Talking recently with a successful colleague of mine, we readily agreed that we recognize a habit that is detrimental to many of our clients. That habit is, to borrow a dated phrase, putting the cart before the horse. Specifically, they worry about and make plans to spend money on projects for their businesses before they actually have the income from existing clients. The familiar adage is true here: “It’s not a business unless you have a client!”
My colleague and I both started our own businesses, and now being in the business of coaching professionals and business owners, we know that investment is necessary, in most cases, to start a business. However, unnecessary investment is ill-advised. Also, I am all for planning and I advocate having a business plan, a financial plan, a marketing plan, a sales plan and perhaps some other plans when starting a business. However, a doctoral thesis is definitely not required! Remember the well-know acronym, KISS.
Do any of those behaviors hold you back from the success you seek? Here are three related forces that may be responsible:
- The penchant to be perfect – Perhaps due to ingrained social messages or how we were raised, likely unconsciously, we seek approval by needing everything we do to be perfect. Of course, we know that is a waste of time because no one and nothing can be perfect. There is always some way to improve upon what we have created. Some of my clients will stay up all night, bite their nails, hover in corners, research until their minds are numb and their fingers ache from tapping their keyboards in order to have the perfect document. Whether it is completing the concept of a vision, creating a logo or website, or business cards, there will never be a “perfect.”
- The belief that you have to have the pretty packages before you can go to market – So many of my clients decide to purchase products or services, whether it is marketing materials, SEO, or a website from networking buddies before they have a single paying client or business income.
- The fear of getting the job done – Clients will tell me that they want to be in business, then research, contemplate, re-do plans and documents, freak out about having the perfect message, the right branding, etc. This behavior is mostly motivated to avoid the risk of failure or success, whichever may be more frightening. It results in continuing to network, exchange business cards, and feeling sorry for oneself because the answers one feels one needs remain elusive.
The solution to end this frustrating dilemma is simple…Act! If you wonder how to do that, follow these steps:
- From the plans and documents you have now, pick what you believe is the best ones and use them as they are. Make that a quick decision – the best at this moment. No further deliberation.
- Let go of the concept that there is something you don’t know that someone else or several others know that you don’t know. There is no secret and if there is, whoever has it doesn’t want to give it to you. Go forward; proceed with what you currently know.
- Spend not one nickel more
- Do the following:
- Pick up the phone, call as many prospects as possible and ask for business.
- Go to some group where you already belong or where you can go for free and build relationships to foster mutual referrals. Or, if someone needs your help, ask if he or she would like your help.
- Read some tops books on selling, put the books down, go somewhere or make a call to someone who may need your help or product, and ask for business.
- Ask for advice from a business coach, an advisory group, or family and friends.
- Talk to everyone you know within the sound of your voice, anyone who will listen, tell them how you help people and ask for referrals or business.
The five points in #4 above may sound ridiculously simple – however, the result will be a client. Then repeat these five points and the result will be another client. Once you have several clients, then, and only then, will you have the money you need to get prettier packages, refine your original ideas and plans, get more advisors or experts, and get fancier business tools
As for being scared to ask for business, we all are scared and do it anyway. Be genuine, know the value you offer to clients, and be proud to offer help to people. Just ACT and if you fail, that’s okay. That is losing the battle, not the war. If you get bruised by the fall, follow these words from a song: “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”