If you’ve ever said to yourself “I’m not sure if this is working” or “How do I know if this person is doing a good job?” chances are you haven’t set clear measures of success.
This might sound funny to say – but it’s a common experience for business owners (myself included!)
I was talking with a friend yesterday about how the market is changing.
What people were looking for a year or two ago is not necessarily what they are looking for today. How we connect with prospects and close sales is – frankly – not as easy as it was during the ‘heyday’ of the covid years. (There were many challenges during covid but the online business space was booming.)
Now some folks look at this as a bad thing. I look at it a bit differently.
It’s business as usual.
We are simply ‘settling’ back into a season where we may have to dig deeper, be more strategic and approach things differently than we have been. I’ve been in the online business space since 1999 and I’ve seen this cycle happen many times. The “woo hoo! everything is rocking and rolling and things are flowing to me” stage and the “ooof wait a minute, I may have to roll up my sleeves here and dig in” stage.
The ‘heyday’ doesn’t last forever.
If you are newer to the online space – having started your business 2020 or later – this may be the first time you have been in this part of the cycle. And it can feel unsettling. Especially if you (or your clients) are struggling right now.
But I assure you there is success to be found here as well. I’ve been through it many times!
The bottom line is – people are still hiring. Money is still being spent. But they aren’t necessarily spending in the same ways that they were a year or two ago.
A few of the things I’m seeing right now:
- Knowing your ROI is mandatory – It’s essential that you can clearly explain to clients what the ROI is when they work with you. What exactly will they get? What will it look like? What kind of impact does it make for your client? For their business? Too many folks have been burned in recent years spending oodles of money and feeling like they didn’t get what they expected. If you can’t clearly demonstrate your ROI – and deliver on it! – then you may not get the gig. (I’m thinking of doing a class on defining your ROI – hit reply if you are interested.)
- Providing a complete solution vs. a part of the solution – I believe we are experiencing a ‘strategy hangover’ of sorts right now. Folks have been inundated with strategy but haven’t necessarily been able to implement the strategy (depending on their own capacity, ability or team resources.) Those who are offering solutions that see things through to completion – strategy PLUS implementation – are the ones who are thriving right now. <– This alone could change everything!
- Consistency in Marketing – Put simply, if you aren’t showing up consistently in your marketing right now you may get lost in the crowd. Gone are the days when we could pop up ‘here and there’ and be able to find clients. The most effective marketing I’m seeing right now is when people show up DAILY. (Yes, I said daily… I can hear the groans and I get it.) This doesn’t mean you have to do all the things and overcomplicate your marketing – I’m a huge fan of choosing one channel/strategy – but you do want to be intentional and show up consistently.
I’m curious what you are noticing? What do you see working in the marketplace? What have you – or your clients – been doing differently that you’ve found helpful?
There are two competing views about freedom.
- On one end is the soloprenuer – the person who does all the work themselves. If they don’t show up work doesn’t get done.
- On the other end is the owner who has structured a business that runs and grows without them. They have a team and structure where they don’t have to show up for work to get done.
Everyone talks about the second option as being a ‘real’ business – that it should be the ultimate goal of every business owner. And that if you fall into the first category you don’t have a business you have a “glorified job”.
That’s such BS.
Being in business is all about the freedom of CHOICE. The choice to do what we want. When we want to do it. And with the people we want to work with.
I was a soloprener for the first 10 years of my business and I loved it! Yes, I had to show up to do the work or I didn’t get paid. But it was on my terms. I set my own schedule. I (mostly) did things I wanted to be doing. I got to work with some amazing clients.
Beats a job any day in my opinion!
I shifted to a leveraged business model in 2009 and had to learn (the hard way) how to shift my role in the company. How to get the right support and structure in place so I could do LESS of certain things and MORE of others. How to become a CEO.
14 years later I am still working. I am still doing. Yes, I take weekends off and don’t work myself to the bone. I have an amazing team that takes care of the day-to-day running of my business. We have worked hard to set up solid systems to create ease for all of us. Any of us can take an unplugged vacation and the business runs fine in our absence.
And I’m still here. I’m showing up in my business.
I want to work. I like to work! And I dare say most of us feel the same… eating bonbons on the beach all day would bore the life out of me in short order. (what the heck is a bonbon anyhow?)
It’s more about doing the right things – and knowing that what we do makes the impact we want to make – vs not having to do anything at all. And making sure that our business serves us as much as it serves our clients.
I hired someone recently to help create marketing content for my Certification Accelerator programs (where I help folks create certifications).
When we were messaging back and forth about getting started she said to me:
“I’ve got your back”
I’m not kidding when I say I almost burst into tears! (And I am NOT someone who cries easily…)
I could feel it. She is ‘in’ it with me. She is engaged and really cares about the work we are doing together. I have total faith that she is going to bring her best to the table.
And it occurred to me… what an amazing gift to offer to our clients!
To say – and mean – that we’ve got their back. In whatever way makes sense for what it is we do and what we offer.
If I can be real with you for a moment – and potentially controversial in saying so…
There is a lot of discussion in our online world about setting firm boundaries and clear expectations. And I am ALL for this when it comes to creating healthy relationships and an enjoyable business.
And yet – there are also times when those boundaries can get in the way.
We stick so firmly to “how it should be” that we aren’t able to meet our clients where they are. This can be especially true in moments of struggle or when things aren’t working out.
