Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

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entrepreneurial

It’s true what they say — time flies when you’re having fun — especially when on an entrepreneurial journey. 

It was Friday afternoon in April 1997 — following three margaritas — when Synnovatia officially peaked its head over the horizon.

Sprawled on the living room floor among laptops, dictionaries, magic markers, and reams of paper sat my web designer, marketing director, and a creative muse. What happened next was legendary!

The coaching industry was in its infancy. There were 5,000 professionally trained coaches internationally. (Today, that number has swelled to more than 53,000 professionally trained coaches worldwide — not counting those “coaching since birth.”)

Since our launch, we survived a significant move (Washington state to Los Angeles), a husband’s short-lived retirement (an event any women-owned business with an in-home office can appreciate), an extensive home remodel, the devastation of 09/11, the stock market crash of 2008, menopause, Guillain-Barre, a pandemic, and we’re still standing.

In 1997, launching a website was worthy of a press release; Microsoft was the world’s most valuable company, and Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t yet born.

Lead generation took place the old-fashioned way — face-to-face.

A lot has changed in business — mainly how business is conducted. And, a lot has remained the same.

After growing a business for 25 years, here is the advice I would share with my younger entrepreneurial self (in no particular order):

entrepreneurial self

1. Don’t select a company name that is easy to pronounce to make others feel comfortable. With a name like “Synnovatia,” the naysayers crawled out of the woodwork to share their well-meaning opinions. Point taken! Yet, no other option in all our iterations truly captured our philosophy and approach to business development and growth.

syn•no•va•tia (sin’u-vA’sha) 

a. the process that one uses to create a new or different result

b. mashup of synergy + innovation

c. when two or more people collaborate to create something new and different

2. Stay your course. With the vast amount of information to sift through to find answers to your questions, it’s easy to get caught up in conventional business wisdom. But you’re an entrepreneur. That, in and of itself, says you’re unconventional. Believe in your dream even when conventional business wisdom says you’ve lost your mind.

3. Push yourself away from your desk. Entrepreneurship is exciting. It’s also stressful. Don’t wait for weekends or vacations. Be good to yourself every day.

4. Work with clients you loveNo! You don’t have to take on every ill-fitting client to succeed. However, working with clients who aren’t a good fit with your values, beliefs, desires, and skills will show up in your performance in ways visible and invisible.

5. Don’t work with struggling clients. If your clients are struggling financially, so will you. Enough said!

6. Control your calendar. You have much more control over your schedule than you would like to believe. Take charge. Set up your work schedule to make it work for you or suffer the consequences of being held prisoner of your own business.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others. The entrepreneurial path is different for each of us. We each have a journey to take. Walk your journey with confidence, not questioning your course (unless you’ve wandered.)

8. Take the path less traveled. Most days, you’ll feel like a salmon — swimming upstream and going against the grain. Resist the temptation to conform. Rest, if you must, but carry on.

9. Remain relevant. The saying goes, “you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” You’ll have to make some seemingly risky moves if you’re going to keep one step ahead of being obsolete.

10. Trust your gut. Did you know there are more brain cells in your gut than exist within your skull? Fact! Don’t underestimate the power of your gut to guide your decisions.

11. Never stop learning. The moment you’re sure you know what you know, you cease to be competitive.

12. Treat people as you want to be treated. You’ll likely cross paths which others who play loose with simple business protocol. Don’t let it jade or compromise you. Be courteous. Return phone calls, respond to emails promptly and send handwritten thank-you notes regularly. Doing so speaks volumes about who you are.

13. Develop the art of listening to others. Don’t just listen for your turn to speak. Instead, tune in, be present, and hear what the other person is saying and what they’re not saying.

14. Don’t make it about you. No one likes a know-it-all or braggart. It’s one of the quickest ways to tarnish your reputation. Instead, demonstrate your interest in others by keeping the focus on them.

15. Finish what you start. Sometimes, you’ll want to disconnect from a vital initiative to move on to other, more exciting, shiny objects. That is the entrepreneurial path, right? Unless data shows you’re moving in the wrong direction, learn to complete what you start.

