The most important asset in my business (and it doesn’t cost a dime)

I went to a mastermind meeting in San Francisco last week – it was my first time traveling for business since 2019!

As I was on my way to the airport for an early morning flight, I got to thinking about how I used to travel quite a bit. I was travelling to events at least 6x a year for many years. Masterminds. Conferences. Workshops. Attending other people’s events. Running my own.

And I was thinking about all the people I’ve met over the years at these events. The discussions we’ve had. The fun we’ve had together. People who are smart cookies and do amazing work in the world.

There are people I met 15 years ago when I joined my very first coaching program that I’m still close to today. I had a conversation with three of them this week! (Amazing to think that we’ve known each other that long.)

There are people I haven’t talked to in years, but because we’ve met in person and got to know each other… I know I can reach out at any time and spark up a conversation. (Truth be told I need to do this more often.)

While on my way to San Francisco I was thinking about all the people I’ve met over the years and honoring the fact that:

Relationships are the most important asset of my business.

I daresay they are more important now than ever for all of us. Especially in today’s overcrowded marketplace. Especially in a world where trust is at an all time low and it’s getting harder to know if we are talking with a “real person” or a bot. AI is going to make this even more challenging in the future.

And best of all – relationships don’t cost a dime.

Yes, there is a cost to attending events, travel and such. But those aren’t the only ways to build relationships (although face-to-face can certainly fast track the depth of the relationship.)

There are plenty of people I’ve gotten to know online over the years that I’ve never met in person. And when we do end up ‘meeting for the first time’ on a zoom call or such, it feels like we already know each other. Love when that happens!

Relationships are a decision. It’s a decision to reach out to people. It’s a decision to show up in the conversation (be it online or offline.) It’s a decision to stay in touch with the people you know already and nurture the relationship.

I’m not one to predict the future by any means, but I do believe our relationships are going to be what makes or breaks us down the road. It’s the main thing that I’m working to build and cultivate in my business now and in the foreseeable future.

To be clear – I’m not talking about transactional relationships. “what can we do for each other” or “what can you do for me.” By all means you may support and promote each others businesses through relationship – but that alone usually isn’t enough for a deeper connection. And if that’s all someone is looking for from me it’s an immediate turnoff.

My most important relationships support who I am as a person and a leader. Folks I can turn to for support when the going gets tough. Folks that have my back and know that I have theirs in return. We can message or call each other anytime. <– My most important asset indeed.

What are you doing right now to build relationships?

What are you doing to nurture existing relationships?

Consider this a loving nudge to reach out to that person that you would love to know better. To attend that event that’s been calling to you. To circle back to someone you haven’t connected with in a while to catch up.

Finding the opportunity in your frustration (trends)

Every year I do a trends call for the folks in our Certified OBM® Association where we look at the ‘state of the online world’ and what it means for us as OBMs and business owners.

And frankly, some of the trends this year don’t feel so good.

There is a lot of uncertainty and chaos in the world right now that is affecting all of us (we are – after all – humans running businesses.) Rampant inflation. The housing crisis. Wars and political divide.

Folks are feeling unhappy with the service providers they are hiring. They aren’t getting what they expected and in some cases have had people flat-out disappear on them.

It’s a crowded marketplace right now with LOTS of people who “do what you do” and lots of confusion around who to hire for what – how do we stand out in all the noise?

At first glance yes – many of these things can feel disheartening. And I’m not going to lie – we are in a season of having to “hustle” and work harder or differently from what we have been doing in previous years. 2020 to 2022 was a bit of a heyday in the online space where things flowed smoothly and growth came relatively easy.

That is no longer the case in this season.

And – as much as that can feel like a drag I can’t help but look at all of this through the lens of:

What is the opportunity within all of this frustration?

Because there is ALWAYS opportunity within the frustration. And I daresay, the more frustration there is at the moment the more opportunity there is.

I invite you to look through the lens of these frustrations and challenges as it applies to your business.

In a world of uncertainly and chaos – how do you bring certainty and stability to your clients? This isn’t about fixing the problems of the world directly but about you and your business. How clear are you in your offer and deliverables? How strong is your ability to lead your clients through the work you are doing together? How ‘safe and taken care of’ do your clients feel when working with you?

When folks have had a bad experience with a past service provider – how do you show up with integrity and take ownership of the results you are providing? Gone are the days when it’s been acceptable to do an OK job or for clients to tolerate chasing folks down to get what they were promised. You need to be 100% clear in how you serve your clients. You need to be willing to say no to clients that aren’t a 100% fit. This one seems obvious in some ways and is the ultimate ‘easy fix’ imo – don’t promise what you can’t deliver & deliver on your promises. <– It’s really that simple.

