Strengths and Streams: Part II

Identifying Strengths and Revenue Streams: Part II

This is part II of the post Identifying Strengths and Revenue Streams.

How you can brainstorm to find your “strengths and streams.”

“Strengths” are the opposite of weaknesses.  Weaknesses make you feel weak, whereas strengths make you feel strong.  “Streams” refers to revenue streams, which is any and all the ways in which you can or have made money in the past.  Brainstorming is the act of recording as many different ideas as possible in a short time without criticizing them as you go.  Save the criticizing (analysis) for after the brainstorming session.  Sometimes bad ideas can help you think of good ideas, so write down any idea that comes to you during this time.  Ready? Here we go. Answer the following questions in order to help you identify your “strengths and streams”:

Strengths Test – 10 Questions

  1. What makes you feel strong?
  2. What makes you feel weak?
  3. What activities are you not just good at, but also feel good doing?
  4. What revenue streams do you have, no matter how large or small?
  5. What are some ways you have made money in the past, which you no longer do?
  6. What are some areas or ideas of things you have thought of doing, but for one reason or another never got around to doing?
  7. Have you noticed any changes in technology lately that would make something easier for someone to do something?
  8. Have you noticed a change in the demographics around where you live that might open a possibility for a new product or service?
  9. Have you noticed any “cuckoos in the nest” where something that wasn’t supposed to happen did, or something was an unexpected success?
  10. Have you noticed any examples of something that was supposed to succeed, but didn’t? What could you do to adapt to this new reality?

When I was young I used to collect aluminum cans to recycle for money.  As I got older I collected antiques to resell.  Later on I bought books to resell online or through local book dealers.  These were all retail activities which involved both labor and a product.  Eventually I started trading labor for revenue, which is called service.  I began doing computer repair and web design.  Eventually people began paying me for my advice and I became a business analyst.  Internet marketing is a mix of product and service because you are using your labor to help sell a product that you yourself do not deliver.  The service is in the promotion, marketing, and advertising of the product.  Anyone can do this using the free tools like the Thirty Day Challenge and other websites like Managing Actions which teach you how to be more effective by first changing how you think, in order to change how you act.

Limiting Factors

In order to be successful, you’ll need to overcome obstacles.  The first obstacle you’ll face is your own limiting thoughts so you’ll need to know how to deal with those right away.  An example of a negative thought is, “I can’t raise $8,000 to $10,000 in 2 to 4 weeks.  That’s impossible.” The first step is to realize that you are having a limiting thought, acknowledge it, then let it go.  Just because your brain creates a thought, doesn’t make it true.  Learn to manage your thoughts in order to manage your actions.

The second factor is the people you associate with.  In the same way that you have a greater chance of smoking if you live or hang around smokers or that you have a greater chance of gaining weight if the person or people you live with or work around are already overweight, if the people you hang around or not successful, are not following their dreams, or do not have multiple streams of income, then they are a limiting factor.  If you want to change, then you’ll need to spend less time with these people.

Next Steps

Every meeting should have two things: minutes and action items.  We have just had a meeting here.  This article is our minutes.  The action items are as follows:

Erich: use all available tools and resources to build and promote the identified websites in order to profit from Internet Marketing.

You: take some time to define the problems you are having, where you want to go, and what you want to accomplish, this will become your goal.

Erich: measure the success or failure of the Internet Marketing campaign, determined by the metric, revenue per man-hour.

You: brainstorm to identify your “strengths and streams” – find what makes you strong and what makes you weak, then write down all forms of income past and present.

Erich: update the personal finance measurements with increased net worth, revenue, profit, and savings from the Internet Marketing campaign.

You: manage your thoughts in order to better manage your actions. Notice when you are having a limiting thought, acknowledge it, then let it go.

Summary


This is not a get rich quick scheme.  This is about how to set a goal, make a plan, and execute (ready, aim, fire).  There is no “thing” that can make you rich, if that is your goal.  There is only you.  Mitch Hedberg said it best when he joked, “I bought a jump rope — but man, that thing’s just a rope. You have to do the jump part yourself.” [Thanks, Johnny] No blog, no self-help book, and no business can help you succeed more than a determination and drive within yourself.  If that is missing, everything else is just a rope.

Determining Your Purpose in Life or Process

Brainstorming

Occasionally, you should take time out to stop and evaluate why you are doing the things that you are doing.  Slow down to think if what you’re doing is the best idea or not. Brainstorm with pen and paper (yes, actually grab a pad of paper and a pencil).  The best ideas come by brainstorming, which provides an opportunity to evaluate your productivity, your methodology, and your overall goal. Brainstorming brings diversity of knowledge and perspectives effective for a more forward looking career. Brainstorming is a great activity, but it’s also good to talk to someone about what you are doing, in order to help establish the purpose.