To be clear, I do not at all mean to do anything and everything your clients ask for and bend over backward for them at all times. Heck no… been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It almost sucked the life out of me.
But there is something about being willing to go the extra mile when needed. To bend our own rules when things are tough. To be willing to jump into the mess with our clients and help them figure it out. <– THAT is a true gift for any client.
Let’s not let boundaries get in the way of caring! Of doing the best work we can for our clients (within the scope of what they’ve hired us to do.)
Let’s perhaps even look for ways where we can bring a little more “I’ve got your back” into the mix.
I’m curious what comes up for you here. Have you experienced working with someone who ‘has your back’? Does this make you go ‘hmm’ when it comes to how you are showing up for your clients and where you may be able to bring a bit more of this to the table?
It certainly has me thinking as well…
At the end of the day we are all human – and one of the greatest gifts we can give to our clients is showing we care.
During my morning scroll of Facebook the other day I came across a post that asked this question:
“What were you doing 10 years ago?”
I paused for a moment and realized – it was 10 years ago that I decided to divorce my husband, and we officially separated in June of 2013.
10 years ago… woah! In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in other ways it feels like just yesterday.
One thing I remember so vividly about that time is wondering (and worrying) if I would be able to support myself and my girls fully through my business.
I started my business back in 1999 and up until the time of my separation it had always been both me and my husband contributing to the household expenses.
During my marriage I had the luxury – and safety net – of a spouse with whom I shared the cost of living. We both brought in about the same amount of money and when we separated it was certainly a big EEK to realize…
“Yipes – it’s now totally up to me. Can I do this? Can my business make enough money to support us?”
Spoiler alert – it did and has since then. 🙂
It really hit me when I saw that post the other day – my business has been the sole provider for me and my girls for 10 years now.
This is something to be proud of. To celebrate. In the hustle and bustle of daily life – and the ups and downs of business – it can be easy to forget and really own that I did that. Yahoo me! (pats self on back)
Is there any big secret or words of wisdom to impart here re: what it takes to survive and (mostly) thrive for 10 years in business?
No secret by any means. And any words of wisdom would be things I’m sure you’ve heard many times before. (Although I know we all need reminders of these things from time to time.)
Be committed to making it work. Getting a job was never an option in my mind so it wasn’t even something on my radar in those low “eek” moments (which we all face from time to time.) So my only option was to make my business work.
That being said – I also want to acknowledge that my business was already established at the time of my divorce. My journey was more about how to expand on the foundation I’d already built in my business vs. starting a new business. The latter is a more challenging time in many ways, and it might make sense to have a job or a ‘side gig’ in those early days.
Don’t be afraid of hard work. There are times when it won’t be easy. When you will have to do stuff that you’d rather not be doing. Even as you reach certain milestones in your success journey there will be new and different ‘hard’ things to deal with. It’s not uncommon to see folks get stalled/stuck when they are expecting things to be easier (and resisting the work that needs to be done.)
Become great at asking for help. There is NO way I could have accomplished this on my own. I’ve had the support of my team, my licensed trainings partners and various coaches and experts along the way. As a ‘recovering control freak’ asking for help does not come naturally for me – it was a skill I had to learn.
Have faith. When I think back on the low moments of the past 10 years (and yes, there have been plenty of those… it’s not all sunshine and roses) I had faith in a couple of things. I have faith in myself – knowing that I am a smart, tenacious and capable woman who is good at figuring things out. I also have faith in a higher power to guide the way and to know that we will always be taken care of. I’m not religious but I am spiritual and have definitely leaned into knowing and trusting that the universe/God has my back (when I am willing to do my part.)
I’m curious – what were you doing 10 years ago?
We’ve all been there… a launch doesn’t work out the way we hoped it would. A client backs out of a program or cancels a contract.
And we find ourselves in a money crunch where we need to bring some cash in the door fast!
What to do? Here are 3 strategies:
#1 – Stick with what you know
Now is not the time to create and sell something new – look to the things that you have sold successfully in the past. The things that clients have already purchased from you.
This *might* mean that you have to offer something that you wish you didn’t have to do anymore. Like a 1-1 service package when you wish you could just focus on training instead.
I get it – we all have things that we want to let go of over time. AND if you need fast cash in the door, it’s OK to go back to what you know works in order to take care of business. (I’d rather see you spend a bit of time doing something you wish you didn’t have to do anymore, than to keep struggling with the $$!)
I also like 1-1 offerings as they are usually a much quicker sale – you can have a convo with the right person today and bam! The sale is made and you are out of your money crunch.
#2 – Reach out to your warm list
The key here is to look for the people who already know you vs. trying to sell stuff to people who don’t know you yet. Relationship building takes time, and we want to move quickly here.
There are 3 areas to look at:
- Existing or past clients – is there something you could offer to them again? an upsell?
- Personal outreach to past prospects – they may not have said yes before, but could be ready now
- A ‘bucket’ list from a past launch or promotion
Don’t be shy to reach out to people directly as well – it could be as simple as sending a message saying “hey NAME, would you be interested in X?” <– I’ve sold most of my 1-1 packages this way in recent years.
#3 – Sweeten the deal
Depending on what you are offering, you may decide to put together a quick ‘flash sale’ (which can work well with things like trainings or products.)
Or you might keep your prices ‘as is’ and focus on delivering more value (adding extra support to a 1-1 package.)
Either way, look to put together a smoking-hot offer that they can’t resist. And make sure that the offer adds up to bring in the amount of money you need.