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Achieving Your Business Goals; When Working Harder Doesn’t Work

I pulled a muscle recently and it has really slowed me down. And, it ticks me off. As usual, my reaction is to try to work through it, “If I stretch it more, if I work through it, I’ll get better and stronger and I won’t be a wimp.” This is pretty much my approach to everything, and it works as well in business as it does in the gym. If you recognize yourself at all in this “just work harder” mentality, listen up: it doesn’t work.

I am not suggesting that effort is not required.  Focused, informed, clear effort is necessary to accomplish our business goals. However, when you’ve been working towards a goal for a long time with little progress, or it feels like you are pushing up hill, it’s time to seek an alternative approach. Specifically, here are some choices:

  1. business goalsRe-access your business goals. Is it your goal or someone else’s? Does it fill you with excitement or fear? Basically, is your heart in it? It may be an admirable goal, but if it’s not YOUR goal currently, it’s not going to work.
  2. Ask for help. I sucked it up and finally went to the doctor for my muscle. If you’re struggling with an element of your business goals, find an expert and have them implement it or teach you to implement. It’s still your vision and your accomplishment – it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes it’s the smartest thing you can do; you may just have to ask your ego to step aside (trust me, I speak from experience). 
  3. Consider whether you are struggling with the goal or just a particular strategy to reach your business goals. For example, if you’ve been trying to grow your Facebook “likes” and it’s going more slowly than you’d like, ask yourself “What is that I’m really trying to accomplish?” More customers, more clients, more revenue, most likely. If your current Facebook strategy isn’t working for you, consider other avenues that will get you to the same end result. A customer referral program? Newsletters? Better SEO? It’s easy to get wedded to a strategy and lose sight of your bigger picture business goals; reconnect with your goal or ask a coach to help.
  4. Know when to back off. Continuing down a path can sometimes do your business more harm than good, just as continuing to train did for me.


With some focused attention by an expert (thank you, Dr. Coapland, www.performancehealthnh.com) and reconnecting with my longer term “Why” of training, I’m confident that I will heal and be back better than ever. If you find yourself in a similar spot in your business – frustrated, struggling, and not reaching your business goals – take a page from my injury recovery book.

Apple’s iPhone 5 Launch: Small Business Lessons on a Product Launch

Since Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5 on September 21st, Apple has sold over 5 million phones and has sold out of their initial supply. That’s 1.2 million phones per day.  It was announced on September 12, 2012, and was released on September 21 – ten days. Our small businesses may not have the national spotlight that Apple enjoys, but we can gather the attention necessary to successfully launch a new product or service in our own corner with planning and attention to detail. Apple carefully choreographs every step of a product launch, and small business owners should do the same.

1. Any successful launch begins with your strong reputation. If you have customers and clients who have come to rely on your expertise, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. The stronger your reputation, the fewer messages needed to convert your market to paying customers. If your reputation is less than you’d like it to be, start by cleaning that up, first.

2. Create intrigue in your customer base. Apple “leaks” tidbits of information well ahead of the official announcement to build a “buzz”. Drop hints so that your customers and prospects are curious and will pay attention to upcoming announcements from you. Don’t be afraid to make an announcement before you have the details sorted out about something “exciting” that’s coming. I guarantee that if you make a public announcement, you will push through any procrastination and get the nitty-gritty done! 

3. Depending upon the financial or time investment required for your product or service, begin seeding three to four weeks before launch. Remember, you are only “hinting” at what is to come. For a launch the size of the iPhone 5, Apple began seeding approximately 10-12 weeks prior to launch.

4. In the coming weeks (see timeline below), provide prospects with more and more details, always keeping in mind what they want, not just what they need. Credible rumors of a thinner profile and bigger screen kept Apple consumers interested and talking about the product. Vary your presentation as much as possible; consider all social media avenues in written, audio and video formats. If appropriate, use direct mail or personal contact.

5. For service offerings or an event, open registration within a week of availability or of the event. Most customers will “pull the trigger” within the last 48 hours, so don’t get discouraged if early numbers are low. Your customers have a lot on their minds and companies vying for their attention are everywhere. 


Smaller product/service launch: 


It’s fascinating to watch Apple and they are a prime, albeit enormous, example to follow. Be consistent in your message, reinforce your brand continuously and trust yourself when it comes to your brand.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.