Monday, May 05, 2008

To Booth or Not to Booth

One of my I.T.-related clients sent an email today...

"Should I consider setting up a booth at a trade show? I’ve got my demo kit ready and will have a couple other products to demo as well. I don’t have a brochure but could produce a flyer. The cost for the expo is $299."

Here’s what I told him…

A booth is an excellent way for any business to gain exposure. But whether or not your booth actually helps you grow your business depends entirely upon one thing: how well you leverage it to build trust and excitement with potential clients. Trust and excitement are two powerful emotional energies that fuel business growth.

The first purpose of a booth is to start conversations that build trust now. The other purpose of a booth is to collect contact information that can build trust later.

1. Now

Plant a poster at eye level that will attract your ideal client. The sole purpose of the poster is to start conversations with your ideal client, so make it intriguing to that sort of person. For example, at the Total Woman Show last February, fellow career coach Sue Newell had a poster of a woman peeking out of a box. People who were interested in moving out of their corporate job into self-employment really identified with the picture and were eager to share their impressions with us at the booth.

I don't worry too much about handing out my cards and information at a long as I get other people’s cards. That gives us the opportunity to find all kinds of ways to build trust with people over time. You can collect this information by designing a draw that will attract your ideal client.

Do you know who your ideal client is? This is the customer you love to work with so much, you'd practically work for free just to hang out with them. If you’re not sure the profile of this person, we would start by figuring that out first.

So anyway, I said to my own real-life client, what kind of draw would your ideal client be attracted to and want to enter? For example, an I.T. technician shouldn’t have a draw for a stay at the Holiday Inn. That sort of draw could attract anyone, so it’s not much help in flushing your ideal client out of the woodwork.

I encouraged my client to do a booth. But we’ll need to make sure he leverages its potential to establish the connections, trust, and excitement that will grow his business.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tag You're It

I got tagged by Ben Bach, one of my favourite people under age 25. I'm somewhere around double his age, but don't tell him that. Here's what he said on his blog:

"Troy Worman is a super cool guy. Among other things, he’s a prolific blogger and my newest mentor. Phil Gerbyshak tapped Troy (as well as Liz Strauss, Jodee Bock, Ted Demopoulos, and Kammie Kobyleski) to tell us five things about him, and in turn Troy has tagged me (as well as Stacy Brice, Hans Henrik, John Koetsier, Mike DeWitt, Jennifer Warwick, and Steve Portigal). "

Now, I don't know any of these people, but if they're friends of Ben, then they're friends of mine.
So I guess now I'm supposed to tell you five things about me :)

1. I'm a yard-sale aficionado. I get a lot of nice stuff real cheap. This way, I don't need to worry if my teenagers happen to accidentally wreck something. I also don't need to slavishly devote my life to making money. Cycling and recycling keeps me from getting too attached to things. I'd rather get attached to people and experiences.

2. I love good design. I like things to serve a purpose. If it doesn't solve a problem or serve a purpose, I don't want to own it. Hence the yard sale idea. When you have a family, your set of problems changes daily. I like to keep things loose and flexible, thus we don't tend to own things too long. We finish using them and out they go. Keeps the energy and creativity high.

3. I used to love romance novels. Now I've read too many of them and they've all started sounding the same. But I read them anyway. It's one of the the few activities where I don't have to solve some kind of problem in order to be able to do it. I read novels when I want to totally chill out. They can't be too deep either, or else I have to solve problems while I'm reading them and that totally defeats the purpose. It's my equivalent of watching T.V.

4. I love entrepreneurism and I love working with entrepreneurs. They're just some of the most interesting and creative people around.

5. I love God and he loves me. This statement may not be politically correct, but some things are important to say whether you offend someone or not. If love isn't the centre of the universe and the reason why we do things, why would we bother getting up every day? Faith is simply a relationship with God whereby we accept his love for us, allow him to energize our lives, look for ways to share this love with others, and basically seek to not get in the way as his goodness and love works miracles in people's lives every day. Keeps me going.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Management Makeover

I recently took myself up to Collingwood Ontario for an executive retreat. I get these timeshare condos cheap through, and they’re just the ticket for this sort of adventure.

BTW, if you want to know how to get a week’s vacation in a luxurious two-bedroom condo for under US$300, send me an email.

This retreat did not turning out the way I expected. I figured I’d be doing the whole visioning/missioning schtick. I was going to cover the walls of the condo with chart paper and stickies like I sometimes do with my clients…but it seems I was being led in another direction.

See, actually visioning is super-easy for a Creative like me. As soon as I record one idea, five more spring up in its place. Visioning is one of those Essential Leadership Skills I’ve already got in spades. But I need more of those Essential Management Skills like time tracking, task-orientation and list-making that I’ve been exploring in previous posts.

During my time away, I’m studying a fascinating book called “Take Back Your Life!” by Sally McGhee. No I didn’t get it from Oprah - actually, it’s put out by Microsoft. Sally’s book teaches you in very concrete, actionable steps to use Outlook to get organized - so that you can build reserves of time and energy to focus on all the other things you like to do.

I swear I’m going to start selling this book on my website…when I’m organized enough to make it happen!

In the meantime, I’ll collect my thoughts for a future article on this topic…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tupperware: Organizing Your Business Ideas

This morning I was helping interior designer Jackie Hergott figure out to do things more efficiently in her business so that she could spend more time doing what she loves and less time doing the things that sap her energy.

