Time to Get Real With Your Business
Recently a business associate asked that I give her some ideas about growing her speaking business. Let's call this business associate Karen to protect his/her identity.
I don't pretend to have all the answers. I still have mentors and business partners that I speak with every month about my own speaking and seminar company. I firmly believe the key to success is to remain a student. Karen and I met for lunch and she asked for my opinion on what she was doing wrong and why her business wasn't growing. Karen and I have known each other for about three years. I've watched her from afar and have often wondered how she views herself. Does she think she's a great or moderately good speaker? Does she have a solid business plan? Where does she see herself in the next five years.
I asked her the above questions hoping she would be brutally honest. She felt she was an exceptional speaker based on the number of standing ovations she had. She mentioned she had no business plan on paper and that she her goal was to speak 100 times a year by 2018.
I care for Karen. She has a husband that loves her. They still live with her husband's parents. Her business doesn't make enough revenue for them to get their own place. One of my speaking coaches, Craig Valentine, talks about facing reality when it comes to achieving remarkable results. Karen and I got real.
I reluctantly explained that getting a standing ovation does not mean you gave a great speech. I've seen hundreds of pity ovations. They were meant only to encourage the speaker to keep working hard at their craft. I've seen untold standing ovations simply because the audience felt that it was required of them to stand after each speaker. If you speak for standing ovations then you are in the wrong business. Your ego is likely in need of an overhaul. If you speak for a living your desire must come from everything but your ego. Karen may not be there yet. Her response was, "but I'm so funny, people love my stories". "Yes, I'm sure they do" I responded, "but are you telling your stories for your satisfaction or theirs?" Your ultimate goal is to impart a lesson, a strategy or perhaps a plan the audience can take home with them. If the audience remembers your story but not the point, you've failed and so will your business in a very short amount of time.
If you don't have a business plan on paper you aren't taking your business seriously. The amount of work required to get one done will help you become laser focused on what you need to do to achieve success. I'm still working on my first business plan. I'm about 30 hours into it and it has admittedly been an eye opener.
Karen plans to speak 100 times a year by 2018. Let's get real. That's a great number but what is it based on. Picking a number and having a goal are essential to your success but you will not achieve your goals without a plan. She felt that having a goal, writing a few blogs and posting on Facebook would be sufficient. When I mentioned hiring a business coach and a speaking coach who make a significant income (over $500,000 each of the last three years), putting on seminars, getting a radio show, writing newspaper articles and attending networking events a minimum of 3 times a week, she looked overwhelmed. I recommended that Karen partner up with a business coach and develop a relationship with her bank. Doing those two things over the last two years has turned my business around. The hard work is a constant. It takes three years to get your new business off the ground. From the research I've done in creating my business plan I will turn a small profit in my third year.
Time to get real..Who is your business coach? Are you really listening to them or do you think you have all the answers. Are you willing to check your ego at the door, swallow your pride and become a student. Are you honest with your clients or do you make promises you can't keep?
My belief about becoming a successful speaker is simple: You have to be a success in one area first before you can speak. If you speak on improving sales, you better have a solid sales background and I don't mean selling coffee at the local donut shop. I take my sales advice from the owner of a car dealership and a sales executive for a large magazine. If you speak on leadership you must have lead teams for several years. To prove how strongly I believe in this philosophy I have stopped coaching people on building a successful speaking business, instead I'm completely focused on building one. I have cut back on my own speaking to focus on building great seminars so I can eventually speak on the topic of building great seminars.
I'm Martin Presse, the Booya Speaker, asking you to stay focused, work harder than you ever thought possible and to keep it real..