Author: shelly

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Business Turnaround Strategy,  Business Trends & Identifying Outdated Systems Podcast

I’m a serial entrepreneur and have launched and grown four businesses over the last 35 years. As we know part of being an entrepreneur is being creative and going in multiple directions. In the following podcast with Evolvepreneur Secrets Show, I was interviewed about my journey as an entrepreneur and what I believe are the most important steps to cover in starting and growing a small business today.

Brian: Welcome. You are listening to the Evolvepreneur Secrets Show for entrepreneurs. I’m your host, Brian Silverthorn. And my mission is always to help entrepreneurs make a difference in their businesses and to navigate the sometimes-messy world of startup, growth, or relaunch. And today, we’re going to dig deep with our guests and then get some best concepts and strategies to fast-track your business. And our special guest today is Shelly Berman-Rubera. And Shelly is the president of Small Business Results. And she’s an accomplished business and communication strategist. So, I’m going to let her fill us in on her background there and what her business does. Welcome to the show, Shelly.

Shelly: Thank you, Brian. Great to be here. I anticipate a wonderful conversation.

Brian: I’m looking forward to it. So, why don’t you start off by giving us a little backstory. Tell us what’s going on in your life to get you where you are right now.

Shelly: In my life, how much time do we have? So, I guess when I was about 22 years old and finishing college, I decided that what I knew about myself was that I wanted to run my own company. At the time, I was actually teaching dance at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and they called me and said, “Your classes are filling. Can we add more time? ” And that little entrepreneur in me said, “Why would I do this for somebody else if I’m in such demand?” So, I started my first dance school. 

I rented a little space in Brookline, Massachusetts. And lo and behold, about three months after I opened Shelly’s Disco Dance School, John Travolta hit the scene, and I ended up having the second-largest dance school in the City of Boston. I did that for about nine years. Many fabulous things happened. It was more of my creativity in marketing, not that I understood niche marketing. It wasn’t that I had a marketing background. But I did a lot of interesting things in terms of a target audience and was, in fact, picked up by Kiss Radio to produce a dance company for them.

Brian: Wow.

Shelly: At some point, I said, “This is the part that’s challenging when you’re an entrepreneur is that I just knew I didn’t want to do it anymore.” But I had to figure out how to keep moving my body. So, I took a job as the Marketing Director at a Racquet Club, where I met someone who said, “You have the potential to be a competitive bodybuilder.” Now at the time, believe me, there were not many women bodybuilders.

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: But I was intrigued by this man. I was intrigued by what he was teaching. And I became competitive mostly across the country and turned that business immediately into being one of the first personal trainers on the entire east coast. They didn’t even have certifications at the time. I did it all myself. I learned kinesiology, physiology, and nutrition and ran that company for 23 years when that little voice inside me, that entrepreneurial voice, said, “Don’t want to do this anymore.” 

So, I started a leadership company, taking all the athletic model and turning it into SBR leadership. Hit the ground running. And not only did we hit the downturn of the economy, but although I landed great corporate accounts, they were cutting all external vending with the downturn of the economy. Plus, I found out something, I hate corporate America. Why am I even here? That was a huge awakening where I had to dig deep and say, “Well, who am I? I cannot keep starting over. It’s one thing to rebrand yourself; it’s hard work.” 

So, after a lot of thought, I thought, “Who am I really?” And all the skills I created, I said, “You know who I am? I love starting and growing businesses. But it’s insane to keep doing this to myself. I’ll do it for other people.” So, I founded my company, SBR- Shelly Berman-Rubera, Small Business Results.

Brian: Very nice.

Shelly: Yeah, play on words. It’s my one of my favorite stories. When you go networking, people look at your nametag, and they’re like, “Hey, did you know your name is the same as your company?” Might have known that. But I got certified as an emotional intelligence leader, a business coach, and a Master Certified in Business Management. I’ve been running this company, Brian, for 19 years.

Brian: Wow. Well, you have certainly made a lot of twists and turns since the beginning, from dance studio to bodybuilder, to fitness coach, and on into a Business Strategist for other people’s businesses. That’s very, very fascinating.

Shelly: Thank you.

Brian: And a lot of times, I talk to people where they end up where they are now because they got laid off, or they got nudged by the universe in some way, or they accidentally bumped into it. But it sounds like you figured out your niche over time and decided to take advantage of it over time. I think that’s wonderful.

Shelly: Well, I don’t think we can be who we are without the cumulative experiences that make us who we are today.

Brian: Right. Well, what do you like most about what you’re doing now?

Shelly: I love the small business owner. I feel like myself and my clients, and we’re like literally giving birth. We take a concept, or an idea, and we build everything around that that needs… there’s the low-hanging fruit, and then there’s the long-term fruit. So, people need to bring in money right away. It’s incredibly satisfying, to have the skills and to turn a sale. It’s as if it was my own sale. That’s how it feels.

Brian: That’s great. There’s small business owner encompasses a plethora of different niches throughout there. So, what does your ideal client look like? And how do they find you?

