Tuesday, 25 January 2011

X Factor - 10 Business Lessons to Be Learnt

By Caleb Storkey

I watched the X Factor Finals this weekend and I'm not proud of it. And what's more, I even at one point shed a slight little tear, before saying 'Oh Bless her' as I reflected on... the person whose name I'm already forgetting- was what it...ah...come on...the one with the 'recording voice'...oh my I seriously have forgotten...I'm racking my brains...gonna have to Google it. That's it Rebecca! Yes, Rebecca made me a cry for a moment...funnily enough, I'm sure we'll all forget her within a few months.
Now there are loads of interesting questions you could explore about the X Factor? I admit having the words interesting and X Factor in the same sentence is a risky move. But nevertheless...
Where do these acts learn to develop their craft, and inner confidence without the years and years of performing on the 'toilet circuit?' Is Elton John right in his assessment that the artist is being automatically sold a really short shelf life by not having the space to learn the live craft? "Why aren't they going on tour? What's happening? They can't survive, I know, by just making records."
What happens to the acts five years from now after the X Factor machine swallows them in and spits them out to make room for the next wave of X Factor finalists?
Or as one of my friends Hannah McGuigan puts it on Facebook- X Factor: Bad Telly, Bad Music and criminal for dominating the music industry with un-original, mindless, sob-story induced media hyped rubbish.... Discuss?
I'm not sure where I sit with the X Factor. Part of me detests it for all the obvious reasons. A few years ago I would have been a zealot against it- looking in pity at anyone who admitted that they'd watched it. The manipulation, the ripping people off, the way the artists were used (remember the Steve Guy- I enjoyed reading his story), and the painfully dull, sickly music. Then I got married. And lots of things happen. In some areas of your life you change for the good, as your partner talks to you straight and helps you see the error of your ways. And in other areas of your life, you watch the X Factor on a Saturday night (I'm sure part of my straight talking back, was that we were never going to watch crap on TV). Now I'm one of those suckers who's actually interested. And oh my word, I have to confess it, I even watch the Xtra Factor too. I'm so sorry. I know it's beyond evil. Help me, as I don't know what's gone wrong with me.
But I have to find some redemption in this, and so now I want to show you (and my wife) that actually all those Saturday and Sunday nights of watching X Factor was all for research. So therefore I have come up with X (ten) points to consider with (vague links) back to X Factor. Out of nowhere these poor innocent souls get catapulted into fame and stardom, and all the pressures that come with it. And in many offices up and down the country, as others spend their time watching X Factor the inspirational entrepreneurs are working late into Saturday night. And if you are one of them, and your close to going through the roof, then I want to encourage you with some X Factor inspired wisdom. If you are about to grow and find amazing success in your business:
* i. Make sure you can cope with the meteoric rise. Others may benefit, you may benefit for a while, but make sure you've got the checks in place to prevent you from falling: think Subo, Gareth Gates etc. Don't let your support figures simply be those who will financially benefit from your success, as they'll have mixed agendas. Whether they be coaches, old friends, mentors, family, people you read, speakers you listen to, you need to get yourself plugged in. Deep genuine support; people who not only want you to achieve, but also want to see you whole, healthy and fruitful in all the areas of your life.
* ii. Make sure your rise is either on the back of lots of time developing your craft or skill, or where you've put enough time in your schedule to learn effectively as you go. If you don't develop your skill, understanding or knowledge but sit back and let everyone else do that for you, there will come a time when you are redundant to need. Develop your skill carefully as it's not enough just to do the profile stuff.
* iii. Make sure you're house is in good order. As things grow, cracks show and if everything is covered over with a few positive Facebook status updates it's all going to come tumbling down. Under more strain, there is less emotionally energy to go around and things get missed in the rush. It feels understandably even justifiable because things are so busy. Whether it be your family, your finances, your friends, your 'personal' affairs, get your house in order.
* iv. Make sure you don't take yourself too seriously. There's nothing more painful than watching Simon Cowell talk about One Direction 'making history' because a group could win the show for the first time. Well I also made history today by farting 39 times in the hours between 11am and 12pm today. More than I've ever done between 11 and 12pm on a Monday. Check me out! Don't think that everyone really is as bothered about what you're doing as you are. You'll avoid overstepping your ego level and looking like a chump. Humility is the beautiful ingredient that helps you both keep your feet on the ground, and see that the world evolves around far more than you.
* v. Make sure you keep yourself in check. You are your biggest potential disaster. You are the one that could make everything go wrong, so keep an eye on your ego, the decisions you make, who you surround yourself with. Put time aside for yourself to reflect, to exercise, to be with friends, to relax and wind-down, to love others and give outside of your own focused project.
* vi. Make sure you trust the right people with the money. Often Entrepreneurs are so busy going for that meteoric success that they rely on others to look at the tracking, flow and control of finance. When money is involved, lots can go wrong, and when it does it can be significantly painful. Get someone who is reliable, carries integrity, efficient and competent and you trust.
* vii. Pick the right team mates: your manager, your PR agency, your backing band, your publicist...or your Finance Director, Sales Director, Operations Director and your Managing Director. Where possible develop staff for beyond their current jobs, so that when you go meteoric, they are able to cope with the growth pressures. It's one thing for you to be learning on the job, but if your whole team is then there's going to be a few problems as things go wrong. Pick your team, and make sure they're right for the job.
* viii. Make sure that your infrastructure can cope with the growth. Things go wrong when you are suddenly needing to communicate with greater multiples of people - whether it be your iPhone app reaching your X Factor fan base, or your Customer Relationship Manager system carrying out automated communication to your customer base. Don't try to build it all when you suddenly need it, else you will always be behind and under a lot of strain.
* ix. See when the sell-by date is going to come, and plan ahead for how you will react. Don't wait for things to happen to you, but strategically keep your finger on the pulse of the market and know how to react. Read the signs by gathering the right data, and learning to analyse it.
* X. Get as close to people as you can. Whether it be your fans, or whether it be your customers, make sure that you've got a way to ensure that you can hear the truth about what people feel about you and your service. You might not like being told as Alexandra Burke got told, that you've put a few pounds on your ass, but it's better to have clarity as to what your clients think of you, then leave your companies 'performance' to chance. Find the right balance though. Inane comments from idiots aren't helpful. After all, even The Simon Cowell shared that he stopped reading the comment on the X Factor Blog from people who are just out to hurt him, because they were all so negative and unhelpful.
And, I know that last point, because I read his book... For research. I promise! Caleb Storkey
Caleb Storkey is a passionate communicator who loves to engage, inform and interact with his audience. Caleb speaks honestly and frankly about entrepreneurship, leadership, social media, management, personal development, future trends & technologies, marketing, sales and customer experience, spirituality, psychology and personality profiling. Pulling together images, videos, stories and stimulating questions, Caleb Storkey loves to explore and open up new ideas to people. Visit calebstorkey.net for more information.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

