Chuck Noland couldn’t speak French. He couldn’t play the piano, and he certainly couldn’t whip up a cheese soufflé.
But none of that mattered.
Because when Chuck was marooned on an uninhabited desert island in the middle of the Pacific, all those “nice to have” skills were USELESS except for three things:
In the context of a desert island, Chuck Noland (better known to us as Tom Hanks, in the movie Cast Away) had only ONE goal. And when he found food, built shelter, and made fire, he had everything he truly needed for survival. He had developed the essential skills.
Your survival as an entrepreneur — someone who serves people’s needs by creating + selling solutions to help them — depends on three essential skills:
Everything you do, from creating courses that will actually SELL, to writing your sales pages and emails, to deciding what to do next after any business step you take, depends on how well you do these three.
Let’s break it down.
When you’re first building your business, making decisions like where to niche down, how to carve out a strong brand to attract your loyal fans, and what area you’re going to build your authority in, you make the smartest decisions when you’re listening.
You get to know people. Talk to them. Interview people who might be in your target market. You pay attention to the questions you get asked over and over again. And if you listen well to their pain points, their desires, the reasons why those things are important to them, then you have what you need to build your business on a strong foundation:
…And when you’re creating products or writing sales pages, later on? It’s ALL informed by listening. I’ll give more examples of this below in just a sec. For now, it’s important to know that every time you listen, you have more insights for…
The SOLUTION is what will set you apart as an authority. When you move from “blogger” to entrepreneur, you’re no longer writing just to write. You’re not just fulfilling a creative urge, and you’re not making stuff (e.g., blog posts, printables, podcast episodes) because you want to, but because you’ve listened to what potential customers need and you’re dedicated to helping them get it.
The solution might be a video course to walk them step-by-step through baking artisan breads. Or a course to teach women how to discover their personal style and decorate their homes.
It might be a community where women coming out of abusive relationships can get encouragement and support as they heal.
The solution might be 1:1 coaching services for writers who need feedback on their work.
It could be a book you write to help parents talk to their kids about the birds and the beetles.
…and YES, it can even be a blog post. That’s a tiny (free) solution too, you know.When you plan a course/ebook/offering based on talking to real people, you discover that what your audience needs isn’t the perfect solution. It’s simply whatever will help your customer achieve what she wants to achieve. In the simplest, most doable way possible.
As a successful entrepreneur, you’ll develop the skill of turning what you learn by listening to your market into solutions…which then builds both your income and authority.
Of course, there’s one more skill for you to learn in order to CONNECT your solutions with the people you’ve been listening to, and that’s…
When I say “delivering your solution,” do you automatically think of plugins, platforms, and software? Do you think of sales pages, marketing emails, and nightmare-inducing webinars? (Gulp.)
Delivering is both, actually.
Delivering can be as hard or as easy as you want to make it.
It can be a premium-level course with videographers coming to your house (Hide the laundry!!) and endless hours of designing and editing…or it can be as simple as sending lessons via your email system.
It can be a 10-step, long-form sales page with bullet points, testimonials, a killer headline, and 10 “buy now” buttons that are hooked up to your complicated back-end checkout cart…or it can be as simple as making an announcement in your Facebook group that you’re hosting an event, then sending people who say “Yes!” a Paypal invoice with a few clicks.
(For example, Modern Miss Mason, who spoke at a well-known homeschooling conference last year, sells out her own trainings exactly like that!)
Delivery doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be if you want.At its core, Delivering your solution is simply connecting the people you’ve been listening to with the solution you’ve made for them.
…which is why it’s SO important to deliver your solution using what you’ve learned by listening (See Essential Skill #1, above!).
And every time you deliver — every time you make a new solution or relaunch the same one — you can get a little fancier and a little more sophisticated. Because each one of these 3 essential entrepreneur skills is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger you’ll get and the more confident you’ll become.
Simple: You listen again.
…except this time you listen differently.
If you listened to your mailing list, then created and delivered a solution…NOW you’re no longer just listening to your mailing list! You’re now listening to the people who just bought your solution and consumed it. (Hint: Now they’re called CUSTOMERS!)
After listening to the feedback you get, you use that to…
(1) Plan improvements to your solutions, or
(2) Plan improvements to the way you deliver your solutions, or
(3) Create a new solution that will help your now-customers reach the next level of success!
(Or you take a vacation to the French Riviera, because honey, you’ve earned it! At least, that’s what I’m telling myself…)
This cycle of Listen — Plan — Deliver is what our Blog Smarter students know as the Authority/Listening Cycle:
And yes, if you’re just starting a business, it looks a little different from all the producty-salesy hoopla more seasoned entrepreneurs are doing, but that’s why you start now, right where you are.
Because the more times you go through the Authority/Listening Cycle, the more you build the “muscles” in those 3 essential skills, and the easier and more natural it will become with time.
Your key is to start listening, and then do something about it.
You may know how to make a fancy blog post image, create the perfect Instagram story, or even how to hook up an autoresponder in your email system. But without developing your “muscles” for listening, planning solutions, and delivering them to your audience, you won’t outlast the next wave of entrepreneurs who ARE building those skills.
…and talking to a volleyball named Wilson is entirely optional.
Where do you feel you’ve grown the most as an entrepreneur? Or where do you get the most stuck? Leave a message in the comments below and tell your story. I read (and cherish) them all.
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