Shelly: So, my ideal client is too big to say entrepreneur, but people are interested in taking their skill set and turning it into revenue. So, startups, I really love subject matter experts. Two examples. One quick one is a woman who’s actually 80 years old and has been caring for her husband, who had Alzheimer’s. And he passed, and she said, “I got to turn this experience into a company.” And we did. We call the Caregivers’ Wellbeing. We made her a caregiver consultant. And she’s already closed multiple banks where she is delivering to people that are working and caregiving and consulting with them.

Brian: Wow.

Shelly: Another fairly new woman, maybe just about a year, was a United States Chess Champion. So, we’ve taken her skills and turned them into a tutoring company. And she is so booked. We haven’t even launched the website, and she’s so booked. Two great, great women with skills that needed to get going quickly.

Brian: That’s great. So, how did you help them acquire their clients? What’s the secret that you have to help them with that?

Shelly: Well, Brian, that’s a good question. Because one very important thing is that I am the owner of the trademark for a program I created called “The Truth About Succeeding in Small Business, ” which comprises of 6 steps, very briefly. Step 1, commitment. Commitment to yourself, your product, and your revenue. Step 2, focus daily results. What do I do each and every day so it doesn’t get to be 4 o’clock and I say, “What the heck happened in my day?”? So, productivity. You’re smiling, Brian.

Brian: Oh yeah.

Shelly: 3 is differentiating yourself and marketing your business. How do you stand out in a sea of this competitive nature? And how do you get your word out? 4, creating effective real business relationships. Because I believe above everything else, it’s relational selling. Who you know, who you built relationships with, and who can you pick up the phone with? Step 5 is managing emotion. And Step 6 is accountability. How do you account for your success or the lack thereof? 

So, when you ask me how did I help these people, I really apply my strategic framework to all of my strategy sessions. Everything is, actually, if you can break it down to commitment. What are you going to do this week? What do you need me to do? So, it’s a matter of really understanding what needs to be done and somebody executing. One of us, right?

Brian: Right.

Shelly: Right? And then… so, that’s what I work within. I work within the framework, which really begins with a big question, “How much money do you want to make?”

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: “How much money do you want to make?” If you want to make… many people say six figures. So, I say, “Okay. Do you want to make ten grand a month? I mean, you want to make 120,000 a year? What do we need to do to bring in 10 this month?”

Brian: Right.

Shelly: This month, narrow it. “What do we want to do in the next 30 days?” And so, that’s my focus, very, very result oriented.

Brian: That’s… I like your six categories there. 

Shelly: Thank you.

Brian: They all make perfect sense. So, how do you get people to understand who you are and what you do? So, how does your ideal client find you? I noticed you have an extensive social media presence. Is that what you depend on? Or are there other things that you do as well?

Shelly: So, currently, my primary source of clients is word of mouth. My clients talk about me. One of my best clients came from a network meeting where she talked about her challenges, and someone in the group said, “Hey, I know who you need to talk to. You have to talk to Shelly.” Like, thank you. Talk about me. Talk about me.

Brian: Right.

Shelly: The second is my newsletter. My email marketing is really effective—every time I send it, someone nibbles at something.

Brian: You have a pretty extensive email list, then?

Shelly: It’s not that big. It’s 2,500. It’s really not that big, but very select.

Brian: Okay.

Shelly: It’s really small business owners, subject matter experts. So, Brian, I think it’s important to say myself, like anybody, my primary, number 1 marketing strategy prior to COVID was my speaking.

Brian: Okay.

Shelly: I delivered this talk with a Constant Contact, the Truth About Succeeding in Women-owned business. We had 125 people. I did a keynote. I close to 23 clients.

Brian: Wow.

Shelly: I either filtered them into groups or one-to-one. And some of them are still with me.

Brian: Well, that’s great.

Shelly: Yeah. I did it again at the International Coach Federation. We had 85 people. I closed 13 within three months of each other. So, the marketing for my company changed dramatically for every speaker when we couldn’t go speak anymore.

Brian: Right. Yeah. You have to speak remotely if you can get people to tune into a webinar or live presentation, or some kind of online talk.

Shelly: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s really important, but things definitely changed for everybody.

Brian: Right. So, when you get a client, what’s their lifetime value? How long do they stick with you? I know when I did a lot of coaching back in the day and consulting, my goal was to work myself out of a job, basically the industry that I was in. But how does that work for you?

Shelly: Well, most of my clients have been with me for 3 or 4 years.

Brian: Great.

Shelly: Yeah. I mean, even… I don’t know; they just seem to stay. And some of them just come back. They need a Shelly fix.

Brian: So, do you have… and if I’m stepping out of bounds here, stop me. But do you have a monthly fee for various service levels, or is it a pay-as-you-go? Or how does that work?

Shelly: So, for my long-standing clients, these are two construction companies; how I framed it for them, always, we would commit at the beginning of the month. I really do believe we should get paid at the beginning of the month for the month. But some of the projects became so ongoing, “Shelly, can you do this? Can you do that? Can you do this? How do we do that?” that I said, “You know what? For those steady clients, I just track my hours for the month and invoice at the end of the month.” But I would not don’t really do that. There’s a trust factor in somebody that’s been with me long. But being paid upfront, I have a lot of packages on my website. It is really part of the commitment that you gain from your clients.

