There is no shortage of amazing small business ideas

Amazing small business ideas

The world needs more business do-ers than business dreamers

Amazing small business ideas If I had a dollar for everyone who tells me they have an amazing small business idea…

I’m a small business fanatic. I love small business. Its small business first for me. I love hanging out with small business people and nearly all of my closest friends are small business owners. The myth is that small business owners are dreamers with amazing small business ideas. But I don’t agree. The reason I love small business owners is that they’re do-ers. Small business owners don’t dream (besides the normal dreams we all have), they don’t have amazing small business ideas, they roll up their sleeves, they take control of life, and they deal with whatever comes their way, and those are the kind of people I like hanging out with.

I often go to networking events and seminars and conferences and I sometimes get cornered by people who want to tell me about their amazing business idea. Obviously, as a business coach, I’m in the perfect position to give them some kind of off-the-cuff wisdom which is going to turn their amazing idea into a multibillion dollar startup.

2 billion pet owners

Amazing small business ideas“Oh wonderful… You’re a business coach, that must be so exciting … You know, I’ve got this great idea for a start-up. I want to develop this app. It’s going to keep pets that are left alone at home during the day company so they don’t start scratching the furniture or annoy the neighbours with their yelping all day long.”  They breath excitedly. “I know there is an incredible market for it, believe me, and we can build it in the cloud and we’ll create a kind of social media app with it that lets everyone keep track of their dogs and cats at home and it’s going to be so cool” (It’s always going to be ‘So Cool’ you know.) “All I need is some Angel funding for a marketing campaign and to get the app built in India, and the website and that kind of stuff… Did you know there are 2 billion pet owners around the world and if even 0.1% of those people subscribed to the app for $25 per month… I’m really good at developing these amazingly creative ideas, but the implementation side of things is not my strength area, know what I mean?… Can you help me?”

Uhhhhhh… No… Please go away

Whenever I get cornered by someone like that I feel tempted to tell them that my most successful client, The guy that inspires me more than anyone in business I’ve ever met, is my client who has taken his business from half a million dollars turnover in 2007 to $27 million today… and he sells milk.

We need more implementers

The world really does not need more amazing small business ideas. What the world needs more of are disciplined, focused implementers.

Of course, we’ve all read about Elon Musk and Jeff Bazos and Mark Zuckerberg and they did have a new idea and now they’re worth uncountable billions. But Mark Zuckerber didn’t just have an idea and get others to build it and deliver it and implement it. Zuckerberg spent years grinding away doing his own coding… From what I know a lot of the base coding in Facebook was written by Zuckerberg himself and even now I believe he still gets under the hood of Facebook regularly. The same goes for most super entrepreneurs. For many years after Microsoft had already become an institution in the PC world, Bill Gates had his fingers in all of the most important code that Microsoft created, and he got involved in the delivery and the management and all the other key areas of his company.

The secret to building a great business is in actually building it. Ideas are cheap… what are you going to build today?

Turn your small business ideas to big results. Download The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow, it’s FREE

Small Business

Overwhelmed in Your Business? Maybe you’re not Kind enough

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Kindness makes the world go round

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Reflections on being kind by an “older person”

I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot in the past year. Kindness to myself and kindness to others. Here is an article I wrote after a presentation I did on the topic of self compassion in June this year.

I’ve got some further thoughts on it that I’d like to share with you.

I think our society is not geared for kindness. We are urged to soldier on, to get stuck into things and to “Get Shit Done”. That attitude doesn’t encourage being kind to ourselves or to each other. That attitude makes us overwhelmed. Social media is rampant with people being unkind (in spite of the inspirational quotes all over Facebook). Road rage is prevalent and anyone we don’t agree with or is different is cut down by screaming headlines in newspapers and other media.

I’m 57, and maybe it’s time for me to realise that I have become a typical older person who believes we are all going to hell in a handbasket, the way the older persons did when I was 16. Maybe so, or maybe the older persons of my youth also had a point worth listening to.

