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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

OK, Secretary Powell, but I think there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s what I came up with: Twenty ideas I’ve found that have worked for me in my business for the past 33 years.

This advice is for any and every independent professional who wants to succeed and make a difference but is not sure they can make it happen. 


1. Set goals and get excited about them. Create a vision for your future that’s compelling enough to get you thinking about achieving your goals and living your purpose all the time.

2. Research incessantly. You may have a great goal but that doesn’t mean you know the steps to take or exactly how to achieve it. Hint: almost all the basic answers about how to achieve your goals can be found on Google or Youtube.

3. Go for a goal as if you’re playing a game to win. A game is simply when you make something more important than something else. You made it up. Now play it. With that attitude you’ll have fun growing your business.

4. Take bold, decisive action on your goals from day one. In racing, you start as fast as you can and look straight ahead. You want to create momentum right off the starting blocks. Worry about pacing yourself later.

5. Work long and hard. You cannot shuffle your way to victory. Stay up late, miss meals, work your fingers to the bone, especially in the early stages. Don’t worry about mistakes or imperfections, just get stuff done.

6. Write a lot. Plan a lot. Do a lot. When starting on a project, I often fill notebooks with ideas, write articles on the topic, discuss it with my colleagues, and make plans and models until the complete strategy comes into clear focus.

7. Avoid perfection like the plague. Write crappy first drafts, without judging yourself. Don’t think about how imperfect things are right now; understand that as you progress things will get better and better.

8. Give up complaining. Yeah, we know it’s hard, we know it takes time, we know it’s a mess right now, we know you’ll hit obstacle after obstacle. Big deal. Keep your eye on the prize.

9. Get feedback from people who are more successful than you. Not for them to validate your ideas and progress, but to kick you in the butt and press you to do it better, and take it farther than you’ve taken it before.

10. Get inspired. Going for big goals can take its toll on your mind and body. I’m inspired by reading books written by people who have traveled the path before me. A good alternative is Medium.com a site that publishes hundreds of articles that inspire and motivate.

11. Eat less, exercise more. You have to be in shape to achieve big goals. If you’re tired and stressed you won’t do your best work no matter how much you try. But be careful here – no extremes such as starving yourself and exercising like a maniac!

12. Be in or create a support/mastermind group. When you’re an independent professional, it gets lonely. When your only feedback is your own mind, you can miss a lot of important ideas and information! Find a small group of peers, meet regularly, and hash ideas out until your next step is clear.

13. Come back to basics every day: You want: A service or program that will make a profound difference to your clients. Messages and materials that communicate powerfully. Strategies to get you out there, get attention, and result in conversations. A foolproof process to close the business.

14. Think bigger. Much bigger. Double your fees and then find a way to make those services worth even more. Yes, there are limits, but believe me, you are playing far short of those limits most of the time.

15. Get out of your comfort zone. The comfort zone is your payoff for playing small. But do you really want to be comfortable and safe? Do you want your tombstone to read: “Played small. Died anyway.”

16. Love people. Love your clients, your associates, and anyone connected to your business. Get interested in them, go out of your way for them. Be like the professional who does great work for you and whose praises you sing.

17. Take the lumps with the rewards. You’re human and you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Make amends and move on. Don’t dwell on past failures or missed targets. Keep focused on the big picture – on the difference you’re making.

18. Don’t blame. Everyone runs into people who do stupid things, lie or even try to hurt you. Do your best to forgive, forget, and move on. Realize that you’ve done your share of things you’re not proud of as well.

19. Tap into your genius and magnificence. It’s already there inside you, ready and wiling to do great things. The internal self-critical voices are lying to you. The fears and self-doubts are deceiving you.

20. Celebrate your victories. And I don’t mean by partying or getting drunk! Take a moment to go deep inside yourself and feel your greatness, your power, your unlimited life force. That’s who you are, your essential self, your real self. 

Print this out and read it until it starts to permeate your mind and dissolve your resistance, doubts, and fears. When that happens, success is assured.

Cheers, Robert

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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.