Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Promotions disguised as blogs

I've been subscribing to lots of different blogs since I started blogging myself. I deliberately pick those written by business owners and gurus I respect and admire. So why am I feeling disillusioned?

I thought that blogs were meant to be informative and share resources. Of course, I'm not naive enough to believe that there shouldn't be a bit of promotion going on (after all, some blogs are carefully set up to maximise money-making opportunities - and that's fine because they don't pretend to be anything else).

But when I get posting after posting that pretends to inform but instead tells me only about available or soon to be launched products and services, I start to lose respect for the authors, and eventually disappointment unsubscribe.

I'd really welcome your comments here. Am I being unrealistic or are some bloggers overdoing the promotions?

Friday, 25 January 2008

What's been happening?

I thought I'd start using Friday's post to sum up what's been happening in the FrontLine Results world (and mine) during the week. That way, I can post on different issues Mon-Thurs.

So, this week has been very interesting. I've been looking for a new coach/mentor to help me take my business to the next level for a few months. I've now found one and am very excited about starting work together.

So far 2008 has been all about producing new products, learning new technology and making better use of the internet. However, I won't be abandoning more traditional methods completely - it's all about trying to achieve a good mix. It's also about find out what works by testing, modifying and testing again (time consuming but essential).

There have been some rather salutary lessons from my first Teleclass today. I first experienced this type of learning about 7 years ago and now take it for granted. I hadn't realised just how many people hadn't even heard of it. As a result, although today went well, I know that there were many business owners who didn't sign up because they didn't know what to expect. I need to put that right (perhaps by holding a free class?).

I know what I'm going to be doing for the next couple of hours - with a small glass of wine to help the ideas flow!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Excuses, excuses

This is going to be a bit of a rant. I'm getting really fed up with business owners who keep coming up with excuses for why they aren't more successful. See what you think.

"I can't afford it." is a favourite excuse. Used for just about everything, but especially when trying to justify not using specialist services that will take their businesses forward, like marketing, book keeping and, of course, business coaching! These same people think nothing of quaffing coffees at Starbucks on a regular basis (or wherever), or buying books and CDs on personal development that end up gathering dust on a shelf.

"I haven't got time." is heard over and over again as a reason why they can't do some forward planning on their business. Apparently watching TV and spending hours on the Internet looking up 'stuff' doesn't qualify as using up time, for some reason.

I will confess to making excuses in the past, but then I got fed up with the sound of my own whingeing.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm not an advocate of new year resolutions, but I have made one:

Whenever I catch myself saying "I can't", I'm going to add "How can I ....?"

If we change the way we regard a problem or challenge, we will usually surprise ourselves with a solution!

So, how are you going to ....?

Friday, 18 January 2008

The diary - a moveable feast

Rather a mixed week - and I'm still falling behind in my target number of posts for this blog! Started off well with a new business coaching client. I really get a buzz when people are fired up after the sessions.

I've probably spent more time than I should studying and researching when I should be taking more action and proactively marketing. That said, I have written a couple of sales letters and sometimes they take a while to get right.

Yesterday, it all went horribly wrong. I woke up feeling like I'd been left out in the rain for few days. I'm convinced that, whatever the bug was, it latched onto me while I was in the health centre a few days ago. Fortunately, the symptoms departed as abruptly as they arrived and I feel much better today.

But Thursday hadn't quite finished with me. A couple of emails I sent to remind today's coaching clients met with "I'm sorry but I can't make it." So frustrating when your diary is rearranged at such short notice! (My duvet hasn't looked so attractive for a long time - I just wanted to sulk!)

It's not the actual rescheduling I mind, so much as the short notice - there's no time to arrange anything else in the unexpectedly free time. And of course, there's the knock-on effect when you try to reschedule. I realise that my clients are busy people too, and they need to rearrange meetings from time to time, but I also feel that giving me less than 24 hours' notice is not showing much regard for MY time and schedule.

I've been thinking about how I can minimise this situation, it's a tricky one and I'd welcome comments and suggestions on what you do, if you've experienced this. One thing I'm going to try is to put a little reminder at the bottom of the coaching session notes sheet, just under the date and time of the next meeting.

Roll on next week - and all the challenges it brings!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Is talking going out of fashion?

When I first started out in business 10 years ago, I used the telephone a lot (nearly all day!) - and I sent out letters with stamps on them. Today I hardly ever send out letters - in fact I even sent out Ecards at Christmas, something I couldn't have imagined a few years ago.

Quite often I find myself typing a reply to an email, and then stopping because it's getting rather long and involved. At that point I usually decide to pick up the phone and speak to the person concerned.

I've noticed that, if I send an email asking a slightly awkward question, like "Will you be attending my teleclass?", I get an email reply when the answer is negative. I have to admit that I have been known to do the same!