Brian: Right. Okay, that’s good. Yeah, I’ve never been a big fan of chasing money. So, getting it done upfront is the preferred way to do that.

Shelly: Yeah. For most of my clients, I say, “What do you… do you want to buy 2 hours, 5 hours?” But I have several people who just track the hours and invoice at the end of the month.

Brian: Okay. Well, that’s great. If it’s working for you, then it works, right? So, you talked… you gave an example of asking your clients, “How much money do you want to make?” Do you set yourself revenue goals? And if so, have you got a goal for the next 12 months?

Shelly: I do. My goals… and I really do. Brian, it’s one of the unique things about me. I really believe in benchmarks versus long-term goals. Many people have told me, “You’re the only business coach that doesn’t talk about short-term, long-term, short-term goals, long-term goals.” I’m talking about, “What do I want to do in the next 30 days?” because it keeps you really focused. So, to your question, it’s actually on my whiteboard. It’s about $16,000 a month that I like to bring in. I can handle about 20 clients as if I was holding you in the palm of my hands. I just got an email today, 

Brian: Oh, great.

Shelly: So, yeah. But I’m small… it’s me. I have tremendous resources, a website, search engine. Anything we need, I have people. But really, that’s my primary. It’s about 20 clients, about 16,000. And we can always want it to make more, but I’m comfortable.

Brian: Sure. So, what are… if you know, what’s standing out there right now that may be considered a roadblock to prevent you from getting where you want to go?

Shelly: I don’t really have one.

Brian: Okay, that’s good.

Shelly: I don’t… I’m writing a lot of content. I have a lot of people doing various things for me. I don’t have one.

Brian: That’s a wonderful place to be. So, let me ask it from a different perspective, what kind of identifiable opportunities do you have right now that will help you get there or even surpass it if you want to?

Shelly: So, what do I take advantage of?

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: What am I doing? So, I am working with a LinkedIn specialist. We just put a new banner on my LinkedIn profile. I just changed the description within it. We are doing some outreach there. To be honest, I’m like all my clients, and I haven’t done optimizing my blogs.  … I’ve written 60 case studies. You can find them many of them as blogs on my website.

Brian: Okay,

Shelly: And I have someone search engine optimizing and placing my blog. So, I’ve been active there. Just to give people an idea, I spoke to the local Chamber, and they are using my case studies by sending out Motivation Monday by Shelly Berman-Rubera, a case study every Monday, to their entire list.

Brian: Oh, that’s great.

Shelly: So, that’s a really good working relationship.

Brian: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And obviously, and hopefully, giving you full credit and…

Shelly: Oh yeah, full credit. Branded my writing. But again, I want to go back; it’s really important. You asked me to give information to our audience or entrepreneurs. That’s a relationship. Like, the minute I got involved with the Chamber, I sent them four clients, for the Chamber, to join the Chamber. And they’re like, “Shelly; you’re such a tremendous resource. How can we help you?” So, it’s really about reciprocity.

Brian: Right. Yeah. You get what you give. Or what’s the book, The Go-Giver? So, if you want to be out there doing good things, people say great things about you and just naturally want to help you.

Shelly: Yes.

Brian: So, with all the clients that you have, and you may have already answered this in your six areas that you focus on, but what do you think is the best piece of advice you’ve ever given one of your clients?

Shelly: I would really say believe in yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do this. There is no easy way. There’s nothing easy when I talk about ‘The Truth About Succeeding in Small Business. The truth is there’s nothing easy. It’s grueling. Requires a tremendous amount of tenacity and creativity. However, if your core commitment is to yourself, you can’t lose. It may not happen in a timely manner, but you can’t lose if you just are committed to yourself.

Brian: Good. Yeah. And a lot of times, it’s difficult for people to believe. I don’t know if you’re familiar… you’re probably familiar with the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and his…

Shelly: I love, love, love it.

Brian: Yeah. His famous saying, “Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.”

Shelly: You will achieve, right?

Brian: And the tough part in there is believing.

Shelly: Well, when you have bills to pay, I spoke to someone today, actually. Forty-two years old, he left corporate America, and he is really… he said he was closing, closing, closing, but nothing has been effective lately.

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: He gets the lead, but he cannot close. And so, I’m helping him with that, but I could feel his energy. So, the very first thing I said to him is, “If your energy is down and you’re trying to close a sale because you’re desperate or because you’ve lost conviction, I guarantee you they’re going to pick it up within a second.”

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: So, you know the other saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it,”? But it’s hard. And sometimes I have to say to someone, “This is going to take longer than you think, and you need to get a part-time job.

Brian: Right, right.

Shelly: You have to have belief in yourself. You have to have some money in the bank. And one step at a time.

Brian: Right. Yeah, you got to have enough to keep going. And if you don’t, you have to get a supplemental income…

Shelly: You might have to.

Brian: … to keep going. So, did I see something in the questionnaire you filled out that you’re thinking about writing a book, having a book, or…?

Shelly: So, I do have a book. It’s 100 Tips to Small Business Results. It’s on Amazon. And I am working on round 2. We now just… I could turn around and show you. I just printed out the edits. So, I don’t know when I will do that, but it’s just about written.

