We all have times when we want feedback on something we’re working on. Sure, we’re independent entrepreneurs but we all like to know what others think before we go too far down a rabbit hole or discover too late that what we’re working on isn’t going to fly.
This is one of the best things about Facebook and especially Facebook Groups, where contacts share their opinions and where you can get feedback pretty quickly.
I see lots of people asking for help throughout any given day and I’ve noticed some common mistakes made. We’ve all tripped over at least one of these. Which ones keep you from getting and benefiting from great feedback?
Before you ask for feedback or for people’s opinions about something you’re working on get clear about what you’re asking for, why you’re asking, who you’re asking, and what you’ll do with the opinions you get.
Ultimately you’re responsible for the results you get and being courageous means cultivating the ability to ask for and receive feedback, while having the confidence that you know enough and are good enough already to achieve your goals.
It feels like a never-ending process of trying to get noticed, inspire those who notice you to learn more, and then invite them to take the next step to work with you.
All of those things are very challenging for 4 big reasons.
You can’t change that.
But what you can do is embrace 5 actions that will have a big impact on growing your business and attracting more potential clients and opportunities…
So your reflection exercise for today is to think about what you’re doing to get known and be seen along with the emotions that’s bringing up and how you’re managing them.
And your action step is to make a list of all of the potential actions you could take to attract potential clients. Then identify what you’re not willing to do and what you are willing to do. Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re not willing to do you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re willing to accept that your movement may take more time than you want it to.
Look at your calendar and plan to do at least one thing to attract potential clients every day. You want to eventually aim for doing at least 5 things every day that will make you more visible and raise your Know-Like-Trust Quotient with those you’d like to connect with — whether they’re potential clients, potential referral partners, or potential collaboration partners.
Sure you got some things done; did some good work; but are you sure you’re going to end things on a high note or will it be something off-key?
It’s easy to allow ourselves to get distracted by the holiday season ahead and use the excuse that “nothing much gets done at this time of year” to just limp to the finish line.
You might have used a variation of that excuse at different times of the year…spring…summer….the World Series….football…this list is really endless when it comes to excuse-making opportunities.
Whether your business is off-track or you’ve had a successful year, my guess is there’s still something that needs to be done that would wrap this year up powerfully and set you up for a great start to the new one just ahead.
Set a timer for 3 minutes and then write or type everything you can think of. Don’t judge. Don’t edit. Don’t even correct your spelling. Just do a massive brain dump.
Make sure you don’t wuss out and pick things that just keep you feeling busy but really wouldn’t make much of an impact. For example, “Learning how to use Twitter” is not going to help you and your business make a big leap unless you’re a giant retailer with a big list and you haven’t started using Twitter yet.
3. Cut down to the single most important thing – it’s likely the thing you’ve been procrastinating about most – and it should be something that only you can do. And yes, I realize this is when you start getting nervous and looking for reasons to not take action. You’ll tell yourself, “I have to…” or “I don’t know how to…”and think up something that will distract you from the big thing.
This is the voice of the gremlin I call “Mini-Me”.
This little creature believes that making progress is scary and wants to keep you right where you are.
Your objective at this point is to recognize Mini-Me’s antics and then start making small movements forward. This will help her / him realize you’re in control and are going to be ok.
Funny how resistance rears its head as you start making more and more progress.
One of the biggest reasons we struggle to achieve our goals is that we don’t have a crystal clear picture of exactly what we want.
“More” isn’t crystal clear. A penny is more. A sucky client is more.
If it’s easier to think about what you don’t want then focus on that first. The point is that you should be able to give such a clear description of what you want that an artist could draw a picture of it.
Your brain needs to know what it’s working towards and what it’s supposed to focus on.
Without that sort of clarity it’s left jumping from idea to idea because it’s wondering “Is this it?!”, “Is this it?”
Help your brain focus by giving it extremely clear direction.
Remember Mini-Me? Well as we begin to move closer to our goal Mini-Me suddenly starts realizing what’s going on and s/he’ll raise a big stink. It’s easy to revert back to your old behavior of getting distracted, creating drama, over-scheduling yourself, or whatever other unhelpful behaviors you normally start embracing.
