In business when you prepare a balance sheet you compile a summary of your assets and liabilities. Under assets you may have real estate, cars, equipment, furniture, cash, jewellery, securities and any other tangible assets. Under liabilities you would include all debts, obligations, mortgages, bank loans and any other promissory notes. When you subtract your liabilities from your assets you come up with what is known as your “net worth.”
Most people assess their wealth based on these facts alone however if we want to determine our true wealth, we need to include our invisible assets. What value did you put on your original business idea? What about your creativity, determination, persistence, commitment and knowledge? What about your valuable skills: selling, marketing, persuasion? Yes – we tend to take these for granted, and sometimes don’t even charge for our expertise, yet get upset when our customers also take what we do for granted.
A huge asset many business owners overlook, are their contacts, relationships and connections. Perry Marshall, author of ‘the Definitive Guide to Google’ says “it’s simply amazing how many companies are sloppy about what is arguably their most valuable piece of intellectual property: Their customer database. That’s right, no matter what you do, what you make, or how smart you are, the most valuable thing you own is your list of customers. And the second most valuable thing you own is your list of prospective customers, those people who have expressed interest in your product or service.”
Think about Amazon.com. Their customer database is listed as an asset on their balance sheet. Amazon tracks everything you do and so is able to recommend more books to you based on genre or author. Amazon will suggest people who bought the book you bought and what else those folks purchased and of course they will always encourage you to buy more books. The model works. Don’t go off thinking that you have to have the infrastructure like Amazon to make it happen. Think: Do you capture the name, address, phone number and email address of everyone who calls you? Do you stay in contact with them, letting them know what’s new and always reinforcing your sales story every time you contact them? Does this require complex software to achieve? No.
In order to get a clear picture of your true wealth you also need to list your liabilities. The list may include laziness, procrastination, poor organization, fear, hesitancy, perfectionism, pettiness, small-mindedness, anger, poor organization and a bad reputation.
We give money far too much power than it deserves. We put all our energies on sales tactics and trying to ‘force our client’s hands’ almost – particularly if we’re desperate! Instead of focusing on sales tactics and techniques, focus on building trust. In their e-book ‘7 Reasons why High-Paying Clients aren’t Choosing You” authors Rudy Nelson and Traci Feit Love suggest: “Learn to see the world through your clients’ eyes so you can speak to them on their terms. Share meaningful insights with prospective clients so they learn to trust your expertise. Make sure that you assess prospective clients’ needs before proposing a solution, so they know you are proposing something that will work for them. We all prefer to buy from people we trust to look out for our best interests.”
If we’re experiencing a financial setback it is very difficult to remember that what we possess – our unique way of doing what we do – is a valuable asset. Sometimes we make it so complex that the customer can’t find it in the confusion that we present to them. Nelson and Love’s prescription: “Focus exclusively on what really matters to your ideal clients. Describe the value of your services in concrete terms. Make sure you’re saving your clients time and effort. The easier it is for your prospective clients to understand what you’re offering and how it helps them, the easier it will be to bring them on as clients.”
In these economic tough times, it is so easy for us to confuse our own value with the fluctuating value of our work in the marketplace. So when clients are calling us or we’re getting work we’re happy and if they stay away – we get depressed. Well of course! That seems perfectly natural except deciding to be down is not an effective response. Use that energy instead to continue to take action. Refine your offers. Tweak your website. Do what you can do every single day to create a thriving business whether or not you are seeing results in the short term.
And always remember this Universal truth: You don’t have wealth – you are your wealth.
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