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[GREEN] TIP: Just Google It

If You’re Stuck, Just Google It.

Laying the Foundation - Green TIPI can’t begin to tell you the number of times that customers, colleagues or friends have been stuck on something and don’t know what to do, so they’ve called and asked me.

Do you know what I do if I don’t know?  I google it.  Sounds obvious, I know. But many times, the obvious is un-obvious.

Yesterday, I had a customer ask me what to do because they got an error message when trying to open a document on their computer.  I googled the error message, and told her the answer.  Yes, you can copy, paste and search on a specific error message.

I’ve had a customer ask me industry-related questions.  I googled the question and looked for the answer.

I’ve had a customer ask me which software program works better.  I asked google for a comparison, and got the answer.

The information is there if you want to find it.  But, you do have to discern between real and make-believe.  For one, I don’t look at the first few search results because they are ads disguised as results.  I scroll down and then look for valid sources, keeping in mind that everyone is a blogger with an opinion these days.

A few examples of good question and answering websites (based on my google search just now … and experience) include:

I just want to remind you that not everything is a crisis when you don’t have the answer at hand. Perform a quick search before you panic; you may just be pleasantly surprised at how easy the solution is. 99% of the time I respond to those seeking answers with the statement that I just googled it, they always say, “I don’t know why I didn’t do that.  Duh!”  There’s a wealth of knowledge out there at your fingertips, just be sure to follow valid sources of information.

Happy googling!

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[BLUE] TIP: Email Prospecting

 Tips for Prospecting via Email

Your prospects are busy.  They don’t have time to read through lengthy emails, so they keep their finger on the delete key — just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on it. Here are seven tips to increase your email prospecting success.

Tip 1: Delete the Fluff

Re-read your email and look for any superlatives, exaggerated expressions or other fluff. Some serious offenders include: exciting, state-of-the-art, solution, partner, leading edge, passion, unique, one-stop-shop, unique, one-of-a-kind, etc.

Tip 2: Apply the KISS theory

Keep it simple, stupid. Your email needs to be less than 90 words.  Use two-sentence paragraphs so your email can be scanned quickly.  Stick with black fonts (no colors!) and never include more than one link or attachment.

Tip 3: Figure Out Their Pain Point

When researching your prospect’s company, industry or position, determine what their pain point is.  Everyone has one.  Figure it out, and then tell them how your relevant solution solves their problem.

Tip 4: Make It Timely

Identify key business events that may be impacting your prospect’s priorities and tie your message into that. Examples include moving into a new business office, merging with another company, recently announced management changes or new legislation that impacts your target.

Tip 5: Be Indispensable

Your product or service may be a commodity, but you’re not.  Focus on the ideas, insights and information you can share — especially the things that make you unique — that will help your prospect reach their goals.

Tip 6: Craft Enticing Subject Lines

Your subject line determines if your message gets read. Avoid sales hype and superlatives. Instead, focus on business issues such as: “Partnership opportunity for your upcoming trade show” or “Quick question re: your outsourcing talent.”

Tip 7: Launch a Campaign

It usually takes up to 12 touch points (via email and/or phone) over four-to-six weeks to create a solid email campaign. Each interaction should build off the previous one. Provide links to resources. Highlight the value of using your service vs. staying with the existing vendor. Give away a free eBook. Offer a complimentary consultation. There are many reasons to engage with your prospect, just make sure that when you do reach out repeatedly, each message in the campaign is relevant and adds value.

Live and Learn.

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[BLUE] TIP: Twitter Lead Gen

Do you want to turn your twitter followers into blog subscribers?  If so, this brilliant TIP I stumbled upon from Momekh of LifeETC is for you.

What is it?

When a twitter follower (or prospective twitter follower) visits your twitter profile page, they are more than likely going to check out your Twitter Bio.  Hopefully, if you’re a smart marketer, you’ve not only added a quick bio about yourself, but you’ve also included a link back to your website and/or blog.