Brian: Okay. Is your book an Amazon bestseller, the one that’s on there?

Shelly: Nope, not a bestseller.

Brian: Okay. Yeah, sometimes that stuff. Okay, well, I’m… you ought to write a book, if you haven’t, or think about doing it on your journey from the dance studio to where you are now because that was a very, very interesting story to me.

Shelly: Oh, thank you, Brian. Thank you.

Brian: So, we’re getting kind of toward the end here. Do you have any final thoughts or anything you want to talk about that I should have asked you about and didn’t?

Shelly: There is one thing that is kind of my passion right now. I am appalled at the lack of integrity that’s going on in the small business world. Small business owners need help. They need a website. They need LinkedIn. They need content. And they’re… and they need a search engine. They need it. And they are getting ripped off daily by people who say they can do a website, or they end up overcharging, or the websites are ineffective. I mean, search engine optimization for 1,500 a month; you don’t need that. There’s so… I’ve had people call me and say crying, “I just spent $10,000 with another business coach and no results. And I can’t get my money back because they went out of business.” 

So, my big thing right now is my concern for the small business owner and the lack of integrity in the service providers. And so, my word to the… my warning, research, research. Because it sounds good doesn’t mean it’s good. Ask to speak to 5 or 6, I mean it, 5 or 6 of their clients. 5 or 6, “What was your experience like, Shelly? What was your experience like with Brian? What results did you get? How long did it take? How much money did you spend?” But I am really… this woman said that her whole life, she wanted to be an entrepreneur. And she and her husband decided to spend the 10. And now, they have nothing for it. She has to give up her dream and go back to work. She has to go get a job desperately.

Brian: Yeah, there’s a lot of that out there, unfortunately. And your advice is spot on.

Shelly: Thank you.

Brian: You can depend upon what other people say. You’ve got to do your own digging, and come to your own conclusions. And if you know other people that have had similar experiences, or have had good experiences, you can go to them and say, “Hey, who do you use? And are you happy? And are they treating you well? And are you getting the results that you want?” that sort of thing.

Shelly: Yes. And think about what agreement you’re making with them.

Brian: Yeah, yeah.

Shelly: And people don’t even know what questions to ask. One of my clients went with a different website designer than the one I work with. I’ve worked with 1 for 15 years, 1. That’s not true. I tried a couple of others, “Forget it. I’m going backward. Too complicated.”

Brian: Right.

Shelly: But the bottom line is, I understand what you’re getting. I was going to tell you that people have told me, “I don’t own my website. I gave him $2,500. He owns it.”

Brian: Yeah, yeah. I’ve known people that have fallen into that trap too. Yeah.

Shelly: Yeah. So, I mean, it’s won… I’ve won clients: “Well, I’m going to interview 3 or 4 coaches.” And you know why they chose me? Because of my resources, my trusted resources.

Brian: Yeah, that’s good to have. Yeah.

Shelly: That’s my kind of big warning and concern. Think there’s nothing… it may be grueling and difficult, but there’s nothing like closing that deal, making a difference in someone’s life. There’s nothing like really being an entrepreneur.

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: From my perspective.

Brian: No, I agree with you totally. But like you said, it’s not an easy road. And there’s going to be big bumps and potholes in it. And you’ve got to have self-belief and a very strong and important purpose for doing what you do to keep you going through the tough times. But it can be done. There are plenty of folks out there thriving.

Brian: And it’s also a matter of being realistic. People say to me, “Shelly, you have global potential.” And I say, “I’m good with about 20 people behind me. I don’t… yes, I can make a big difference, but that’s another endeavor for me.”

Brian: Right. Well, good. This has been very enjoyable for me, Shelly. I really appreciate you being a guest on the show. So, you’ve got a website, smartbusinessresults.com.

Shelly: smallbusresults.com

Brian: smallbusinessresults.com. I’m sorry, smallbusinessresults.com.

Shelly: ‘Smart’ would have been a good word, though.

Brian: ‘Smart’ is good. Well, smart,  and  smallbusinessresults.com. And they can find you on LinkedIn as well?

Shelly: Yes.

Brian: Just with your name or…?

Shelly: Shelly Berman-Rubera, yes.

Brian: Okay, okay. Great. Alright. Shelly, again, it’s been an absolute pleasure for me, and I thank you for being a part of the show.

Shelly: Hey, Brian.

Brian: Yeah.

Shelly: You asked me to come up with an offer for your audience.

Brian: Okay.

Shelly: I have created a code, Secret Savings 10.

Brian: Okay.

Shelly: And that’s 10% off any of my offerings, and it’s good ‘til the end of September.

Brian: Alright. So, if they go to your website and they see something on there that makes them happy, and they want to take part in it, then…

Shelly: Put in a code Secret Savings 10.

Brian: Secret Savings 10. So, Secret Savings spelled out, and 10 is the number, right?

Shelly: Yes, numerals.

Brian: 1 0?

Shelly: Yes.

Brian: Okay. Excellent. Well, that’s good to know. Thank you for finishing up with that. So, we’ll hope people take advantage of Secret Saving… Secret Savings 10. That’s one of those who say it fast three times.

Shelly: Say that 10 times, right?