The key to making lasting change and to really achieving your goals is to keep moving.
Whether you call it persistence, stick-to-it-iveness, determination, or something else, the critical element of achievement is in maintaining momentum, recognizing resistance, and remaining aware so you can course correct to get refocused on the goal.
By doing those things, you continue to take action and ultimately achieve your goal.
So stop reading this and get going.
Remember, it takes clarity and consistent action to achieve your goals, finish the year strong, and set yourself up for success; so start with being as clear as possible.
I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.
You started your practice because you…
There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.
That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.
So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.
This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.
But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.
Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.
Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.
Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.
So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…
When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to focus on what you think of as a small segment of the population.
You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.
You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.
But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.
And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.
When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.
You become the go-to person for your particular audience.
The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).
Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.
It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.
Here’s a quick example.
On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.
But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.
My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.
What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.
So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.
I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.
Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?
That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.
Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.
So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.
They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.
But it’s very likely that you’re not.
That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.
But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.
You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.
But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.
You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.
So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.
Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.
Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.
Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.
Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.
Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.
She was right.
You really come face-to-face with your own crap.
It’s time to tune into how we get in our own way and limit our own success.
In last week’s article I shared the first 5 steps to creating and leading a courageous business life. I’m going to share steps 6 through 10 with you this week.
6. Detach from the Outcome. This is the 2nd most important step in this entire process. The most important is developing self-awareness. Detaching from the outcome is a simple concept that can take years to perfect; but if there was one single thing that helped me have the tremendous breakthrough I wanted it was this step.
I think this is one of those things that it helps to look first at what it is not.
Think about the last time you lost a client.
Maybe you spent days creating a proposal and quote and they turned you down. Or maybe you talked to someone about speaking at their event and they said no.
If you got emotionally upset about that it means you were attached to the outcome.
This happens when you take whatever happened personally or you feel as though someone “pushed your buttons”.
It means some aspect of your pride and self-esteem was hurt by what happened.
This can happen any time there’s an emotional response to something and it can be as simple as your feelings get hurt or you get angry.
The more awareness you develop on this issue, the more work you do to remove emotion from your work, the less your self is attached to it and you’re able to examine things that happen for what they are – things that happen.
Someone turning down a quote isn’t a rejection of you personally. But…even if they thought to themselves, “This person is too annoying to work with so I’m going to turn them down,” it should make you happy. Because you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed working with them anyway.
The point here is to not feel rejected if someone turns you down…to not feel stupid if something you didn’t do brought you a result you didn’t want. Look at what it really is – data for you to work with.
7. Understand the business of business. Service professionals like us start our business because we…
Even if you went to school and majored in business there’s a big difference between studying business and running one. And there are very different skill sets at play here. The great skills you have in the “what” you do are very different from the skill set needed to run, market, sell, and manage the profitability of a business.
The added challenge in this is separating the emotional issues from the nuts and bolts of running the business. We may be caught up under-charging, over-delivering to the point we’re no longer profitable. We can get caught up in bright, shiny object syndrome and end up buying course after course, system after system, all because we can recognize the power they have but they’re never the magic wand gurus can make them out to be.
And understanding the business of your business can help remove the emotion from many of the decisions that need to be made.
If you understand your expenses and revenue goals along with your sales process and how long it takes you to bring in revenue then you’re more likely to price your offerings appropriately and not be trapped under-charging or over-spending.
8. Take Massive Action. Yes I know sometimes a baby step is all you can bring yourself to take. That’s fine if it’s truly all you can muster. It’s better than nothing; and you’ll realize nothing awful happened. Nothing that’s not correctable anyway. But I started to realize that if I kept taking baby steps I’d continue to struggle with underachieving and it wouldn’t be enough to have the breakthrough I wanted. As I started to spend more time around risk takers who jumped on whatever new idea they had I began to see that was the best path for me. There’s an old saying that “the Universe rewards action>’ Well, it can’t reward you if you aren’t taking any. Look at it this way: You can watch people swim. You can read about swimming. You can talk about swimming. You can read books about swimming. But you’ll never be able to swim if you don’t actually get in the water and start swimming. So whether you jump in or climb down the ladder…get in the pool already will ya?
