Achieve Success While Maintaining a Healthy Work Life Balance

Entrepreneurship is a lot like athletic competition: if you don’t prepare yourself mentally AND physically, you’ll find you don’t have what it takes to play the entire game.  The competition in the business world is grueling and relentless and you have to be able to play until the final buzzer!

This is one of those “Do as I say – not as I do” kind of blog posts for me.  Like Monika Mundell, I too have been suffering the health consequences of living a life that has fallen out of balance.

Success is all about balance.

I love word pictures and here’s one to illustrate my point:  to achieve success in your business, you must stand upon a three legged stool.  The three legs of the stool are:

  • Exercise
  • Eat Right
  • Sleep

Trying to build a business which requires you to work 12 – 16 hours a day without doing those three essential things is a recipe for disaster.

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

Here is my story of life balance disaster.  Let is serve as a warning to others.

It started 6 months ago when I fell out of the habit of daily exercise.  I believe exercise is an essential ingredient in your quest for success.  Your body was created to move, not to sit in a chair all day.  Daily exercise sharpens not only your body, but your mind as well.

In my case, exercise is the foundation of EVERYTHING healthy and good in my life.

Exercise serves to keep my diet “healthy”.

For example, if I try to eat my favorite food of all time – Pop-Tarts [cue angelic singing] – and exercise, I’ll find that I struggle to finish my workout.  If however, breakfast is a bowl of steel cut oats or an omelet, I’ll have enough energy to exercise and then jump into working.  If I don’t eat healthy, I see the effects when I exercise.

Exercise also helps you get a good night’s sleep.

When I’m exercising, the quality and quantity of my sleep is GREATLY improved.  When I don’t exercise, well – I begin to become acquainted with the various mattress companies infomercials which run during the wee hours of the morning.

So for more than 3 years, my day would begin by putting on my walking shoes, putting a leash on my dog and walking a mile or more every morning.   If 7:00 AM rolled around and I didn’t have on my walking shoes, my dog would begin barking relentlessly until I started our pre-walk ritual.  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that silly dog could tell time!

Then, I came down with the flu.  I guess the dog knew something was up because instead of launching his full scale high decibel barking assault, he just whimpered and whined outside my bedroom door.

Well, the habit was broken with the dog after a week – and when the daily exercise stopped, everything else went to hell in a hand basket.

So at this point in time, I’m not walking, I’m busy working and  my family is subsisting on Pop-Tarts, frozen pizzas and fast food.  It should come as no surprise that I began having trouble sleeping about this time.

Fast forward just a few months.  I feel like crap and my twisted, nutrition deprived mind decides the problem lies in a partially impacted wisdom tooth that has recently emerged.

It’s not my junk food diet that is making me feel like crap.  It’s not my lack of exercise that is making me feel like crap.  It’s not the fact that I’m only sleeping 4 hours a night that I feel like crap-  it’s my tooth that is the root of all evil.

In a nutshell, my idiot dentist prescribes an antibiotic to which I have a reaction which the leaflet says could be fatal.  When I call the office, the woman says, “Don’t worry about it.  We’ll see you next Tuesday.”  The idiot dentist pulls the infected tooth and  the infection rages out of control.  A month later,a doctor is telling me, ” This is really serious.  You could die.”  I walk out with a referral to an ENT and enough prescriptions to start my own pharmacy.

After CAT scans, blood tests, specialists and way too many hours sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms, I’m really regretting NOT paying attention to maintaining a healthy life balance.

Oh, I’m so back on the “wagon” when it comes to diet and exercise – the sleep thing just follows naturally when I’m doing the first two.

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

Don’t wait until you’re making the rounds of various doctor’s offices to pay attention to the “basics” you need to achieve success.  Trust me, productivity takes a NOSE DIVE when you’re spending your days in a doctor’s waiting room!

If the three legged stool is in balance – exercise, eat right and adequate sleep – then you have a firm foundation upon which to operate your business.   If you think you can “cheat” the system – think again.   It’s true – an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure!

I thought I was invincible – and I discovered I’m human.    I guess that discovery is just another part of the aging process!

This blog post is part of Stacey Hoffer Weckstein’s “Life Balance Group Writing Project“.

What is YOUR blog worth?

