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3 Simple Steps to Boost Your Authentic Business Success

This week I want to share with you 3 simple steps to boost your authentic business success. Let’s be honest here. It doesn’t matter which stage of your business building blocks you’re currently in, you can be either a start-up solo-entrepreneur or a more advanced authentic business owner (Enlightened C.A.S.T.L.E. – coach, author, speaker, trainer, leader, and expert), you’ll always welcome simple, practical ways to boost your authentic business success and improve your current results. For example, finding and attracting more ideal clients, making a greater positive impact and income, creating new packages (programs, products and services), leading live events (virtually and in-person), growing your client database, upleveling your brand, etc.

Where most passionate professionals (Enlightened C.A.S.T.L.E.) struggle and sometimes even get stuck is in knowing what to do first on a daily basis, meaning which activities they need to prioritize first and place it at the top of their “to-do” list, and more importantly, how to hold on to the mind-set, heart-set and soul-set that it takes when the business you’re running daily is still far away from the business of your dreams.

This is where having the right business model (the one that is true, authentic and works for you) along with the right systems, structures and strategies in place pays off in a big way.

For example, if you’re not yet consistently making a positive impact and income doing the work you were born to do (making a difference sharing your passion while being handsomely rewarded for doing it) so you can successfully and authentically attract more ideal clients and finally build a thriving business you love, then your focus is best spent on generating your first 5-10 clients at higher fees, rather than spending your time on launching something new like a membership website.

Trust me on this: Every time you move to the next upper level and elevate your business you can expect to experience a bit of confusion, frustration and overwhelming. It’s because whenever you step out and step up on your authentic business success stairway a mix of the old and the new “phase” happens. One moment you’ll be very excited and completely clear about your new direction for your business development, then on the next moment, you find yourself crying, confused, overwhelmed and wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into.

What I do during this time of transformation and business growth is to follow 3 simple steps to boost my own authentic business success so that I keep myself centered, confident and focused, without struggle and out of overwhelm. I’d like you to take notes of these tips and post them near your computer or board so they can also help you make this transformation and boost YOUR authentic business success with enthusiasm, grace and ease!

Simple Step #1: Transform Your Mind-set, Heart-set and Soul-set From the Old to the NEW Paradigm of Authentic Business Success

Yes, that’s right. Shift the old way of thinking, doing, feeling and being (your thoughts, actions, habits, behaviours and emotions) to the NEW one so that you can, what I love to say, Enlighten Your Mind, Empower Your Heart and Inspire Your Soul to achieve Authentic Business Success as an Enlightened Entrepreneur. So, how do you do that?

Here’s how: The best way to explain that is to give you my favorite mind-set (heart-set and soul-set) tip, which is to ask yourself, “What would a super successful authentic business owner do?” or “What would your role model/business mentor do?” or “What would your favourite enlightened entrepreneur (C.A.S.T.L.E.) do? This is the kind of question you need to ask yourself in order to give you a new perspective of looking at things. I always do. Whenever I’m looking to make a decision and move forward in my business I ask myself this type of question so that I can not only take tiny little steps every single day, but also have quantum leaps and make transformational shifts upwards in my impact and income, all while creating a thriving business I love.

The transformational truth is: it works, and even better it works so beautifully and authentically because it pulls you out of old patterns (old way of thinking, doing and being) and it challenges you to think, feel, act, behave and believe in a NEW way as the authentic business owner (Enlightened C.A.S.T.L.E.) you desire becoming – the most successful and fulfilled person you dream of being.

Simple Step #2: First Focus on IPAs (Income Producing Activities) to Create Consistent Cash Flow in Your Business

Income producing activities are the most important activities and you definitely need to focus on them seriously first because they are going to create consistent cash flow in your business, and cash flow is the “Queen” of your business. Again, no matter what stage of your business you’re in, decide how much cash you need to create to make the positive impact and income you most want, starting from covering your expenses, paying yourself and giving you peace of mind. The key here is to be specific, clear and committed to knowing your amount first, then focus on the “how-to’s” to get there. This alone (along with other strategies I teach on this topic) will keep you in a proactive, prosperous mind-set (heart-set and soul-set) with regard to your impact and income, rather than in a reactive, passive or disempowered place. So, always ask yourself: “Is this an income producing activity? If so, it goes at the top of your priorities. Always remember to create consistent cash flow by focusing on income producing activities (IPAs) first!