9. Have Faith. Now, don’t get weirded out. Acording to Merriam-webster.com Faith is “belief in something for which there is no proof.” More defnitions include “allegiance to a duty or a person”, and “strong belief or trust in someone or something”
Whether you believe in a higher power (for me, that higher power is God) or whether you believe in yourself, or both, success requires faith. It requires you to believe in something for which there is no proof – yet. It requires you to have allegiance to a person (YOU!). And it certainly means you have a strong believe or trust in yourself.
As entrepreneurs, we can talk a good game, but our actions are what demonstrate we have faith or we don’t.
Our lack of faith comes from a lack of confidence in ourselves….from a lack of faith that we can achieve what we dream of….from an underlying sense that we’re not worthy of what we want and not good enough to achieve it.
Internal faith – faith in yourself – grows out of love. So if you find yourself struggling to take the massive action you need to achieve what you say you want, then you’ve got to confront the issue and begin to reconcile this issue. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either.
10.Stay in your genius zone. We know full well that being an entrepreneur requires us to do everything. We’re not just the deliverer of the service we provide – which you’re likely to be absolutely outstanding at – but we’re the marketing department, sales, accounting, and the tech department. We cannot possibly be outstanding in all those roles and the others we’re called on to perform. And yet, we beat ourselves up like the eye doctor I talked to who called herself “stupid” because she was struggling to write the sales copy for her website.
This woman is no one’s idea of stupid. She went to medical school! She treats patients. And yet she feels dumb because she feels she should be able to write copy – a job people go to school for, get degrees in, and make the whole focus of their work.
The more you can recognize what your gifts are, build a business around those gifts, and then outsource non-genius work to others who excel in those skills the happier you’ll be.
That doesn’t give you a pass at learning the business of business. But it does charge you with building a business that allows you to truly thrive and that means working with contractors or hiring employees who can easily do the work you can’t.
Think about how confident you are when you’re working directly in the tasks you excel in. That’s when work isn’t really work.
It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes or that you won’t have problems. But it means those situations are likely to be fewer and less severe when you stay in your genius zone.
And you’re giving someone else work that matches their gifts too.
Being an entrepreneur is risky. It’s not for everyone. But in order to truly excel…to make the impact we dream of making…to earn the rewards we dream of earning…it requires us to take each of the 10- steps. It requires us to continuously work towards becoming a better person and becoming a better business person.
And it requires us to confidently and courageously move forward.
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level of success but can’t seem to bring yourself to take the massive action needed to get you there, then you’ve got a confidence problem.
I’ve created the Confidence Builder Series to share the strategies and tactics that helped me get out of my own way and achieve the breakthrough I had been dreaming of.
The free-to-attend monthly series is held on the 3rd Thursday each month through December of 2016. Head over to the Confidence Builder page to check out the upcoming sessions and register.
The skills and strategies that got you to this point in your business are unlikely to be the same skills and strategies that will take you to the next level – whatever that may be.
And the biggest thing we need to worry about is getting tripped up by our fears.
Franklin D. Roosevelt – our 32nd president – said it best when he said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Man did that guy nail it.
Fear can cloud your thinking and hijack your actions. And since we entrepreneurs are walking a tightrope every day it can get pretty scary out here even on the days when things are rolling our way.
It’s worse for those of us who have emotional baggage we’re in the process of unpacking.
There are 10 steps we absolutely must take that will enable us to take control over not just the rest of the year but also over the rest of our business life.
These actions have helped me put down those heavy bags I’ve been dragging around for years and have helped me step forward with confidence and positivity as I actively create the future I dream of.
But I had lost my sales mojo.
I would just not get into sales conversations.
Why? Because I had a fear of rejection tied to my need to be loved.
So the “want” — money, impact – wasn’t going to happen with the business model I had constructed as long as my fear of rejection and rear of being unloved and unlovable was there.
