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Are You Building a Job or an Asset?

Many of the business owners I’ve worked with and spoken with over the years have deluded themselves into believing they actually have a business.

building an asset

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

True, their business card and tax return might say business owner, but far too often what they’ve created is a job – and is some cases, not a very attractive job.

A business will never truly serve until you view what you are building as an asset. Now, I’m no accountant, but an asset is something that has lasting value – the kind people will pay to acquire. An asset is something that can retain its value even if you move on and pursue other interests, like taking a month to trek across Australia.

A job on the other just stops being a job when you decide to quit doing it.

Building an asset is much harder than building a job. It’s actually not that hard to get people to pay you for doing something they don’t know how to or don’t want to do.

Building an asset takes investing in you, in others, in creating things that didn’t exist before, in following through on audacious ideas. Building an asset almost always means letting go of your current thinking, finding ways to think bigger and surrounding yourself with people that lift you rather than hold you back.

Community as Asset

Brian Clark of Copyblogger realized early on that his path to building an asset was to first build a rabid community of people eager to hear from him. As any Copyblogger reader knows he did this by creating and giving incredible value through educational content.

As the community grew he added more resources and writers to increase the content output. As the community continued to grow he responded to the needs and requests of the community and built product after product that matched the needs of his community.

Today, the Copyblogger community snaps up every new solid offering and has allowed Clark to create a rather profitable asset rather than a job.

Building as Asset

A client of mine, Sam Beckford, runs an incredibly successful group of music and dance studios in British Columbia. Sam was not from the industry so when he and his wife started the business he poured most of his efforts in to building a business that didn’t require him to be there to run it.

He’d also been a successful real estate investor over the years so it was quite natural for him include a building purchase in his plans. As his studio grew and expanded he started getting requests from other studios to teach them his approach.

He turned his method into a coaching program and began to encourage every studio client to buy or build their studio in an effort to guarantee that no matter what happened to the actual business, they would own an asset that allowed them to gain some return on their investment in the building of a business.

Now, of course, most of his coaching clients also happen to run terrifically successful studios, but they also own an asset that will multiply their ability to cash out rather than simply retire.

Work as Asset

I’ve been speaking with lots of sales groups lately due to the upcoming release of my sales oriented book Duct Tape Selling.

One of the things I’ve been imploring sales folks to do is to look at their work in building authority, a content platform and expertise as an asset vs. a chore.

Think about all the people you know that decide to get an MBA or some other type of training to advance their careers. Often they do this a night and around their family’s schedule.

Writing blog posts, learning how to navigate social media, deeply exploring a prospect’s community, providing value through content curation and volunteering to speak at industry events all take time.

Done correctly, however, each will allow you to build an asset that you can use to serve your customer and your company in deeper ways.

And, one of the greatest values of an asset of this nature is that it’s mostly portable. Your reputation, expertise and authority can move with you in the service of even greater opportunities.

Asset mindset is the only way to build a business or career that allows you to live the life you choose more fully.

Weekend Favs April Thirteen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

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Star of India rests in San Diego Harbor.

Good stuff I found this week:

LeadBrite – Suite of software tools and apps that offer lead and list building functionality.

Built With – Interesting research tools allows you to quickly determine the various technology that any website is employing.

How to Effectively Promote Your Content – free eBook from the smart folks at Copyblogger

The Insanely Simple Secret to Copyblogger’s Success

Please tell me you’re reading Copyblogger. If not you’re missing out and you’re in the minority.

Copyblogger, founded in 2006 by Brian Clark, is one of the best examples of how to build a community online and turn it into a tremendously profitable business that exists anywhere. The site receives enough traffic to rank in the top 1% and its daily blog posts are shared thousands of times each day throughout social media networks.

Clark and now team Copyblogger, a force that includes well known community builders in their own right Sonia Simone and Chris Garrett, built Copyblogger by focusing on producing great content that teaches people how to sell, write, attract links and traffic and increase profits. The site’s tagline is Internet Marketing for Smart People is a nod to Clark’s mastery of Internet Marketing devoid of the snake oil used to sell so much to, well, not so smart people looking to get rich quick.

Over the course of the last few years Copyblogger has evolved into a service platform offering its own brand of WordPress oriented products that compliment so much of what the organization preaches. Tools like the Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress, Premise landing page builder for WordPress and Scribe SEO tool for WordPress allow Copyblogger to support their community with tools while creating a growing revenue stream.

Obviously I’m a big fan, but that’s not the real reason for this post. While I could go on and on about the many things that would make Copyblogger a great case study for anyone trying to build a business online, the real point I want to make is about the secret weapon that Copyblogger has exploited to create such rapid growth.

The secret to Copyblogger’s success is that they write better headlines. That’s it, pretty simple, right? They write headlines (blog post titles) that are irresistible and can’t be skimmed in your RSS reader. Their titles feature words, phases and emotions that reach out and demand your attention.

Now, once you’ve been rudely interrupted by one of the promises made in a headline, they also deliver, but it’s the study of their headlines that will teach any blogger, marketer or copywriter how to up their game and in my view it’s the fact that Clark and company are so good at this element that has led to a great deal of their success.

Thus the power of headlines!

Here are few gems to get you started and my thoughts about why I must click them.

  • How the Explosion in Online Education can Revolutionize Your Business

Who can resist words like explosion and revolutionize?