When there is so much noise and competition around you – how do you stand out? The biggest opportunity right now is in a crowded marketplace is to narrow your focus. Find just ONE problem that you solve for ONE type of client. Don’t be another “business coach” in a sea of business coaches who all seem to be saying the same thing. Be a business coach for dance studio owners who want to double their enrollment (as an example.) The “riches are in the niches” is more true now than ever.

I’m curious – what do you find most frustrating right now? And if you pause for a moment to consider, what might be the opportunity hiding within that frustration? Comment and let me know.

This post really got under my skin

I saw someone post recently on Facebook how they had been disappointed many times last year trying to work with various service providers who were promising things they couldn’t actually do, were late on delivering or were flat out disappearing on them.

That wasn’t the part that got under my skin though – it was the 100+ comments on her post that all echoed the same thing:

“I’ve paid so much in the last year for promises of DFY that simply haven’t been delivered”
“My expectations have crumbled after the last 2 years of poor support.”
“I’ve tried to hire multiple people and end up doing it myself every time.”
“I have heard so many stories about service providers who just don’t do the work.”
“After waiting all year for completion of this project I was heartbroken to find we were going to have to start it all over again.”

The frustrating part is that I know that there are amazing service providers out there who do great work. They want nothing more than to serve their clients and bring their best to the table.

And yet here we are – with a bevy of disappointed business owners who are desperate to hire folks to ‘do the work’ and feeling constantly let down.

So what is causing this breakdown? Why are folks feeling so disappointed and discouraged when it comes to hiring DFY service providers? And – more importantly – how do we change that? <– Because there is SOOOO much opportunity underneath all of this disappointment!

My experience in business gives me insight into both sides of this coin. I spent the first 10 years of my business as a 1-1 service provider and have continued to train, mentor and certify folks for the last 15 years. I also have over a decade of experience not only hiring folks for my own team but helping hundreds of other CEOs do the same.

To be clear – this is not a one-sided issue. I hear as many frustrations and complaints from the service provider side of things as I do from the folks hiring them. They are feeling this too.

The bottom line is this – there is a serious disconnect going on right now in our industry. The two sides are not ‘matching up’ in a way that allows everyone to work successfully together.

The folks hiring aren’t always clear on what they need – and service providers aren’t always clear on what they offer.

There are a lot of assumptions being made and not enough agreements.

Communication and leadership skills are lacking.

Service providers are being encouraged out of the DFY services that folks actually want to hire them for, leaving them struggling to find clients and business owners struggling to hire.

Folks aren’t sure how to work through the tough-stuff together so they default to ending the relationship when it very well could be fixed (I see this happening on both sides.)

I’m thinking of writing a series on this topic that I’m loosely calling The Bridge – how do we build a bridge between each other that allows for a successful working relationship? If you are interested in this comment below and let me know…

Enough is enough. It’s time to come together.

My experiment in micro-niching (and how it’s going)

I’ve offered many different things over the years, alongside the Certified OBM® program which has been a mainstay since 2009.

CEO Business School, Best Team Ever Intensive, Automate your Profit Membership, Call to Lead Retreats, 6-Figure Agency, Hire Up, Elevate Inner Circle, LEAD Mastermind and more mini classes and trainings than I can remember! Plus various coaching groups, mentorships and VIP Days.

You name it I’ve pretty much done it at this point. And frankly I was a bit tired of it all.

So I decided to micro niche – offer a very specific thing to a specific type of client.

In the summer I chose to focus solely on offering my Certification Accelerator program where I help Coaches, Trainers, and Authors turn their IP into a licensing or certification program so they can leverage what they’ve already created into a new revenue stream and be seen as THE leader in their industry.

There were a few reasons for this decision:

  1. It’s my favorite kind of work to do – I LOVE helping folks bring certifications to life
  2. I’ve got a lot of experience in this area – having founded and run my certification program now for 14 years
  3. I was tired of feeling like I was getting lost in the crowd of every other business coach out there – the coaching space is VERY crowded right now and it can be a tough one to compete in.

So far my marketing focus has been mainly on Facebook and I’ve been posting there regularly about certification and licensing since September. I hired someone to help with content and have been posting daily(ish) to gain traction.