It got me thinking that it is easy, today, to avoid speaking to people if we don't want to. But, while it can be useful to hide behind the computer screen (or a mobile phone text message) if we don't fancy a 'confrontation', it is a bit wimpish too!

All those years ago, I had to prepare what I wanted to say on the phone, how I was going to say it - and be ready to deal with what the other person might say in return. Although I didn't realise it at the time, these were very strong skills to learn and they have come in useful many times!

Emails can come across as abrupt and thoughtless (there's no tonality to soften the message) and relationships can be irretrievably damaged - just by pressing 'send'.

Some messages are still better delivered in person (by talking at least). Our electronic methods of communication just don't have that human touch.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Why Goal Setting Works and New Year Resolutions Don't

I find that I'm in the minority amongst coaches. Just about every newsletter I've received lately talks about setting goals for 2008. Mine doesn't, and I'll tell you why. Setting goals for 2008 is just another way of making new year Resolutions. Everyone starts off with great intentions and enthusiasm.

But I wonder where they'll be in February?

The problem with new year Resolutions, as I see it, is the level of emotion involved (and possibly the level of alcohol!). People believe that a new year is like a new slate or new chapter in their lives. Let's do things differently! Then, as they try to do whatever they want to do differently, their past life catches up with them and they realise that they can't discard the previous year so easily. Old habits die hard - and old habits are so much more comfortable to live with! Oh well, there's always next new year to try again.

Setting goals at any time of year, both for me and for my coaching clients too, involves a lot of questioning. I want to know WHY they want to make changes, WHAT they want to achieve (and why, again). I want them to start living their lives as if they have already reached their goals. We also work back from that achievement to the steps they need to take right now to be moving towards their goal.

OK, so there is emotion involved in both situations, but the main difference is that, not only is there an intention, there is also a plan to follow.
The other big difference is that, with goal setting, you don't set off until you're ready to do so.

In December 2005 I announced my goal of giving up smoking in 2007. People thought I'd failed because I didn't give up on 1 January - but I didn't say that. On 30 May I smoked my last cigarette - and I haven't had a puff since. I'm very proud of myself but I know I still need to be vigilant!

The point I'm making is that the time has to be right for you when you're pursuing a big goal. Having the extra pressure of the date being set for you can make it needlessly more difficult to achieve that goal.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Are you keeping up to date?

Staying up to date with information can be very hard to do.

This morning I was on the motorway driving to meet a new client. It was raining and generally not very pleasant. Fortunately most of my fellow drivers were adjusting their speed to suit the poor conditions. There are several overhead gantry signs along this stretch of the M27. When these first came into service I thought they were a great idea. I believe they still are - sometimes.

Unfortunately, the messages displayed are often out of date. The accident they refer to was cleared an hour ago. The heavy or wide load is long gone. The suggested speed restrictions of 40, 50 or 60 miles an hour are confusing when you can see way ahead that everything is moving freely.

Yesterday, I was invited to attend a workshop about Website optimisation. I know the chap who is delivering it and the information he delivered at his last workshop was out of date. The internet moves so quickly it is difficult to keep up and you simply have to have the latest news to use on your website. I won't be going to this workshop.

I used to think that reading newsletters and blog postings every day was being a bit lazy and self-indulgent (indeed it's easy to spend a lot of time on them if you're not careful). I've now worked out a system to skim everything quickly and keep the really interesting stuff to go back to later. I now know that reading this information is useful, both for me and for my coaching clients. I can pass on the little nuggets I pick up to help them in their businesses. If I didn't spend the time keeping up to date, I wouldn't be able to do this. It's an additional service that my clients appreciate - and it makes me look good!

Friday, 4 January 2008

New Challenges for the New Year

May I wish all readers and all bloggers a very happy 2008!

This week has been incredibly exciting and very busy for me! I've recorded a special introductory audio for the website and launched the Accelerate Business Club, something I've been dreaming about for quite a while. It's a bit nerve-wracking but great fun to see it become reality.

I've also decided that, instead of holding a physical workshop this month, I'm going to run my first Teleclass (all about using Emails to get more sales). Sorting out the logistics has been interesting! I've just announced the date to all my newsletter subscribers - I find that to be a wonderful way of focusing the mind and making sure it happens!

Next week, things should get back to 'normal' in terms of business. Meetings are booked, networking restarts, client work resumes. It's very easy to get caught up again on the busy 'hamster wheel' and forget what the actual plan is! So far I've managed to fill the diary for next week without setting aside the time I need for business development. Not a very good example to set my coaching clients - but I am only human!

So, I'm off to plan out the rest of the month, before that runs away with me too.