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Letter From Lugano

Starting an Online Business: 4. Using ‘Deliberate Practice’

James Atkinson - Friday, March 28, 2014

Today's photo is a little Ticino courtyard by the Hermann Hesse museum in Montagnola.

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Today I want to look at how the 'Deliberate Practice' can help your online business. Deliberate Practice involves focusing on a small number of skills to become really good at them. There are two streams in which you can use deliberate practice to enhance your eBusiness: -‘technical skills’ and ‘human value’ development:

 

 When you adopt a form of Deliberate Practice the first type of feedback you receive should be from a mentor in your specific field. So, if you are a dog trainer you should start expanding your expertise in the dog training field.

Technical Learning & Feedback

Technical learning is an important component of running an eBusiness. All online business and sales process is technically complex and expensive.  Technical learning means all aspects of your eBusiness that are NOT related to your sales subject matter.

Technical knowledge is not the sort of expertise you will share with your customers. It’s simply all the knowledge you require to properly run your eBusiness. And believe me there’s a lot to learn.

Most of your internet technology requirements can be outsourced. However, you do need to understand the capacities of internet technology and you need to keep up with online technical changes. 

‘Human Value’ Development

This is the knowledge you eventually share with your customers. Constructive and constant learning and feedback of your ‘human value’ is vital. “If you’re in an accepting world, then people don’t develop or get better,” Dr. Ericsson says. “They’re in a kind of time warp.” Thus, it’s better to be continually challenged through your feedback.

To achieve expertise you need approximately 10,000 hours – which on a full time basis takes around three years.  I’m not suggesting you improve your expertise for three years before you begin your eBusiness. Start NOW and keep improving!

For those who want faster outcomes, anyone can start applying the principles of deliberate practice and see pretty good results within a reasonable time.

So, I’ll repeat – this sort of expertise is NOT the area of product delivery such as video making, writing skills, pay per click and so on – it is the expertise that you SHARE AND PROVIDE to your customers. For example, the dog trainer is not going to provide video making information to his/her customers. What will be provided is dog training and ancillary information.

When you begin interacting with your customers the process will be in an educative form. YOU provide the information as your customers’ advocate. The customers in turn provide the second form of feedback. To learn about this second form of feedback.

The next image illustrates the learning and educative feedback – upon which you act: 

Using the concept you can become highly skilled in providing “human value” to your customers. That is, you can become an expert in your own field – no matter what that might be.

After you adopt a form of Deliberate Practice and receive appropriate training and feedback from your mentor /trainer you are in a position to implement an appropriate eBusiness Strategy. This stage - like the mentoring component - is also a continuing training, educative, and feedback process – only this time the feedback you receive is FROM your customers.

That feedback comes from the educative content and social activity that you create from your subject specific websites. The constant feedback enables you properly to address the continuing concerns and fears of your customers – which in turn increase your expertise.

The next image shows the process:

Using the above concept you can become highly skilled at business-building activities such as: market research, survey analysis, pay-per-click advertising, social networking, search engine optimization, sales process management, cash flow management, Return on Investment (ROI) analysis, or any eBusiness skill you need to master.

Examples of Technical Learning and Deliberate Practice

 A process occurs whenever you do anything for your business – run an ad, create a product; take an order, and so on. With every process, there is huge potential for improvement and better performance.

What you don’t measure you can’t improve - so a key to improving process is to measure it.

Then you can brainstorm and get ideas to improve that process, try out your new ideas, and measure the results (feedback). Online businesses are ideally placed to measure performance and get feedback to improve, since almost everything done online is measurable!

Here’s an example of how it can work. There are many good online tracking systems including our own in persuasionworks; you have a wealth of data from competitors; and it’s easy to survey to find out what customers want. Let’s say you want customers to spend MORE - each time they buy one of your products. First, you set a specific goal of say 10% higher average dollar value per sale.

You then brainstorm some ideas on how you might achieve the changes – for example: 

  • add quality affiliate products to the backend, 
  • add cross-sell suggestions to the shopping cart, so the customer is shown complementary products he / she may be interested in; and
  • package some related products together.


Make the changes then measure the results (feedback). Then apply what you’ve learned to make further improvements.

Remember, there’s plenty of room for improvement in ANY process. When you do so you’re taking steps to improve a specific area of business by using the tenets of deliberate practice: setting specific goals, continuously finding ways to improve, and getting constructive feedback that you apply to achieve even better results.

You can use this method to improve almost anything including your own acumen or product list of eBooks – anything really! When you make even small improvements across multiple areas of your business, you harness the immense power of exponential growth. For example, you only need to make a small 10% improvement in only three areas of your business to actually actual increase in income is 33%.

And to almost DOUBLE your income, you only need to increase performance in each area by 25%! That may seem a lot to increase - but with the internet you get an almost instantaneous and measurable response to marketing and process ideas – see: Creating Business Growth.

I am endlessly tweaking and trying out new ideas – and they all eventually lead to increased profits. 

In my next blog I'll discuss The" Hi To Buy" Gap.

