Key Ingredients That Will (Almost) Guarantee Your Success

key-ingredientsWhat if I could almost guarantee your success as a home-based business owner? No gimmicks or crap to buy, just some key things you can do to ensure success.

I’m always asked what it takes to succeed as a home-based business owner. Though there aren’t any real guarantees in life, there are proven steps you can take, to make sure you get as close to a hit as possible. When fishing, if you use the right bait, are in a relatively good spot, and you keep casting, you will catch a fish. In golf, if a coach shows you how to improve your swing, and you continually do the work, you will improve your game. This is what I mean by guaranteed success.

The Four Key Ingredients

I’ve work with, talked to, and helped a lot of home-based business owners over the years. Every one that was successful had these core ingredients. Some would include others, but these four where common to all of them. On the other hand, almost all of the folks who came to me after having a bad go of it with a business were missing one or more of them. If you’ve heard it before, that’s great – and not surprising. A common theme among coaches, personal development gurus, motivational speakers, success writers, and entrepreneurs is not reinventing the wheel. Take the same steps others have to reach success, throw in your own special views and skills, and you end up with your own success – on your own terms.

The First Ingredient – Your Passion

If you don’t care about something, then there’s no point in doing it. It’s just a chore, like scrubbing the toilet or cleaning the gutters. Starting and running a business of any kind is hard work. It’s the passion about your chosen field or niche that will help you get through the tough stuff. The excitement and enthusiasm that comes from following your passion, helps drive success.

As a bonus, it also makes sales and marketing, much easier. John Jantsch’s from Duct Tape Marketing says “Marketing is the voice of your passion:”

The most successful small business owners I have encountered have two things in common – they are passionate about what they do and they effectively use marketing to spread this passion.

You may have more than one passion. That’s fine. Just make sure whatever business you focus on is based on at least one of them.

The Second Ingredient – Your Gifts

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are currently (as of this writing) about 6.5 billion people in the world. And what’s astounding to me, is each has their own unique gifts – talents, skills, genius, and view of the world. The key is to use those gifts unique to you to build your business. If you don’t know what you’re good at, ask someone close to you. Chances are they know it very well. Also look at what other people are constantly asking you for help with. If you weren’t good at it, then they wouldn’t ask. Another way is sit down with some quiet time and a sheet of paper and list all the things you do better than anyone you know. Now’s not the time to be modest or self-editing. Write everything, even if it seems insignificant.

One misconception I see a lot is that if you’re good at something, then you should only do that. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the passion element is paired with your gifts. It’s the sum total of your talent, skills, and way of looking at and interacting with the world that make up your gifts. Passion is the “why” and your gifts are the “how.”

The Third Ingredient – Your Value

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”Brian Tracy

If what you’re offering doesn’t benefit someone in some way, you won’t have a business for very long. Passion and gifts aren’t enough to build a business on. You have to provide value to others.

There’s something liberating about taking the focus off of you, and putting on to the “world out there.” By looking at your venture as a way to be of service to others and provide people with something beneficial, your perspective changes. You are here to contribute, and by doing so, you ensure that your business will thrive.

I think most people know in their gut if what they’re providing is of any real value. But if you aren’t sure, ask around. Call up some friends and acquaintances, take them to lunch or for coffee, and talk to them about what you intend to do. Maybe even offer them a free sample to get some feedback (and possibly a testimonial). You’ll know pretty quickly if you have a winner.

The Fourth Ingredient – Your Plan

The final ingredient, and the one that ties them all together, is planning. You won’t know where you’re going, or if you’ve gotten there, without a map. I’m not talking about a formal business plan, unless that’s something you feel you need. Just some basic written goals and plans – who you are, what you’ll be doing, who your customers are, how much you plan to make, how much you need to make.

Take all the things you’ve accumulated while researching your business, and wrap them into a cohesive plan. Start with some simple basic strategies, and then if necessary, flesh out any larger plans. Be sure to get input and feedback from the rest of your household. As a home-based business, your family are your investors and stakeholders, and need to be treated as such.

Building a successful home-based business takes time and work. In order to ensure you’re not just wasting your time, evaluate what it is you are doing. Look at what inspires you, what you do well, what you can offer, and how you can do it, and build your venture around that. Follow the map of those who are already succeeding, and you can (almost) guarantee your own success.

Escape the “Job” Mentality When Starting a Business

tip-guyPamela over at Escape from Cubicle Nation offers some great ways to get out of the “job” mentality when starting a business.

The first item on her list “Start with What kind of work am I meant to do?, not What kind of business should I start?” is one of the most valuable pieces of advice when you begin the process of searching for the ideal home-based business:

This is a very important distinction that I want you to stop and really think about for a minute. It is related to your greater purpose for being on earth, or if you wish to frame it in corporate terms, your personal mission statement. When I spent some time reflecting on the work I am meant to do, I realized that it all has to do with promoting personal freedom, joy and expression through work.

Most of the folks I talk to that have such a struggle are those that settled for some home-business in a box thing, rather than basing their venture on their unique gifts.

I know I tend to harp on this a lot, but it’s the foundation for everything else. True success comes from doing the right “work” for you. Knowing what that is, and how to put it into action, almost guarantees success.