Now I have to tell you, it’s been an interesting journey so far! Many, many good things but also a HUGE shift in how I approach and think about my business. Here are a few of my biggest insights so far:

When you go narrow you get known <– This was one of my biggest goals when deciding to focus solely on my Certification Accelerator. Not many folks work in this area, and I want people to say “you have to talk to Tina” anytime certification or licensing comes up in a conversation. And this is very much starting to happen even after just a few months of focusing here. (oooo yea baby!)

Most folks will NOT be a fit for this program (and that’s OK.) <– This has been a bit of an eek and adjustment for me, as MOST folks are not going to be an ideal client or ready for the Certification Accelerator (I have some specific criteria around this.) It’s a shift from marketing to the masses (and trying to stand out from the crowd) to talking to a specific person with specific needs/desires. On one hand, I love it, as I’m getting to talk with and work with some amazing folks that I would not have worked with otherwise, but it’s still hard to break the “create something with mass appeal and you’ll never run out of prospects” mindset that creeps in from time to time.

Shifting to a longer sales cycle vs. a ‘launch and enroll’ strategy <– I wasn’t necessarily thinking of this at first but it’s become clear along the way. Even for prospects who are a fit and want to create a certification, they may not want to do it yet (based on current priorities and such). This means a longer sales cycle, relationship building and follow-up so that when they are ready – even if it’s a year or two down the road – I’m the gal they turn to. I like to look at it as planting lots of seeds that aren’t ready to sprout yet, but if I tend to them they may sprout down the road! And, it’s a shift from the immediacy of the ole ‘launch and enroll folks now’ types of programs that I’ve offered in the past which again – it’s a bit of a habit to break.

All in all I’m thrilled with this focus so far. And I have big plans in 2024 to expand my reach even further in this area and build my brand around it.

I’m curious – are you feeling the call to micro niche? If so, what are you thinking of? Comment below and let me know.

Setting your Measures of Success

If you’ve ever said to yourself “I’m not sure if this is working” or “How do I know if this person is doing a good job?” chances are you haven’t set clear measures of success.

This might sound funny to say – but it’s a common experience for business owners (myself included!)

What people are hiring for right now (changes in the marketplace)

I was talking with a friend yesterday about how the market is changing.

What people were looking for a year or two ago is not necessarily what they are looking for today. How we connect with prospects and close sales is – frankly – not as easy as it was during the ‘heyday’ of the covid years. (There were many challenges during covid but the online business space was booming.)

Now some folks look at this as a bad thing. I look at it a bit differently.

It’s business as usual.

We are simply ‘settling’ back into a season where we may have to dig deeper, be more strategic and approach things differently than we have been. I’ve been in the online business space since 1999 and I’ve seen this cycle happen many times. The “woo hoo! everything is rocking and rolling and things are flowing to me” stage and the “ooof wait a minute, I may have to roll up my sleeves here and dig in” stage.

The ‘heyday’ doesn’t last forever.

If you are newer to the online space – having started your business 2020 or later – this may be the first time you have been in this part of the cycle. And it can feel unsettling. Especially if you (or your clients) are struggling right now.

But I assure you there is success to be found here as well. I’ve been through it many times!

The bottom line is – people are still hiring. Money is still being spent. But they aren’t necessarily spending in the same ways that they were a year or two ago.

A few of the things I’m seeing right now:

  • Knowing your ROI is mandatory – It’s essential that you can clearly explain to clients what the ROI is when they work with you. What exactly will they get? What will it look like? What kind of impact does it make for your client? For their business? Too many folks have been burned in recent years spending oodles of money and feeling like they didn’t get what they expected. If you can’t clearly demonstrate your ROI – and deliver on it! – then you may not get the gig. (I’m thinking of doing a class on defining your ROI – hit reply if you are interested.)
  • Providing a complete solution vs. a part of the solution – I believe we are experiencing a ‘strategy hangover’ of sorts right now. Folks have been inundated with strategy but haven’t necessarily been able to implement the strategy (depending on their own capacity, ability or team resources.) Those who are offering solutions that see things through to completion – strategy PLUS implementation – are the ones who are thriving right now. <– This alone could change everything!
  • Consistency in Marketing – Put simply, if you aren’t showing up consistently in your marketing right now you may get lost in the crowd. Gone are the days when we could pop up ‘here and there’ and be able to find clients. The most effective marketing I’m seeing right now is when people show up DAILY. (Yes, I said daily… I can hear the groans and I get it.) This doesn’t mean you have to do all the things and overcomplicate your marketing – I’m a huge fan of choosing one channel/strategy – but you do want to be intentional and show up consistently.

I’m curious what you are noticing? What do you see working in the marketplace? What have you – or your clients – been doing differently that you’ve found helpful?