You’ve finally decided to do it – to quit your nine-to-fiver [or at least reduce your hours – a girl can sometimes use a safety net] and leap into business yourself. So thrilling and brave and brilliant!
Here are six tips, for making that leap a huge success:
+ Forget Passion
Not altogether! Passion for [or incredible interest in] what you do is critical. But the word ‘passion’ in your marketing material is empty. Everyone is passionate [or can say they are].
When I read that you’re passionate about coaching or painting or jewellery making or personal training or whatever it is you’re selling I automatically think this: yes, but how does that qualify you to help me?
Instead: tell me why you are the person I should hire. Tell me what makes you best person to solve my problem.
+ What is the Problem?
Get clear on what problem you’re really solving for your clients [spoiler: it’s probably not what you think it is]. And then sell accordingly.
If you have trouble working out what the problem to be solved is, try asking yourself what the client wants and then look at what barriers are getting in their way. The barriers are the problem you’re addressing.
Some ideas on problems solved by various professionals:
- Dog walker [Problem is not: my dog needs exercise. Problem is: I don’t have time]
- Financial Planner [Problem is not: I have messy finances. Problem is: I don’t know how to invest]
- Wedding Planner [Problem is not: I don’t know how to plan a party. Problem is: I’m overwhelmed]
- Personal Trainer [Problem is not: I don’t know how to exercise. Problem is: I am unmotivated]
+ Speak Directly
In all your promotional materials, especially your website, please, please, please[!] talk to me in the first person. I want to hear about you, from you [not from you writing as someone else]. It makes me feel connected [and more inclined to buy].
And perhaps use I instead of We [I know your business is just you – unless it’s not, in which case, disregard this point] and using we to try and make yourself sound grander than you are just feels inauthentic.
+ Choose a Niche
Voluntarily limiting your business can seem counterintuitive [why the hell would I cut out potential business?] but focusing on a particular field will offer you greater opportunity in the longer term.
Work out your ideal client, get very clear on what that person is seeking, find ways to offer it. And never digress.
+ Understand Yourself
Self-awareness is critical to great business: know when you’re at your best; identify when you’re happiest; determine your strengths; recognise the talents you offer.
Take notes, journal, reflect.
+ Act [and think] Like a Boss
You are no longer an employee. You are now the boss. And that shift requires a switch in thinking.
A boss makes tough decisions, maintains boundaries, does what is best for the business. A boss is unfailingly polite and respectful but doesn’t care if she’s not universally loved.
Shifting your mindset might can feel uncomfortable at first [intellectually separating yourself from the business can make the move easier] but will, undoubtedly, lead to incredible results.
Sometimes you can be workingworkingworking but feeling like you’re not getting anywhere. It is incredibly disheartening and not great for your motivation [which we know, feeds off a strong belief in your ability to achieve].
The good news? A few tweaks can make all the difference.
Here are some of the usual suspects when it comes to holding you back and some simple shifts to get you back on track.
When you want to get to where you want to be, it is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to choose the perfect next step. The only problem is: the perfect next step doesn’t exist. You can have no idea what will come from any decision you make.
When I started thinking about coaching I worried endlessly about what coaching course to do. I [eventually!] chose one and it turned out that it was not nearly as theoretical and evidence-based as I believe is necessary. But it wasn’t a mistake. It got me started and it led me to beginning [and finishing!] a Masters in Coaching Psychology.
Instead: just start. Do something that will get you moving.
You’re trying to be her
She is infinitely cool and creative and funny and clever and bold. She has an amazing product/website/family/look/job/life that you love. You find yourself changing your words, your clothes, the events you attend, the stuff you post, the things you write. Because she is successful and you so want that for yourself!
But that’s her and you are you. And when you try to be the way she is, you come across as inauthentic and your efforts are ultimately unsustainable.
Instead: consider when you’re at your best. Notice what’s going on. Encourage more of that.
You’re not doing the work
Yep! The people who succeed are the people who sit down and do the writing and the thinking and the planning and the calling. They’re the people who stay up late or wake up early, who make time to do what’s needed. Even those magically blessed people who make it seem effortless, they do the work too.
Instead: do the work [and stop making excuses].
You’re thinking you can’t stand out
Heaps of people come to me and say that they want to move into a different field. Then follow it up with: but so many people want to be in that field and I could never be successful [in a market that saturated].
They’re right in one sense – there are a gazillion people who are keen to do that work. But most of those people are thinking exactly the same thing: I could never stand out because there are so many players. And so they’re not trying either.
Instead: stand out by finding a niche, getting started [and doing the work].
You’re staying safe
Getting to the life you want, the life that feels amazing and is incredibly satisfying, the life that is bigger and bolder, requires discomfort. You cannot get there without feeling at least a little bit embarrassed or nervous or shy or stupid or completely bloody terrified.
Instead: reframe the discomfort. Have it feel great because it’s getting you to where you want to be.
You’ve lost the joy
When you’re focused on achievement, it’s really easy to lose sight of what you’re aiming for: [like] feeling amazing and inspired and full of life. The process becomes heavy and dark and burdened with fear.
Not only do those negative emotions discourage connections and creative thinking, they limit the possibility of the outcome being infused with joy and humour and amazingness.
Instead: remember what you’re aiming for. Write down five words to guide you and reflect on them often.
I have been feeling like a fraud.
For the last few weeks I have been feeling itchy, not sure of something. I have been writing about courage, about doing terrific stuff imperfectly, about reframing failure. I have been spouting some great material. And yet, I have felt rotten. Annoyed and frustrated with myself.
Last week, when I had a while to sit and reflect, I recognised that it’s because there are a couple of things I want to do, which I haven’t committed to, because they frighten the pants off me. Put simply: I am scared that I will look stupid.
Once I realised that, I felt like a great, big, inauthentic, preachy, hypocritical fraud.
So I spoke to my favourite person about it [because as Dr Brene Brown so helpfully and eloquently reminds us, shame – that feeling of being flawed and so, unworthy of love and connection – is incapable of surviving empathy]. I grabbed him and spilled:
Me: I feel like a fraud! I bang on about courage and doing amazing things and I don’t do that stuff!
Him: Hang on. Aren’t you the person who goes on radio and live TV and appears in magazines and makes yourself incredibly vulnerable?
Me: Um, yes.
Still me: But there are things that I want to do that I’m not doing because I’m scared!
Him: Well do them! You could do them with your eyes shut.
Me: Huh. Yes.
That gap between how you say you want to live and how you really do live can be a very uncomfortable place to be. If you find yourself feeling itchy and frustrated it could be because you are aspiring to your values rather than practicing them. It can help to:
Find some space to work out what is really going on
Pinpoint the disconnect
Speak to someone [who is unfailingly supportive] about it
Decide on some practical [and manageable] ways to shift your behaviour [to align what you say and what you do]
Do those things
Lots of people come to me scared to take action. Their thinking goes like this: I’m scared, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it.
- I’m scared of public speaking, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
- I’m scared of putting myself out there in the dating world, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
- I’m scared to start a business, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
The problem with this is that fears often lie.
There’s a high possibility that the fear you’re feeling means that what you’re considering is igniting some value or passion or talent in you. Which means that it’s a direction that could prove incredibly challenging and satisfying. Which means that it’s very much a PERFECT course of action for you, right now.
If thinking about doing something is scaring you, it can be worthwhile considering this: making your life bigger and bolder and better (almost always) requires some level of discomfort. The discomfort is (almost always) totally worth it. But the question is: how much discomfort are you willing to experience?
What are you willing to do?