Instead of sending them to your website home page, why not take advantage of this new connection opportunity by thanking those Twitter users for becoming part of your community?

You can do this by creating a Twitter-specific landing page on your website that is created for twitter followers only, offering them something special in return for their interest.  Be sure to give them a clear call to action about subscribing to your blog.

You can view our Resort Entrepreneur’s Twitter ‘thank-you’ page here.

How Much Does It Cost?

Nothing but a little bit of time.

 

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Too Busy To Slow Down? Doubt It.

Get the right mindset for your online business.

I have been taking it really easy lately which is definitely a good thing. I’ve been cranking out some work, and admittedly, I’ve been recuperating from too much over-indulgence.

There’s definitely something to be said for stopping.  Just stopping whatever you’re doing and getting present.

I received an email from a friend and potential business partner this afternoon that screamed ‘overwhelmed’ to me. I’ve been there so many times, so I know. You could just tell from her writing — the anxiety and hurried wording in just her first paragraph.

It certainly made me take pause to send peace her way.

Sometimes nature makes you take pause, like right now.

Although I’ve arrived at my destination, it’s raining pretty hard outside. So, I’ve turned off the engine, turned off the lights, turned off the radio, turned off the iphone. And for the past 10 minutes, I‘ve just listened to the sound of the raindrops on the roof. It’s awesome to take the time to observe, really observe, those happy, dancing raindrops trickle and burst down the window pane.

This moment of bliss was so inspirational that I decided to write about it and share it with you, just in case you’re too busy to slow down yourself.  Hopefully you can close your eyes and at least imagine it.

It also feels like I’m in a cocoon of sorts, observing the outer world. My false perception is that no one can observe me back. I just watched a guy in a bright red raincoat and flip flops leisurely walk his yellow lab. The rain doesn’t bother him a bit. A few minutes past that, I observed a full-blown argument taking place between a stressed out couple in their car. The rain must bother them a lot.

It seems like we don’t have time, but we can make time if we really want to, especially time for ourselves. Just steal some moments like I’m doing now. I believe it’s important to take a pause out of the hectic and come back to the peace.

The ten minutes of raindrops have been music to my ears. I’m glad I’m learning to stay present. 

The street lights just came on. My roommate just came home.  And I need to pee.  So with my spirit renewed, I’m ready to dash to the door.  But at least for the past few minutes, I exhaled. And it was nice.

 

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If you learned something from this post, please share it. It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me! Thank you.

~ by Connie Hammond ~

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Who Can You ‘Kudo’?

Get the right mindset for your online business.

After another late night of working into the wee wee hours, I decided to meditate to start my day off right. I always intend to take the time and do this, but I’m not always successful.

Meditation is completely appropriate and much needed during any business launch period.

Today’s guided meditation — one of my favorites — was on trust and surrender.  I find it  helpful to remember these two action verbs when bootstrapping my start-up.

Entrepreneurs find themselves working long hours, day in and day out, without little to no recognition in the beginning, so it’s important to trust that your hard work will pay off and completely surrender until it does.

After centering myself from meditation, I fired up my iPhone and immediately one email from a complete stranger caught my eye.  This stranger sincerely complimented me on something I’d written and wanted to know if I was available to discuss ways we could work together in the future since he owned a related business.

Really?  My ego took a leap.

A complete stranger was not only reading, but responding to, my written thought.

The positive feedback felt great, especially considering how exposed I’ve been feeling as a new business owner who’s authentically writing about the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur.  Trust me, I’d relish any and all kudos coming my way.

People don’t sincerely compliment friends, nevertheless strangers, nearly enough these days.  That’s why starting today, I am going to make a concerted effort to do that more.

A compliment is a two-way gift anyway.  Both the giver and the receiver benefit from this kind gesture; yet too often, people deprive themselves of the pleasure of giving a compliment, instead choosing to let the moment slip by without conveying their thoughts.

Maybe it’s time you take a good hard look around at your friends, family, employees, contractors, vendors, partners and even strangers.  Pay close attention.  See who needs lifting up.  Then, offer a compliment and a smile.

