain a certain speed (some experts say as much as 40%), drafting actually pushes you forward.

It’s time for entrepreneurs to capitalize on what cyclist, speed skaters, and geese have known for some time –drafting improves performance.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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