Through her business, Chameleon House of Design, Jackie helps people create beautiful home and office spaces. She loves to play with ideas, source suppliers, and pull together concepts. She adores meeting with clients, choosing paint colours, and shopping for furniture.

She hates organizing her office, creating documents, filling out paperwork, sending out invoices, and filing GST. The trouble is, all of the above things need to get done in order for Jackie’s business to be successful.

When you’re a solo-preneur or small business owner, it’s especially true that time is money. Inefficiency not only has the potential to hamstring your business but, in today’s competitive marketplace, it can literally close you down overnight.

To get more efficient right away, Jackie is going to do the smart thing and hire a bookkeeping service. This is a great place to start, and she will immediately reduce her stress by doing so.

However, to succeed in business, Jackie will need to continue to create efficiencies in every aspect of her business. In addition her finances, she will need to consider the areas of data, people, facilities, sales and marketing, and customer service.

This process can feel pretty overwhelming. But it’s actually not difficult to get started.

Here’s where the "Tupperware" idea comes in. To move forward you start by collecting information and ideas and putting them in “containers”. Then when you get a few minutes, you go back and figure out what to do with the info. Easy, eh? Bigger businesses have all kinds of fancy names for these processes, but this is essentially what it comes down to.

Containers come in many forms, of which Tupperware is probably the archetypal one. But you can use any kind of container that works for you, including notebooks, word processing or paper files, blank spaces on your Outlook calendar, or sections in your day planner. If you’re more listening-oriented, you can purchase a voice recorder and/or transcription software and make verbal notes to yourself when you get a minute. The main thing is to “catch” the ideas or information, and put them in a place where you can consider them later.

Now, here's the real clincher - the "later" part. You'll need to organize that too, or else your ideas will sit unused in the spot where you left them. So go back to your Outlook calendar or planner, and select a time when your task is to review what's in your various "idea containers". Make sure you don't let anything else interfere with this time. Often I do this on a Friday afternoon. Occasionally I set aside a whole day for this kind of reflection.

For each idea container, create lists of activities suggested by the ideas. Then slot time for THESE things in your calendar as well. Now, don't make this too complicated. If you're feeling bogged down, just stick with your main priorities.

So this week, for example, Jackie is going to begin creating standard processes for client interactions. She will be collecting her ideas about what needs to get covered in initial sessions with clients. She'll be considering what data she will need to be tracking in order to make strategic decisions later. And what service packages might help her decrease admin time and increase R&D and billable time.

As Jackie goes through her week, she’s going to file away in her “containers” all the ideas that will inevitably come to her in the shower, on her way to an appointment, or while she’s thinking about something else. Then by the next time we meet, we can convert her ideas into the action plans that will fuel her unique recipe for success.

For more ideas and resources that can help your business grow, visit

Friday, September 15, 2006

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

As a creative “idea person”, I find that one of my most difficult time management issues is keeping track of what I’m working on - since I’m usually working on at least ten different projects at a time, all of them involving individual tasks that compete for my attention.

My most pressing time management issue really relates to managing this creativity, or as Jim Estill would say, LEADING this creativity. I find if I don’t lead it, it will definitely lead me. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing…but not when I want to accomplish specific goals.

The trouble with creativity is that it’s not sequential – unless your specific brand of creativity naturally involves thinking logically and sequentially…for example, if you happen to work as an engineer or lawyer. As it turns out, I’m not wired that way.

As an idea person, I seem to spend a ton of energy just trying to impose a rational order on my thoughts -sometimes so much energy, that it’s hard to have some left over to get things done in the real world. Over the years, I have spent countless hours seeking out systems that will help me to work more efficiently with my creativity.

Hmm…”efficient creativity”…there’s an oxymoron for you. Those two ideas blend about as well as oil and water. “Creative efficiency”? Perhaps that’s a little more possible.

Now, people pay attention to different kinds of things. Some of us are “visual” – paying attention to what we see. Some of us are “aural” – paying attention to what we hear. Then there are the kinesthetic folks, who pay attention to touch and body sensations. If you want to figure out what you tend to pay most attention to, check out this site...

Anyways, I’m definitely visual…if I can’t see something, it’s at least somewhat off my radar. So part of becoming efficient with my creativity has involved setting up systems that allow me to see what I’m working whenever I need to, to get back into focus.

I’ll describe some of the visual systems I’ve developed to keep track of things over the next while in this blog.

Friday, September 08, 2006

“I Need Systems I Can’t Screw Up”

I’m sitting in the Northfield Williams Coffee Pub in Waterloo with Benjamin Bach the other day, and he pulls out this little stack of recipe cards held together with a binder clip. Now, you need to know that Ben is an extremely bright and tech-savvy guy – so I’m instantly intrigued by what is obviously some kind of very low-tech self-management system.

To my inquiring glance Ben announces, “I need systems I can’t screw up”.

I thought that was a pretty profound statement, and in fact would be a helpful mantra for the business world in general.

Ben goes on to describe how he’s used Blackberries, notebooks, etc., and found there was always something that made the arrangement break down. Owning an HP IPAQ that sits in my purse much of the time, and which hasn’t yet leaped out to update/recharge itself while I slept, I could really relate.

So here’s what he’s got on the individual cards: his goals for the week, his immediate to-do list, his want-to-read list, and so on. He’s chosen to include everything that’s necessary for strategic decision-making throughout the day – and nothing else. Nothing to distract him from fulfilling his life purpose each and every moment of the day.

I thought that was pretty cool.

BTW, the address is

For more posts on this subject of self- and time-management:

If you know some other great resources on this theme, I'd love to hear about them - thanks!