Times have been really tough lately.  More people than not could use some support or at least a kind word now and then.

What makes for a good compliment?  The praise needs to be sincere, specific and without qualification (no underhanded or excessive compliments).  When praise is delivered the right way, you’re bound to make that person feel better.  You may even motivate them too.

So, who can you “kudo” today?

 

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If you learned something from this post, please share it. It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me! Thank you.

~ by Connie Hammond ~

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[GREEN] TIP: 50 Tasks in 90 Days To Start Your Biz

Is it time you start turning your dreams into reality?

Over the last three months, I’ve been working like a fiend trying to get my new brand building company off the ground.

In addition to the Resort Lifestyle Network that I manage, I had been providing consulting services on the side to generate additional revenue.  However, with more business coming in than I could manage, I decided to turn my ‘side gig’ into something more.

And thus my new online marketing company, Hammond Media Group, was born.

It’s possible to realize your dream.  Just taking the first step is all it takes.  Before you know it, you’ll have your very own business up and running.

Here’s a list of the 50 or so tasks that were completed in 90 days.  There is still a lot to do, but this is a great start.  Use these tasks as a checklist.  Use them as motivation. Use them for ideas.  Just do one of the tasks each day, and in three months time, you’ll be that much closer to living your dream.

I’ve included links where appropriate to make it even easier for you to get started.

Ready, Set, Go!

Business Set-Up

Website

Social Media

  • Embedded social media links (follow and share) on website and in email signature
  • Created a Facebook Page
  • Integrated MailChimp sign up form into Facebook page for list building (view sign up form on FB)
  • Created a Google+ Page
  • Created a Twitter account
  • Set up Twitter lists (clients, vendors, bloggers, etc.) to monitor conversations and manage news feed for resort sites and Hammond Media Group
  • Created a Hootsuite account to monitor twitter conversations
  • Created a Vimeo Channel for videos
  • Created a LinkedIn account for professional networking
  • Created a MailChimp account for email marketing / list building
  • Created a SlideShare account for presentations

Marketing

  • Attended Entrepreneur and Tech MeetUps to network and promote new biz
  • Ordered business cards, thank you notes and other printed marketing materials from VistaPrint
  • Set up email Auto-Responders based on different target audiences (huge time-saver for lead generation; learn more about the benefits of email automation)
  • Completed pro-Bono work for a worthwhile charity
  • Joined local area Chamber of Commerce organizations to network / generate new business opportunities

Other

  • Completed a website audit for a client
  • Set up an editorial calendar for a client
  • Completed two major proposals totaling approximately 30k in revenue
  • Worked out preferred partnership arrangements with two vendors

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: It’s Time To Burn Some Bridges

Get the right mindset for your online business.Everyone thinks that burning bridges is a horrible thing.

But when you’re an entrepreneur in the start up phase of a business, burning bridges is not only a good thing – it’s a necessity for success.

As you cross the bridge over the great divide from employee to entrepreneur, you must burn that bridge down or else you’ll find yourself constantly distracted, looking back over your shoulder.

Burning bridges keeps you from backstepping into past illusions of safety and grandeur.

When I talk about burning bridges, I’m not advocating that you write off old colleagues or telling an old boss to go jump.

What I am talking about is firmly saying ‘no’ to those nagging options that keep appearing which only serve as tests to your entrepreneurial resolve.

Don’t be like a child.

Consider a toddler who’s learning how to crawl.

With each step, he strays further and further from his comfort zone in his quest for independence. But once he crosses a threshold to a new room, he realizes “momma” isn’t in sight and goes scurrying back to safety. Once he discovers she’s there patiently waiting for him, he starts the process all over again.

This tireless zigzag pattern of reassurance works great for a child who’s in the process of flexing his independent muscles, but this fear-based pattern can wreak havoc on success when you’re an entrepreneur.

It all boils down to commitment.

