Why You Need to Think Bigger About Your Next Business Goal

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When I’m feeling cheeky, I will admit to having retired two husbands with my business.

My first marriage ended (it’s better for everyone involved). And my second, well, okay…

Technically, we’re not married. But we own a house together, pay the bills together, and he survived about 25,000 miles of travel with me in one 12-month period. So, give me a pass on the shorthand.

Now, a few months after I retired my first husband and hit the biggest revenue goal I could imagine at the time, I started looking for a new goal.

I felt rudderless without a challenge to work toward.

I asked everyone: How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

Now, I realize that sounds like a really quality problem to have–and it is.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Here’s why:

You can’t create what you can’t see.

When you’re a student or working in a corporate career, your goals are based on what’s in front of you, what you’re exposed to.

You eye the scholarship. You fantasize about the acceptance letter. You want the promotion. You look for a raise.

You can see yourself attaining any of those things because they’re right in front of you. You see people achieving them and know they’re possible. They might be a dream, but they’re dreams you can see yourself living.

With business, it’s often very different.

I didn’t know I could dream of running a million-dollar company. I didn’t know I could dream of hiring a team of fabulous employees. I didn’t know I could dream of speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands.

Before I was connected to people who were dreaming those kinds of dreams and–more importantly–working those kinds of plans, I didn’t have a clue about my potential as an entrepreneur.

Every step of growth my business has taken has been a direct result of my connection to someone or something that allowed me to finally visualize a bigger goal or challenge.

When I retired my first husband, I didn’t know how to think beyond, “I want to make $100,000 per year and retire my husband.”

I had no close relationships with people who had achieved that.

When it came to ambitious colleagues and friends who took their businesses as seriously as I did, my well was damp at best.

As a result, my business suffered from my lack of vision and creativity. It kept growing but not at the pace it could have.

I worked harder instead of smarter.

I pushed for incremental successes instead of exponential steps forward and new ways of creating value.

Now, you might be thinking, “Tara, I haven’t hit the goal I’m working on right now. How can you expect me to look beyond that?”

Here’s why I expect you to–and why I believe you must:

The action you take is dictated–consciously or unconsciously–by your vision and goals.

Try this thought experiment.

What would you have to do differently to reach your goal for 2017 in the next 6 weeks, without working more in your business?

Your first reaction might be panic. But your second might be a pretty creative way to reorganize your business and your time to achieve more, at a faster pace, than you originally let yourself plan for.

That’s why you need to be connected to people who push you, challenge you, and take their businesses as seriously as you take yours.

Those connections help you take dramatic steps forward in your business–starting with the way you spend your time and the action you take right now.

They help you get creative about how you’ll achieve your goals and see new possibilities all around you.

The decisions I make and actions I take today are based on the vision that I can now see myself living, and that vision was inspired by the possibility I’ve glimpsed in the lives of people I know.

It’s such a relief to make big decisions with ease and take action that supports those decisions.

And, it’s all thanks to the ambitious and open business owners I’m connected to on a daily basis. They’ve helped me dream bigger dreams and take different action.

On Monday, I’m going to share with you how a completely different kind of connection–with people who have businesses wholly different than my own–helped to dramatically transform my vision for my business.

Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of what we’ve created for you to solve this problem.

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How To Use Other People’s Ideas for Fun & Profit (Without Copying)

Joanna Wiebe on marketing her new content marketing and writing app, Airstory

The more you learn about copywriting (or sales and marketing in general) the more you realize that half of your job is using other people’s ideas.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating for copying other people’s work.

Is that clear?

Okay… what I mean is that…

Business is always a process of identifying what works and creating from that knowledge.

Copywriters do this by paying attention to what really grabs their attention, turning that into a formula, and then creating completely original content on top of that formula.

Now, copywriting is a particular passion of mine. I love learning about how it works and I love the way it trains me to think differently.

And when I think copywriting, I think Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers.

I had the chance to talk to Joanna about her approach to marketing a brand new project that Copy Hackers has been working on, Airstory.

When I asked her how she was approaching the marketing for Airstory–which Joanna describes as what would happen if Google Docs & Evernote had a baby and let Trello raise it–she said she was really inspired by a marketing campaign that Blue Bottle Coffee had come up with.

They decided they wanted to use the idea too.

Blue Bottle had created a beautiful video “course” on Skillshare that explained the process of brewing exceptional coffee from start to finish. As Joanna told me, the result of watching it was that you couldn’t think about coffee the same way again.

In order for her to use the idea… 

Joanna needed to reverse engineer it.

Her goal is to get people to rethink the way they’ve always done a frequent task: content marketing specifically and writing generally.

