I love to get up early and go to the gym.

The outcome of my entire day is determined by that very first hour. When it goes well (and it almost always does), I have more energy all day long. I’m more productive. And, frankly, I am a lot more pleasant to be around.

All due to my simple morning workout.

Monday through Friday, I’m waiting for the gym doors to open at 4:55 a.m. And I am not alone. I wait outside with my fellow “regulars.” We exchange pleasantries and chat about major news items. But when the doors open at 5:00 a.m., we can be mid-sentence and the conversation stops. We all focus on our fitness goals.

At least that’s how it goes 99 out of 100 times. But once in a while, “stuff happens.”

A few weeks ago, I was up with Delaine (my 4-year-old) at 1:00 a.m. because her tummy hurt. I knew my morning workout was in jeopardy. As I crawled into bed at 1:30, I nudged my husband and said, “I can’t believe I have to get up in three hours.”

Don’t do it,” he said. “Get some sleep.”

I responded with “My day will be shot if I don’t get my workout in!”

In need of sleep himself, he suggested that I set the alarm for 6:30. That would get me to the gym before 7:00 and in the office by 9:00. That, I could live with.

But here’s the funny part. Walking into the same gym at 7:00 a.m. was like walking into a foreign country! The music was loud. The cafe was open and crowded. People were standing by the stairs and by the weights and by the exercise equipment, talking and laughing.

I was a little taken aback. But I decided to just go with it. After all, in business I am constantly reminded how important change is to overall success.

So after an abbreviated version of my weight training, I headed to the third floor to find my favorite elliptical machine waiting for me.

Soon I was in my zone, drowning everything else out. It was just Bono and me, and he was telling me it was a beautiful day.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman approaching. She was smiling at me. I knew she was going to try to engage me in conversation.

I had to think fast to preserve the only “alone” time in my entire day.

But before I could come up with something that didn’t sound crazy or mean, she was standing right in front of me. Against my better judgment, I put Bono on pause and took off my earphones.

“Liz” started off by complimenting me. She said I looked like I owned the machine, because I made it look so easy. Then she told me she had joined the gym recently, a few months after giving birth to her first child.

She said she was embarrassed by the size of her thighs, but most of the machines intimidated her. All she’d been doing were modest workouts on the treadmill.

Having been a new mom not once but three times, I understand how it feels to want to lose the extra weight after giving birth. So I decided to turn Bono off and help her get started on the elliptical.

Within minutes, Liz was doing fine on the machine, and we were having a pleasant conversation.She told me that before having the baby she was a marketing director with a large advertising agency in Miami. She loved marketing. But said that, with a newborn, there was no way she could handle the long commute and demands of the job. And though her attorney husband had a good income, she knew that, with the new addition to the family, her salary would be sorely missed.

And then Liz said the magic words that were music to my ears.

She wanted to start an online business!

Liz had already enlisted a friend to help build her site. But she felt like the site was going in the wrong direction, and that it was too complicated.

Well, of course I jumped right in with advice. Here’s what I told her:

Building the Website That’s Right for Your Business

There are basically three marketing reasons to have a website. So before you start building yours, make sure you understand which one is best for your business:

1. To provide information about a product or company in order to establish a presence on the World Wide Web

2. To stimulate sales through direct marketing

3. To develop a list of prospective buyers

Each of these reasons is valid. Each dictates a different sort of website.

  • The Information Site

A site built to provide information about a product or company — and, thus, add to its credibility — must be comprehensive, beneficial, and easy to navigate. It should be rich in useful free content: articles, photos, videos, news, and advice.

  • The Direct-Response-Driven Site

A website built for marketing purposes must have all the important elements of a direct-response promotion. That includes a strongly defined look and message, free content, and a call to action. The call to action could be in the form of an offer or a subscription sign-up box. It’s best to have two sign-up opportunities on EVERY page — one in the upper right hand corner and one centered at the bottom. The site should also be constructed to gain high rankings on search engines like Google. Our site, EarlyToRise.com, is a good example of a direct-response-driven site.

  • The List-Building Site

A website built to develop a list of prospective buyers must be engaging, interactive, and constantly changing — with a prominent, easy-to-fill-in e-mail sign-up box. It should also offer a free bonus, such as an e-report or e-book, in exchange for signing up. A good example is expert info publisher/copywriter Bob Bly’s list-building site Bly.com.

Each of these websites is different. Each requires different copy, graphics, and technology. But all of them should have plenty of free, useful content. And all should load quickly and be accessible to people with older computers and slower Internet connections.

After I explained all of this to Liz, she said she was happy she’d had the courage to talk to me. She said she was going to go home and call her Web designer immediately.

I have to admit that Liz was not the only one who learned something that morning. I walked away with a few valuable lessons myself. For one thing, this experience reconfirmed that change is good. By getting to the gym at a different time, I not only made a new business contact but a new friend as well. Plus, it reminded me not to judge a book by its cover. When I saw Liz approaching that morning, I assumed I was in for some inane small talk. But it turned out she is a smart, well spoken, and interesting person who has added something to my life.

Are you opposed to change? Do you make negative assumptions that keep you from having something good happen in your life?

If, for example, you’ve thought about attending a business-building conference but convinced yourself that it would not help, I have an opportunity for you.

Join me, our elite lineup — which includes industry thought leaders like Clayton Makepeace, Rich Schefren, Joe Polish, and ETR’s founder Michael Masterson — and other determined and successful fellow ETRers at Bootcamp this November.  But come only if you want to grow your business and learn cutting-edge marketing techniques. And only if you want to be in the 1 percent of people who really understand the inside secrets of the world’s most successful info marketers.

Remember, if you want to change your life … change your actions!


Mary Ellen Tribby

MaryEllen Tribby is a business consultant and coach to entrepreneurs in the information publishing and digital marketing arena. She led Early to Rise from May 2006 to January 2010 as Publisher & CEO. She has also served as President of Weiss Research, managing divisions of Forbes, Globe Communications, Times Mirror Magazines and Crain’s New York Business. She currently heads up The CEO's Edge and WorkingMomsOnly.com.

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