Sep 232014

This may seem counterintuitive but it’s not. You have to try many things and have many failures before you know what works for you — – and only you.

failure - EdisonA famous quote by Thomas Edison is “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan – you do.

Your plan as a solopreneur is not carved in stone but should be looked at least every 6 months and assessed. You don’t know when you start a business who your target market will be or which marketing activities work.

But I’ll repeat — plan anyways but put “review” right in your plan.

Several of us who coach and mentor business startups recently had a conversation and agreed that one topic which should be taught and emphasized is that people need to try things a lot in the first year. A woman who started her business last year said that she’s changing her target market and asked if that was alright. We all chimed in “of course it is – that’s normal. Don’t feel guilty that you didn’t know when you started. Few people do.”

It’s like learning to ride a bicycle.

startup business tipI was about eight and kept watching with envy the other kids on my street who could ride a bike. They would “whiz around” the neighbourhood. My parents had bought me a bike and a neighbour offered to teach me to ride. He held onto the back of the seat so I wouldn’t fall. Needless to say, I didn’t learn. Then another neighbor (a teenage girl) stepped in one day.

I thought she was holding onto the seat too so I kept riding. But when I turned around she waved at me from half a block away and called out “you’re riding.” I fell right away but got back up. I fell often at first but kept trying  … and rode. I was still wobbly but in about an hour I was riding up and down our street.

What did I learn from that?

  • Focus Know what end result you want and go for it.
  • Persistence  “Try, try again.”
  • Confidence She (the one who taught me) believed in me and said so.
  • Falling is good. Just keep getting up.
  • Plan for mistakes

failureMake lots of mistakes. Plan to fail. It’s a good thing. Make failure a part of your plan.

Review your results every six months. If you’re not getting where you want to go with the marketing tools you’re using — try something else.

Ask clients what they want and are willing to pay for. Focus on a smaller segment of your target market or change markets completely :-)

What I do today is different from what I did in 1980. I’ve refocused or changed businesses six times since then and tried many different things in that time. Each time I assume that making mistakes will be a part of the process.

Tell me about your plan and the mistakes you’ve made.

photo credit: LifeSupercharger via photopin cc
photo credit: StormKatt via photopin cc

 September 23, 2014  Posted by  Marketing Mindset, Startup Business Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Feb 012013

Mindmapping is a visual way to do a number of different things including planning what you want to accomplish in your business this year or what you have to do in a new website or to take notes.

I was first introduced to it by my friend and colleague Aletta de Wal “way back” in the late 1980s. She now runs  Artist Career Training . She uses it all the time and for everything including note taking on coaching calls with her clients. I’ve used it myself for planning and now that I can only use the computer in order to write, I use the Tony Buzan software.

As Aletta says “… Adapt your recordkeeping to the way that you think, instead of cramping your style. This visual note-taking and brainstorming method is a fun, easy way to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper.” She just interviewed Chris Welsh of Mastery of Learning who she introduced me to 20 years ago and they talked about “ideamapping” and how he uses it. You can find that interview here.

Tony Buzan is known as the originator of mindmapping and as such is world renowned and a respected authority on it.

Wikipedia lists some of the things you can use mindmapping to do.

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • structure/relationship representations
  • marriage of words and visuals
  • individual expression of creativity
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format

Susan Gregory is a trainer and as a local Toronto person teaches productivity and thus mindmapping workshops and she adds to this list:

  • memory improvement
  • brainstorming
  • note tasking with clients or in meetings
  • organization of projects
  • writing blogs, articles and even books

Would you like to know how to use a visual method for your planning?  

Buzan suggests the following guidelines for creating mind maps:

  1. Start in the centre with one word and an image of the topic.
  2. Use multiple colors throughout the mind map for visual stimulation and to group things.
  3. Use images and symbols throughout your mind map.
  4. Use one keyword per line.
  5. Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  6. The lines should be curved.
  7. The central lines are thicker from the centre and thinner as they radiate out.
  8. Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.

If you’re looking for a non-linear approach to planning then mindmapping is for you.

How do YOU use mindmapping? Try it if you don’t yet and share your experience in a comment here. Remember to develop your own personal style.

Jan 292013

In the early 1980s I was working on my doctorate in Special Education. A friend of mine was working on her Masters in Adult Education. We had discussions regarding how children and adults learned. She (who had no experience teaching kids) held the accepted (at the time) opinion that they learned differently. I said they learned the same way except adults have more experience and therefore have to “unlearn” some things. (I had taught both kids and adults.)

At the time I co-owned an Apple computer dealership (one of the first in Toronto, Canada) and trained our customers in how to use computers. I had taught elementary school kids from 1972 to 1980 and those in special education from 1976 to 1980 so I had lots of “real life” experience.

It’s 2015 and the belief now in Adult Education is that “adults and children learn the same way except adults have more experience and therefore have to “unlearn” some things.” Hmmmm.

What if online marketing which many believe to be different than offline marketing ends up being the same? Hmmm … interesting again.