16. Don’t give up. Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable and ugly. So even though a job at Starbucks is tempting, persist during these anxiety-producing times. It’s these times that hone your most tremendous success.

17. Make time to think and plan strategically. Although this seems like common sense, it’s challenging to apply when people, places, and things are vying for your attention. Yet, it’s in these quiet moments that dreams hatch.

18. Execute. Again, seemingly a no-brainer, but a word of caution — don’t fall in love with strategic thinking and planning without learning to embrace the strategic execution of your well-thought-out goals and plans. Executing strategic plans is the difference between success and struggle.

19. Surround yourself with good people. Armed with the precious resources of a small business entrepreneur, align yourself with vendors, contractors, and partners who are in your corner, pulling for your success.

20. Lead with your strengths. It’s tempting to save money and run a DIY business. Resist the seduction. It comes at a considerable cost. However, engaging others to fill the gaps is one of the quickest paths to success.

21. Hold yourself accountable to your commitments. This means doing what you said you’re going to do long after the mood in which you said it has passed. Holding yourself accountable to your commitments enhances your formula for success.

22. Listen to the expert within. The marketplace is exploding with self-appointed experts. Trust that you know what’s best for you and your business. 

23. Upgrade your assets to grow. The skills, talent, beliefs, and mindset that developed your business to its current level will unlikely take you to the next. So advance your resources to expand your business. 

24. You’re more resilient than you think. Although headwinds might be substantial, they pale in comparison to your tenacity. Never underestimate your ability to rise above any challenges you face.

25. Believe in yourself, your dreams, and your capability. Don’t confuse capability with capacity. And, remember, you’re not limited to one dream. 


Knowing that you know now, what advice would you give your younger entrepreneurial self?

Joining a mastermind group has been part of many successful entrepreneurial schedules. From Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford to Bill Gates, gathering with like-minded business owners has been a hallmark of rewarding undertakings.

Initially coined by Napoleon Hill of “Think and Grow Rich” fame in 1925, mastermind groups have stood in the gap as a method for finding solutions—brainstorming if you will—to everyday business challenges.

Tapping into the “wisdom of crowds” lends itself to uncovering previously hidden angles and more suitable solutions than those conjured up by oneself…not to mention opportunities to accelerate life-long learning.

Mastermind group

The Great Expectations

You may anticipate several opportunities when joining a mastermind group. Among the probabilities are

  • Accountability: The regularity of the group meetings, sharing commitments, and reporting progress (generally 1-2X per month) creates a responsive structure.
  • CollaborationGoals are accomplished more easily through cooperation, contribution, and respect.
  • Feedback: The willingness to give and receive advice forms a basis for—and enhances—improvement. After all, growing your small business in a silo is bad for business.
  • Resources: Tools such as workbooks, checklists, and information are readily available to strengthen your business.
  • Support: Progress towards goals is more manageable with encouragement, help, perspective, and advice.
  • Facilitation: A well-run meeting guides productivity and success for its participants.
  • Structure: Each meeting is organized and optimized around a specific agenda that creates flow and reduces the risk of chaos, confusion, and running overtime.

These expectations are foundational to the most successful mastermind groups.

Finding Your Perfect Match

As the appetite for new ways of working together grows, joining a mastermind group that fits your business requires forethought and due diligence.

Logistics like location, time, and cost are essential to consider; however, you’ll find they are less likely to influence fit or your satisfaction.

Here are a few questions to ask to ensure the group meets your unique work style and needs:

  • What are you looking to achieve through the mastermind group?
  • Who is facilitating the group (i.e., experienced facilitator or member of the group)?
  • What is the proposed structure of the group meetings (i.e., free-for-all or coordinated)?
  • What support is available between scheduled meetings?
  • What arrangement is available for connecting with group members outside the sessions?
  • What is the primary focus of the mastermind group (i.e., general or specific emphasis)?
  • Who does the group target (i.e., size of business, time in business, # of employees)?
  • What types of resources, if any, are made available to group members?