Simple Step #3: “How You Start Your Day” Determines Your Authentic Business Success

Another transformational truth here is that the way you start your day or what you start your day with influences dramatically your authentic business success. Why? Because in every stage of growing and elevating your business you’ll need to let go of old habits (tasks and activities that represent the old you), in order to make way for the new actions that put you on the path of authentic business success at a more evolved and empowered level.

My best tip here is to start your day with the top 3 priorities (= key action steps) that will help you bring in either consistent cash flow or new clients, partners and referrals. Make a daily, weekly and monthly plan (your roadmap to more impact and income) and decide in advance which income producing activities (IPAs) you’ll focus on, write them down and do them first – before getting distracted with other tasks such as, checking your email, seeing what others are doing or hopping on to social media.

Your Authentic Business Success In Action

Although these 3 steps, I’ve just given you, are simple, they might not be so easy to start doing and keep on doing them on a daily basis. That’s why I’m here and always happy to help you. So, be sure to hire an authentic business success mentor to guide and support you on your own journey as an inspired leader, empowered creator and enlightened entrepreneur. Whoever you resonate with – be sure to mentor with someone who is where you authentically aspire to be.

Enlightened Entrepreneurs, (C.A.S.T.L.E.) or soon-to-be one, are energetic sponges for the people (mentors, partners, peers and clients) they surround themselves with. Which means it’s critical for you to invest in spending time with an authentic business success mentor and get in a coaching/mentoring/mastermind group filled with like-minded, like-hearted, like-souled authentic business success achievers who are continuously and consistently pulling themselves – and you! – forward. You’ll be thrilled and delighted how quickly you too, become one of these high authentic business success achievers that others are inspired, empowered and enlightened to be around!

Successful Networking For Your Business

During the past five years and throughout what has been a difficult time financially for many businesses, more and more entrepreneurs, small businesses and medium sized companies have realized that active networking is absolutely essential to business growth, particularly for start-ups and small businesses which may not have a large advertising budget, or a long list of contacts they can reach out to or rely on to spread the word about themselves or their company and the type of services or products they offer. Love it or hate it, networking for business is here to stay and it is fast-becoming a big part of the overall strategic plan for our business now and in the future.

While many people still prefer to stay away from networking events citing reasons such as “It’s a waste of time”, “No one ever gets me any business” or “All I’m doing is selling to other people who are trying to sell to me, it’s a pointless exercise”, the majority of us are realizing the enormous benefits to networking. When done properly, networking is an invaluable tool in helping us to meet others, grow our business and our network of contacts and also helping others to grow their business in the process.

While I am a big fan of social media marketing and using the power of social networking to attract new clients and customers through sites such as Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest, for the purposes of this article I am going to focus specifically on B2B networking and how you can use this form of networking to grow your business and reach potential customers and clients you may never have met otherwise.

People Buy From People

During the past few years in particular, there has been a shift in the way people are buying and who they are buying from. The “hard sell” no longer works quite as well as it did in the past and people are now buying from people they know and trust. It is true of course that we also buy from big, well-known brands, but the reason we buy from these companies is the same as the reason we are buying more and more from people we know – because we trust them. The difficulty facing many smaller businesses is that our advertising budgets don’t quite stretch to the same size as those of bigger brands, so we must engage and interact with people as much as possible through networking to promote ourselves and our brand and gain maximum exposure. By circulating and meeting others on a regular basis, we build up trust and relationships with others. This is a valuable way to attract new business and it is, without doubt, the simplest way by a clear mile.

“Word of Mouth” has, for a long time, been the easiest and most cost-effective way for any company to attract new clients. No big advertising fees, no sales calls, no direct marketing, no “hard sell” – just the good, old-fashioned way of passing on of information, recommendations and referrals from one person to another.

What About My Marketing Plan?

Many businesses today utilize in-depth marketing plans which contain many of the tools and strategies we need for our business to succeed – social media marketing, content marketing, direct marketing and inbound marketing are just some of the buzzwords and phrases we have become familiar with in recent years, but many of us have realized that while these marketing strategies are essential and have their place in our business plan, we must not forget the value of “Word of Mouth” marketing and the opportunities that networking can bring.

Networking by its very nature is a form of inbound marketing, as you are attracting others to you effortlessly and easily by using networking events to meet people who may be interested in your products or services, promoting your business while you are there, having discussions about what you do and the types of services or products you provide and, hopefully, converting those people into customers and clients and, sometimes more importantly, fans of your business so that they will tell others about you… now that’s effective marketing!