Mentor Review

Take someone you admire out to lunch and pick their brain.  Tell them about what you are doing to get feedback from them.  Write down their responses, whether you believe them or not, and thank them for their time.  Make sure you pay for their meal.  Successful people like to share what they know (that’s why I have this blog) so don’t be afraid to ask them.

Technology Review

Also, keep yourself up on new technology and continue educating yourself to keep yourself alive and fresh.  It’s easy to become stale no matter what business you’re in.  Try to spend at least 2-3 hours a week just researching and finding new ideas.  It’s hard to break away from the normal routine but brainstorming with new ideas is refreshing and can renew enthusiasm.  This is part of innovation and entrepreneurship, which looks for innovations in changes in technology, among other things.  It could be that the way you have been doing things is no longer relevant at worst or at the very least, no longer efficient.  Ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Is there any new technology I could be using? — Technology may have become more efficient since you first developed your original time-saving method. Relying on an old template could be costing you time and money.
2. Have I learned any new ideas lately that I need to apply here? — You may have acquired some new skills or read about some new ideas that will handle your project even better than the time-saving technique that you are using now.
3. Are there new requirements that mean that I need to review this process? — The client may have updated his or her requirements for their projects. Using your old template or time-saving tools may not meet the client’s newest requirements.
4. Are there any other new tools I could be using? — There may be new tools or resources available to do the work that weren’t originally available when you developed your template.

Personal Brainstorming

At least once a month I block off an hour to go into a dark room and just wait for ideas to come.  I don’t anticipate thinking about any one thing, but there is something about the pitch black silence that allows great ideas to surface.  I’ve had many revelations, not just about business or problem solving, but figuring out why I thought certain ways about certain things.  It’s a chance to re-evaluate all aspects of your life and help you determine your purpose in life or in process.

7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit

People at the top of every profession share one quality — they get things done. This ability supercedes intelligence, talent, and connections in determining the size of your salary and the speed of your advancement.

Despite the simplicity of this concept there is a perpetual shortage of people who excel at getting results. The action habit — the habit of putting ideas into action now — is essential to getting things done. Here are 7 ways you can grow the action habit:

1. Don’t wait until conditions are perfect
– If you’re waiting to start until conditions are perfect, you probably never will. There will always be something that isn’t quite right. Either the timing is off, the market is down, or there’s too much competition. In the real world there is no perfect time to start. You have to take action and deal with problems as they arise. The best time to start was last year. The second best time is right now.

2. Be a doer – Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. Do you want to start exercising? Do you have a great idea to pitch your boss? Do it today. The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. After a few days the details gets hazy. After a week it’s forgotten completely. By becoming a doer you’ll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

3. Remember that ideas alone don’t bring success
– Ideas are important, but they’re only valuable after they’ve been implemented. One average idea that’s been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you’re saving for “some other day” or the “right opportunity”. If you have an idea the you really believe in, do something about it. Unless you take action it will never go anywhere.

4. Use action to cure fear
– Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak? Even professional speakers and actors experience pre-performance anxiety. Once they get started the fear disappears. Action is the best cure for fear. The most difficult time to take action is the very first time. After the ball is rolling, you’ll build confidence and things will keep getting easier. Kill fear by taking action and build on that confidence.

5. Start your creative engine mechanically – One of the biggest misconceptions about creative work is that it can only be done when inspiration strikes. If you wait for inspiration to slap you in the face, your work sessions will be few and far between. Instead of waiting, start your creative motor mechanically. If you need to write something, force yourself to sit down and write. Put pen to paper. Brainstorm. Doodle. By moving your hands you’ll stimulate the flow of ideas and inspire yourself.

6. Think in terms of now
– Focus on what you can do in the present moment. Don’t worry about what you should have done last week or what you might be able to do tomorrow. The only time you can affect is the present. If you speculate too much about the past or the future you won’t get anything done. Tomorrow or next week frequently turns into never. As Ben Franklin said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

7. Get down to business immediately – It’s common practice for people to socialize and make small talk at the beginning of meetings. The same is true for individual workers. How often do you check email or RSS feeds before doing any real work? These distractions will cost you serious time if you don’t bypass them and get down to business immediately. By becoming someone who gets to the point you’ll be more productive and people will look to you as a leader.

It takes courage to take action without instructions from the person in charge. Perhaps that’s why initiative is a rare quality that’s coveted by managers and executives everywhere. Seize the initiative. Be a crusader. When you have a good idea, start implementing it without being told. Once people see you’re serious about getting things done they’ll want to join in. The people at the top don’t have anyone telling them what to do. If you want to join them, you should get used to acting independently.