Jim Rohn, author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Doesn’t it make sense to join a mastermind group that enhances you and your business?

strategic thinking as a priority

Merely stating that you have to carve out time for strategic thinking doesn’t make it so. For many small business owners already overwhelmed by all they have to do, an activity has to be valuable if it’s to be added to an already bloated calendar. The results achieved, especially in a highly competitive and fast-changing business environment, make it a must!

strategic thinking for business Even when deemed vital for business success, many small business owners treat strategic thinking as an afterthought — an end-of-day activity when the hustle and bustle of the business day come to a close.

By that time, decision fatigue sets in, and, with no one to hold us accountable, it’s increasingly easy to put off this vital activity until another day.

Another day turns into next week, which turns into the following month. And, so it goes until a calamity stops us dead in our tracks. Sounds only too familiar, doesn’t it.

Hindsight is 20/20

Wouldn’t it be grand if a small business came with a crystal ball? It’s frustrating, stressful, and exhausting to work long hours only to discover at the end of a month, quarter, or year that targets have been grossly missed. Ack!

Sadly, by the time, it’s too late.

It’s easy to blame the economy when business isn’t growing as we would like, but that’s really only part of the problem. The other culprit is the failure to make time to think strategically.

Your Future Awaits

Generally used in game theory, such as chess, strategic thinking involves the application of unique business insights to help your small business grow. Simply stated, it’s the logical process of knowing where you are, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there.

Strategic thinking affords you the opportunity to use data to glean valuable insights. Rather than hope an intended strategy nets results; strategic thinking expands the likelihood of achieving your small business goals.

Strategic Thinking Prioritizes Your Success 

The ideal time to maximize the benefits of thinking strategically is the first thing each morning. Before the rush of the day’s activities pulls you off track, strategic thinking sets the pace and the direction for your day.

Although thinking strategically sounds like a complicated process, it’s simpler than you may realize.

Follow this eight-step-process to make strategic thinking a priority and realize how it fast-forwards your small business:

  1. Set aside the first 20 minutes of your day (before opening an email).
  2. Eliminate distractions.
  3. Focus your attention.
  4. Gather your strategic thinking tools, including your goals, metrics, results, and performance.
  5. Look for trends or patterns of performance.
  6. Dig deep enough to understand the root cause or opportunities available to your small business.
  7. Develop a plan of action for the day that aligns your actions with your business mission, vision, strategies, and goals.
  8. Implement as planned.

Strategic thinking is the most important daily activity for any small business owner. It ensures what happens during your day isn’t just busy work but that it moves your business to the next level.

Stop doing — and start thinking — strategic thinking, that is!

strategic thinking

Running a growing enterprise often provides little time for strategic thinking. In fact, according to The Persimmon Group and Center for Creative Leadership, only 4-7% of business leaders are considered strategic thinkersIf you’re one of the lucky ones, good for you!

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are consumed by day-to-day operations. So instead of settling into their favorite spot for deep thinking, most collapse at the end of a demanding day.

Although the struggle to find time for strategic thinking is a reality, it remains a vital business skill.

No Time for Thinking?

There are several underlying reasons for the inability to find time for strategic thinking.

For instance, your business model may not work as well as planned. Or perhaps your business model has become obsolete.

For some business owners, their service is underpriced. Sadly, underpricing can lead to over-commitment to meet your financial obligations.

Equally important is delegating to your team and trusting them to deliver.

Although each of these adds to the challenge of having time to master strategic thinking, all is not lost!

strengthen strategic thinking

Strengthen Your Strategic Muscles in the Cracks of Time

“Cracks of time” are found while waiting for a Zoom meeting to begin. Or when stuck in traffic or waiting in line at Starbucks. So rather than wrapping yourself around the angst of the wait, use this time to sharpen your thinking.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Reflect during “Wasted” Time (Daily): Wasted time is the moments not being spent productively. Examples include jumping from one task to another, being irritated by things you can’t control, or scrolling through social media to combat fatigue.

Instead, reflect on what you can do differently to avoid unproductive, costly time at the end of each day.

