Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why most small businesses fail and what you need to know so yours won’t

Guest post by Cathy Demers

In 2007 Discover Card conducted an independent survey to shed light on the characteristics of the 22 million small business owners in the United States. The number one trait common to small business owners? The study revealed: “Independence is their prime motivation.”

While there are many personality characteristics common to most entrepreneurs, a very independent spirit is the one trait shared by each and every one. Most small business owners would not give up the freedom that comes along with owning their business to work for someone else, even if it meant making more money.

But there is a danger to being too independent. This one trait of extreme independence can be the biggest roadblock to success for entrepreneurs. No one person has all the answers. No one person can work alone and always aware of potential problems or roadblocks. Everyone has their blind spots. No matter where they have been or what they have accomplished, everyone is missing vital knowledge and experience in one area or another.

Small business owners need to seek out a trusted network. Entrepreneurs need a place where they can discuss issues with others in a similar situation. Sometimes, when working alone, it is very easy to continue down the wrong path until suddenly you discover what a costly error you have made. Working alone is like that.

Another challenge that entrepreneurs face was discussed by Michael Gerber in his classic book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most New Businesses Fail and What to Do About It. Gerber talked about the importance of working ON your business and not IN your business.

But how do you change from being a day-to-day business “technician”, dealing with customers and putting out fires, to spending time as a visionary executive looking at your business from the outside in? The best way: schedule committed time to work “on” your business!

If you are like most entrepreneurs, who are surrounded by “busy business noise” in which it can be difficult to even hear yourself think, you will have to structure your time in such a way that the urgencies of the moment will not deter you from this important work. You and your business will benefit from a structure which ensures that you use the time you allocated for exactly what you intended, regardless of the emergency du jour.

If you are really committed to being successful by working on your business instead of just in your business – if you want to prevent failure which so many others have experienced – then join your peers for weekly education…free and only 20 minutes!

Next week at the Business Success Cafe, I will be interviewing Michele about how to craft your website so it get you results by using the real website of one of your peers as an example.


Copywriting — An Easy Template To Help You Sell More

In the movie, The Prestige, one of the main characters dissects the elements of a magic trick.

You start by showing the object you’re going to manipulate in some way (i.e. make disappear).

You manipulate the object, in this case you make it disappear.

Then, you bring it back. This is the prestige. It’s not enough to make something disappear. You need to bring it back.

In essence, what he’s talking about is closure. You need to bring closure to whatever you’re doing or it will feel unfinished. This is true for a lot of things in life, including your marketing and copywriting.

How do you do this? Well, let’s look at how people buy. For the most part it looks like this:

* Someone has a problem

* They look for a solution to their problem

* They determine the best source for their solution

So, to give you an example of this, let’s say someone wants to lose weight.

* Their problem — they want to lose weight.

* The solution — they want a diet and exercise program that will work for their specific solution

* The source — they look for the best nutrition/fitness person to give them that solution (whether it’s a book or a home study course, work with someone one-on-one or something else).

If you look at a sales letter, many times it mirrors this process:

* Outlines the problem

* Agitates the problem

* Explains the solution

* Emphasizes that the business writing the sales letter has the best solution

See how this works? Okay, so let’s look at another copywriting example — how you write benefits.

First, what is a benefit? In a nutshell, benefits are what people buy. It’s the “what’s in it for me.” It’s what gets people excited about buying your product or service.

As an example, if we go back to the weight loss example, people aren’t really buying losing weight. What they want is the BENEFITS of losing weight — i.e. they look good, they feel good, their health improves, etc. Think about it, if someone didn’t care what they looked like, how they felt or if they were sick or not, why would losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight be a priority in their life?

They want the benefits of being thin, not so much being thin for thin’s sake.

So, with that in mind, when you write a benefit, you can work in both the problem and the solution. For instance:

Frustrated because the scale has been stuck at the same number for MONTHS no matter WHAT you do? You’ll learn my secret for smashing through that plateau and getting back on the weight loss track.

It’s not enough to simply talk about the problem. People need to know they’re going to get a solution. They already know the problem, they want to know they’re getting a solution. You need to bring it back, show the prestige.

Now, why do you want to go through all of this? Because providing closure feels comfortable to people. And the more comfortable you can make them in the sales process, the more likely they’ll become a customer.