One woman woke her husband up at 3:00 in the morning after she finished Visionary Business and told him, “I’m going to double our sales in three months.” She was working on her dream, her own retail shop, selling the things she loved, but it had been a struggle every step of the way. She knew if she doubled her sales, she would be cruising along profitably and would be able to do substantial profit sharing with all her employees. Within three months, she had doubled her sales.
I’ve heard story after story like that. Those stories make it all worthwhile for me. Some people have wanted more from this book, however. One reviewer wrote that he wanted more specific information about what I went through as I built my company. I’ve given that a lot of thought, and here’s what I’ve come to feel:
The specifics of my particular company are completely different from yours. Each industry, each trade has its own rules of operation and its own skills to master. Each individual business has its own unique challenges that require creativity and flexibility.
The answers to all those specific questions you have are right in front of you, at every moment. Exactly how do you set up your business? Go ask someone in your community who has done it. Or just get on the Internet. The specific details are things you discover as you go along. It’s obvious how to find out the information you need to know once you start asking for it.
People love to share this kind of information.
The important things to remember, always, are your dream and your plan. Keep your inner eye on the big picture, and sooner or later, one way or another, you’ll get there.
There are just three things you need to fulfill your dream and become successful in business or as an artist. None of these three things are all that difficult to attain. They don’t require any higher math or college degree. Every business, every person with a successful career, and every successful artist has these three simple things together to some degree:
1. Your Product or Service
This one is obvious, right? And yet a lot of people spend their lives focused on creating a product or service that doesn’t serve them very well and doesn’t serve others very well either, or else is so much less than it could have been. Most people simply do not think expansively enough when it comes to creating a product or service.
The key to real success and fulfillment here is to do what you love to do. Find out what you are passionate about, and find how to become successful doing what you love to do. Think in expansive terms.
Whatever you can dream of doing, being, and having, there are many, many others who have done it successfully, and been it, and have it or had it. Look at those who have succeeded doing what you love. If they can do it, it shows you it can be done. If you’re persistent, focused on your goal, you can find a way to get there, sooner or later.
Do what you love to do,
and keep doing it, with persistence.
And don’t dream too small.
2. Marketing and Sales
This one is obvious as well: Whatever product or service you have, you need to find a way to present it to the world and be well paid for it.
The key to success here is to have a multipronged strategy that doesn’t take no for an answer. What do I mean by multipronged? It means that you realize there are countless different ways you can market and sell your work. Try the most obvious one; if that doesn’t work, try another. If that doesn’t work, try something else.
Look at people who have been successful and try what has worked for them. If that doesn’t work, try something totally new, something completely out of the box. Don’t forget the Internet: through the Internet, you have the whole world at your fingertips.
As Bert Lahr, the comedian in The Wizard of Oz, said, “Stay on the merry-go-round long enough, and you’re bound to catch the brass ring, sooner or later.” Be persis-tent. Don’t give up.
Another key: Be sure to price your work high enough so that it works for you. Several years ago, we got permission from an artist to use one of her paintings on a book cover. I got to know her, and she was struggling to pay the rent every month in her little studio apartment. She was selling her originals for a only few hundred dollars, and I said she should raise her prices.
She said, “How much? A thousand dollars?” That was a scary stretch for her. I said, “Your paintings are beautiful. Charge five thousand, or ten thousand.”
She went away in a state of shock. But she called me a few weeks later, overjoyed, saying, “You won’t believe this — I just sold a painting for ten thousand dollars!” I did believe it; I know plenty of people, including myself, who would rather pay ten thousand for an original work of art than just a few hundred.
I once heard a great piece of advice: If someone doesn’t complain that you are charging too much for your work, then you aren’t charging enough for your work. Value your time and energy, and you will receive value for it.
Develop a multipronged strategy
to sell and market your work.
Value your work, and be persistent.
3. Financial Controls
As it is for many artists and entrepreneurs, this was the last piece of the puzzle I was able to put into place. I had good products very early on, and after a few years and several expensive mistakes, I finally found the right sales and marketing team to get my work out into the marketplace and sell it effectively.
But we still lost money, month after month, for our first five years. Why? I had never even heard the expression “financial controls.” We were operating by the seat of our pants, as the phrase goes, and our expenses kept exceeding our income.
Finally, the right person came along and showed me what good financial controls were. It simply means this (and it was a new concept to me at the time): Watch your expenses carefully; move as quickly as you can to get to a place where your expenses are less than your income.
This is not rocket science; this is not a difficult concept. Yet so many businesses, large and small, have blown it because they haven’t had financial controls.
All we needed to do was get our costs in alignment with industry averages, and we would be profitable. It wasn’t all that difficult to do once we could see where we needed to make those adjustments: We simply couldn’t spend so much money editing or printing our books.
We made some necessary changes, and within a few months, we were profitable. We’ve been operating ever since with solid financial controls.
I finally realized this: With good financial controls, you can succeed at a very modest level of income. It all depends on your expenses. The more you can keep your expenses down, the sooner you’ll be profitable and the fatter those profits will be.
Institute good financial controls:
Monitor every expense
and make sure those expenses
remain well below your income.
That’s all that is necessary: a product or service you love, a way to market it successfully, and financial controls. None of these three things is particularly difficult. Each of them, though, does require a different type of focus and energy at different times.
Dare to Dream
The most important work, of course, is this: Dare to dream. Dream your most expansive dream, dream of the ideal life you want to create for yourself in five or ten years. Write that dream down. There is great power in the written word.
Make a plan on how you can reach that dream, and write it down too, on just a page or two of paper. Then take the first obvious step you need to take, then the next, then the next.
Be persistent, and never lose sight of your dream, your goals, and your plan to reach those goals.
Dare to dream — and go for it!
You’ll never regret it.
Excerpted from the book Visionary Business: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success © 2009 by Marc Allen. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com
About the author:
Marc Allen is an internationally renowned seminar leader, entrepreneur, author, and composer. He co-founded New World Library (with Shakti Gawain) and has guided the company, as president and publisher, from a small start-up to its current position as a highly profitable player in the independent publishing world. You can visit him online at www.MarcAllen.com
It will look like this: Visionary Business – The Three Essentials of Success