Bull in a china shop

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.The thing is, I haven’t practised kindness very much myself in the past 57 years. I’m known as a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’, I can be loud and obnoxious, quick to judge and I can be cutting and dismissive at times. But I think it’s time for me to change. The challenge came home to me again, today at lunch. I was talking with a very nice person about various people we both know. Some of those are competitors of mine, and I noticed how difficult I found it not to say unkind things about those competitors. I even found it hard to be nothing but kind about people we spoke about who are no competitors of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really bagging anyone, more like gossiping really, but it was definitely not kind. I noticed myself doing it, but found it really challenging to avoid. It’s so easy to gossip, it’s so easy to make fun of others, it’s so easy to belittle others. It makes for easy conversation.

And it’s unkind.

I had another insight in relation to kindness in the past few months. I spent a lot of time with my mother in her last weeks on earth during July of this year. At some stage she was getting impatient and frustrated. She was ready to go, had been ready for a while and she couldn’t understand why she was still here. It was quite upsetting, because her last days and weeks in this life were at risk of being spoilt by her increasing frustration with not dying yet. I had several conversations with her at the time and at some stage I said to her: “Your death is going to happen when it happens, there is nothing you can do to speed it up, and being angry is certainly not going to make the process go faster, it’s just a waste of your last days” and I said: “How might you get to enjoy what there is, instead of getting frustrated and angry over what there isn’t?”

I impress myself

The question had a positive impact on my mother. She started enjoying her last weeks and she died content. But the question had a really important impact on myself as well (I do impress myself sometimes!). I suddenly thought: What a great question to ask myself in many situations in my life, the circumstances, the business, the people and the relationships… “How can I get to love person X for who he is rather than get irritated for who he isn’t?”

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot in the past weeks and I can feel that I am learning to become a little kinder. I think I only noticed my unkindness over lunch with my friend as a result of having been focusing on this question in the past weeks.

Here’s another way to use the question that might lead to greater kindness: “How can I enjoy my life for what there is instead of be frustrated with what there isn’t?”

Try and ponder that question every now and then for yourself and see what difference it might make for you.

There is a wonderful organisation called: Random Acts of Kindness in Australia. They have a website and a whole bunch of great resources including a one-page sheet with the facts about Kindness, download it here

Kindness is important, it makes the world we live in more liveable, and I absolutely believe we should learn to be kinder to each other and to ourselves.

Further reading:

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

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Overwhelm in Business Survey!

If these words about kindness got you thinking, then you should go on and complete this survey. Overwhelm is often an indicator that people are not practising kindness, to themselves or others.

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Before Jumping Into Advertising, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Before Jumping Into Advertisement, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Half of all money spent on advertising works wonders

Before Jumping Into Advertisement, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Here’s how not to spend the other half in your  business

Advertising works. It does. Next time you think it doesn’t, have a look at your grocery choices when shopping in the supermarket.

The reason Nike spends 30% of the price of each pair of shoes it sells on advertisement is that if they didn’t, they’d sell a fraction of the shoes they do.

But there is an old saying in the advertising industry that is still just as true now as when it when coined in the sixties by a famous CEO, that half of all money spent on advertising is wasted, if only we knew which half.

The big temptation that gets us as small business owners to spend more money on advertising than we should from time to time, is how easy it seems. It’s the easiest, least time consuming and quickest way to get more customers. It’s the reason the Yellow Pages phone books became so big and profitable all round the world. If you wanted more business there was a simple equation for the Yellow Pages: spend more money on bigger ads and the phone will ring more often… a direct correlation. Advertising sales people all over the world are trained to say: “Look, Mr business owner, you only have to make 2 extra sales this month, and the ad pays for itself, so what do you think?”

Good looking sales people

A perfect example of the temptation comes from a client of mine, John, who owns a gym. John was recently convinced to purchase a 3 month contract to have a couple of good looking young people hand out flyers about his gym with a special promotion offer on a couple of busy street corners. The sales person convinced John to invest the money because he only needed to get 10 people per month to take up the special offer in the flyer to pay for the promotion contract. The deal looked too good to be true.