After all, that’s what Blue Bottle did. It’s not really about the videos, it’s not really about putting it on Skillshare. The really important part is to understand the mechanism that made that campaign go viral: rethinking the way you do a daily task.

Further, Joanna told me, the real idea is teaching people to be a better consumer of your product so that they’ll only want to choose your product in the future. It’ll be the only one that now meets their standards.

Once she knew that, she could approach marketing Airstory with the “how and what” of the Blue Bottle campaign but with her core goal being to create better writers instead of better coffee brewers.

The videos and distribution channel for the marketing campaign became what I call the “building blocks” of her marketing. But her own product, brand, and customer perspective become what the building blocks are made out of.

You can do the same thing with any successful marketing or sales assets.

What’s more: you should.

I teach our Quiet Power Strategy clients to start looking at every sales page that catches their eye or every email that moves them to click as an opportunity to create a template.

That template is inevitably made up of building blocks that you can use if you only sub in what’s particular to your product, brand, and customer perspective.

Take this blog post, for instance!

  • The first building block (at the beginning) is a shocking or counterintuitive statement that seems to go against cultural norms.
  • The second building block (the bulk of the email) is an explanation of this idea referencing a conversation, in this case, one I had with a successful business owner.
  • The third building block (what you’re reading right now) is a call to action around how to apply this to work for you.
  • The fourth building block (it’s coming, read on!) is a final call to action to check out the whole conversation.

So what are you waiting for?

Listen to Joanna explain this whole process–plus how she interviews prospects to come up with product ideas and how she’s built out two teams to support both the training side of the business and the software side of the business.

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Don’t Put Off Another Project Because You’re Not In The Right Seat

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Wanna make a bet?

I bet you’ve held off on a project because you didn’t know how to make it happen.

You had a great idea, something that would really make a splash, really get your brand out there.

You could see the finished product (idea, book, offer, etc…) in all its glory.

And then…

You realized you had no idea how to make it happen.

  • How would you shoot the videos?
  • How would you get the new website up?
  • How would you edit the files?
  • How would you market the opportunity?

I’ll admit it: I feel pretty safe making this bet because I’ve been there, done that.

If I look back on the last 8 years, are there probably at least 15 times I could have changed the course of my business if I’d only been willing to step back and let someone else figure out the details.

This week on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I talked to Jenny Dopazo about a project like this, her web series The Fabricant Way.

She actually told me, “The one thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to put myself in a position where I needed to learn how to do this. Me becoming a film person was not part of the vision.

Learning Is Your Job But It’s Not Your Only Job

As a small business owner, you’re constantly putting yourself in the position of having to learn how to do new things.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing–learning is part of entrepreneurship (and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much!).

But it can become the default setting: new idea equals something new to learn.

And when you’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and overscheduled, it means that the things that could really change the course of your business–like Jenny’s video series–often get left behind.

Jenny said that once she realized that becoming a “film person” wasn’t part of her vision for the project, she was able to get clear on what seat at the table she really wanted to be in.

Then, she could identify all the other “seats” she needed and find the right people to fill those roles.

Now, I understand that that in & of itself might sound intimidating. Maybe you’re not in a position to make that kind of investment or maybe you’re not connected to the right people.

But once you know how you want to position yourself in a project, you can start to get creative about making it happen: maybe you can trade services, maybe you can ask for introductions, maybe you can set up a revenue share, etc…

Don’t table a project just because YOU don’t know how to make it happen.

Get clear on your vision and your role in that vision–and then get creative about the rest.

Listen to this week’s episode & subscribe:

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Using a Video Series to Scratch Your Creative Itch with Jennifer Dopazo

Using a Video Series to Scratch Your Creative Itch with Jennifer Dopazo

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How Jenny realized her business was running on “autopilot” (not in a good way) and decided to do something that would surround her with the people who inspire her
  • Why you need to get clear on what seat you want to sit in–and then determine what other chairs you need to fill in around you to make that happen
  • How Jenny used her focus on community to build the vision for the series–and how that’s helped her tie the video series back to her agency and bring in clients

Where do many small businesses drop the ball? They make something good, but never achieve greatness because they fail to be intentional about every aspect of a project.

But Jennifer Dopazo, owner and creative mastermind behind design and digital strategy firm Candelita, and my guest on this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., isn’t like most business owners.

Every day her inbox filled up with projects that she completed on autopilot with no real excitement. She dabbled in all the tactics that the books and gurus said she should to build her business—blogs, social media, and more—but these efforts didn’t feel authentic or aligned with her company’s mission or vision. Although she got clients from these with efforts, they were clients that weren’t a good fit. Something was missing.