As long as I feared rejection I wouldn’t take the chance of being rejected.
As soon as I created a model and adopted the belief that I’m sharing information and people either want it or they don’t, the pressure came off me. Also, I realized that looking for love from my clients is a big mistake. Business is business and people saying no to me wasn’t a rejection of me personally. But hearing no is depressing so I needed to develop skills and design a business model that minimized my reliance on a sales process.
For example, I decided that if I did everything perfectly as a child then my mother wouldn’t have any reason to yell at me.
That’s a pretty reasonable bit of logic for a 7 year old to make and in my mind it provided some level of protection.
Unfortunately we know perfectionism will hold you back as an adult.
Another strategy I adopted as a child was I wouldn’t speak unless I was spoken to. And it helped that that was a cultural norm for children in my generation anyway.
So while if I didn’t say anything that would draw attention to myself or upset my mom’s emotional applecart the child version of me felt she was doing a good job of self-protection; the adult in me who doesn’t speak unless spoken too can struggle to make connections with strangers. That makes business building activity like networking difficult to impossible.
Once I recognized this pattern of behavior I was then able to examine the connection between my conflicting needs and wants while choosing new strategies that were appropriate for life as an entrepreneur.
Next week, I’ll share the next 5 steps to building a courageous business life. For this issue, your cocktail – or reflection – exercise is to reflect on each of these 5 steps and gently reflect on how they currently present themselves in your life and behavior. It could be a lot, a little, or a moderate amount.
And your action step for this week is to start a notebook or journal where you can begin to get clarity on what you really, truly want – in business and in life.
Until next week, keep moving towards your goals and don’t let anything stand in your way.
This has been a very sad week in the United States and it seems like the epicenter of sadness is Orlando, Florida.
You may have found yourself struggling to focus on the work you needed to get done or maybe wondering if your work even matters considering the heartbreaking events that went on this week.
Because this won’t be the only sad week we face while growing our businesses I thought I’d share some tips you might find useful. And believe me, I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m sharing this with you.
The biggest thing you can do is to go on. To continue to market your offerings, plan your next event, send out invoices. Evil wins when we become frozen in fear and sadness. Refuse to give in to fear. Period.
Continuing to work doesn’t mean you’re not a kind, generous human being. It means you’re an indomitable entrepreneur for whom work can be a solace as well as a tribute to the spirti of those lost.
The tendency I used to have was to look at my accomplishments and beat myself up for not achieving more.
I’m done with that.
I know that type of thinking helped chain me in self-abuse mode and kept me focusing on negative things which only got me more negative stuff.
Part of being detached from the outcome is looking at your results and not judging them. Just compare them to what you wanted.
I thought you might benefit from doing a mid-year assessment too so I thought I’d share what I did.
Revenue. I used to hate looking at my numbers. They were always inconsistent at best and not good at worse. But you can’t measure what you’re not tracking so take a look at your revenue from the first half of the year month by month. Is it going up or down? Were some months better than others? If so, why? Are you bringing in at least the amount you need to run your business, market your offerings, and have a great life without scraping to get by? Do you know the number you want each month? If not, get clear and then assess what’s going on here. Set a target for the second half of the year.
Expenses. These were on track for me but then my websites were infected with malware and it cost me more than $1000 to get the problem fixed. I now have an unexpected monthly payment for continued protection and I’ve got to figure out how to recover that money. That tells me I need to up my revenue number and take into consideration building a business rainy-day fund over the 2nd half of the year and beyond. Are you spending money where you should be? Are you paying for things you haven’t seen a return on? Are you paying for things you don’t really need at this point? Estimate expenses for the rest of the year and begin looking at expense estimates for 2017.
Profit. Do a quick calculation of the difference between your gross revenue and your expenses? By the way, did you take money for taxes out of your revenue? If not, make sure you do that and put it somewhere you won’t touch it. In spite of what Mike Michalowitz says in his book Profit First, you don’t pay yourself first. You always pay the government first. Remember, it took the US Treasury Department to bring down Al Capone.
