The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
The benefits of mindfulness have increasingly come to the attention of those in healthcare, especially when dealing with stress, depression, pain management, and end of life. But an ability to be more mindful, more aware, more in the moment is being recognized as a huge advantage in business too.
It's been said that we have 60,000 thoughts a day and that 95 percent of them are the same ones we had yesterday. We tend, for the most part, to live our lives on auto-pilot. We shower, brush our teeth, eat breakfast, drive to work all without really thinking. Have you ever driven somewhere and wondered how the heck you got there? It happens to us all - mundane, repetitive tasks are handled by the brain almost autonomously and if we are not careful our automatic pilot can start managing things that should demand all our attention.
Mindfulness is living in the moment and being aware - the past no longer exists, the future is yet to exist, the only reality is the present moment. When we hold each moment in awareness we have a greater ability to focus, to be present, to really experience what is going on. Next time you witness a sunset with friends or loved ones don't just say how beautiful it is, take three deep breaths and then focus on your breathing and notice how your experience is magnified - it will be almost like you are seeing the sun set for the very first time.
What does all this have to do with selling? Being focused allows you to ask more intelligent questions, uncover real needs and pain points, and clearly show your prospect the value of your offering. Mindfulness promotes calmness, reduces anxiety, builds confidence and increases your attention span. It makes you a better listener and boosts positive emotions.
Learning to be mindful helps hold 'monkey brain' in check. Our brain throws dozens of thoughts at us every second and those thoughts can hamper our ability to focus on our buyer or prospect. Here are a few tips to help you bring a little mindfulness into your business and especially the art of selling.
Breathe - before you go into a sales meeting, or pick up the phone to make that sales call pause for a minute. Take a few deep breaths and then bring your breathing back to normal. Every time stray thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and bring yourself back to your breath. Doing this for a minute or so will clear your mind and help you become fully present. Now, when you start interacting with your customer you won't be thinking about whether you locked your car door, or parked legally, or about the person who cut you off a few minutes ago.
Meditation - many people get the wrong idea about meditation; that it's about clearing the mind, perhaps zoning out, or chanting. It's actually exercise for the mind - it's about being aware of one's thoughts, feelings and emotions. The biggest reason people say they don't meditate is they don't have time. A Zen proverb says, "You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day unless you are too busy and then you should sit for an hour." The wonderful thing about meditating is that it actually gives you more time in your day because you are far more focused and productive.
The other thing about meditation is that it can be done at any time - including walking from your car to a client, or going up a flight of stairs. Walking meditation can help you become more focused for that next sales call. As you walk feel each step, each part of each step, be aware of your breath. If you are walking along a path breathe in for three seconds and then more slowly out for four seconds. By the time you get to your call, or the phone, you will be in a peaceful, more confident frame of mind. You will be clearer, focused, positive - in the moment.
Selling in the here and now - mindfulness, being mindful, will allow you to eliminate any concerns or limitations about what is possible coming from thoughts about the past or the future. This is the only reality - this moment, and this, and this.
Zen proverbs aside, one minute of meditation is still immensely valuable - during a busy business day try to take a few minutes here and there and meditate. Even if you can only manage 30-seconds, you will be surprised at how much difference it will make to your sales performance, your productivity and your overall well-being.
Crowdfund Your Next Product
Crowdfunding has been around awhile and it's still going strong. It's well worth looking at if you are wondering how to fund a new product line, get some advance sales, or even if you just want to do some market research.
What is crowdfunding? Well in its simplest form it's where a company, or individual puts a video up on a crowdfunding platform and encourages people to support a product or a project in return for rewards, or pre-financing (usually in the form of pre-purchase).
Often you will also see equity investment, venture capital, charitable donation, and peer to peer (P2P) lending lumped in with crowdfunding, but in pure terms these are not what crowdfunding is all about. In this article we will focus on using crowdfunding to help launch a new product by offering rewards, or soliciting advance orders.
The Kickstarter crowdfunding platform is the most well-known and largest. It boasts over $3 billion in pledges to date funding 124,447 projects through 12.8 million backers, 4.1 million of whom were repeat backers. All this accounts for almost 38 million pledges. A word of warning - Kickstarter works best for people who create something new - if you have something innovative this might be a good place to start. There are lots of other platforms, so search around and see which one fits your needs best.