Modeling Mashup: Your Template of Success

something-to-ponderME “Liz” Strauss has a regular event called “The Mic Is On!” featuring a topical conversation in the comments. It’s a cool idea, and though I wasn’t able to make it this week, the topic, “We’re Having Parallel Lives” got me thinking about how we can view our ideal selves.

The discussion surrounded who we might like to be in a parallel life or lives. People we find inspiring or interesting, doing things that we’d like to do, and living lives we find exciting.

Rather than just hero worship these types of visualizations can be productive. A technique called modeling, is a great way to create a shortcut to success by modeling the behavior of those already successful in the area you are focusing on. Though there are different views on the technique, I’ve found it to be very effective.

The term mashup describes mixing pieces of different songs, videos, or Web sites to make a new work.

So instead of parallel lives, what about creating a “Modeling Mashup” of our role models? Think of 5 to 10 people (real or fictional) you find to be living the “ideal” life. Those that embody your idea of success, or that represent an area of success for you. Then visualize a mashup of those models to get a sort of template of your ideal model. Do you want Trump’s money and business acumen, with Jobs’ flair, Branson’s sense of adventure, and Oprah’s compassion? Who exemplifies those qualities, or maybe just a single quality, you find important to have in your life? Here’s my current list:

  • Alton Brown – truly loves what he does, knowledgeable and funny (sort of the hipster of the culinary world).
  • Bill Amend – Foxtrot cartoonist – funny and a little bit geeky.
  • Charles Schulz – an extraordinary cartoonist and my first hero.
  • Dave Barry – one of the funniest people on the planet.
  • Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable – the epitome of cool, funny, and loving dad.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer – sales guru with entertaining approach.
  • Malcolm Gladwell – incredible and prolific writer who sometimes ticks people off.
  • Peter Max – one of the greatest artists of all time.
  • Steve Jobs – creative and a great business mind.
  • Wayne Dyer – great speaker, big thinker, and loving father.

Think of your own success models and mix them together into the perfect representation of success. It’s a fun and creative way to help get an idea of what you consider to be the necessary ingredients for a successful and fulfilling life.

Happy mashing!

Hidden in Plain Site

skillsWhy is it that we can never see what’s plainly obvious to others? Whether it’s the person we should be with (she’s just a friend, not my soul mate) or our calling, sometimes it’s hard to see what is right in front of us.

When it comes to finding an ideal work-from-home business, people tend to bounce around the obvious choice – the one that is a perfect blend of their passions, talents, and gifts.

Take for example a guy I’ll call Ralph (not his real name). He’s a natural people person, and loves to teach. His way of presenting information is so intuitive, it’s almost like you can’t help but learn from him. He went into sales instead of teaching because of the money. Now, after his new baby was born, he’d love to be home more. After discussing his love of teaching and training, and his natural gifts for presenting ideas in a clear and interesting way, he narrowed down his choices of the perfect work-from-home business. Now did he choose:

A. A training and consulting business geared towards presenting corporate training in a way that engages the clients. Or,
B. A multi level marketing “business” his friend Bill said he would be great at because of his natural sales ability?

It was obvious to everyone but Ralph that option “A” would not only make him happy, but be very lucrative in the long run. But the promise of “millions just from recruiting your friends” sounded easier than starting a training business. When I asked Ralph why, he said he didn’t think anyone would really be willing to pay him to teach and train because it was so easy. That anyone could do it. Why pay him, an outside consultant, to do what they could easily do on their own?

The answer, again obvious to everyone but him, was that is wasn’t easy. It was just easy for him. Often when we are considering our own unique gifts, we just assume that everyone can do it as easily as us – because it comes so natural. Whether it’s art, writing, teaching, building things, singing – any special innate talent – to the one lucky enough to have it, it just seems normal. But to everyone else, it’s anything but. It’s a special talent and an ideal way for you to create a successful venture.

So how do we identify these gifts? Here are a few options:

  1. Start to recognize your talents and passions for what they are. Gifts special to you and something unique that you bring to the world.
  2. Ask friends and family what they would say are your special talents. Ask people you trust, and who know you well, but don’t have any specific “mold” of how they think you should be.
  3. Look at what you do that comes so naturally you tend to not even notice it. What creates that magical state of flow when you’re doing it, and seems to make time fly by.
  4. What do people consistently ask you for help doing, because you’re the guy or gal with the skills? Are you always helping people with their car, A/V equipment, their craft projects? Are people always asking for fashion tips, interior design options, or health and fitness questions?

By being aware of what you do naturally, those skills that you enjoy using, and how you can provide value to others, you can find the foundation on which to build a successful home-based business. A business that is a unique contribution, because it offers those special gifts that only you can bring to the marketplace.

New Season of Possibility

trees-changeI love this time of year. The approach of Fall has always been the time for me to jump into something new. The possibility that the Fall seems to bring is something I’ve always looked forward to.

As a guest participant over at the very cool Collective Genius! blog, I have a post that talks about the changing seasons, and how they can remind us that with change comes growth.

Enjoy – A Season for Change