The Low-Down On Business To Business Networking

B2B networking events have sprung up in every country, city, county, town and village all over the world in the past couple of years, so the good news is that it is very easy to find a networking group to join and become an active member of, regardless of what line of business you are in. There are many different types of networks and depending on your long-term or short-term goals, you may wish to join a hard contact network (one in which you are actively encouraged to obtain referrals for others within the group and in return they actively seek referrals for your business) or you may prefer to get involved in a more casual contact network (where you meet up once every few weeks, or even once a month to have a coffee and a chat, exchange business cards and get to know others in a more informal setting).

Whichever type of networking event you prefer, B2B networking is invaluable in today’s business environment and it is something that should become an active part of your business. Networking has its place alongside the other marketing strategies I mentioned earlier, however it is very important to remember that networking for business only becomes successful when it is utilized properly and there are a number of ways in which you can do this.

How Do I Use Networking Effectively?

Networking is all about building relationships with others and getting to know people. The aim is to make new friends and contacts who, over time, you will get to know well and build up trust with. Networking is a two-way street and it is worth keeping this in mind, particularly if you are new to networking. It is natural to want to get in there and start telling everyone about what your business does best and how you can change people’s lives with your services, but the reality is that if you really want networking to work for you, you do have to take a more measured and relaxed approach and allow things to unfold at a natural pace.

The ROI of networking is similar in ways to other business practices such as marketing and advertising – you may not see immediate results and it can take a few months of active attendance at networking meetings before you start to see any benefits at all, so it is worth bearing this in mind before you start! Effective networking takes time and can involve early morning meetings and also evening meetings, so be prepared to put a little bit of effort in – the long-term rewards and benefits really are worth it.

Some Dos and Don’ts…

Do try a few different networking groups to see which ones suit you best. You might find that a hard contact network is the one for you if you want to see a faster ROI and actively attend meetings regularly, or you may prefer a casual contact network, particularly if you are time-poor and cannot commit to attending every week. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and City or County Enterprise Board to find out about networking meetings and events taking place near you and also keep an eye on local newspapers and magazines where you will often see events advertised. Another great resource is of course the internet, so a few searches should point you in the right direction.

Don’t join a networking group with the sole idea of selling to others. You will receive a frosty reception if your plan is to turn up once or twice and then give people the hard sell every time you are there. Remember – networking is a two-way street and no one likes to feel as if they are being sold to at every opportunity. At two networking events I attended recently, one guy asked me directly if I could “find” him some clients and another person just came straight over and asked, “I need to get some clients asap, so what can you do for me?” Needless to say these are two people I now avoid like the plague whenever I see them.

Do practice your Elevator Pitch and try to keep it to between 30 and 60 seconds – any longer and people will be excusing themselves to get more coffee.

Do listen to others and take the time to get to know them, their business and what they do. If you take the approach that you can only actively refer business to people you get to know well and build a relationship with, then your success rate at networking effectively will be much, much higher. By referring business to people we know we can be absolutely sure that the particular business or service we are recommending really is fantastic. Who wants to recommend a business or service they don’t really know anything about? All you’ll end up with is an unhappy client or friend who comes back to you afterwards with complaints about the service they received – and you definitely don’t want that.

Don’t forget to bring your business cards and lots of them. Networking events are the perfect opportunity to hand out business cards and take cards from others. There is nothing worse than arriving at an event and then realizing that a potential client or customer is right there but you have nothing to give them.

Do try to mix as much as possible and “work” the room effectively. If you only go to one networking meeting per month, make it count. Talk to as many people as you can and get there early so that you can maximize your time.

Don’t be nervous – I know this is easier said than done when you are not used to networking and it can be daunting walking up to a complete stranger and introducing yourself, but remember that everyone is in the same boat and even the most seasoned networkers had to start somewhere. Everyone who attends these events has a common goal – to grow their business and grow their network of contacts so take a deep breath and be brave!

Finally, do arrange one to one meetings outside of the networking meetings. These are absolutely invaluable for getting to know people properly and really finding out about their business and services. By arranging one to one meetings we take the most proactive approach possible in trying to grow our business and you never know… you just might arrange a one to one meeting with someone who turns out to be a friend, a client, a customer, or even someone who will refer you to another person they know who needs exactly what your business provides!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about networking and how well it is working or not working for you, so please feel free to leave me a comment.

7 Important Reasons to Form a Corporation or LLC for Your Business

Are you operating your business as a real business or as a hobby? It’s time to make your business OFFICIAL before the summer push for business!