  • A Ridiculously Simple Way to Get More Revenue and Build Your Audience

We all want more revenue and more audience, but what we really want is ridiculously simple

  • How to Discover Your Hidden Remarkable Benefit

I knew I was remarkable, but that it was hiding, and now I can discover it

  • 7 Links That’ll Make You a Better Writer and Online Marketer

Ooh, the pull of numbered link lists! – and the benefit of being better too

  • The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People

Another list with negative behavior, justification for my bad habits and insane drama – click, click

  • How to Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 254%

How to is always good, but specific numbers mean specific advice, right?

  • 5 Landing Page Mistakes that Crush Conversion Rates

Why are we so scared of making mistakes, beats me, but I’m sure not getting crushed

Study the Copyblogger success model, but learn how to write more captivating headlines and you’ll be on the fast track to success.

Weekend Favs June Eleven

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a my breakfast today while on vacation.

Good stuff I found this week:

HP MagCloud – publish, print and ship anywhere in the world. Very cool service from HP that allows you to upload PDFs or publications and print them for distribution. (HP is a client, but not for this division)

MarketMeSuite – very complete social media marketing dashboard that looks just right for small business management.

Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing – ridiculous list of links related to all things Facebook for marketing from Copyblogger

Why Is Simple So Hard

PB&JThe other I posed this somewhat trick laden question on Twitter – “Is making something easier to understand dumbing it down or smartening it up?” The answers I got were mixed. Some obviously saw that I was suggesting it’s actually harder to make some easy to understand. Others clearly felt that it somewhat of a disservice to try to make things that were complicated seem simple.

That, in a nutshell, is why simple is so hard. As any regular Twitter user will tell you, you have to work sometimes to get your point across in 140 characters, but the real demon is that we feel the need to make things sound more important than they are or to demonstrate in verbose ways how much, in fact, we know about something that others don’t. I can’t tell you how many times the editor of my book suggested that I needed to utilize use simpler language.

The problem with simple is that it actually takes more work. I often quote Mark Twain here – “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter . . .”

The most successful companies I know have been able to boil down what they do, what they stand for, what they are trying to do, how they are unique, or the innovation that will rock your world into one succinct and memorable phrase, and that’s the magic. Earnest Hemingway is considered by many to be one of the greatest American writers of all time. It is widely known that one his most famous traits was the use of short sentences. I’ll defer to Copyblogger’s Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well to act as a resource for this idea.

When I was creating the Duct Tape Marketing system for my small business clients I started off with something that was far more dense than the 7 simple steps that exist today. The paring down was all done by my clients that wanted something simple and doable. That lesson is a central filter for everything I do, but it’s still a challenge.

Open your business up and ask yourself how you could land on one easy to understand and communicate thing that you stand for. One simple, single purpose for doing what you do. One audacious innovation that takes people’s breath away. Don’t complicate it, no matter how trivial it feels. Turn to a 6 year old and ask them what you do and pay close attention to the answer because it’s probably not draped in the mask of importance that we so seem to cling to. Simple has far more value than complex, try it on and see how it feels.

Image credit: redjar

Weekend Favs November Twenty-nine

I’ve added a weekend post routine that I hope you enjoy. Each weekend I write a post that features 3-4 things I read during the week that I found interesting. Generally speaking it won’t involve much analysis and may range widely in topic. (Flickr image included here is also fav image of the week)

fall leaves
Image credit: atotto

Enjoy!

Good stuff I ran across this week:

20 Brand New, Incredibly Useful WordPress Plugins – Some good stuff here to extend the power of this popular blog software

7 Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing – I like this article because it’s well written and paints the non-hype side of social media, but maybe goes a little too far in making social media participation sound too hard to do

Retaggr – a gateway to all you online profiles

But You Do Need To Be Smart Enough to Buy It

booksA lot of small business owners are good at what they do. But, they’ve learned that’s usually not enough to grow the business so they get outside help, quite often in areas related to marketing, so they can “focus on what they do best and let others handle the rest.”

While no one can know how to do every aspect of business, and certainly there is work that makes sense to outsource or delegate, there is nothing in your business that you can abdicate.

What I mean by this, for example, is that even though you may never fancy yourself a pay per click advertising expert, if you plan to hire someone who is, you do need to be smart enough about it to buy it. Same is true for SEO, for web design, for PR advice.

It’s risky business to hand over your marketing on faith that someone is simply going to understand your objectives, your customers, your core message better than you. Even the most experienced marketing coach or graphic designer will struggle if you can’t participate in the results of the project. (It’s also important to know how to spot really bad advice – it’s not hard to call yourself a social media or SEO expert!)

I’m going to repeat this – you don’t have to know how to do everything, you do need to know how to buy it and that means you have to invest in educating yourself.

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The 50 Best Business Blogs of 2008

Lists are always popular this time of year so I thought I would pass a couple along (and yes I made both, so of course I think they are brilliant.)

The 50 Best Business Blogs comes from Business Pundit a well-read general business blog. The list was compiled by Drea Knufken, senior writer at BusinessPundit.com. DTM made the list for marketing along with Copyblogger Brian Clark and Seth Godin. (Join me Jan 12th for live chat with Seth.)

Second list is from Invesp Consulting and called the 100 Most Influential Online Marketers of 2008 Here’s a list of the twitter IDs for the top 100.