As the New Year gets going and we all get back to work, our attention turns once again to our goals and how we can make this the year that things really change. This week over in the One Step Outside Facebook group, we’ve started strong with the Client Generation Boot Camp, making sure that we have clear goals in place, that we’ve nailed our elevator pitch and that we’re clear on how we’re going to stand out in a crowded market with an effective marketing plan. So what can you do to really ensure the success of your business succeeds?
1. Commitment to a clear and personal definition of success
If you’ve been part of my community for some time, it will come as no surprise to you that the first thing I’ll recommend here is to define ‘success’. If you don’t set your intention for where you want to get to, it’s almost impossible for you to ever get there! Most likely, you’ll simply get swept up in other people’s definitions of success – your boss, your peers, your family – and those definitions may or may not be meaningful to you. It will also come as no surprise to those of you who are familiar with my approach that I’d encourage you to think of success in the broader sense, beyond the narrow conventional focus on work and career, to also consider things like your relationships, personal growth, and health and wellbeing.
It’s easy to get caught up in setting financial goals in your business – more clients! more money! – but you need to ask yourself what’s ultimately important to you. I love my work and I do push myself to achieve big things in my business, but I also make sure to remind myself of all the other things in my life that make up my own personal definition of success; in fact, I build them into the business itself.
2. An understanding of what you do and for whom
This may seem obvious, but you need to get clear on the fundamentals of your business before you rush off to do fancy campaigns or things like public speaking, or price increases. Who is your ideal client? What wants, fears and needs do they have that you can address? How will you stand out in a crowded market? Having a clear and succinct understanding of what problem you solve and for whom is absolutely key to everything else in your business, whether it be writing copy for your website, putting together a bio for a podcast interview, or coming up with the right message for a social media post.
You can easily get distracted by what other people are doing, or get lost in tactics like Facebook ads and email marketing, and forget what the core of your business is. As a coach, I can theoretically help a lot of people with a lot of things, but that’s not particularly helpful when it comes to crafting an effective marketing message and becoming known for being the go-to person in a particular area. Focus is key.
3. A clear grasp of the financials
While professional, and personal, success is about much more than money, a sustainable business means a financially viable business, and that means you need to be on top of your numbers. How much are your personal and business expenses? What is your target income? What rates will you charge in order to reflect your worth and achieve that target income? What value will you provide in order to justify those rates? Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring these things is never going to work and you’re only going to get yourself into a situation where your business fails and you have to take on projects and clients that you don’t enjoy, or crawl back to a full-time job that you’re not particularly interested in.
I went through a naïve and complacent period a few years ago, when I was caught up in the excitement of being a newly qualified coach, launching a beautiful website, and expecting to have clients come rushing at me… It took a while, but I woke up and recognised the reality of what it takes to run a business, and now have a much more robust approach to setting and achieving my financial goals and, ultimately, running a successful business.
4. Knowing what to focus on
Once you have the business fundamentals in place, along with a solid understanding of your financial goals, you need to be crystal clear on the actions to take to achieve those goals. It’s no use having a beautiful strategic framework outlined in a notebook or on a whiteboard but then doing something completely different in your day to day; and it’s that day to day that really matters. It’s the actions you take regularly, consistently, that will – or won’t – give you the results that you’re after. Investing in a fancy website and business cards when no one even knows you exist yet isn’t going to help you; spending all day on Instagram when your clients are actually on LinkedIn isn’t going to get you anywhere; pushing promotional messages to try to sell your products and services when you haven’t yet built relationships with people isn’t going to move you forwards.
The biggest problem I see is people either trying to follow too many different strategies at once, so that no one strategy is properly executed, or giving up too soon on a particular strategy so that there’s no time to actually generate results. I now have my week and month laid out ahead of me, with clear priorities for every day, to ensure that I make consistent progress towards my goals.
5. Getting the support you need
As a smart and capable person, you may feel that you need to do everything yourself; but running a business is a whole different ball game to being a full-time employee. You may well be able to manage alone, at least for a time, but you’re likely to do so at a cost, whether that be time (as it takes so much longer when you muddle through without any guidance), money (you waste money on doing the wrong things) or your health (you burn out in the process). The truth is that it’s in no way a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, all the top people in their field – executives, athletes, entrepreneurs – have coaches, mentors, advisors to help them be the best that they can be.
In the past, I was following the free content of every ‘guru’ I could find online, which led to a constant feeling of overwhelm and trying to do everything (and failing to really do anything effectively). I’m now investing for the second year in a business coach whom I respect, who is several years ahead of me in the coaching business, and who knows and understands what I’m trying to do and so can help me stay focused and on track.
Are you ready to build and scale your business – without sacrificing your personal life (and your sanity!) to do so? The Outsiders Business Accelerator is your guide to taking your business from surviving to thriving and making sure that you achieve the freedom, flexibility and fulfilment that you dreamed of when you started.