7 Common Obstacles to Online Business Success

By TJ Philpott

Online business success tends to elude many and for varying reasons none of which can not be easily overcome. The typical business entrepreneur entering the internet 'arena' generally have little or no experience building a business or even being their own boss! Although lacking experience is not enough to keep you from being successful online more problems can arise and compound themselves when you factor in the distracting internet environment!
Here are 7 common obstacles that tend to increase the difficulty for many of becoming successful online when they are building a business.
Info Overload
One thing about the internet is that you will never be at a loss for finding new information on any subject imaginable. The problem with this is that when building a business you need to be focused on what it is you are trying to achieved and not allow yourself to get distracted. Believe you me the internet can easily distract you with everything it has to offer!
Lack of Direction
As mentioned above focus is very important when working online and this also means you need to know what to focus upon. Without a plan or definite set of objectives you will find yourself 'floating' aimlessly chasing after many opportunities but accomplishing nothing! As in life, in order to be successful online you need to have some sort of direction since without it you are lost!
Lack of Passion
The importance of having a certain level of enthusiasm or passion for what it is you are doing can not be talked about enough. This passion will bring with it plenty of energy and motivation that you are going to need since it will take some time to establish yourself! Many people lack this and therefore seem to 'fizzle' out after a short period of time.
As a business entrepreneur you will have many decisions that will have to be made and quite often they will need to be made quickly. The internet is a dynamic and fast paced environment that presents many changes and opportunities. Your ability to think fast and move even faster will be a major factor in the degree of success you experience. Indecision on your part will result in many lost opportunities and plenty of frustration.
Business Inexperience
In most cases people working online did not start out with a lot or any previous experience as entrepreneurs. Knowing how to develop a plan of action and also how to manage yourself and time are key assets in order for you to become successful online. None of these 'skills' are difficult to learn but they can not be overlooked since in doing so it will makes your efforts all the more difficult and the results less rewarding.
Negative Influence
It is very important to surround yourself with positive minded people who share the same interest as you. Critics, skeptics and people who in general are afraid to take a chance at anything will be the first to tell you it can NOT be done! They live in fear of another person who succeeds at something they are not willing or motivated to try therefore they will be a source of negative reinforcement. Building a business is hard enough so you do not need people like this making you question yourself all the time!
Easily Discouraged
Earlier on we spoke of the need for having a passion for what you do and this is a major reason why. The results you are looking for will likely not occur overnight so you will need to continue applying effort and be patient. The thing about failure is you do not really fail until you actually give up and getting discouraged easily tends to make you quit your efforts before you experience success.
Achieving business success on the internet comes with some inherent but minor difficulties that can be overcome. In most cases the problems usually can be traced back to an overall lack of experience at building a business or even managing yourself. In either case the average business entrepreneur is quite capable of learning what they need to know and acquiring the needed experience. On the other hand when you consider the distractions that the internet environment presents, these minor problems tend to get magnified! The discussion above reviews 7 common obstacles that result from these 'conditions' and as you can see none of them are insurmountable! It boils down to your own ambition and desire to become successful online and if this desire is strong enough these obstacles can be easily overcome!
TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina.
To learn more about achieving business success online and to also receive a free instructional manual that teaches valuable niche research techniques for your online marketing needs simply visit:http://blogbrawn.com/