So, how do you get your share of this money to support your business? As with anything that seems too good to be true, crowdfunding is not easy, but it is possible to raise a lot of money if you do it right.
For instance, Flow Hive: Honey on Tap Directly from Your Beehive, a campaign on the Indiegogo platform raised over $13 million USD (17,380% over their target) for their unique method of extracting honey from beehives that was both easier on the bees and on the collector.
Now, stories like this attract media coverage but for every one of these there are several hundred that don't even reach their revenue targets. All the same, if you do it right this can be an excellent way to raise money, get feedback, achieve advance sales and ensure your product launch gets noticed.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign requires a lot of work and books have been written on the topic, so in this article we're simply going to provide an overview, give you some tips and urge you to research, research, research what other companies have done successfully, and not so successfully, on a bunch of crowdfunding platforms.
What are the benefits of Crowdfunding?
Raises moneyRaises awarenessTests product viability and validates ideasEncourages feedbackGets advance ordersEarly adopters promote your product or project
How does Crowdfunding work?
You decide on a product, or projectYou sign up with a Crowdfunding platformYou create a pitch video and write a creative pitch to excite peopleYou come up with desirable rewards linked to amounts pledgedYou offer an opportunity to pre-purchase product at a special price (optional)You send everyone you know a link to your campaignYou promote your campaign heavilyYou deliver the rewards
Have a product or project that excites people (and the media)Build a massive list (thousands minimum) of potential pledgers before you startPromote your campaign to publications and bloggers in your industryCome up with creative and exciting rewards (between 3 and 5)Make sure your video captivates your audienceSecure a few sizeable pledges before you launch - no one wants to be first to the partyMonitor your campaign everyday and be involved with your pledgersChoose a Crowdfunding platform that suits your campaign - understand fixed versus flexible fundingSet your funding target and length of campaign correctly - research other successful campaigns with similar products
What people do wrong
Not researching how Crowdfunding platforms work thoroughlyLaunching a campaign without having a large enough database to promote it toLaunching a campaign and fail to monitor itHaving too many rewards and confuse peopleNot planning enough - the key to success is planningSetting funding targets too high or too lowSetting the campaign length incorrectlyForgetting that if the campaign is successful there will be a lot of shipping of rewards and/or product
As you can see, there's a lot to consider when launching a Crowdfunding campaign. The overall key to a successful campaign lies in the planning. Research the various platforms extensively and understand how they work. Look at what types of campaign are successful with each. Look closely at successful campaigns and see how you can adapt what they did to suit your product or project.
Coach's Corner - "What If?" Questions
Often in our business and personal lives, we need to ask open-ended questions to help shift thinking—ours and others. These questions allow us to explore different ideas, to perhaps get us to look at our habits and traditions from a fresh viewpoint to see if they are relevant in today's world. Sometimes just by asking, we will be lead in new and exciting directions. At other times, we may stay the course but the knowledge offers other options.
"What If?" questions are a wonderful tool to work through the challenges we are facing as business owners or managers. They allow a thoughtful conversation to explore ideas that may not have occurred to us. The "What If?" questions can help us think beyond our comfort zone and towards future possibilities.
In considering our "What If?" questions, we will need to think of our goals, to keep in mind our visions. When we ask what's hindering us from achieving those goals, some questions may immediately come to mind. What if those barriers were not in front of us? How would we approach the problem? What if we had unlimited funds? What if we had enough staff? What if we had enough time?
Alternatively, we may need to ask questions from the point of view that there are limiting factors, or that we impose some constraints. What if our clients were only willing to pay half of what we charge? How could we survive? What if our foundation product or service was not profitable? What if our major client went out of business? What if we needed to build our new website in a week? Any of these, or other scenarios whether real or imaginary, can make us shift our thinking.
Here are two examples of "What If?" questions that may spark a healthy discussion in your businesses.
"What if we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do?" - Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel
"[What] if you could go back in time five years, what decision would you make differently? What is your best guess as to what decision you're making today you might regret five years from now?" - Patrick Lencioni, business author and speaker
The questions we ask are as important as the answers we give. They will help us reach our goals or maybe even change our goals. They help to define our business as we move forward.
What are the important "What If?" questions we need to ask ourselves, our colleagues and our staff?
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching
Beaver River Community Futures Development Corporation
PO Box 2678, 106 1st Street East, Meadow Lake, SK, S9X1Z6
Phone: 306-236-4422 | Fax: 306-236-5818