Now, take a look at that profit number. Naturally you’d like it to be higher. Resist the temptation to beat yourself up if you think it’s too low. If it’s higher than you thought, then yay you. Make some notes about this number and give some more thought to revenue and expenses for the remainder of the year. As my mentor Mike Koenigs once said, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.”
OK, those are the very basics of business right? No surprise there. So here are the other things I looked at that I encourage you to review as well.
Referral Partners. If you’re an introverted entrepreneur like me and you hate selling, one of the secrets to NOT selling is to get more referrals. Word of mouth is important for any business but it’s really critical if you hate to sell. You’ve got to work extra hard at being truly remarkable. You’ve also got to work at cultivating relationships with key referral groups. So think about what types of businesses compliment but don’t compete with you? Who serves your ideal audience? Two segments that serve my ideal audience are Online Business Managers and Virtual Assistants. I’m actively cultivating relationships with great performers in these segments to spread the word about my show, Let’s Talk Tech, and for the tech events I have coming up. Who would be natural referral partners for you and your offerings? Are you cultivating strong relationships with those partners you already have? What more can you do for your existing partners in the 2nd half of the year and how will that impact your expenses? Will you buy gifts, send cards, etc.?
Web Presence Optimization. This can sometimes feel like trying to herd cats but what I’m talking about here is your overall ability to rank in the search engines for key terms, and the development of a consistent brand on the web? Is your website looking good or does it need to be updated (like mine does)? This doesn’t mean you need to be on every single platform out there but it does mean you want to do a good job on those platforms you are on and that you present a unified image and message. Keep in mind the old adage “A confused mind never buys” and evaluate your web presence with a critical eye. One of my goals is to dominate page one of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for several key terms. Do you have a goal for your web presence? If not, then add that to the list of things to think about for the second half of the year. And be sure to keep in mind any expenses related to growing your presence and your brand.
Product Creation. We create an awful lot of content each month. As people who hate selling, one of the things to make sure we’re doing is to repurpose that content into products people can purchase as a way to check out our philosophy, process, and effectiveness. These low and mid-priced range products can be reasonable investments for someone who is evaluating whether or not to work with you privately and they’re also a way to get paid for all that content you’ve created. This can be a relatively painless way to begin to grow your revenue and maximize your earning power. Reflect on everything you’ve created – blog posts, webinars, white papers and reports, etc. – and then think about the needs and wants of your audience. How can you put together at least one small product to begin to sell before the end of the year?
The first half of 2016 was crazy for me. I…
Le…successfully launched my podcast, t’s Talk Tech (on New & Noteworthy within an hour of its official launch and was in N&N in three categories every day for 8 weeks!),
...laid out a sales funnel
…planned and hosted my first big virtual event
…got featured in two commercials for hosting company Hostgator
…created and sold a course on developing and launching a unique podcast
…and survived the malware infection of my three web properties.
But I paid a big price.
I missed a couple of important family events and spent only minimal time with my husband.
What about you? Were the sacrifices you made worth it? What are you unwilling to do as you move into the second half of the year?
For me, this is an additional incentive to grow my revenue since I need to outsource more work to stay in my genius zone, maximize my impact, and minimize time spent away from those I love.
You know how fast time flies by. Take control of where you and your business are going so you don’t wind up on December 31st kicking yourself for another year of not becoming the person and not building the business you were meant to.
Leave a comment below and let me know where you stand at mid-year….how do you feel about your accomplishments and what are your big goals for the rest of the year.
(This post was first published in May of 2016. I made a few edits to make it more evergreen. — wha)
The first jobs I got as a kid were service-centered – where going the extra mile to please a customer was a badge of honor and led to financial and emotional rewards.
That conditioning continued through my corporate life as I worked in service industries and in helping positions – training, staffing, and organizational development, as well as marketing and sales.
Saying “no” was a quick way to be branded as “not a team player” and someone who wasn’t committed to the organization.
Out on our own, this drive to please our clients is a double-edged sword.
It can lead us to becoming the go-to person for those we serve and it can lead us to being seen as a leader in our industry segment.