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is getting inundated with the news of the 1 Man Blog Sells for $15 Million Dollars

The question at the back of EVERY blogger’s mind when they hear news of a blog sale is, “I wonder how much MY blog would bring?”

For John Wu, the sole author of Bankaholic the answer is a cool $15 Million.

Darren reports:

the blog has an Alexa ranking of 42,168 and averages less than 20 comments per post. The blog does seem to rank very well for a lot of bank terms and I’m sure drives targetted traffic.

That’s the key – TARGETED TRAFFIC.  The blog buyer is Bankrate, which is acting very much like Google in this acquisition.  It’s the old,  “let someone ELSE do the hard work” and then the big guy with deep pockets sweeps in to collect.    John Wu got to perform the hard work – building up the blog over a period of 26 months.  He did the digging and Bankrate gets the gold and John’s labor is being WELL rewarded with a ROI of $576,923 per month for his efforts.

However, I think it’s important to remember that he didn’t launch this blog with this payday in mind. Instead he set out to create a tightly targeted blog focusing on attractive and tightly targeted keywords.  Now a big player wants his blog and is paying handsomely for John’s hard work.  Congratulations John.

Oh, and in a medium where community is everything, this blog is a bit light on that aspect.  Blog posts don’t get a lot of comments, but the blog delivers where it counts and that’s on desirable keywords and targeted traffic!

Oh, and for what it’s worth – Bankaholic is a WordPress blog.

Strategic Internet Marketing: Making the Intangible Major Sale

Blogs are a GREAT strategic internet marketing tools and should be included in every independent service professional’ marketing tool box!

If you’re selling “nothing but air” (a.k.a. selling your knowledge and/or services), your blog can be a great cost effective way of attracting your ideal clients to your practice.

In order to understand the “Why” behind why a blog can be a great tool to promote your business when you’re selling nothing but air, you need to understand the two types of sales your business may be making.

The Ultimate Major Sale: Selling the Intangible

When you’re selling your services, you’re making the most difficult sale of all : the Intangible Major Sale.

In my book, Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results, I cover the fact that there are TWO types of sales your business can make. There are Minor Sales which are sales which don’t carry life altering consequences. Buying office supplies is an example of a Minor Sale. There are few, if any consequences from making a purchasing mistake when it comes to buying copier paper. There isn’t a significant investment of time, energy or money unless you’re buying copier paper by the semi-truck load.

On the other hand, there are other purchases that do carry life altering consequences if you make a purchasing mistake. Choosing a doctor, buying a house/car/motor home or investing your life savings are all examples of Major Sales. A significant investment of time, energy or money are all important elements in the Major Sale. However, not surprisingly, another key element in determining whether it’s a Major or Minor sale is the possibility of a developing a personal relationship. Even in there’s not a significant investment of money, if there’s the possibility of “getting to know you” in the course of doing business, then that transaction is elevated in the realm of the Major Sale.

As you have probably guessed, when people are making a decision which qualifies as a Major Sale, they need a LOT of information.

However, there’s a type of Major Sale for which I haven’t come up with an appropriate “name” yet. For now, I’ll call it the Intangible Major Sale. The Intangible Major Sale takes the traditional “Major Sale” to a whole new level.

While purchasing a motor home is a significant investment, you at least have the benefit of being able to walk inside the vehicle. You can look under the hood. You can take it for a test drive. This is one of the reasons it’s difficult to sell a car, a motor home or a house solely via the internet. There’s something about needing to lay your hands on an item that is 2 – 3 times your yearly salary before you write that check or sign those loan papers.

So, when you take a Major Sale but you remove the ability to touch, smell, see and feel the object, you elevate the level of trust you must build with the client before you can close that sale.

Selling Your Expertise

When you’re selling your knowledge, in essence you’re selling “nothing but air”. Your prospective clients can’t touch your expertise. They can’t smell your expertise and it’s possible for them to see your expertise in action and not recognize the magnitude of the display!

Often the truly skilled make the execution of their knowledge in action appear to be easy and effortless.

A few year ago, my husband was chosen to serve as a juror on a medical malpractice case. When the two teams of attorneys entered the court room, they both looked the part.

If anything, the team of prosecuting attorneys were more formidable in appearance. They traveled “en masse” and there were three attorneys followed by five “assistants”. Meanwhile, the defense attorney’s team was comprised of just two lawyers.