Brian: So, Secret Savings 10 at smallbusinessresults.com. Great. Thanks, Shelly.

Shelly: Hey, Brian, it’s been wonderful talking to you. Thank you so much.

Brian: Thank you. 

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Are You A Small Business Owner Who Needs A Strategic Business Approach?

The Tip:

Are you a small business owner who needs a strategic business development approach that gets results?

How to eliminate sales & marketing confusion by increasing brand awareness.

increasing brand awareness eliminates sales and marketing confusion

Case Study:

If a strategic approach were like fixing cars, manufacturing parts or mass-producing food, small business owners would have an easier time with them. Why? Because you can do those things 1000 times in a row, and you’ll get the same, predictable results.

Are there “methods” to business development and branding? Yes … but it’s easy to apply the wrong method to the right customer. This creates confusion.

Small business owners are passionate about their fields. You love your product or service … why wouldn’t everyone else?

Not so fast. Customers don’t care how passionate you are. They are interested in results and deliverables.

The strategic messaging plan that attracts customers clearly explains how it can solve the customer’s problem or help them achieve their goal.

In all forms of outreach from sales to social media, we need to be able to do it … in seconds.

Some owners I meet are reluctant to do sales. I don’t blame them. What’s the use of and outreach if you aren’t clear on your own identity, mission or offer?

Sales and Marketing of any kind is risky, if you lack: 

1. Clarity around who your ideal client is

2. Understanding what they want and need

3. Ability to communicate what outcome they can expect

4. Clarity on your deliverables 

It’s critical to think through these concepts, before we consider email marketing, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Otherwise, you’ll pour time, money, and energy into a game of “roulette.”

When people hesitate, I take them back to those four core details – who, want, outcome and deliverables.

Outcome:

Once those details are clear, however, don’t be surprised if you have a much better idea of how to brand yourself in selling, networking and online 

How so? Well, here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re an insurance agent, and you’ve distinguished yourself by your reputation as a networker and connector. Would this sentence describe your mission? 

“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

It probably describes your mission. It sounds like a good reason to be on social media. In fact, it IS a reason to be on social media – it’s the mission statement of LinkedIn.

Or suppose you’re a business coach, and you help clients get better results and outcomes. Would this statement sound like you?

“To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”

That’s a good statement for a business coach. It also happens to be the statement of Microsoft.

Businesses that eliminate confusion answer their own questions about sales and marketing. One of those questions – “Should we learn how to increase brand awareness?” – becomes a no-brainer. 

Because if your mission is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful … obviously, you need to increase brand awareness!

The same applies when it comes to your “why,” or the clarity of your offer and identity of your target customer. Either you are clear on these details, or you’re not. When sales and marketing fail, it’s because we’re doing it wrong

Clarity destroys confusion! Start being obsessed with clarity, and you’ll brand yourself as unique. It will require a lot of work up front … but before you know it, you’ll get conversation and conversions that build your client base.

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Your Value Proposition, And How To Make It Stand Out In The Marketplace

value proposition - customer perceived value - competitive differentiation

The Case Study:

A major challenge for small business owners is being noticed, especially in today’s competitive world. You want to do more than be noticed, in fact – you want to be distinct, by presenting a compelling value proposition.

Take accounting, for example. Business owners see it as a “commodity” service. Commodities are available in abundance. 

Most business owners don’t use accounting to their advantage; they wait until April 13th or 14th, and then they call their CPA in a panic and bring them a shoebox full of receipts.

In other words, if you’re a CPA – you have a lot of competitors. You also have to overcome the personality stereotype – how people view most CPAs (boring, nerdy, stiff, etc).   

The customer perceived value for CPAs is lower than it should be. Explaining their unique selling points takes more effort and strategy than, say, selling a Rembrandt or Picasso.

The more choices people have over what they perceive as “identical” services, the more they reduce the decision to dollars and cents. 

Competitive Differentiation

If one accountant’s as good as the next, why should people pay $500 for a tax return they can get for $350? It’s as if the only way you can establish competitive differentiation is to sell to other CPAs, who already understand the value.

Unique Selling Point

You walk into a room with 20 CPAs, health practitioners, realtors or business coaches. What’s the difference between them? What’s the unique selling point from one to the next?

Look at small businesses’ marketing, services, and promises in any industry. They look and sound the same. They’re camouflaged among others … who also look and sound the same. 

A CPA asked me for ideas to make his practice stand out from the crowd. I suggested he offer his clients the opportunity to network with each other. We created a monthly networking event, and it was an instant hit. 

The Outcome:

We invited his clients to attend (for free) and asked them to bring a friend. Over 150 people attended the first event. 

He now had a room full of local business owners. Fifty of them were prospective clients; he had zero competition from other accountants. Wouldn’t you agree – it’s easy to be your own unique selling point when your competitors are nowhere to be found?

I suggested he get a sponsor for each event, to cover the financial cost in return for being mentioned in the marketing of the event and the chance to address the group for 15 minutes. As any CPA would appreciate, these events didn’t cost my client a penny. 

From the moment he started networking with his clients as a part of his provided service, he found he no longer had to compete for business based on his fees. His conversion rates went through the roof, too. 