Until you’re fully committed to success, you’re never going to grow your business efficiently and effectively because you’ll lack focus, constantly question yourself and ponder too many ‘what if’ scenarios instead of moving forward quickly, with resolve.

In an interview about who’s most likely to succeed with Charlie Rose, Paul Graham (cofounder of Y Combinator which is a funder of startups) indicated that “there are some people who just get what they want in the world. If you want to start a startup, you have to be one of those people. You can’t be passive and wishy-washy.”

Paul Graham talks to Charlie Rose about Character Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

He goes on to offer the five keys to entrepreneurial success: determination, mental flexibility, imagination, naughtiness (someone with a gleam in their eye; you don’t want obedient employee types) and friendship (founders who are already friends). Notice how determination was #1. Make no mistake about it, becoming truly committed – in spite of the risks involved – is one of the hardest challenges you need to face before you can truly move forward. An entrepreneur, by definition, is a “risk-taking businessperson.”  They are by nature daredevils – the ‘Evil Kneivels’ of the business world if you will. They’re constantly pushing the limits of safety, getting out of their comfort zones and taking risks to grow their business. And as entrepreneurs move forward with this daredevil mindset, failure is an almost constant companion on their journey.

Failure is your friend.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘fail fast and fail often.’  Although rarely intended, failure should almost certainly be expected. Too many people are afraid to fail, but those failures should be viewed as learning opportunities on your path towards success. You’ll experience lots of ‘mini-failures’ during the startup phase when you’re testing the waters in a big way. When failure starts showing up, it’s easy to run back to your old, safe life which once existed. Security blankets can show up in a variety of ways: a tried and true tempting corporate job offer which looks like the safer bet, obtaining a not-so great loan just to give you some breathing room or taking on even more dreaded consulting work that really only serves to keep your eye off the prize. Pretty soon, the mere distraction of looking over your shoulder to make sure there’s a safer option available starts to become a liability.  With each retreat back to the illusion of safety, you lose your energy. You lose momentum. You lose focus.

Keep your eye on the prize.

We’re led to believe that being uncomfortable is a bad thing. But I encourage you to consider the alternative. Being uncomfortable may be just what you need to propel yourself forward when many others give up. Are you tired, exhausted, and broke? Have you completely run out of gas?  Good. Get out of your comfort zone. Burn those bridges. Commit.  

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective! Have you been acting wishy-washy and fear based? Do you need to recommit in a big way to propel your business forward? How do you cope when life gets tough and failure rears its ugly head?    

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~ by Connie Hammond ~  

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[BLACK] TIP: How To Attract More Money


Making MoneyEveryone is working so hard these days to make more money and survive this recession, including myself. We’re laser focused on acquiring the actual dollars and cents to pay our bills that most, I’m afraid, are forgetting how money really flows to us.

Money flows to us in the form of opportunities.

When you have your nose to the grindstone, going through the motion of making a living, you’re more than likely missing opportunities that are presented to you throughout each day versus when you’re engaged and truly present in the moment.

It’s time to slow down, open your eyes and really start paying attention to the “signs” that show up.

What opportunities have you missed out on today?

Did you shut down the person who tried to make contact with you at the coffee shop this morning? Did you choose not to take the call from a friend, opting to work…work…work instead? Did you dismiss yet another volunteer project that came your way because you just don’t have the time?

When was the last time you reached out to someone else and offered help or support? When was the last time you shook up your routine and tried something new? Have you spoken to your neighbor lately? What about that long lost friend?

How many times did you say ‘no’ today?

Sometimes you have to take the time to create the opportunity.

A customer of mine from Aspen asked me to spend time reviewing his website content earlier this week as a favor. It was 1:30 am, and I was tired from working all day. Needless to say, it would have been easier to blow off his request and just go to bed.

Instead, I stayed up longer and took the hour needed to provide solid feedback and offer my opinion.

Meanwhile, I’d been fretting about my upcoming trip to Aspen and where I’d find the extra $3,000 I needed to get there and really enjoy an extended stay.

