When I first started my coaching business almost eight years ago, I have to admit I was crazy scared. Even though I had been running a successful company for the past seven years with my husband, I had my fears and doubts about being as successful with this new branch to our company. Every entrepreneur has doubts and reservations, but what makes a successful one is the one that has the ability to not let the fear prevent him or her from pushing forward. Having been coaching entrepreneurs for the past eight years, I am seeing a trend of the types of fear that tend to hold people back, thus preventing growth and success.
Fear Of Change
I know what it is like to not want to change anything out of fear that something will not work, and thus cost you money. But change is inevitable. You have to roll with it. Let’s take technology for example. The world is moving at such a rapid pace, it is imperative that you move with it so you can remain competitive. Don’t let your website become stagnant and outdated. Invest in your technology infrastructure so it is easy to do business with your target market. Learn the best platform of social media so you can speak directly to your audience and form relationships. All of these things can be frightening. I have seen many a business not want to change their website or infrastructure because they are afraid of possible hiccups. Let me be clear – if you don’t stay up to date, your customers or clients will find someone that is.
Fear Of What Other People Think
This has happened to me multiple times over the years. Let’s take my website for example. I have never really been a fan of my website. I always put together what I thought was the “proper” business site that would attract my target market. Boy, was I wrong. I was stifling my creativity and my personality. And I did it repeatedly. I thought if I did what I wanted, I would scare off would-be clients. I was completely wrong. I finally stopped caring that I was going to upset someone and embraced what I teach my coaching clients: THE RED VELVET ROPE POLICY. RVR, in an extreme nutshell, means you only work with the clients that energize and inspire you, and motivate you to do your very best work. So I changed my website – from top to bottom. I put together a site that I feel will attract the people I am meant to serve. And I could not be more excited about. But it took guts. It took getting over the fear of what other people will think when they see my website for the first time. Some people may not like it at all – and that is OK! I am clearly not meant to work with them. AND THAT IS OK! You are never going to please absolutely everyone, so stop holding back something you are wanting to do out of that fear.
Fear Of Growth
This is a big stumbling block I see with business owners. They want to grow, but are afraid of what comes along with growth. With growth comes greater responsibility, new systems to learn, new employees, new processes and new challenges. It is easy to sit back and maintain the status quo – but that will never get you anywhere. My advice is that you assemble your very own “Business Dream Team.” If you are taking on growth, you need a team. Schedule appointments to talk with your banker, accountant, tech person, whomever you need, and formulate a plan to move forward. Most importantly – have someone hold you accountable to get it done. That is where I see most business owners mess up. They have big plans, know all the numbers, but get side tracked by life or FEAR and never accomplish their goal. Don’t let fear hold you back. If you need help, get help. You can do it.
I spent a lot of years being fearful and trust me – ain’t nobody got time for that! Embrace your fear head on. Maybe you will mess up. That is okay. At least you have learned what not to do. Don’t let your fear of what could happen – make nothing happen.
As the end of the year approaches, every business owner starts the daunting task of reflection. You start to assess what you have accomplished and what you have not, what made you money and what did not, what expenses are no longer necessary and so on. It can also be an exciting time as you look back and relive your accomplishments and big wins. But now is the best time to re-establish your goals and make some new ones.
But first – you need finish up the current year. Before you go making a lot of changes and getting caught up in the magic of the promises of a new beginning, let’s bring this year to its proper fairy tale ending by really looking at what your business accomplishments were, and what can be improved upon.
I have put together a list of the top ten things an entrepreneur should ask themselves as they wrap up the year and prepare to start a new one.
1. What was your revenue and how did it compare to the year before?
It is no secret that a successful business comes down to the dollars. But to truly know your dollars, are you keeping track of not only income, but expenses? Revenue numbers being high are a beautiful thing but sometimes outrageous expenses can kill that excitement. Take the time to get your numbers in order on a monthly basis so you are not cramming it in at the end of the year. That being said, were you able to provide enough products and services to increase your revenue? If numbers are staying the same year after year without much growth it is time to start looking at the reason why and deal with it.