In this man’s case, it was not about writing the value proposition, as you would with sales copy. 

Customer Perceived Value

It was about becoming one – and it worked, for the same reasons networking always does. The customer perceived value goes up, when people perceive you as a socially prominent leader. 

My CPA friend soon charged higher than average fees and won more clients. His retention improved as fewer clients were tempted to leave. 

His practice stood out – even though, technically, they were not doing the service differently than their competition. 

But they were the only one offering to help customers grow their businesses, and meet new potential customers. They were the only one proactively connecting clients with hundreds of local businesses.

Even with fees 25% higher than average, for many prospective clients it was worth the extra money. 

Why spend $350 with a firm that just does your taxes, when you can spend $500 with a firm that helps you increase profits by thousands of dollars AND does your taxes?

You need to move away from the cookie-cutter approach to stand out. It feels comfortable to simply do what’s expected of you… but it’s exhausting, and there’s no money in it.

Doing your own thing is a little scary. It takes commitment to get creative and look for something you can offer that makes your business stand out for all the right reasons. 

My best advice on this is to look for inspiration outside your industry. Something common in one industry can be rare or non-existent in another. 

By adopting suitable ideas from an unrelated industry and making them your own, it’s possible to create an attractive value proposition. 

If you want to explore a standout in the marketplace strategy, I can help! 

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Small Business Results – A Labor of Love

happy labor day for small business - a labor of love

After being a small business owner and coaching for over 35 years and a Business Strategist for 19, I can promise you a small business owner’s hard work does pay off! Every business owner I know is indeed working very hard.

Entrepreneurship is a labor of love and leaves little time for other pleasures, but I can assure you that staying the course and your efforts will produce results and rewards.

I hope you honor yourself on this Labor Day, as it is dedicated to American workers’ social and economic achievements. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to our country’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

The Challenge:

The challenge that exists for most of us is waiting for the return of our hard work in business results. We often feel that there is a considerable gap linking effort and return.

You’re not alone if you feel as though your daily efforts don’t produce immediate results. We’ve all experienced the frustration of thinking we are doing all of the right things at the right time, yet we are not quite there. 

The simple truth is that entrepreneurship is a lengthy process filled with trials and tribulations. Therefore, many business owners are frustrated and exhausted, and this might even be a breaking point in business. What is the SOLUTION?

The Solution:

It is imperative to work smarter, not more challenging to achieve your results. I believe the prerequisite to “hard work is even harder choices.”

Hard work pays off when you tackle these four areas:

Improve Your Attitude: How do you perceive hard work? If you feel defeated, you’ve lost the battle before you’ve even begun.

Make Deliberate Choices: Everything starts with a definitive choice. Keep in mind the term consequential thinking – choice, action, outcome. Every single choice of your behavior or activity leads you to action and the desired outcome or not!

Create Effective Habits: It is crucial to keep your vision and strategy in front of you to obtain the results via your daily habits to produce long-term results. 

Execute Relentlessly: To grow, you need help, systems, and procedures to meet daily goals. Delegating each system to be internal or external support will free you up to do what you do best! 

The Result:

Hard work isn’t always fun because, at times, you’d rather spend time doing other things, and we can get worn down. The trick always focuses on how far you have come and not how far you need to go!

A labor of love may appear out of reach, but run steady, produce it anyway, and eventually, your hard work will pay off.

I am here to help you cut your learning curve and develop systems and business strategies for you or us to execute. The speed at which I can address and solve your internal issues or digital chaos will make you happier and successful!

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How To Stay Focused On Business and Still Enjoy The Good Weather!

Whether you’re more excited about firing up the grill, relaxing on the beach, or being more active, the warm summer months can provide challenges for your small business — especially if you’re based at home.

It doesn’t take much for a seasonal change to derail your business focus. Maybe your kids are home from school, or a seasonal slump has left you feeling distracted. Sometimes a little extra sunshine is a distraction enough.

The ending of the lazy, hazy days of summer doesn’t mean you can forget about your small business goals.

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How to Stay Focused at Work

Reduce distractions by increasing your analog approach to business success

How to Stay Focused at Work - reducing distractions to regain productivity
Young business woman is meditating to relieve stress of busy corporate life

The Case Study:

In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multitask through every day. In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people, keeping an eye on Twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. 

This type of ADHD-like behavior causes stress levels to rise and lowers productivity. How do you ever find peace? How can we stay ahead of the game? 

The Outcome:

When was the last time you read a book or a substantive magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet? How many other things are you doing while you’re reading?

“According to one survey, 67% of university students were able to multitask while reading digitally, compared to 41% of print readers. But if your goal is to fully grasp and comprehend the text in front of you, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

Suppose you’re one of the countless people who doesn’t make a habit of reading regularly. In that case, you might be missing out: reading has many benefits, and just a few of them are listed below. 

Mental stimulation

Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. 

Stress Reduction

No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

Knowledge

Reading is the window to the world. It is an excellent form of learning from others’ expertise and opening your mind to new ideas and strategies when it comes to business. It stimulates the brain and can create new growth-producing success strategies.

Vocabulary Expansion

The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken is a great help in any profession and is key to success. It could even aid in your business, as well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to be able to engage on a higher, more varied level than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events.

