The Invisible Business: Why It Hurts on a Deeper Level

Service entrepreneurs come to me because they want to be Brain-Sticky: they want
to be compelling, memorable and original in the crowded marketplace. Often, in our
first call, they are excited and prattling off the things they think make them different
enough: I really listen; I ask penetrating questions; With me, they take action; I’m
very intuitive; Clients can reach me on the weekends, etc.

This is when I have to play bad-cop.

To coaches who tell me that they’re intuitive, take people to action, and listen really
deeply, I say, “That’s what a coach does. It’s in the job description,” at which point,
the newer ones instantly deflate and announce, “I don’t think there IS anything very
special about me, then.”

The pain I hear in their voice runs deep.
When we’re in business for ourselves, there
is very little separation between “what we
offer” and “who we are.” If we aren’t offering
something special, things get collapsed and
we start thinking we’re not special. And there
is no fate worse for a service entrepreneur
than not being special. If we can’t separate
ourselves from our work, it’s safe to say we
can’t separate our egos from our work–and it is a bitter pill to swallow that
we may not be special enough to fulfill our mission and have an impact on the

From the moment we’re born, every one of us wants to be special. Even as teenagers,
when blending in is ‘in’, we want to stand out to our best friend, our boyfriend, our
teachers, our sports team. Every one of us dies a little every time someone we admire
or love overlooks us. It is the human imperative to be noticed, seen, wanted,
valued–i.e. recognized as special.

This doesn’t go away when we “grow up” and become business owners. In fact, the
need is often augmented then, put on display, if we’ve had a history of being ignored
and passed over. But for others, the existential human need to be different and special
still exists. And in business, it certainly exists. It is an absolute truism: you must
be special to succeed in your own business.

So, for those whose business identities lack the “stand out” factor, there is a double-
blow: their human fear of not being good-enough/special-enough is triggered as well
as the very real potential that they will fail in business.

And for those who are visionaries, this is acutely painful…and unacceptable. If you
are here to effect change in big ways and fulfill a mission bigger than yourself, you
won’t achieve it feeling small and insignificant like you did in gym class, or by
closing up shop.

The problem is, however, that the most prevailing branding and differentiating
advice out there is superficial and not long-term Brain-Sticky. If you’re here to make
change, you must stand out in a substantive way. No gimmicks and bling.  (And no
features and benefits, either.)

Return for Part 2 tomorrow, as I share the most commonly accepted strategies for differentiation and why they don’t go far enough for any service provider—but
particularly not for those with visions to change the world. Until then, give it some
thought: how has not having a solidly different business identity pulled
on your
in-bred human fear of not being seen, wanted, valued…special enough?

10 Years in Business–Tip #35: Set Parameters With Your Clients

In my special report, What I Know For Sure: Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business, I list 75 topic areas that I have bumped into over ten years. And every day in October, I will randomly choose one of the 75 and expound on it. So here’s today’s:

Set limits with your coaching/consulting clients before you even engage them. Put these limits in writing and get their verbal and even written agreement to abide by them. Limits on how often they can postpone before you sever the relationship; on the latest they can send you an assignment; what you will do if they fail to work with you in a timely manner, etc.

Do you have clients routinely appear late at your session appointments? Or let you know rather late that they have to cancel? How about those who have an excuse for not having done the assignment they agreed to do the week before? Or, if, as in my case, their assignment is a written one–they send it to you two hours before your scheduled appointment instead of a full day before? And do you have a tangent-runner? Someone who talks much too long? And even on a topic unrelated to your sessions?

If you haven’t met any such client, you will. I’ve met them all after ten years, and you want to be prepared with each one of these scenarios (and any others) by setting parameters before you begin coaching them. And each one (except the last) must be met with a hard consequence if they do it more than once. Tell them up-front that you allow them to be late only once, and after that,  either 1) you’ll charge them $20 or 2) double the time they were late and subtract that from the call. So, late 5 minutes? You’ll get off 10 minutes early. I don’t recommend that you tell them that the session will end at its regularly scheduled time no matter how late they are because a) you may be the type to go over-time, so that won’t mean anything, and b) it won’t stop the behavior. Make the consequence tough to stop the behavior.

Which leads to the other issues. Make sure you tell them that they are charged if they fail to cancel within 18-24 hours, whatever feels best to you. AND tell them up front that this will be the case even if it’s a heart-rending story! You’ll get pulled into empathy and compassion otherwise and fold like a stack of cards–and miss an opportunity to have scheduled someone else.

What if they don’t do their assignment? Remember: a consequence that will change their behavior. But your reputation is at stake with this one, as well.  The fact is, you’re not going to have success stories if clients don’t do their work. So, your future directly hinges on their following through with their commitments. I’d get really tough here, right at the outset. Tell them that if they come to an appointment without their homework, you will 1) cancel the session and they’ll pay for it, or 2) after 2x, you’ll cancel the relationship, with no refund of any previous payment.

And remember, do this before you start and get their agreement in writing.

How to ward off a tangential talker? Well, hopefully you’ll never know you have one of you tell them up front that you are dedicated to giving your clients the very best of your time and so you have a policy that if anyone goes off-topic, you will steer the ship back on course and to please not take offense if you cut them off. If you say this in the beginning, before you know them at all, they won’t take it personally.

Be sure to get all 75 tips from my 14-page special report here.

And be SURE to grab today’s special offer–The Audience Leadership Assessment–my 108-question assessment that tests your strengths and weaknesses in 7 core competencies of public speaking. This is a GREAT assessment and you can take it for just $20.01 today and tomorrow only! Go to:

10 Years in Business–Tip #17: Your Business Must Be “Urgently Wanted”

In my special report, What I Know For Sure: Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business, I list 75 topic areas that I have bumped into over ten years. And every day in October, I will randomly choose one of the 75 and expound on it. So here’s today’s:

TIP # 17: What you offer MUST be “urgently” wanted. Period. Unless you don’t require much income. A product or program is urgently wanted only by those with an urgent want to alleviate a problem, or experience a fantasy.

This is the look you want on your customers’ faces. Sheer exaltation when they have what you offer in their hands. You don’t have to be Apple, or offer something as world-altering as an iPhone, but you do want to elicit this look.

So, what do you feel that way over? Anything that is going to 1) bring you unadulterated joy and/or 2) dramatically uplevel the quality of your life and/or 3) enhance your status.

What has to be there in the product/program for you to feel so elated? 1) Certainty in its quality; 2) Clarity that you’re getting more value than you’re paying; 3) A true love for it (i.e. some warm and fuzzy emotional connection).

When this is there, they urgently want what you’ve got.  This is true whether it’s a product or a program, of course.

Too many intellectual products and programs (books, CD’s, seminars, presentations, opt-in gifts, etc.) are not urgently wanted. They’re not “Brain-Sticky”–compelling, original and memorable–but the authors think they are and are confounded as to why they have few clients.

Following the logic above, then, it is essential that you design all of your intellectual property around the needs and fantasies of your market. Make sure that they:

  1. Will bring them great joy
  2. Improve the quality of their life
  3. Enhance their status
  4. Have obvious quality–in other words, tangible, concrete, WANTED results
  5. Give FAR more than the ticket-price would ever reveal
  6. Enable your market to feel confident, capable, smarter, prettier, sexier–whatever they want SO much that it evokes powerful emotions in them.

Maybe you could go back to your past clients and ask them to tell you how your programs do these for them, or HOW they could in the future!

See today’s special offer–work with me privately at deep discounts. 3 topics for building a Brain-Sticky business. .



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