But it can also cause us bending over backward to an unhealthy extreme.
Examples of going too far include any time you give so much value that you resent doing it. That’s taking over-delivering to the extreme.
It also happens when you do things for your clients and are afraid to charge them or because you want to have praise heaped on you more than you want money to flow into your bank account.
And sometimes, just as we leave ourselves open for bullies in our personal lives, being too eager to please can open you up to relationships that descend into bullying.
These business bullies can be those who use overwhelming negotiating tactics to get you to lower your prices, to give them more value than they want to pay for, or blaming you for not reading their minds and delivering on things they never asked for.
Standing up to them can be hard, but it’s a critical exercise in building your confidence muscles.
There’s a great Seinfeld episode where Elaine asks to use Jerry’s apartment while he’s out of town. The reason she needs to use it is so she can host a baby shower for a an acquaintance named Leslie who she doesn’t know very well but doesn’t really like but can’t say no to. Jerry and Elaine’s friend George considers Leslie as one of the worst dates of his life, but who he couldn’t stand up to when she humiliated him on their date.
Jerry’s predicament in the episode is he’s agreed to have Kramer’s friends install illegal cable in the apartment.
This is a great episode that shows the difficulty of standing up for ourselves with people we have a hard time saying “no” to, even though that’s what we really want to do.
Just this week I was faced with someone who I looked up to and admired who I felt was pushing me around about a project I had invited her to be on. (My husband Lou swears life is a Seinfeld episode)
She had missed every deadline she’d agreed to and then wanted me to change the completion date of the project.
And at first I was going to do it.
But then I realized what I was allowing to happen.
I realized that if I gave in I was allowing her to bully me and I was not valuing myself or my skills, nor was I acting as the leader I needed to be on the project.
So I told her the project didn’t appear to be a fit for her and while I wished her well I’d be moving on without her.
No apologies. No “It’s not you, it’s me” type of language.
It took a lot for me to be able to do that.
The old me – from even a year ago – wouldn’t have done it. I’d have given her everything she asked for, inconvenienced myself, but kept her happy (at least until the next thing she didn’t want to happen).
Of course, I made this brave stand by email 🙂 but at least I took a stand – the stand that was best for me.
The fact that she’s now unhappy about being cut out of the project isn’t my fault and it doesn’t make me a bad person.
It makes me a smart, healthy business person.
It minimizes my stress on the project, which on the whole raises my profitability because the happiness I feel about work directly impacts the quality and value of my days.
It lowers my exposure to risk. People who have extremes in their behavior and who get angry over what they perceive to be slights are unpredictable. I know people who’ve been caught up in law suits over ridiculous issues and who spent their life savings defending themselves.
It reinforces positive self-talk. Standing up to someone who’s intimidating makes me feel good, proves I can face bigger challenges, and develops my resiliency skills.
All of that takes confidence and courage.
But I didn’t always have them.
It took me years to develop them. And now that I have them, I’m not losing them again.
So if you find yourself complaining about your clients, your work, and other things in your business (or life), ask yourself what you’ve done that’s allowed those things to happen or to continue to happen (this doesn’t include violence, ok? That’s not what I’m saying here).
Ask yourself why you continue to stand for this type of behavior or these types of actions.
And face the fact that, to propel your business forward you’ve got to raise you confidence level and courageously step up for what you believe.
What types of situations do you find you lack confidence in? Share your thoughts.
Motivated by my relocation five hundred miles away from my home in South Jersey, I decided to completely reinvent my business so it was more of the work I wanted to do and less of what I didn’t want.
Instead, I got more of both.
I’m thrilled that my show launched successfully.
It landed on New & Noteworthy in iTunes before it even had any downloads!
It was in New & Noteworthy in three categories and in N&N for all of iTunes almost every day for 8 weeks.
It attracted me joint venture offers, new clients, and new connections.
I was even featured in two commercials for website host, Hostgator.
Revenue is up and opportunities keep coming.
And while I’m thrilled and grateful for all the good things coming my way, I wanted to share some advice that falls in the “be careful what you wish for” category.