2. Consider Egocentrism (Daily): Personal bias and egocentrism keep us from seeing beyond self-favor.

While planning your day consider how your bias might be getting in the way of achieving your goals. Then, ask yourself, “what would a rational person with no emotional bias do in your situation?” Hmmm!

3. Solve a Problem (Daily): Make traffic work for you. Use your drive time for reflection and problem-solving. Focus on a problem with a solution rather than waste time (See #1) thinking about things beyond your control. And consider your options for action in the short-term and long-term.

4. Focus on Intellectual Standards (Weekly): The Universal Intellectual Standards defined by the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model (Paul and Elder, 2001) include:

  • Clarity
  • Precision
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Depth
  • Breadth
  • Logical
  • Significance
  • Fairness
  • Sufficiency

Each week, select a focus to improve one of these areas.

For instance, consider glitches, typos, missteps, and do-overs during accuracy week. In addition, ask questions related to your accuracy, such as, “Did I spell check?” or “Am I communicating instructions clearly for the reader?” 

Also, consider reading up on the subject to move you beyond your immediate understanding.

5. Select an Intellectual Trait to Internalize (Monthly): The Universal Intellectual Traits according to the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework include:

  • Humility
  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Autonomy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Reason
  • Fair-Mindedness

Focus on strengthening one trait each month. For instance, during your courage month, consider how you might push beyond your comfort zone to accomplish a truly remarkable and inspiring feat.

6. Analyze Business Influences (Quarterly) Who—or what—inspires your actions? Look around you. Equally important, what traits do you admire in others? Then, carefully select who—and what—you emulate. After all, Oscar Wilde said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Become your unique brand of entrepreneur. As is the case of business branding, skills need continual refinement.

It’s a Wrap!

By utilizing the seemingly insignificant “cracks of time” in a different way, you can begin to invigorate your strategic thinking muscle. And you will be better equipped to address problems and recognize opportunities.

If you’re ready to strengthen your strategic thinking muscles, we’re here for you.

Let’s Chat About Your Business Needs 

small business

Who hasn’t made a wish while blowing out a candle or breaking a wishbone? Mythical thinking, loosely defined as a story or a tale, can’t be proven. Lacking any facts, this type of future thinking explains the world around us. Fundamental to all human beings, the notion of mythical thinking never really leaves us.

What does this mean for the small businesses owner who needs to master strategic thinking? 

small business

Don’t Feed The Unicorn

Small business entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch. Most have never met an opportunity they couldn’t leverage or a problem that can’t be solved immediately.

On the other end of the spectrum, some business owners are more cautious and risk-averse with their unique mythical thinking brand.

Mythical thinking also exists in the minds of our clients, as in the case of expectations of your services. It’s a potential source of conflict, controversy, and churn when it goes unrecognized.

Sadly, mythical thinking gets us in trouble. Void any facts, it’s subjective, less direct, and based on personal feelings. Plus, mythical thinking creates a gap between expectations and reality that is a natural stress antagonizer.

Hit a dead end and watch the uprising of mythical thinking. It’s the fertilizer of bad ideas. It propagates when we believe that everything will be different, even though we perform the same actions.

Did you get “lucky?” When a breakthrough that “seems” to come out of nowhere is attributed to “luck” outside of oneself, mythical thinking flourishes.

Ah, yes, but what does mythical thinking look like in real life? Some of the more common phrases lurking in the minds of an entrepreneur include the following:

  1. If I build it, they will come. Most entrepreneurs aren’t going to blurt this out – at least not in public. However, actions – or lack thereof – indicate an expectation that a yellow brick road will rain forth crowds to their storefront (or website).
  2. I’m supposed to know all there is to build a business successfully. Egad! No one wants to look like a fool, especially in front of a potential client, and certainly not in front of another entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs are masters of their craft, not entrepreneurs.
  3.  I’ve got to do it all – myself. Well, this sounds plumb crazy as you read it. Yet, most entrepreneurs fear others cannot, or will not, do the job as well as they can/will.
  4.  I need to work 24/7 for my business to succeed. “Yes, and” as we say in comedy improv. Hard work is an essential piece of the success equation – as is working smart. Working more than 60 hours a week is not a badge of honor or anything deserving of applause. That brand of mythical thinking played well during the post-World War II Industrial Age. Today, it is a significant cause of burnout and contributes to a health crisis.
  5.  I “have to” follow established business practices. You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs feel the need to follow in step with what the so-called experts say. Those who have walked before you can be a source of wisdom; however, you bring a distinctive trademark of creativity to your business that you should not dismiss.
  6.  This is the way we’ve always done it. Wow! As fast as the marketplace is changing, we can hardly afford to do things the same way two days in a row without the risk of losing relevance.