Aside from the size of the teams, the two appeared equally matched. Each member of both teams were impeccably dressed. When each lead attorney gave his then her opening remarks, my husband said there was little difference between the two.

At the beginning of the trial, both lead attorneys were well spoken, well groomed and well presented and appeared to be equal in the quality of the representation they provided their clients.

However, by the end of the 2nd day (of a 5 day trial), my husband’s perception of the two teams of attorney teams had changed radically. He reports that by the end of the second day of the trial, there was no doubt which team was going to prevail. The defense attorney had a well defined plan and was executing that plan with finesse. Meanwhile, the defense attorney’s team plan appeared to my husband to be defined as “throw as much sh*t and see what sticks.”

My husband came home saying, “Boy! If I ever need a lawyer, I’m calling that defense attorney!” He reports that other members of the jury uttered similar sentiments.

That is the essence of the Intangible Major Sale.

Prior to sitting through the trial, if anything, you might have decided that the prosecuting attorney was the better litigator -after all, he brought with him a larger team. However, in the end is was the defense attorney and her assistant who won the respect of everyone in that court room that week.

We all want it to be like it is in the movies. The “good” attorney is well spoken and makes a great impression while the “bad” attorney is wearing a cheap suit, smells like cheap cologne and smells faintly of whiskey.
In other words, you really can’t judge an attorney by his/her appearance.

Which is why, the joke amongst the newly divorced is “I may have a good attorney – but my ex has a GREAT attorney. If I only knew then what I know now, I’d have hired his/her attorney to represent me!”

This is what it’s like when you’re selling nothing but air.

You can look the part. You can talk the talk. The question is, can you walk the walk?

That’s why testimonials play such a HUGE role for the independent service professional who is selling his or her knowledge – a.k.a. “nothing but air”.

It’s also yet another reason why blogs are a GREAT way to build the trust needed to land new clients when you’re selling your intangible services.

Try as you might, it’s tough to “fake” that kind of expertise over the course of 200 or so posts.

So if you wonder why consultants and other independent service professionals who have blogs earn more than others -(I wish I could remember where I read that now) – this is the WHY behind that phenomenon.

If you’re selling nothing but air and you want a way to demonstrate your expertise – expertise that you would like people to spend their hard earned money to access – launch a blog. It’s just one way you can demonstrate your expertise.

Trust Building Business Practices

The letters on the soap box I stand upon frequently around here read “Building Trust”.  Blogs are great trust building tools.  They offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Trust is so hard to gain and so easy to lose, which is why business owners must pay careful attention to follow trust building business practices.

Building trust is such a HUGE part of marketing and advertising, yet I don’t hear anyone talking about trust and marketing in those terms. Marketing is just an invitation to your business. Advertising is paying to deliver those invitations.

However, if you aren’t engaged in trust building business practices… how can your marketing invitations build trust as well?

Trust is a HUGE deal for anyone engaged in making Major Sales.

5 Essential Trust Building Business Practices

1: Under promise… over deliver

Trust is established when behavior matches expectations. Set the expectations too high and you’ll destroy the trust you’re trying to build with current and potential customers.

The easier software way of creating marketing messages is to scream “Bigger Faster Stronger” . However, the dirty little secret that marketing professionals know is that when you set expectations too high, return rates can run 25% and higher for products marketed in that fashion – for services, those rates can run even higher.

However, when your marketing messages set realistic expectations and you end up delivering more than your marketing messages promise – well, that’s what it takes to ignite the holy grail of marketing… word of mouth advertising!

2: Transparency = Trust

If you’re transparent with your customers as well as with your employees, then you’ll be laying a foundation for building trust.

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic.

For example, I have a friend who works in sales training for a large company. The company has been calling for employees to make sacrifices for the good of the company. They’ve had to turn in their corporate credit cards and they’ve had to share hotel rooms on trips. Imagine their surprise, not to mention disgust, when the CEO drove into work one day in his brand new Bentley.

Word of the CEO’s new ride spread like wildfire throughout the company. Within a few weeks, sales had taken a dramatic downturn and suddenly, the sales training department was assigned the task of coming up with outlining a new marketing campaign to increase sales. (Don’t you LOVE how corporate works!)

Oh, did I mention that the top 6 sales reps left the company in the three months following the CEO’s new car purchase?

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic. Losing trust almost always hurts the bottom line.