2. What could be delegated and what do I need to keep doing myself?
I wrote about this earlier in the year. Most entrepreneurs feel like they need to take on all the roles of the business themselves in order to save money, when in fact they can be doing something else that makes the money while they delegate a task that is boring to them or takes them A LOT longer to do than a professional. Sit down and do the math to see if continuing to do certain tasks is actually costing you more money than just delegating them to someone else.
3. Which marketing method worked the best for me?
When I coach my clients, I train them on the six core promotion strategies that you incorporate into marketing your business. Which one of these strategies brought in the most clients? If a particular method is successful and bringing in the clients that turn into sales, consider doing it on a semi-regular basis. Always re-evaluate at the end of each strategy. Also consider: what is fun? Let’s face it, when it comes to marketing most entrepreneurs start to groan – unless it is something they LIKE to do. For example, I LOVE to network. It is how I got my name, Queen Bee. I love going to events and learning about what others do, sharing who I know, what I know, and how I can either help them myself or direct them to someone who can. I love the community and magic that comes with networking. Others see networking as a total nightmare and prefer to blog. Whatever your method – run with it as long as it makes you money!
4. What was your biggest struggle and why?
Taking a look at the end of the year for reflection will always bring up discussions of what DID NOT work. Perhaps it was a good idea that was just executed poorly. Maybe you did not have enough time to plan and if given the opportunity to do it again you would make some changes. Maybe your struggles were not with bringing in money, but dealing with employees or some other issue. Take a look at what was eating up your time and why – then you can make a plan so it is not a struggle in the new year.
5. What type of client brings in the most money?
This one should be easy to identify – but can you identify what brings in that specific client in the first place? If you can properly assess the needs and desires of your clients, then you can communicate the #1 biggest result they get from working with you. Follow that up by outlining the deep rooted benefits they will receive when they work with you, and then articulate it regularly so they keep coming back for more.
6. Do you have multiple ways in which clients can do business with you?
I call this your Sales Cycle. The amount of money clients will spend with you is in direct proportion to the amount of trust you have earned. If you have their interest, but they are not completely sold and still need to hear more, than you need to have an offering that is at a lower price point to give you the opportunity to win their trust. Do you have multiple levels of financial commitment in which to do business with you? Do you have various programs at various time commitments? If not, it is time to make them.
7. How often do you stay in touch with your current clients?
Keeping in touch is a NECESSARY step for every entrepreneur. It is a lot easier to do business with people that already know, like, and trust you than to win over strangers. Are you using social media, email marketing (yes newsletters are still important), or some other method to regularly reach out? Seth Godin once said, if you could never have a new client, how differently would you treat your current clients? Very profound. Treat your current clients as if they were your only clients moving forward. They already love you and want to promote you if you are keeping in touch and taking care of them. So make it easy on them.
8. Are there improvements you can make with your technology to make your life easier?
Disclaimer: My husband and I run a technology company as well. But I have seen SO MANY entrepreneurs that still waste so much time taking on tasks that would be so much easier with the right technology. Contrary to what you may think: proper technology DOES NOT always mean more money. There are so many ways to use mobile devices and cloud based systems to make your life easier that will not break the bank. My advice: get a hold of a technology professional that is focused on entrepreneurs and how they do business.
9. Is there a product I can create that will create passive income for my company?
Who doesn’t want to make money while they sleep? Dumb question – but I bet there is an information product up your sleeve that will not only establish you as a category authority, but a product you can make that will be an inexpensive way to get in front of your target market and win their trust. Could be an eBook, regular book, webinar series, or video series. (See #6 above.)
10. Do you have an accountability partner?
This one is probably the most important. As entrepreneurs, we are the captain of the ship and have to prioritize and choose where we spend our time. Unfortunately, life can get in the way and all the things I listed above can get put on the back burner. Which is why EVERYONE needs to be held accountable to someone. Find an accountability partner or coach that will meet with you on a REGULAR basis. Here and there is a waste of time. If you want to accomplish your goals, have someone hold your feet to the fire and you will.
Comments? What questions would you ask yourself at the end of the year that you feel is super important that did not make the list? I would love to hear from you!