Sadly, this kind of mythical thinking prevents entrepreneurs from reaching out for the support they need to succeed.

Keep Calm & Analyze

Entrepreneurship, and its accompanying success, are anything but mythical. Entrepreneurship is a learned skill. It requires logical thinking based on scientific and empirical data. Facts, controlled experiments, and rational evidence (like key performance metrics) contribute to the objectivity needed to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship.

Each day in the life of an entrepreneur is a clean slate, allowing a fresh, new start.

So, arm yourself with your magic sword, and let’s slay some dragons!

strategic thinking for small business growth

What actions do smart entrepreneurs take when business growth stalls? Most double down and work harder or throw more money at the perceived problem — or both! Neither of these options is advisable — or desirable — without the application of some strategic thinking to your business growth.

A recent strategic coaching conversation with “Katherine” (not her real name for the sake of confidentiality) is a perfect example of how strategic thinking shapes business growth. Katherine had already invested a lion’s share of time and money into her growth initiative. As results failed to materialize, her initial frustration turned to irritation. Finally, in total exasperation, she decided to move forward with a project that would be an additional — and substantial — investment of resources in hopes that it would be “the thing” that fueled her small business growth.

What Strategic Thinking Does For Your Business

Before doing so, we decided to put strategic thinking to the test. We took a peek at her performance metrics to glean whatever insight was available.

For many small business entrepreneurs, looking at performance metrics is like partaking in a Rorschach test. We know it’s supposed to mean something but, honestly, it all looks like a bunch of undefined, incoherent inkblots.

strategic thinking for small business growth

 

Using our best investigative skills, we poked, prodded, and cajoled her performance metrics. We compared them to industry benchmarks. We aligned them with her goals for growth and her business growth strategies.

What we discovered — in a word — was hopeful!

Ultimately, our strategic thinking skills cracked her performance metrics wide open to reveal a set of actions Katherine could take immediately to beef up her business success — before heading out with a substantial investment.

Isn’t that exciting? Time will tell how Katherine’s actions will ultimately shape her business success. Until then, she won’t have to grow her business in the dark with fingers crossed hoping for success. She has actions that are strategic in nature to guide her.

If you’re willing to apply strategic thinking to positively shape your business growth and save time and treasure, count me in!

 

business growth

business growth

Business growth isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of being everything to everybody. Yet, despite that, some business leaders tout the benefits of being a generalist. 

I see advantages for both the generalist and the specialist. 

For instance, a generalist doesn’t necessarily develop the same blind spots as someone specializing in a specific industry. Being a generalist can be beneficial in the case of someone like me who consults and coaches small businesses. I can think outside the industry, which can bring a unique perspective not previously considered. On the other hand, marketing as a generalist has its drawbacks and can make it a bit more challenging to proliferate. 

Growing more quickly is where being a specialist can shine. With marketing and messaging confined to one industry, it becomes easier to gain traction. 

Even as a specialist, focusing on a niche is no longer enough to break into the world of big profits. Instead, in today’s marketplace, a business needs to specialize in a micro-niche to optimize success

Defining Micro Niche

Most people in the world of business know what a niche is. Sports cars, fitness, health—each of those is a niche. But if you ever crack open a laptop or scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, you can attest to how many professionals focus on those general industries.

Concentrating on a micro-niche can set you apart and make a significant impact. For example, instead of focusing your brand on general fitness, specialize in fitness for teen girls or women over 60. Those are micro-niches. 

