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Success or Duress

Written by Jeffrey R. Armstrong – President/Owner of Armstrong Capital

Your favorite Master Note Buyer – Straightforward, Honest, Fair…

Do you consider your note or cash flow business a success? Or is your business causing you duress?  Depending on who you listen to, there’s so much you need to do in order to successfully continue or launch and run your cash flow business. It doesn’t seem to matter which niche you are in factoring, structured settlements, lotteries or seller financed notes, launching a successful cash flow business takes time, energy and even a little bit of money.

More than anything, you need a plan. You need to know what you’re about and how your service will help other people. That’s the first step. Some would say you next need a business plan, a marketing plan and a clear revenue model (you do need to know how you’re going to make money, after all). Yet initially, it may be simpler than that.

Sure, a business plan is good. I teach and train note brokers on creating business and marketing plans so they can both keep themselves on track and see their progress. So using traditional business plans and a good marketing plan is something I highly recommend.

Yet, I’ve found it helpful to begin any note or cash flow (service) business with four simple questions. These questions provide the foundation for all else. Answer them fully and you’ll have the beginnings of your business plan, an outline for your marketing plan and you’ll know how you’ll make money. You’ll also have an idea of who your prospects are and what their needs might be.

What’s more, these four questions give you a chance to simplify the whole business development process. You will still need to formalize your business plan and work through how exactly you’ll market your business. Yet it can be less necessary as long as you can stay focused. I’ve had a handful of note brokers and cash flow consultants take just the answers to these four questions and go on to build successful businesses.

So what are the four questions? Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why do you do it? See how simple this might be? Now there can be other questions to add. Depending on the note broker or consultant I might add ‘how do you do what you do’ or ‘what do you need.’ But honestly, even these questions are pretty much covered in thorough answers to the initial four questions. Plus, I find simplicity wins out most of the time.

Now I know that the answers to each of these questions can be full of complicated processes, complex systems and overwhelming business structures. And having run a business for more than twenty three years, I know there’s much to do to be successful.

Yet when you clearly answer those four questions you then have a basic business plan. Answer the four questions and you will also have the outline for a marketing plan. Answer the four questions and you have, at least a beginning, for how you’re going to make money in your note or cash flow business.

Pretty simple, huh? Now answer them. Get out a piece of paper and write down your answer for each question. Go ahead. I’ve got time to wait for you while you do so.  Now, take a look at your answers and see what you’ve written. Is there a question you couldn’t easily answer? Is there a question that you couldn’t answer clearly at all? Be honest with yourself – your prospects will.  Now, let’s go a little deeper. Each of the four questions has layers – layers of detail, layers of information, and layers of complexity. Let’s break it down a bit:

Who Are You…?

First, as a human being. What are your talents, your gifts and your passions? What are your shortcomings? What areas of your life could you use some help with? What areas of your life do you want to hide from? How do each of these questions translate to your business?

For instance, if you believe you’re not a good writer, it’s good to know that so that you can do something about it. Perhaps you hire a copy editor or take a copy writing course to help you write material for your marketing efforts. Either way, you need to know where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can either utilize them or get help.

Once you identify who you are as a person, as I mentioned above, you want to know how you – as a person – translate to a business owner. Are you organized? Do you use systems? Do you outsource any of your tasks? Do people tend to feel comfortable with you? Do you have any issues with selling? What knowledge do you have of using your website or social media to promote your business? How effective is your marketing strategy? The list goes on, really.

Ideally, you want to be asking yourself how you are with every aspect of owning, running, promoting and evaluating your business. And don’t worry if you don’t know something or have large gaps in your abilities. All you have to do is ask for help.

What Do You Do…?

The primary answer here, of course, has to do with what you do for a living. In other words, what are you in business to do? But it goes deeper than that. You want to also consider what your service actually is and does. Meaning, you want to consider your business offerings from the stand point of what problems they solve for the people in your target audience. In essence, you’re not just providing a service but providing a way to solve problems in people’s lives.

For instance, let’s say you’re a note broker who helps note holders get access to their cash to assist in solving their cash flow problems. Your offer is likely so much more than just a note broker. You may have a background you can call on that gives you a market advantage. You may have gone through a career transition yourself. You may be able to provide emotional or psychological support in a different way than your peers. Whatever the offer you make, just be certain that you’re bringing your full self, with your complete background into play here. Just remember, what you do includes what you have done.

Who Do You Do It For…?

As with the previous question, this one helps you focus more precisely on what you actually have to offer. In this case, it’s not about the offer itself, but who you’re offering it to.  Who do you do it for asks you to go deeper than demographics. You don’t just serve, for instance, note holders with notes on single family homes. You want to narrow your focus down to a specific type of note holder who fits perfectly into your specific set of abilities. Location, demographics, property types and terms may enter into the mix to help narrow it down.

And you want to think of what problems the people in your target audience are facing. What sort of barriers are they hitting as they are looking for options to get cash? Think directly in terms of the note holders you are targeting in your marketing.  Ideally, who you do it for is one person, the note holder. Just remember that there are 1000′s of that one person out there waiting to find you and your service. Make it easy on them by identifying exactly who you help.

Why Do You Do It…?

Ultimately, this may be the most important question of all to ask yourself. After years of working with hundreds of note brokers on their websites and coaching them on increasing their business, I’ve found that the most successful note business people make it meaningful.

While making meaning may not be, in the short term, the more important than knowing what you do and who you do it for, eventually it will be. That’s because as note business owners, we need to make meaning. It may sound airy-fairy, but it’s true. I’ve seen it with dozens of note brokers who are successful in one area but burn out because the business they made successful isn’t making the meaning they want in the world.

So your business, to be successful, needs to have meaning. And it needs to make meaning to one person – you. It doesn’t really matter what I think or anyone else. What matters is that your note business is meaningful to you. In other words, you are contributing something important to yourself and to the world.

Do you know what that is? Do you know what impact you have on the people you touch? Do you know how your service is making meaning in the world? In line with meaning, one of the keys to a successful note business is clarity.  To create, grow and maintain a successful note business you need one thing more than any other – and it’s not even talent. You need clarity! Clarity with your note business will set you free from the confusion most small note business owners face.

So why don’t more note and cash flow business owners take the time to find clarity?  I think lots of reasons, really. The biggest one is likely fear of something. Fear of hard work. Fear of not being able to do it. Fear of being boxed in by a vision and plan. Fear of putting in the effort to get clarity only to find that you have none. All these, and more, get in the way of you finding clarity and, hence, stop you from growing a successful business.

But you know the neat thing? You don’t have to get that complex. Fear is a complex thing. Fear is what makes the process bigger than it needs to be. All you have to do is begin by answer the three questions – who are you, what do you do and who do you do it for. That’s it. The answers to the fourth question – why do you do it will follow. These are the seeds you need to plant, then nurture, so they can germinate and grow into a living, thriving note or cash flow business. And let me know how it goes… how well can you answer these four questions in your business?  Remember, success demands action! Keep on marketing (and building that referral business), it’s going to work! TWITA! (That’s What I’m Talking About!) J

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