Here are fourteen ways offline and online marketing are the same.

  1. they both use advertisements
  2. they both use networking to get clients
  3. they both  use articles
  4. they both use newsletters
  5. they both use books or booklets that you sell or give away
  6. they both use strategic partnerships
  7. they both use “free reports”
  8. they both use follow-ups with prospects and clients
  9. they both use direct response
  10. they both use promotional videos and audio products to promote
  11. they both use radio
  12. they both use free seminars and demos
  13. they both use publicity
  14. they both use images/ pictures

Way back (ha! ha!) in 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson wrote a book that has become a bible for small business owners. It was called Guerilla Marketing. Secrets For Making Big Profits From Your Small Business. It’s on its fourth edition now and the term “Guerilla Marketing” spawned a whole series of books that he continued to roll out for 30 years until his death in October 2013. Everything in that book still holds true today. The only difference is that with the invention of the internet and the widespread ownership and use of computers it’s now easier and cheaper AND you can promote your business both locally and internationally.

So what’s changed? Not the marketing activities themselves. What’s different is just the method. Do you agree or disagree? Tell me.

Next time I’ll write about how offline and online marketing are different. Watch this blog for that!

Nov 262012

writingSome people make their living writing like my colleagues Barb Sawyers and Suzan St Maur.  But most of us don’t. We either consider ourselves good writers or poor ones.

We also have many reasons not to write such as:

  • we’re not good at writing and don’t have the financial resources to pay for it
  • we’re too busy to write on social media like twitter, facebook and LinkedIn (and besides that’s not where our clients are)
  • we don’t need a blog (or we don’t have  .. time .. technical expertise .. money – pick a reason)
  • we don’t have the time or the writing ability to write the content for our website so we pay our web developer to do it

I could go on. All of the above are reasons it’s true but that’s all they are … just reasons.

We need to communicate with our clients and prospects. We need writing to do this.

Would you like to know how to change our “excuses” to possibilities?

You CAN do something about your writing and get better. Here’s how:

  • write more. “But I’m not a “good enough” writer”, you say. All the pros will tell you the same thing that if you want to become a better writer you have to write more. Remember the saying that practice makes perfect? We’re entrepreneurs. What do we do to reach our goals? Be focused.
  • write then before you “go live” somewhere with it, have someone edit it. I taught non-readers in the late 70s and one of the things I told them was to write whatever came into their minds then I would make it “look good”. It worked.
  • speak into a recorder then transcribe it. This is one of the tips that Suzan St Maur tells people.
  • “write like you talk” only better as the title of Barb Sawyer’s book suggest. I know that writing is a different skill than speaking but Barb tells you how.
  • learn about how to write. Take courses on writing, or free webinars, read books, and subscribe to writer’s newsletters. Both Barb and Suzan give lots of writing tips.


There are so many places you need to write nowadays. You have many places to write and therefore many opportunities. What have you done to be a better writer?

May 232012

As a baby boomer starting a business you may have heard that you should “build a list“. Do you know what it means? A list in the business context includes everyone who signs up for and gets your newsletter OR any of your friends or colleagues who agree to get whatever you send by email REGULARLY. It doesn’t mean when you send out an occasional email and it’s not everyone in your email address book.

communityWhy call it a community instead of a list?

How do you feel when you hear the word list? How do you feel when you hear the word community? (Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The word list evokes feelings related to order and systems while the word community conjures up feelings of inclusion.  Interesting, isn’t it? Makes you see how changing the word changes the feeling – dramatically. People who join a community want to stay connected and belong and that’s a female quality, too.

Use community rather than list

I believe that we want to build relationships. That’s what business (and life) is all about. We want to create a welcoming environment for people to join. How do we do this with language? A good start is using the word community instead of list.

What do YOU think? Do you agree or disagree and why? Share your opinion. Comment.


Mar 082012

I watched the movie “Hugo” which took place in a Paris train station after World War I. In it the father who was a clockmaker told his young son that fixing what was in front of him at the time (a small robot full of gears) had “complications“. Then he looked at his son again with a smile on his face and said, “I meant it’s a mystery“.

It made me stop and think and smile, too.

Complication = Mystery

Entrepreneurs look at every problem as an opportunity. You could also say they look at every complication as a mystery.

A mystery can be solved (most of them). It takes perseverance (it may take a long time) but when the solution is found one feels joy!

Brain with jigsaw puzzle

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

That’s why I like mystery novels and love being an entrepreneur. I love solving problems. This quality applies to entrepreneurs as well as to “positive” thinkers – those who look at a glass as half full and not half empty.

It doesn’t mean entrepreneurs are Pollyannas who ALWAYS smile and are ALWAYS happy. Quite the contrary. Entrepreneurs recognize pain and suffering and feel it. They just don’t dwell on it and let it affect how they see the world. They learn from it.

How do you view the world? Do you see every problem as an opportunity?



 March 8, 2012  Posted by  Celebrate Tagged with: , ,  1 Response »