That’s when I realized that it was not only about the type of work, or industry or market or you name it, but it also had to do with the person behind the project and how I could connect with them.

— Jennifer Dopazo

At this point, her client list included mostly big brands and corporations. Although corporations and independent business owners share many of the same struggles, Jennifer was intrigued by small business owners and their freedom to chart their own course without board approval and multiple meetings to get stakeholder buy-in.

I’m more compelled to work with people who want to build a business because they want a better life for their family.

— Jennifer Dopazo

She decided to step out of her creative comfort zone to find the connection she craved and to create something that would support the independent business owner. The idea for a video series started to form. She researched, developed a strategy, and reached out to other professionals who could make her vision come true. The result: The video web series The Fabricant Way.  

Not only does The Fabricant Way support the independent business owner and highlights them in their natural settings, this project allowed Jennifer to reconnect with her community and satisfied a creative itch that wasn’t being met.

With the End Goal in Mind: “It’s not about me. It’s about them.”

Jennifer was very intentional about the role she wanted to play in the video series.

The one thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to put myself in a position where I needed to learn how to do this. Me becoming a film person was not part of the vision.

I decided to look around to find someone whose superpower was video.

— Jennifer Dopazo

She considered the needs of all stakeholders in the series. It started with her, but quickly she considered the needs of the entrepreneurs she interviewed, what the viewer would prefer, and how to offer different ways to use and consume the content she created. Her vision was focused.

Her focus reminded me of something Brian P. Moran said in his book, the 12 Week Year—vision is how you decide that what you want is a given and is in no way “fluffy.” There was no fluff about Jennifer’s end goal either: She had a very clear vision of what she wanted the web series to be. To achieve her vision, she got the “right people in the right seats to make it the best” it could be.

Take a listen to the full podcast where Jennifer and I explore her journey, how her thought process evolved, the similarities between independent business owners and the much larger corporate clients she’s worked for, how this new creative outlet supports her design business, and her continued commitment to her community.

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe on iTunes to access all the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast episodes and learn from ambitious small business owners like you.

What You’re Building Is Bigger Than You

A business can be a prototype for the world you want to live in. -- Jennifer Armbrust

“A business can be a prototype of the world you want to live in.”

Jennifer Armbrust

You probably started your business to create the world you wanted to live in.

You thought about the kind of people you wanted to work with, the kind of work you wanted to do, the kind of time off you didn’t want to have to ask permission for, and the kind of flexible schedule that would allow you to accomplish more than work. 

I hope you accomplished a lot of that! 

Maybe some of it is still a work-in-progress…

Yet, as you are very well aware, the world doesn’t stop at your office door or even your front door.

If you want to build a business that prototypes the world you want to live in, you have to consider how your business is impacting your customers and your community. 

  • Does the structure of it embody the values you hold dear?
  • Do the offers you make reinforce your idea of how you want to build relationships with others?
  • Does your team reflect the way you want to see our communities organized?
  • Does your mindset as an entrepreneur and leader represent the mindset you want to see in the leaders of our community at large?

Building a business that is a prototype for the world you want to live in doesn’t just mean you get to live a great life (although that’s incredibly important). 

It also means that the decisions you make for your business reflect your greatest hopes and dreams for our society.

What you’re building has the capacity to be so much bigger than you. 

If you want to live up to that potential, you have to answer those questions. And then keep answering them so that you are always improving on the world you’re creating for yourself and others.

And today–today–I challenge you to rise up to that potential. 

Your potential gives me hope–hope that is growing day by day by day:

Between 1997 and 2014, non-employer firms in the United States grew by 60% (for contrast, traditional payroll jobs grew 12% in that same time).

What’s a non-employer firm, you ask? 

Well, it’s you. Or, if you’re not anymore, you most likely started your business as a non-employer firm.

Non-employer firms are–most often–the scrappy, creative, determined sort of micro businesses that have no employees. They consist solely of an owner creating something from scratch with an idea and loads of ambition.

This is an unprecedented rise in this measure. And that means…

There is an unprecedented number of entrepreneurs taking steps to create the world they want to live in. There is an unprecedented number of business owners building personal wealth and contributing to the common wealth.

There is real change afoot. 

And, it’s not coming from the top down.

It’s coming from the bottom up.

What you’re doing right now—by building your business, circumventing pre-established norms, creating value for others and wealth for yourself—is slowing but surely changing the dynamics of power in your community.

No matter which side of the aisle we sit on, I know that we agree that when creative, thoughtful, purpose-driven people of all different stripes have more influence over the direction of society, we all benefit.
 
So, thank you.
 
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for offering your voice. 
 
Thank you for offering a different solution. Thank you for toughing it out. 
 
It’s working.