The “opportunity” to help my client out auditing his website for free resulted in a grateful phone call the following morning. The first words out of his mouth were, “Can I please pay for all your expenses to come out to Aspen so you can help me with my website?”

Holy Moly!  Done!

A few weeks ago, my friend invited me to a “preview” for a personal development course. During this overview presentation, I learned some wonderful new techniques that would prove beneficial in both my personal and business life.

I really wanted to attend the full weekend course.

As I was thinking about whether or not I should just go ahead and register for the pricey course in spite of being on a strict budget, my generous friend tapped me on the shoulder, pulled me aside and told me that she really wanted to treat me to this course if I was interested in attending.

Holy Moly! Done!

Last night, I connected via phone with a new friend and fellow resort-entrepreneur who I met online. The conversation lasted well over an hour, and I have a sneaky suspicion that we’ll be working together in one form or another in 2012. Instead of being rushed because of my never-ending to-do list, I took the time to be fully engaged in our conversation.

Who knows where it will lead, but I have a good feeling that’s another opportunity in the making.

Opportunities may not produce actual dollars in your pocket, but they produce riches nonetheless.

I’m most certainly a “pay-it-forward” kind of gal, so I’m guessing that’s one reason these opportunities continue to pop-up. But, I also know it would have been easy – because of my workload — to stay hunkered down, work some more and concentrate only on me and my stuff.

When you start saying yes to opportunities and invitations that show up, you may be surprised at the riches coming your way in return (and riches don’t have to mean cold hard cash).

You may win a laptop. You may get a special treat. You may receive advice that you really needed to hear…advice that changes your course and opens more doors.

Stay open to the possibilities today.

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Take Time To Reflect

Get the right mindset for your online business.Like most people, I spent this past weekend reflecting on the last ten years since 9/11/01.

The memorials certainly were top of mind, but the biggest reflection trigger was having what I hope to be the last garage sale of my life (although I’m not overly optimistic considering that was the exact same sentiment I expressed after the last three).

This time, I do believe it is true.  I’ve changed.

Clearing the Clutter

No longer interested in acquisitions, I have officially entered the “less-is-more” phase of life.  Many — like my old self — claim this phrase as a badge of honor before purchasing more, but without a doubt I’ve had a shift.

These days, I much prefer life experiences over Gucci purses.

I found myself more excited about letting go of things that have been weighing me down and keeping me stuck.  So much so, that if someone really wanted something and started to haggle, I’d not only cave but give it to them outright with a “Merry Christmas” attached.

The most surprising lesson was uncovered in my clutter.  After hunting through closets and drawers for long lost possessions that have lost their appeal, I realized how much not only my tastes have changed, but so have my needs.

Reflection Confirms You’re On Track

When my friend and mentor stopped by with her lovely spirit to offer much needed support during what I hoped would be a Saturday morning shopping stampede, I smiled.

My junk had reminded me of a decade old promise I’d made to myself, and I was excited to share it with her:

“Regardless of where I was or what I was doing, I promised myself I would take the time (ie. one entire year out of corporate America) for reflection to ensure I was staying true to my life’s purpose.”

Sounds deep, I know.

But I do feel it is extremely important to check in with yourself and ask those hard life questions about which areas of your life are working and which areas of your life aren’t…and then make the necessary changes.

Ten years ago when I made that promise, I had taken time off from my sales career to randomly attend NYU’s School of Continuuing and Professional Studies for Fine and Decorative Arts Appraisals.

I did so for no other reason than I had just gotten separated from my husband and was searching for my long lost joie de vivre.

So why not try something different and immerse myself in art, music and saying yes to whims galore?

It was time well spent.

That year of immersion led to new intentions (including keeping my 10-year-old promise today) which, upon reflection, became my reality over this past decade.

I lived in Manhattan, lived in Aspen, traveled extensively, learned a new career (or two), worked with smart people, won awards, loved hard, followed the Tour de France, took up painting, joined a ski team, competed in tennis, taught myself how to build websites, completed a basement remodel, rekindled my love for the Rocky Mountains, became an entrepreneur, met hundreds of new (real and virtual) friends and most importantly laughed a lot.