3 months later we looked at the numbers when assessing whether or not to continue the promotion. It turned out that John’s Gym had indeed had some 60 people come in and take up the offer from the flyers, twice as many as the minimum needed to break even. However, nearly 50 of those people had cancelled their contract at the end of the special promotion period.

Luckily I’d insisted that John implement a system to be able to track the promotion and it became an easy decision for John, not to proceed with the contract.

The Golden Rule of marketing

The whole experience perfectly demonstrates two things you need to consider when deciding on any form of paid marketing, be that advertisement or some other kind of promotion.

Firstly there is a Golden Rule to consider:

If you can’t measure your return of investment, there is none.

Secondly is that when spending money on getting more prospects for your business, you better make damn sure you are going to convert a healthy percentage of those prospects to customers. There was nothing wrong with the offer that John made in the promotion, but there were all kinds of things wrong in his “onboarding” and “induction” processes in the gym. People came to the end of their promotion period and generally didn’t feel inclined to continue onto his full membership program.

I’ve seen this issue come back time and again. Business owners get convinced to spend thousands of dollars per month on Pay Per Click advertising in Facebook or Google for example. Lots and lots of visitors come to their websites as a result, but when they get there, they get lost, because there is no solid marketing conversion process in place on the site.

If you’re going to spend money on advertising, first make sure you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed all your Ts … And then … Spend away.

This will be an extremely enlightening post for some to read. If you felt you need to debunk more myths in marketing and growing your small business, here’s another treat for you:

FREE Download: The 10 Truths For Making Your Business Grow

These truths will help you avoid some of the marketing pitfalls and business obstacles that prevent many small business owners from reaching their dreams.

The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow

What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Human Beings & Business Owners

What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Humans & Business Owners

Let’s face it: You’re not Richard Branson

What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Humans & Business Owners

And that’s a good thing

Most small business owners I know, dream of being Richard Branson. I know, I’ve had those dreams, but I don’t anymore and I think you should start changing your dreams as well.

Let’s be clear, by any measure you’d like to put up, Sir Richard has done pretty well for himself. I saw a photo of him in an ambulance the other day with scrapes and blood all over his face, because he just hurtled himself down a massive hill on a mountain bike… I’m Dutch, I grew up on a bike, but I can assure you I never did stuff like that on my bikes, and he’s recently turned 66… Next week he’ll probably make another billion dollars on some new internet venture or donate some insane amount of money to a worthy cause or do a solo kayak trip to the South Pole and back. And to make matters worse it seems by all accounts, that he’s a truly nice guy as well.

As role models go, he makes me sick.


How are we ever meant to feel good about ourselves when we are forced to look up to people like that every day.

No matter what we do, we’ll never get that island in the Bahamas, nor look as good in a wet suit when in our late sixties. It’s just not going to happen.

Getting depressed

Pretty fair grounds to get depressed don’t you think?

Well no, actually. It turns out that feeling good about ourselves, about our lives and about our business has nothing to do with our achievements. Feeling good about our lives, feeling good about ourselves is about two things:

  • Relationships, because we are herd animals
  • The journey, because we are human beings

If Sir Richard Branson feels good about himself, about his life and his (many) businesses, it will be because of those two things only.

Firstly, as herd animals we actually are, we only get to feel really good about ourselves as a consequence of the relationships we develop with loved ones and family, with friends and with our community. The quality, intimacy and intensity of our interaction with the people around us leads us through life and allows us to feel happy.

Going on journeys that never end

And as the special animals called human beings we need to go on journeys. Journeys are about challenge and adventure and scary stuff; stepping out of your comfort zone and staying there. Journeys are never actually about getting there, sure you may need a rest every now and then and charge up the batteries from time to time, but the never ending adventure is where it’s at.

But the biggest journeys are not taken in a Kayak or on a mountain bike or in a hot air balloon.

The biggest journeys any of us can ever take, are in our own heads. There can be no greater journey for some people than overcoming the fear of public speaking, or for you as a small business owner, it may that learning to understand your Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss reports, are an ongoing struggle and source of discomfort.