Here are a few more examples:

  • Tiny houses: micro-niche in the real estate industry
  • European travel: micro-niche in the travel industry (Or niche down further by honing in on travel to Germany.)
  • All-natural makeup: micro-niche in the skincare industry

Benefits of a Micro Niche for Business Growth

Micro-niching, and its many benefits, is exciting. But, unfortunately, it can also be a bit unnerving. 

One of the greatest fears for most small business owners when they consider streamlining services to a more specific area, is the loss of potential clients. Is that possible? Emphatically no! I’ve witnessed this in my coaching practice. The opposite is true. When my clients began the process of niching down, their revenue experienced a substantial jump. 

Take a look at the benefits that prove micro niches lead to business growth:

  • Low competition. Because of the highly specialized nature of the micro-niche, you have minimal competition. 
  • Ability to gain traction. Every business needs momentum to get started and continue growing. A micro-niche provides the traction required to progress quickly, so you’re not spinning your wheels.
  • Increased profitability. Due to low competition, you naturally experience greater profits because you have access to more clients who share your interests, desires, and passions. (Plus, think of how much fun your business would be if you worked in a highly specialized area that you love.)
  • Easier marketability. Marketing experts know that standing out in a crowd is the key to drawing attention to your brand and increasing sales. A micro-niche makes this possible and leads to an increase in business growth.

Finding Your Micro Niche

Okay, now you know the importance and benefits of micro-niches. Are you ready to make the switch? If so, how do you find your micro-niche?

Let’s say you’re a fitness expert. How do you stand out from the millions of other fitness experts in the market? Here are the first two questions to ask yourself on your journey toward micro-niche business growth.

  1. What is my greatest passion?
  2. With whom do I most enjoy working? (Read Buyer Persona: The Ultimate Tool for Small Business Success in a Crowded Market.)

Once you’ve answered those two questions, you’re well on your way to identifying your perfect niche fit.

What is the “tiny house” of your market? Give us a call when you’re ready to find out—and micro-niche your way to business growth and success. You’ll be up and growing in no time.

business moments of truth

Before the introduction of business technology, the traditional marketing model remained unchanged. This reduced consumer choices.  Marketing opportunities to learn about competing products or services were limited.

business moments of truthBefore the digital revolution, we may have heard about a product from advertising on TV, radio, or newspaper. (Remember those?) However, to experience the product or service, we made our way to a brick-and-mortar establishment. It was only at that point that comparison shopping took place.

Today, the consumer’s purchasing journey is an entirely new game. With the onset of technology, and the inception of digital marketing, 81% of today’s consumers conduct research online before their final buying decision.

In 2011, Google conducted a study ascertaining the number of sources of information consumed before making a purchase. At that time, an average of 10.4 sources was consumed from first viewing an ad to the product purchase. By 2015, that number had doubled to an average of 22 references. 

The information available digitally for today’s consumer is so complete that most consumers make their purchasing decision well before entering a store or clicking “add to cart.”

What does this mean for your business?

By taking charge of the moments of truth in your business, you can be among the 20+ pieces of information that consumers consume on their way to their purchasing decision.

Moments of Truth: Today’s Map for Business Marketing

Moments of truth can seem insignificant to a small business owner when they’re happening. Clients, however, have an entirely different reaction. For instance, if a potential client calls you and you don’t give them your full attention because of an office distraction, their impression may be that you are unfocused, unprofessional, and perhaps unworthy of their business. Situations like this can spell disaster for any business.

So, what’s a moment of truth?

A moment of truth is a sliver of time when clients or prospects interact with your business and decide whether or not to do business with you, share you with their network, or use your products/services again

Jan Carlzon, in his book, Moments of Truth, defines them as “anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, [as] an opportunity to form an impression.”