“You’ve certainly done a lot of livin’ these past ten years,” she said.

Yes I have.

Slowing Down To Create My Future

So in March of this year, I kicked off another year of reflection and planning for my future.

I slowed down.  I consciously exchanged the “must do’s” for “or nots” and began the process of recentering to help intend what I experience in this upcoming decade.

I can’t wait to see how my future reality will unfold.

I’m actually surprising myself at some of the intentions I’ve been creating.  Heck, why not shoot for the moon?

So I’ve been mentally, physically and emotionally preparing for the next ten.  Like most bootlegging entrepreneurs who choose to follow their dreams over corporate America, I’ve happily started the process of downsizing my life even further so I can live even bigger.

Interestingly enough, one word keeps popping up during this planning stage:  freedom.

I noticed that with each truckload of garage sale leftovers donated to the salvation army, I exhaled deeply and felt more alive.  I also felt more on-purpose.

It was freeing.

And that’s what I want more than anything going forward: freedom to live my life on my own terms.

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective!

Have you been taking the time to set clear intentions about your future? Do you need to de-clutter? Are you happy with your last ten?

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It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me!

~ by Connie Hammond ~

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[BLUE] TIP: Create “Biz Dev Only” Days for Success

Promote your online business.Improve Your Marketing & Get More Clients

by Fabienne Fredrickson on August 3, 2011

It’s important to make time during your week to focus on Client Attraction and the marketing needed to get more clients.

While you’re clustering your client appointments, go just one step ahead. Cluster your days for maximum efficiency and create “Business Development Only” days.

The more I’ve worked on creating Business Development Only Days, the more successful I’ve become. It helps me be “in the flow” in terms of marketing ideas and action and helps me get more done to promote my business than simply trying to squeeze it in everyday. Doing this increased my revenue by 35% immediately.

Client example: A dental office I worked with to attract more patients was struggling to get any marketing done. The primary dentist was consistently busy working with patients and couldn’t focus on Client Attraction. Until we asked the office manager to schedule NO patients on Thursdays. At first, he resisted. “How will I make more money if I’m not working one day per week?” But very quickly, he realized that the time he now had to focus on marketing and business development, he was actually able to get the things done that attract clients.

He was finally able to create his extensive website, send out letters to the HR departments in the vicinity, track and reward frequent referral sources, host a launch party, among other things. All the essential and critical marketing elements to market his business effectively and get more clients.

Just ONE day per week has improved everything for this dental practice.

Your Client Attraction Assignment:

What day will you devote to Business Development Only? Once you figure it out, add it to your calendar for the rest of the year. You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll get done, and will start seeing clients come in much more quickly.

 

About the author:

Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System®, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time…guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your in.come, visit www.attractclients.com.

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[GREEN] TIP: Do You Need a Founding Partner?

Laying the foundation for your online businessDon’t Go Solo

Are you running your business all by yourself?

There’s something to said about sole proprietors.  They get to call all the shots and make all the decisions.

Entrepreneurs also get to carry all the burdens and work all the time.  Although it can be extremely exhilarating launching your dream solo, it’s an exhausting and isolating endeavor too.

There’s a myth out there about the sole entrepreneur who has the idea, starts the company and gets rich.  While there might be cases where success does happen – more frequently there is a team of two, three or four individuals behind those successful companies bringing their ideas to market.

Since there are pros and cons to having a founding partner or multiple teammates helping you pursue your dream, consider all options before forging ahead on your own versus bringing in a founding partner.

People, People, People

Building a great company requires a combination of talent, persistence and luck.

As the old real estate adage goes, the three most important success factors for any business are ‘people, people, and people.’ Foremost among these, of course, is the management team.

In an early stage company, every position is critical and must be filled with an A-Player. Successful entrepreneurs don’t settle for anything less. They don’t hire their friends or cut corners simply because it’s expedient or less costly.