Memory Improvement

When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, nuances, and the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. The truth is that every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall and stabilizes moods. 

Improved Focus and Concentration 

When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story–the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every detail you’re absorbing: “…with a print book, there’s no chance of getting distracted by links or getting sucked down an internet rabbit hole…”

Better Writing Skills

Readers have better writing skills and more fulsome vocabularies. They speak better and have more robust critical-thinking skills. 

Peace

In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it’s possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility.

Now that you know how to be productive and focused, get going!

Focus and distraction are opposite sides of the same coin. Even the most disciplined of us can become preoccupied when our attention is drawn one way or another; alerts, notifications, pop-ups, pull-downs, headlines, messages, emails, kitten pictures, and TikTok dance videos. 

There are a gazillion other things to look at, read about, try out, do, comment on, or investigate. Don’t do it! Remember how disappointed you feel after falling in a rabbit hole for an afternoon; then remember you know how to avoid the siren song of the interwebs. 

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How To Build Trust And Rapport With Your Clients

The most important thing a person has is their integrity

HOW TO BUILD TRUST AND RAPPORT WITH YOUR CLIENTS

Our behavior and our impact on others are the keys to how we are perceived, believed, and embraced. Maintaining trustworthy relationships with clients or business partners and upholding strong moral principles are key to building trust. Do the right thing in all circumstances because it impacts how people will see you and then, eventually, how they will respond to you both personally and professionally.
Integrity and business ethics are representative of the values the company runs on. What are your values?

The Case Study:

Clients report stories about great phone conversations and meetings that have so much potential for working together. They have talked to the decision-maker, the sales moment has been captured, and there is every reason to believe it is a go.
You are so excited and so close, and . . . you never hear back from them again: no email, no phone response. They disappear. Disappearing is disrespectful to business and to other people. This behavior demonstrates a lack of integrity on the part of your potential client. It has an impact on the business world and contributes to a negative business climate. Don’t make a mistake and compromise your integrity because, at the end of the day, it’s all you have.

The Outcome:

Every business relationship needs trust and rapport. Ensure that the person’s needs and wants match what you are offering. Once this has been established, then the most important aspect of integrity in business and building relationships and sales is the ability to say no. “No” is an okay answer.

“No, we have decided we can’t afford to move forward at this time.”

“No, we decided this is not a fit.”

“No” is an okay answer. Disappearing is not. Disappearing erodes integrity and, with it, trust. The highest degree of integrity is finding the time, courage, and respect to simply say “no.”

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How Does Your Brand Positioning Statement Differentiate You From The Competition?

If you were one of 20 people in the same profession, in the same room, and with one ideal client, what makes you the best person for the job?

No matter how simple your product or service is, you will win if you communicate it’s uniqueness properly to potential clients. 


Why are you unique? 
Consider what makes you stand out from everyone else. Develop a list of the differences between you and your potential competition: what distinguishes you from the others? How can you communicate that distinction to your future customers?

Highlight what the customer needs to know about how your brand can serve them.
How does your brand promote positivity? 
What is your purpose? Vision? Mission? Goal? 
Why should they buy from you?  

The only way to set yourself apart in a crowded market is to deliver a superior solution and help customers understand why your product or service is unique — and why they should choose your offering over alternative solutions.”

Remember that you are not just selling a product or a service; you are also selling yourself and your brand experience. Sell yourself so that whatever product you are selling, they feel like it is an answer to their needs.   

The Case Study:

A client came to me for a coaching session. I turned to him and said, “Okay, I am a new potential client – sell me. I am ready to buy.” 

The client proceeded to tell me that he is an architect, does design-build, provides HVAC consulting and contracting, creates architectural plans, and handles property management. 

To which I replied,  ”Okay, but I still don’t get it…. tell me what you do.” 

He told me that this had been a recurring problem for the past 5 years.

He knew  that he was incredibly talented and capable of many amazing things. Still, he had never been able to identify a way to properly communicate these skills or services that he provides to others.  

I continued probing, asking him questions, and getting him to talk about himself – What are his passions? What is his business? What are his skills? Who is his ideal client?  

After carefully listening and absorbing everything he told me, I turned to my computer, began typing, and said, “How does this sound: My name is Joe Smith, and I am the President/Founder of Joe Smith Design. We work with building owners who want increased efficiency and safety and to bring their property up to code.” He looked at me and exclaimed, ”That’s it! That’s what I do!

 I asked him if he knew any building owners, to which he replied, ”Oh yes, many!“   His business potential was virtually limitless!

 ”Okay, good,”  I said, ”then your homework assignment is to call at least one or two a day, tell them this differentiating statement, and report your results to me.“ 

The Outcome:

My team at S.B.R. received an email from Joe Smith today. He let us know that a lot has happened in the past two weeks as a result of our last consultation session. He is currently the manager of a very lucrative project; he has put in 4 proposals for other deals, and he just recently signed a contract for another huge project that is scheduled to begin next month! 