3: Focus on meeting your customer’s needs.

When your customer does business with you, it’s because your customer expects you to provide a product or service for them. They are not patronizing your business merely to fatten your wallet or improve your bottom line.

Your customers are doing business with you to meet their needs – to satisfy their wants – to solve their problems. When your focus is upon meeting your customer’s needs… you’re automatically engaging in trust building activities.

4. Make it easy for customers to buy….

I am AMAZED at how hard some companies make it to do business with them. If I, as a potential customer, have to chase you down to get you to take my money, how hard is it going to be to reach you when I have a problem AFTER you have my money and I’ve become your customer?

Trust me, if customers are having to chase you down for the opportunity to buy your product or service… you’ll soon be facing competition that will make it easy to buy the product or service you’re offering. PERIOD.

5: First Impressions Mean a Lot!

Trust is so hard to gain but so easy to lose and little things mean a lot, especially in the beginning.  Dead links on a website… a typo in the sales letter… a forged testimonial…. all can destroy the trust needed for a potential client or customer to make the move from potential to paying.

The obvious point to make here is make sure all your marketing materials make a GREAT first impression.  The old “design vs content” debate doesn’t apply.  Design + Content = Professional Presentation!

For example, I was visiting a blog about business blog consulting.  The design is less than crisp and professional, so that should have been my first clue.  There are 6 different business blog consultants who publish articles on this blog.  They’re great articles… but when you click to learn more you get broken links and error messages.

If you’re in the market for a business blog consultant, you’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to trust these people with your business blog?  If the links on their own blog don’t work – links which promise to lead to you to the information you need to go about HIRING them- how can you trust them to build links on your blog that work?

Hey, believe me, I know that broken links happen ALL the time.  However, this wasn’t just one broken link – it was several.  One was simply the result of putting two sets of [http://] in the link.  The thing is- these people claim to be blog professionals and that’s a rookie mistake!

Blogs are great trust building tools.  When done correctly, they offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Domain Name Registry Scam

The bastards are on the loose again.  You know, the CREEPS  who send you a very official looking “invoice” regarding your domain name registration.   Obviously a LOT of people fill in the form because it looks so damned official.  I’m a “professional” and I have to admit, if I didn’t know better… I’d sign it as well.

It’s bad enough that you have to worry about security online… now you have to guard yourself off line as well.  It’s a form of snail mail domain name phishing.

In case you don’t know, here’s the scoop.   In the fine print it is written that by signing this form you’re authorizing the  transfer of your domain name to THEIR service.  Want to point your DNS to another hosting program.  TOO BAD!  You can’t.  Want to transfer your domain name… can’t do that either… you signed away those rights.

I’ve gotten two emails this week from clients asking about the letters they’ve received via snail mail regarding this scam.

“But I thought my domain name was registered through you?”

My reply, “It is and will be unless you fill out that form and send it in.  Then all bets are off.”

In case you can’t tell, one of my clients made that mistake a few years back.  I don’t think we ever got control of the domain name back.

It INFURIATES me when some slimy bastard tries to use FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) to make a buck.

Well, obviously the scam isn’t working so well anymore, so the slimy bastards have hired a call center to telemarket their service.

I got just such a call this morning.  “Hello.  I’m from Domain Name Registration Services and you will be getting a notice in the mail about changes to your domain name account.”

“Why will I be getting that?” I asked.

“Uh, because there are changes in your domain name registration account,” she replied.

“Why?” I asked again because I can be a horse’s ass sometimes.

She started stumbling so badly it was literally incoherent jibberish.  I began thinking of the dear, sweet woman who wrote to me earlier this week and thought about how different this phone call would be if she were in my place.   That visualization set me off and with that,  I let loose on that poor telemarketer.

You know you’ve reached a new low when a telemarketer hangs up on you.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW ALREADY:

  • Don’t click on links in emails regarding your domain name .  Go to  the web site where you registered your domain name and renew it.
  • If you didn’t register your domain name via snail mail, don’t respond to snail mail messages regarding your domain name.
  • Your domain name registrar will NOT be phoning you about your domain name… even if you haven’t paid the bill.

By the way, these rules apply to your CREDIT CARD, YOUR BANK and YOUR PAYPAL accounts as well!!!

It’s only classified as paranoia if they ARE NOT out to get you.