Let me ask you two important questions:

  1. Are you operating your business under your own name, a DBA or fictitious firm name, basically as a sole proprietorship or maybe as a general partnership? AND/OR
  2. Are you or your family at risk because of business or personal assets that are unprotected from unexpected losses or legal issues?

If you answered YES to either question please read on for important news about why NOW is the time to form an corporation or LLC for your business.

  1. Make it Official. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership sends a message that you are still “testing” your business, or that you’re not sure you’ll really make it. Perhaps your accountant told you that incorporating is an unnecessary expense or that it won’t help you save on taxes due to an expectation of low profits. This is the WORST marketing message you can send when you want to attract new clients and partners to your business, who want assurance that you’re about your business and here to stay.
  2. The Law of Attraction. You get what you focus on. Testing, hoping and “seeing if things work out or not” BEFORE you decide to step-up and make your business official by incorporating broadcasts a clear message to the universe that you’re not really serious about your business or committed to a positive outcome. The Law of Attraction states that the universe returns not what you wish for, but what you program into your deepest belief system through your dominant thoughts, actions and feelings. Making your business official and really stepping up says, “I am ready to receive!”.
  3. Limited Personal Liability. You may be thinking “I already lost everything in the market collapse from 2008″ and still recovering. If you’re one of the few that managed to survive and grow your assets since then, but are still holding them in your own name, you’re playing a VERY RISKY game (similar to those with assets in unstable European banks). Even if you don’t have any assets right now, a lawsuit or judgment will destroy any credit you are looking to build in the future PLUS you may be looking over your shoulder for years waiting for someone to come after you when you finally do start to turn things around. That’s no way to live your life. One lawsuit from an unprotected business can ruin your chances of getting a personal auto loan or refinancing your home. Good people who “play by the rules” can still be sued for the most unexpected reasons. You may be thinking “my business insurance will help me out” but are you really covered? Even if your business is never sued, what if you’re unable to pay a vendor and they come after you? Do you want to be personally liable? Put a halt to greedy people looking to take what you have worked for! This is the best time to form an LLC or corporation to limit your personal liability.
  4. Reduce Your Taxes. The bottom line is that operating as a sole proprietorship will cost you the most in employment taxes (up to 15.3% on earned income up to $113,700 in 2013). That means that your income will be taxed as the HIGHEST possible TAX RATE as a sole proprietorship. By the way, filing a Schedule C (the form filed for earned income from a sole proprietorship) also means that your business is among those MOST LIKELY TO BE AUDITED. Why? The IRS has a $300 BILLION tax gap and they believe the biggest tax cheats are the little business owner like you. Why? Their stats show them that sole proprietorship are MOST likely to UNDER report their income and OVER report their expenses (two big no-no’s with the IRS). Operating as an S corporation or LLC taxed as an S corporation in many situations is a much better approach for two reasons. You will have part of your profits as distributions which are NOT subject to the 15.3% employment taxes AND move that profit to schedule E, not schedule C which is more likely to be audited!
  5. Access More Funding Options. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership limits you when it comes to funding options. You are also DAMAGING YOUR PERSONAL CREDIT SCORE by operating this way. How do you finance your business as a sole proprietorship? You use your PERSONAL CREDIT cards which will drive up your revolving debt which will in turn DRIVE DOWN your personal credit score! When you form a corporation or an LLC you will SEPARATE your PERSONAL and BUSINESS CREDIT. Yes, any type of cash funding with a personal guarantee will come into play, but that DEBT does NOT show up in the personal credit bureau which is HUGE for future funding! As you form a new LLC or corporation NCP will help (if you choose) to build your business credit scores quickly and get your business in a position to secure funding to grow. But the first step is to form a separate legal entity.
  6. Simply Your Life. Yes, in fact operating as a sole proprietorship will complicate your life, not the opposite. Separating your business and personal life will make it much easier for you to navigate both from a financial and legal point of view. Now you will have each in its own compartment where it belongs to protect your overall success.
  7. Asset Protection. Forming an LLC for your safe assets like investments (those outside a retirement plan) will help you sleep better at night knowing you don’t have all your “eggs” in one basket. If you are using a LIVING TRUST to protect your assets that will NOT work and everything in your trust may be vulnerable. Do you own other businesses that really should be operating through a separate bank account in a separate entity? Do you own real estate in your own name that may be sending a message that you are rich and have assets worth taking? Have you been in business for years or are you operating more than one business in one entity? Are you doing some business with a new partner and making the big mistake of running that revenue through your current business? Avoid these costly mistakes and form a separate company for that separate business.