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Sales Letter Writing Needs Motivation

By Michael Raju

I can sit here all day giving you tips and hints on headlines and phrases that sell. But none of it will do you any good if you just plain hate sitting down at the keyboard.
If you can't stand writing, you're in good company. Most of us feel the same. I once asked a high school English teacher how many of her 300 students liked to write. "Oh, about 9 of them," she said.veryone from Mark Twain to Bart Simpson has faced a blank sheet of paper for hours with no idea of what to put on it. Well let me give you a few ideas from my office of professional writers. In the world of non-fiction writing, being a professional doesn't necessarily mean being a great writer. It does mean you have to be able to conjure up great copy every single day, even when you don't feel well or aren't in the mood. The first step is just to get something on paper--anything!
And I do mean anything. Just start writing down whatever comes to mind. If you can't think of anything, write "I'm sitting here and I can't think of anything to write." Yes, that sounds pretty stupid. But it's exactly the technique a lot of top writers use to get the creative juices flowing. Next you'll find yourself typing "I need to write a sales letter to promote my new software. Its software to help people gets organized.
Most people have lots of information, but they can't remember where they put it. This software has people organize their information in a system that makes it super easy to find, in just seconds." Wow! You're writing, you're telling your story, and best of all, you're not worrying about being bad because you know you can go back later and change it all. One top writer copies and pastes favorite lines from other sources (like the client's web site.) Then she rewrites those sections in her own words so that they are completely original. That's enough to get her going. Next she fills in additional fresh copy between the blurbs she has already completed. Even on days when she would rather be anywhere but behind a computer, she cranks out first rate copy in record time. Another method is to just start talking. Talk into one of those little tape recorders you get at Radio Shack. Pretend you're telling your best friend, your mother, or Paris Hilton all about your big idea. Go into all the details.
Talk it all out. Later, go back, listen, and take notes. Your notes will be the start of your email message. Don't type very well? 60 percent of North Americans can't type. Hunting keys often makes writing frustrating if not impossible. Follow in the tradition of a great many very famous writers. Pick up a cheap ballpoint pen and write down your ideas with the good old handwriting you learned in second grade. Then have someone type it up. The key is to just get something, anything, on your computer screen or on paper. Once you have that, start to edit. The copy will take on a life of its own and the writing will come easier. Or, simply hand your first attempts to a professional writer. Most can churn your notes into polished copy faster and cheaper than they can write entirely new copy.
www.the-gurus-apprentice.com [http://www.the-gurus-apprentice.com]

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How To Make And Keep Your New Year's Business Resolutions

By Deborah Schultz

Like yearly plans and goals you choose for yourself, it can be just as hard to keep business resolutions. Knowing where you're starting from is the beginning for success in any attempt. You need a benchmark to measure where you're coming from and see your progress. Sometimes the goals that you make are too broad. Defining goals makes them easier to track. Breaking goals down will also lead to more success. Finishing a bunch of little milestones can make you feel more accomplished than tackling one big project. Finally, don't keep them to yourself. Sharing your resolutions can give you more accountability and push you to avoid the public embarrassment of telling someone you failed.. There are things that you can do to be more successful and achieve the goals that you set for your business.
Good goals start from baselines that you set. Knowing where your business is in a specific area will help you readily see improvement. When goals have specific targets, they are easier to track. Tracking goals helps you see progress. That progression will keep you motivated in an unending circle of accomplishment.
Make sure that your goals are realistic. A goal that you know you can achieve is much more likely to be met than pie in the sky objectives that end up exactly there. Being a realist keeps the goal in a positive light, instead of something that is unattainable and therefore, negative.
Simplify your goals by breaking them down into smaller parts. Aiming for those areas where you know you can succeed, and taking them one step at a time, instead of trying to eat the whole elephant, will help ensure your success. Achieving a small goal in one key area will keep you more motivated. Breaking down goals helps them be more realistic. When you make goals that are part of a larger vision, you are more apt to see that vision come true. Setting realistic goals for your business sets you up for success in achieving them. As you move from smaller to larger goals, with an ultimate vision in mind, you will see that making goals brings success. And you will be more apt to use goal setting as part of your business plan.
At the very least, you need to share your goals with your employees. Getting everyone on the same page will help make your business goals a team effort. Better yet, get their input and use it for even more cooperation. If you are working by yourself, then at least print out your goals so that you physically see them on a regular basis. Sharing them with a colleague or mastermind group will force you to be more accountable to keeping them. Helping others with their goals may give you the encouragement to keep your intentions when things get hard.
Setting goals for your business is one of the best ways to improve it. Things happen and your goals may need to be changed or prioritized. Everyone gets discouraged and can revert back to old habits. The trick in achieving goals is to keep going and know that keeping resolutions will help your business stay on the path to success in the new year.
Deborah Schultz is a marketing consultant, specializing in helping small businesses use the Internet to attract more businesses and build their customer base. To get your free report on 57 ways to Turbo Charge Your Website go to http://www.precisionmarketingstrategies.com.