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Starting an Online Business: 3. Understanding ‘Deliberate Practice’

James Atkinson - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

 

This is the Hermann Hesse memorial in Montagnola. He lived and worked here for many years.

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Deliberate practice is a method for mastery that involves focused, repetitive application in which an individual monitors their performance, experiments, corrects, receives, and applies constant feedback.

To get results, there are four simple basics you need to follow:

  1. Set specific goals,
  2. Practice a lot,
  3. Focus on method as much as on outcome,
  4. Get prompt feedback, and use it.

It’s more than just repetition. It involves a willingness to continuously push yourself beyond what you’ve already achieved.

You need to focus on the specific goals you want to achieve, and use the right strategy and techniques to achieve them.

Your strategy should include specific methods to target your weaknesses.

Ideally, you would be directly instructed in the best strategy by a mentor who also provides you with constructive feedback.

You also need to continuously look for ways to improve your strategy.

For example, a typing skills study shows that typing improvements were often linked to the subjects’ active search for ways to improve performance.

Intriguingly, the top performers shared another characteristic besides hard work: they napped after lunch. Evidently, it’s not the number of practicing hours in the day, but the number of hours you can sustain full concentration.

This is perfect for an eBusiness practitioner – who mostly all work at home.

So the results are in: highly successful performers are made, not born.

My attitude to internet business is that I would rather start by knowing a lot about a few things than a little about a lot of things. In other words, I believe it’s best to go “narrow and deep” rather than “wide and shallow.” Over time, you can expand your range of expertise to include new areas.

Ask yourself: 

"Do I have ONE way to drive traffic that works?”

Then: 

“Do I have ONE way to convert traffic that works?”

It’s a lot better to get solid results from a few methods than to get distracted by ALL the possible methods you could use and never take the time to get really good at just a few things.

My advice to you is build a few strong points that you can really master.  Don’t try too many things and end up with a lot of powerful weaknesses.

The challenge with all the marketing hype around is, “How do I choose the ‘strong strengths’ that I want to put deliberate practice into?”

 My system is a proven way to break down the big picture goal of “starting an internet business” into specific, achievable steps.

The skills required are timeless and will continue to work in the long term, providing the strongest foundation for building a long-term asset.

If you are constantly distracted by the newest marketing trend, you won’t stay committed to practicing the core skills needed.

You won’t stay with any one thing long enough to master it. And remember, many trends don’t serve your goal to build your business as an asset.

The real online results are being achieved by the people with a relatively small number of specific skills who have engaged in deliberate practice to improve those skills.

In the next few blogs I'll develop this theme further.

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Starting an Online Business: 2. How 'Deliberate Practice' Helps You!

James Atkinson - Monday, March 24, 2014

Today's photo is the view of Lugano from my office. It's the second day of Spring and there's not much snow on the mountains.

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There is an age-old debate about what makes an individual extremely successful. Science appears to have finally ended the debate.

Research indicates that 'deliberate practice' is the secret ingredient for success - and not 'natural' talent.

Deliberate practice as a methodology uses innovation and feedback to help you constantly improve your skills.

The practical elements of deliberate practice are:

Set goals, practice regularly, focus on technique (e.g. writing skills), & seek prompt feedback from: mentors, prospects, customers, technical & marketing statistics of your web site. LEARN BY DOING - keep going till you get it right.

I'm completely sold on deliberate practice because for me the concept works!

In fact, I have been using elements of it for years - without actually knowing any of the scientific data behind the concept.

There are important lessons for you if you want to put your internet business on a steep upward growth trend.

Jay Abraham, business strategist, writes: "Great marketers are made, not born."

This is in line with the scientific findings on what makes an individual ultra-successful. Scientists have spent over 20 years researching many areas of endeavor to answer this question. The evidence suggests we no longer need to speculate about what makes someone extremely successful.

Researchers tell us we don't require talent, wealth, or have a genius-level IQ to achieve expert performance in our chosen field.

A psychology professor at Florida State University, Anders Ericsson, devoted more than twenty years to the scientific study of what makes people highly successful.

Ericsson's work concludes that deliberate practice is the secret ingredient that takes an individual into the realm of the ultra-successful in ANY field of endeavour.

Deliberate practice is a key to success, whether you're David Beckham, Bill Gates, or Tiger Woods.

This exciting discovery means that almost anyone can achieve success using a form of deliberate practice.

"With the exception of the influence of height and body size in some sports, no characteristic of the brain or body has yet been shown to constrain an individual from reaching an expert level." Dr. Anders Ericsson

Ericsson and colleagues have studied expert performers in a wide range of areas. Their work resulted in a 900-page book, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, which has paved the way for a harvest of bestsellers that examine the nature of success.

I’m not suggesting you buy this book – it costs US$150 – but the point I want to make is encapsulated in a review of the book that makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers "whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming" are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect." Steven D. Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner, The New York Times Magazine and authors of Freakonomics.

Dr. Ericsson says a lot of people believe there are some inherent limits they were born with. But there is no hard evidence that anyone can attain any kind of exceptional performance without spending a lot of time perfecting it!

In the next blog I am going to look a little further into Deliberate Practice and provide some graphic help.

 



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