Some of the everyday moments of truth include:

  • When a person hears someone else praise you or your work.
  • When a person likes your physical presentation, including your website, appearance, handshake, voice, or smile.
  • When a person is touched intellectually and emotionally by what you say.
  • When a person recognizes you as a model of whom or what they would like to become.
  • When a person experiences you are consistently excellent technically.
  • When a person knows you care.
  • When a person feels they and their information are safe with you.
  • When a person trusts your professional credentials.
  • When a person thinks they will be challenged and get what they need from you.
  • When a person pays your fee without any conversation.
  • When a person looks forward to small gifts and thoughtful messages from you.
  • When a person knows you will make it right for them if they have a complaint.
  • When a person knows your fee is slightly above the industry standard and feels you’re worth it.
  • When a person is sure that their success and well-being are your priority.
  • When a person knows you never stop growing professionally.
  • When you ask a person to tell you their expectations and frustrations about the service you provide.
  • When a person knows you have designed your business around what’s convenient for them.
  • When a person can reach you effortlessly.
  • When a person can count on you to treat them as a unique individual with unique needs.
  • When a person knows you will remember their kids’ names and send them a card on their birthday.

Strengthening the moments of truth in your business ensures your clients remain on the continuum of the nine steps to building trust. The outcome? A measurable increase in client acquisition, retention, and sales.

The Strategic Role in Mapping Your Moments of Truth 

One of the roles of a strategic small business coach is to ensure your business makes the right impression when interacting with clients and prospects. As an advocate for small business owners, a coach provides an objective evaluation that can make the difference between a client passing on your business for one of your competitors and landing that next big sale. 

However, you may ask yourself these common strategic questions to refine how you handle the moments of truth in your business. 

  • What are the various touchpoints of our business, such as your Web site, meeting at a networking event, sending an email, or leaving a voicemail message during which a potential client develops an impression?
  • What is the current impression our clients and prospects experience?
  • What is our intended impression? Where are the gaps?
  • What changes ensure each impression is the one we want our client to experience?
  • Who will make those changes?
  • When will those changes be made?
  • How will we measure the effectiveness of your changes?

Analyzing your moments of truth bring clarity to your business.  And, with the right strategies you can create impressions to turn the most skeptical prospect into your company’s most enthusiastic advocate.

small business marketing

It’s a jungle out there, especially when understanding the terminology to market your small business. A misunderstood term or misapplied could blow a big deal with a critical client. Egads!

What’s worse than not knowing a vital marketing phrase? Of course, that would be not using the correct lingo at the right time! In a nutshell, it makes you look like an amateur

small business marketing

The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician 

Michael Gerber, the well-known author of The E-myth, spoke of the three personalities who go into business: the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician.

The entrepreneur sets the vision and does the heavy lifting of strategic thinking. Then, the manager implements the plan laid out by the entrepreneur. And, the technician does the “roll up your sleeves” actual work of the business.

If you’re like most small business entrepreneurs, you’re all three — and a few more! And, you likely spent most of your time working “in” your business as the technician.

What does this have to do with the “jungle jargon”? I’m so glad you asked!

Without a technical background in entrepreneurship or marketing, it’s easy to misuse or misunderstand marketing terminology and tools.

The Small Business Marketing Basics 

Three commonly misinterpreted and misapplied terms are elevator speech, unique selling proposition, and value proposition. Knowing how and when to use each of these terms can influence your business growth rate.

  1. An elevator pitch is one to two sentences about your target audience and your general area of work. Most often used in networking situations to introduce your business, offline and online. The elevator pitch is only a few words long and quickly delivered within 10 seconds.
  2. Your unique selling proposition is a statement of what makes you different. Your USP may be your specialty, methodology, or guarantee and is commonly used when a client is ready to buy.
  3. The value proposition is a marketing statement of the promise of value to be delivered to the potential client. Your value proposition is specific and generally cites numbers or percentages. It also may include a quick synopsis of your work. A value proposition is often used in emails, your website, and conversations with your prospective audience. More than anything, your value proposition indicates why the potential client should buy from you rather than your competition — without ever having to use the name of the competition!

Getting through the business jungle unscathed and in one piece is challenging enough. But, without the right equipment, it can be daunting!

With the right tools at the right time, you’ll quickly cut through the dense, unruly marketing space to grow your business.