What contributed to getting him these deals?
The answer is simple: a brand positioning statement. This 12-15-word statement is a fantastic way to open a conversation, followed by an open door. This statement of differentiation should lead to one question: ”Really, tell me how you do that?“  

Like anything worthwhile, coming up with a great differentiating statement takes time and effort. You should really take a minute to look within, brainstorm some ideas, practice saying it to others, and rewrite them as many times as needed using this framework:

Create two columns: 

  First column: List who your ideal clients are.  

   Second column: List the outcomes these clients receive by working with you. 

Spend some time putting the information from the two columns together to create your own differentiating statement. 

Your experience matters. Once your brand positioning statement becomes clear to you, you can sell it to a future customer.

Working with an experienced small business strategist is the first step you’ll need to take to define your brand positioning statement. Connect with Shelly Berman-Rubera now for a complimentary consultation.

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The Tip: SWOT Analysis for Your Small Business Is a Commitment To Your Product or Service

Take a deep dive into your business approach

SWOT Analysis for Small Business - A Strategy for Success

While passion is the essence of commitment, market research is essential to determine your business’s viability and pathway to sales. Know your talents, strengths, and differences (a.k.a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) as compared to your competition.

New business owners make a common mistake by marketing to a broad base of potential customers. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive. Through conducting a SWOT analysis, we commit our energy to a specific niche, increasing the likelihood of success.

The work of marketing becomes nearly effortless because we have fewer competitors. It also prevents us from feeling overwhelmed. Just like sunlight, when it commits all its energy through the magnifying glass, it creates fire.

Case Study:

An attorney was passionate about helping clients with a variety of family law needs: families with children, gay couples, divorced couples, and elder law. Still, she couldn’t find her ideal market or generate enough business.

After completing a SWOT analysis for her small business, she made a 30-day commitment to a target niche: families with children. Her commitment led her to determine the best method of contacting these families.

The Outcome:

By learning how to conduct a small business SWOT analysis, the attorney landed not only several family law clients; she got the opportunity for numerous speaking engagements in front of the right audiences. During one of her first meetings with a client, this attorney was asked to work with the client’s elderly mother.

This example shows that committing to one market does not mean saying “no” to potential clients, but rather, focusing on one market may help lead you to opportunities in other markets. With a focus on finding the right niche, the rest will follow.

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Your Passion, Your Story, Your Revenue

a compelling story grows your brand around your passion to develop the brand into revenue

How to drive cash flow

Passion is the foundation of any great business and can be the impetus to accomplish things beyond our own expectations. It makes us feel confident. It also gives us the energy and willpower to transform an idea into reality, a reality that will become a story that others would love to listen to. 

Creating a compelling story and brand around your passion and learning to develop the brand into revenue are the keys to success. The Truth About Succeeding in Small Business today is that passion, plus vision and purpose are keys to results.

The Case Study:

Business owners and entrepreneurs can share their visions by learning how to create a business development plan for a new product or service. They are eager to talk about their ideas and what they are doing to grow their companies.

Through my conversations with countless entrepreneurs and small business owners, both young and old, I have found a common thread they say, “I have the best product, service, or idea.” This statement is often followed by: “How can I increase my revenues?”

Writing your strategic approach for a small business or service will help you sort out and clearly define what your business is about. It should include your service’s value proposition and demonstrate your understanding of the market and clients. What are the unique selling points that differentiate your business? If your product is the best, tell your potential client exactly why. 

The Outcome:

While most entrepreneurs have a clear passion for their product or service and can share their stories about why they were excited about their business, few have spent the necessary time evaluating how their story resonates with their target market, calculating the exact revenue numbers they need to sustain and grow their companies.

When trying to understand what’s working and not working in your strategy, the following steps must be employed to generate revenue and achieve results in any company: 

● Do Your Homework – Passion can’t replace research. You can’t know how to market your product until you know the answers to the following questions: “What other products exist in this marketplace? How much do those products or services cost?” and “Where/ How are these products or services being sold?

Ask Questions – Make a few information-gathering calls to test the waters. Ask potential client’s what factors they consider when determining whether to buy your product or service. 

Create a Plan – Once you are done with research and data gathering, it’s time to create a marketing plan. Your plan can incorporate steps 1 and 2. Depending on your business, this may involve sending a mailer to potential clients or targeting a list of potential affiliate partners. Regardless of the plan, make sure you have a clear picture of what you want to do and when you want to do it (deadlines included). 

Execute Your Plan – Commit to executing your marketing strategy and do not allow any operational activities, personal obligations, or distractions to get in the way of implementing your marketing strategy. As a small business owner, what you do today affects what you earn tomorrow. We must stay focused to see results. 

Evaluate – As new small business owners, we should take the evaluation phase seriously. We must measure the results of our marketing plan in order to understand what needs to change. Waiting until the end of the year to evaluate your marketing strategy puts the business in danger of wasting time and money on less-effective strategies that don’t produce results. 

Seek Help – If you have trouble with any of these steps, do not hesitate to ask for help from someone experienced in business. No small business owner can be expected to know how to do everything. In fact, even if you have a good sense of what needs to be done, the second set of eyes can offer a different perspective and allow you to make improvements that you might not see. 

Whether it is a business partner, family member, friend, or business coach/consultant, you are sure to improve your efforts with a little help