For some of us the greatest journey we can ever undertake is to become a great employer of 1 or two people.

People and journey’s, your own personal journeys… Focus on those and you’ll feel just as good about yourself as Richard Branson does when he continues on his next crazy adventure… I promise you.

And if you ever need a self-assessment to give you some food for thought on whether you’re a small business owner who can juggle between the demands of life and business, here’s my treat for you:

Take the FREE Richard Branson Quiz!

You will get a score on my “Richard Branson” scale and I will send you back a short commentary on your score… I hope it will throw up some useful thoughts for you.

Richard Branson Quiz

Why I’m Glad You’re Not An Entrepreneur, But A Small Business Owner

Entrepreneurs vs Small Business Owner

entrepreneur and small business owners awards
So I am sometimes asked if I work with entrepreneurs, and my answer is that, no, I don’t, I work with small business owners.

I think it is actually important to make a distinction between small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner and why it matters

The word entrepreneur has come to describe the people that books are written about. Richard Branson, Larry Paige, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick. You’d never refer to Bill Gates as a small business owner, even though Microsoft was a tiny company operating from Bill’s bedroom once.

Entrepreneurs are the rock stars of our age. They are like the celebrity chefs of the business world. But for every Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey, there are thousands of cooks, men and women who put together a great pasta carbonara or scotch fillet, day in day out, they’re referred to as the cooks of the line.

You’ll never read about them in books or watch them on TV, because they are just great professionals and trades people and they’re passionate about food and cooking and seeing empty plates returned to the kitchen.

They’re great great cooks and they run great restaurants, but they’re not celebrity chefs.

And neither are most small business owners, entrepreneurs.

To be an undertaker

Entrepreneurs vs Small Business Owner: Mark ZuckerbergOriginally, the word entrepreneur comes from the French ‘entreprendre’, which translates as to undertake. To be an entrepreneur therefore meant, someone who undertakes things. And on that reading, anybody who undertakes a business is an entrepreneur. But since the advent of the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world the word has taken on this added meaning of someone who builds something that in a few years gets sold for umpteen billion dollars.

Ok, so what’s in a word… why does it matter if you refer to yourself as a small business owner or an entrepreneur?

Words matter

Well, words matter. Words take on meanings over time and those implied meanings start to have an impact beyond the simple dictionary definition. For example, if I mention the word policeman, it is simply impossible for you to imagine a female police officer and thus we perpetuate the stereotype.

If you are an architect, or a plumber or a graphic designer or an accountant or a hairdresser or mechanic, or an engineer and you have a business that exists to deliver that service, you are in all likelihood a small business owner, in my book, not an entrepreneur. And why that matters is that if you are such a small business owner and you describe yourself as an entrepreneur, there is a good chance that you will always feel a little bit disappointed with yourself. After all, if you were a true entrepreneur you’d be on the way to building a business that gets sold for $100 million dollars in the next two years and you’re looking forward to buying your own island in the Bahamas with the lifestyle to suit.

But you won’t sell your architecture business for $100 million, probably not even for $1Million. Very very few small business owners ever do sell their business for an amount of money that allows them anything more than simple retirement.

Comfortable retirement

Most small businesses get sold or passed on to one of its employees and the sale is funded out of future earnings of the business. The former owner may get to pay of his or her mortgage with the proceeds which, combined with some modest superannuation investments, allows for a relatively comfortable retirement.

And that’s great.

If you manage to do that as a small business owner, you’ve done a wonderful thing. It means you’ve raised a healthy bouncy business. It means you and a bunch of people have been and continue to be able to send their kids to school and pay their mortgages. If you’ve built such a small business, it means you’ve created the kind of thing that makes the world go round.

To be a small business owner is something you ought to be exceedingly proud of… I promise you.

And if you ever need help in moving past your challenges in developing your business, here’s my treat for you:

Join the FREE Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinars!

Walk away with clarity, insight and focus and you’ll be able to implement one or more simple practical actions that will start to move you past your stumbling blocks in running your small business.

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