Mastermind group

Business is becoming increasingly complex. And, just like “it takes a village” to raise a child, it takes an armada to grow a business. Increasing complexity and overwhelm is why we launched mastermind groups — to bring together a flotilla of like-minded business owners to share insights, experience, knowledge, and encouragement unavailable when growing your business in a silo.

Our first mastermind group focused on helping business owners create a strategic blueprint for growing their business. Discussions ranged from the significance of a well-articulated vision to proving one’s business models to buttoning down habits to create a system of sustainable success.

It was transformative, really — for everyone who participated, including myself. Members formed trusted bonds. With their unique experience and expertise, each business owner generously shared their resources. Opportunities between members of the mastermind spawned. And most importantly, participants created business-changing results.

Mastermind group

The Birth of the Mastermind Group

Groups like these have been around since the days of Napoleon Hill. In his classic book, “Think and Grow Rich,” he defined a mastermind group as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”

Hill states that “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.” Who doesn’t appreciate an extra brain, right?

There are peer support groups we may not usually recognize as such. For instance, a business advisory board, Weight Watchers, and Vistage are everyday examples of similar organizations. These coordinated groups provide the coming together of people in support, encouragement, and knowledge-sharing that allows everyone to grow personally and professionally.

The Many Benefits of a Mastermind Group for Entrepreneurs

Many peer groups built around business growth provide collective support and encouragement for the participants. What separates our mastermind group from most, in my humble opinion, is the facilitation by a trained business strategist and coach. Well-honed coaching skills strengthen the support among the participants, promote self-awareness, inspire action, and cultivate commitment while creating a priceless ROI.

Here are a few of the business-changing lessons of a mastermind group:

Even when converging virtually, collective gathering breaks the isolation and loneliness of growing a business. Nothing grows well, if at all, in a vacuum. Similarly, not everything goes as planned or intended when running a business. The support and environment of transparency help deal with the emotional fallout and exhaustion that often comes with growing a business.

Acquisition and assimilation of knowledge accelerate learning which sparks action.

Synnovatia’s Mastermind group was a great experience. While part of the group, I created a long-term and short-term vision statement, designed and executed a 12-week plan, and developed and tweaked some crucial planning habits. I had attempted some of these practices without much success before, but the group’s shared knowledge, insight, and support led to much better results.

This is one group where the whole is decidedly more than the sum of its parts. I learned as much from how the other participants tackled their own goals as I did from working on my own. 

Cindy Morefield, Artist, Scratching the Surface Studio

Structure fills in the gap between planning and implementation. Participants move from thinking of planning to plan and implementing actions to success. They move from merely staying afloat to moving ahead.

Everyone’s an expert. Often ideas, concepts, and notions from thought-leaders and well-known experts are frequently shared among entrepreneurs as the end-all, be-all keys to success. That’s accommodation, not alteration. Breakthroughs occur when best practices are customized to fit you, your lifestyle, and your strengths. Whatever “best practice” you follow, make it yours.

Participants recognize they are more intelligent than previously thought. Participation, through sharing insights and knowledge, lifts the cloud of self-doubt that plagues many business owners.

Members identify and share opportunities. Trust is enhanced in an environment of transparency and fellowship. Confidence in a participant’s business capability is a powerful network-sharing tool.

Thinking expands along with the courage to seek larger projects than previously believed possible. Understanding the obstacles to progress and identifying practical, applicable ways to remove them permanently is vital. This makes the difference between a small struggling business to a more powerful, sustainable business.

Business models have become upgraded for today’s economy. Entrepreneurship, by its very nature, is disruptive. Sadly, many businesses are using the same business model from a decade earlier. It’s no wonder they struggle. However, in a Mastermind group, business models are challenged, modernized, and proven to create greater profits.

The Bottom Line? 

During the 20+ years I’ve been working with business owners, much has changed. Technological advancements, albeit welcome, add layers of complexity (and overwhelm) to small businesses. As a result, a strategy is more critical — and difficult — for entrepreneurs today to pave the way for your success.

One can’t have too much support.

Core Business Assessment

Testimonial

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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