The trick is to be ready for growth when it happens.
Here are my 5 tips to help you prepare for growth based on what I’ve learned since things really started taking off for me.
1. Take care of yourself. This is the number one thing for a reason. If you’re not performing at your peak then you won’t be able to sustain growth. Get plenty of sleep. Eat well. Drink plenty of water. And build in time for activity and exercise. But the most important thing you need to do is to manage your schedule. It will take you three times as long to get things done so stop saying yes to everyone NOW, before you get so busy you burst in to tears when someone asks how you’re doing.
Yes, that happened to me.
2. Start looking for help before you actually need it. As a former recruiter with more than 10,000 interviews under my belt and a 94.6% retention rate for those I interviewed, trust me when I tell you that it takes much longer to find the right person than you think it does. And don’t just go by a referral from someone you know. My first two virtual assistants came highly recommended and let’s just say things didn’t go well.
Depending on the skill level you’re looking for and your own work schedule it’s going to take you at least 3 months to find the right person and get them onboard (orient them, teach them your way of doing things, etc.). If you don’t have processes down (I didn’t and am working on them) it could take you as long to onboard them as it does to recruit them.
And don’t think you’ll just do everything yourself because it’s easier than hiring someone. Your revenue and enjoyment of life will be limited if you continue to do everything yourself. Yes, managing costs is important but so is doing work you’re great at and that brings you joy. I’ll bet every task involved in delivering your service doesn’t bring you joy.
3. Document everything. Getting ready to grow requires a lot of creating. You’re putting together your new offer, finishing a book, or creating a new process. If you don’t document everything as you go, you’ll end up with twice as much work when you should be just handing things off to your support person. And sometimes you’ll have to pay extra to have someone help you document the process.
4. Monitor and manage your cash flow well. One of the crazy things that happens when you grow is you discover you need to spend more money to actually achieve the growth or to sustain it. Your email list grows and you find yourself faced with the choice of paying more for the next size up of email contacts or moving to a different provider to get a better price and have more room for growth.
Make sure your invoicing when it’s time and following up on **unpaid invoices. And watch your spending. You need money to pay for help so hold off on buying anything that’s truly not needed.
Investigate additional, easy opportunities to maximize your revenue without much extra effort. For example, I subscribe to Ebates.com and have its extension on my browser.
When I’m about to buy something from a company in their system I get a little prompt to activate their cash-back deal. It’s not much but it’s been enough for lunch out once a month. And it’s stuff I’d be buying anyway. Another strategy I use is affiliate marketing.
Yes, sometimes links I include on my website, and in my books and courses are affiliate links. That means I earn a little commission if someone clicks through and buys. It’s not huge and I only do it for things I’m really comfortable with – often that I use or have used personally or that someone on my team uses. It’s simple to do; it’s easy; and every little bit helps.
5. Ask for – and accept — help. That famous philosopher, Anonymous, once said “Being an entrepreneur is the most expensive and intense personal development program there is.” And she was right.
I had always known I was incredibly independent. And my husband, Lou, often tells me I’m “hard to be nice to.” Being independent is one of my top values, but there’s just no way I could have gotten my podcast, Let’s Talk Tech, and the business I’m building around it off the ground if I hadn’t accepted and asked for help.
And I have to tell you it was hard.
Not just because I had to pay for it but because I felt so…undeserving….unworthy?
Growing up in corporate America you get indoctrinated in this belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness because God forbid someone should think you can’t do what they’ve asked.
But in reality – especially as an entrepreneur – asking for and accepting help is a sign of a very healthy person.
I caught the tail-end of a presentation by Facebook guru Mari Smith a few months ago. One of the most important things we needed to do in 2016 she said was “get help”. She said there was no way she’d be at the place she now is were it not for the support she’s gotten.
Growth is fantastic. It’s fun and exciting; but it’s also exhausting and frightening.
If you’re going to get your business to the next level of **success while enjoying the sort of life you want – plenty of time for enjoying friends, family, and interests – then it’s important to prepare for and manage growth effectively.