If you haven’t found the A-Player yet, then wait.

It is far better to have a hole in your team than to fill it with a weak player who will need to be weeded out down the road.

Finding A Teammate

Sole proprietors need teammates who can broaden their network, bring more ideas to the table and actually help implement their idea for their new company.

So, where do you find that A-Player?

There are places you can actually go to look for your teammates.  Startup Digest has the most extensive list of “co-founders wanted” and PartnerUp is another website that connects founding partners.  Or, check out Founder Dating, a new service for finding the right co-founder.  Heck, you can even search for #founders or #jobs on twitter to surface individuals looking for early stage team members.

The Kauffman Foundation has an iStart.org platform which allows you to search ideas that have been vetted and submitted.  Sometimes you’ll find winners of national business plan competitions.  Find an idea that you like and then contact the entrepreneur to discuss potential collaborations.

Part of your success as an entrepreneur will be determined by your ability to sell other people on your idea.  Use the process of finding that A-Player as an opportunity to hone that that much-needed sales skill.

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: When You Get The Wind Knocked Out of You…Breathe


Get the right mindset for your online business.

Don’t Forget To Breathe

The other night, I got the wind knocked out of me, and I literally lost my breath.

I had the excruciating pain of falling down a flight of stairs. It wasn’t a rolling tumble by any means. It was the type of fall that hurt.

I stepped on the edge of the carpeted stair, my feet flew out from under me and my back crashed with a forceful thump against the treads. I slid down the rest of the stairs, caught my breath, checked myself, and cried.

Actually, I sobbed.

Granted, it was 2 am, I was tired from being on the computer all day long, and mostly I was scared. Not paying attention, I was hurrying down the stairs to lock up before hitting the hay. I was scared because it reminded me that if I fell and did indeed get hurt, no one would even know.

Everyone in Minnesota always thinks I’m in Aspen, and everyone in Aspen always thinks I’m in Minnesota. Its times like these that make me miss my ex-husband. Or maybe I just need a “just-in-case” plan: the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” alert pendant.

The tears flowed. And they were needed, because those tears represented a big, giant exhale.

I keep telling myself I’m getting good at being present and checking in — so much so that I can tell when I’m headed for one of these build-ups.

I start feeling antsy. I start feeling rushed. I’m indecisive and sick of the computer. I’m stressed out and delay or postpone my workouts, and I certainly don’t have time for meditation or a massage. What I’m really feeling at these times is a craving for mental rejuvenation.

But like most entrepreneurs I know, I just kept pushing through instead of paying attention to the stress build-up. There’s a reason I do this. It’s because I’m trying to beat this really big imaginary clock that keeps ticking and tocking louder and louder.

I’m racing against some imaginary time machine, yet I know that racing upstream is never a formula for success.

“If I can just do this, I can move on to that and then that will be done, which means I can do this.”  What a cruel joke doing this and that is. It never ends.

I should know better. Striving for the end game is the wrong approach; it means you are not enjoying the process. But it’s easy to get caught up in the madness. I am human after all (as clearly demonstrated by my fall).

I know I am never going to beat the clock. I know I have to let go of self-imposed deadlines. I know I need to stay in the moment. Because every single time that I do, serendipity visits.

After I fell and cried that night, I exhaled. Then I took 3 pain relievers and went to bed. The next day, I woke up sore, but renewed.

And that’s when serendipity kicked back in.

Before starting my day, I happened upon a random article that revealed how a good sob is as important to your mental well being and stress relief as is a good laugh.

My first phone call of the day had to do with an exciting new partnership opportunity.  The next call with a prospect resulted in a new consulting gig, and another client conversation resulted in a 50% increase in the monthly retainer I receive.

The point of all of these interactions is that they all produced new opportunities or ideas that did not even exist at this time yesterday.

You see, when you cry, you exhale. When you exhale, you say “I give.” When you give up and let go, you trust.

And when you finally trust, you breathe.