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Are you struggling to connect with new clients, land better-paying projects, and grow your business in an increasingly competitive marketplace? If so, you probably feel overwhelmed, confused, and somewhat frustrated by the whole thing.
It’s only natural to feel that way, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Let me add to this by saying, “It’s easy to magnify the problem and make it bigger than it really is.” If you’re one person trying to do the job of three people, you’re going to feel overwhelmed all the time. So, step back from the situation and give yourself some space to emotionally detach yourself from it.
Are you trying to do too much? If the answer is “Yes,” then why? Probably because you’re trying to connect with new clients, land better-paying projects and grow your business in a competitive market! You’ve created a circle effect in your business. You try to do more to fix the problem, but “more” isn’t producing the results.
Fixing one or two issues and/or narrowing your focus might be all it takes to get the results you’re looking for.
Doing less seems counter-intuitive because that means you won’t be doing many of the activities your competitors are doing. For example, if your competitors are podcasting, they’re reaching people who enjoy listening to podcasts. So, you go ahead and start podcasting, too.
You do the same with all the social media platforms.
You do the same with your content creation.
But still, you circle back to the same old problem you started out with. You’re struggling to get new clients and so on.
The Confirmation Bias Effect
The dictionary defines confirmation bias as “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” When it comes to solving our own problems, we usually feel we know what’s best for us. When our approach doesn’t work, we blame it on the people around us, circumstances, and perhaps a few other things that absolve us from blame.
However, at the very end of the excuse chain lies the possibility that our closely held beliefs and/or theories were wrong from the start. Consider this, no matter how outlandish your beliefs and theories about a topic may be, you’ll still be able to find others who will confirm those beliefs. They’ll tell you what you want to hear.
Years ago, I started doing business in a dying industry. I just didn’t know it at the time. I started out investing some money, but deep down inside, something didn’t seem right. You might say that cracks appeared in the foundation very early on.
Here’s the point – I didn’t want to see the cracks. That was depressing. I wanted to see nothing but success and that’s fine if ominous signs aren’t presenting themselves to you.
Finally, I was able to get some sound advice from one of the old-timers in the industry.
Wisdom Can Be a Lot Better Than Knowledge
This man was kind enough to give me a tour of his business facility. As we talked, we both shared the same excitement and enthusiasm about certain business topics. I think he saw me as a younger version of himself in some ways? Then, the conversation turned serious. “This is what’s happening in this industry,” he said. About a half-hour later, my fantasy of majestic glory gave way to the stark realities I was facing.
In a way, it was like an alarm clock awakening me from a deep slumber.
I remember leaving our meeting that day and this little voice in the back of my heading saying, “Maybe he’s wrong?”
In my heart of hearts, I knew he wasn’t. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. It was a fade to black – roll the end credits type of moment.
Looking back, it’s easy to see how the emotions that were in play at the time infected my decision-making process.
It’s just business. At the time, however, I made everything in life a referendum on my value as a person and my overall place in the world. I didn’t do it consciously. It was more of the inner-dialog sort of thing. So, instead of allowing the successes to make me feel smarter and failures to make me feel dumber, I did my best to throw all that out. Instead, I began focusing on helping people, doing my best, and leaving the outcome in God’s hands.
Safe Houses Are Built on Strong Foundations
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a house only being as strong as the foundation it’s built upon? If you apply this approach to business, it can help you see things from a better perspective. The foundation of any business really comes down to supply and demand.
It starts with demand. Is there a demand for what you’re offering? If there’s not a demand, there’s still an outside chance you can create one. It’s a longshot, but it can be done. More often than not, longshots don’t work out so well. If they did, I guess we’d call them something else.
When I was in my twenties, I lived for the longshot. The thought of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat was a rush. Back then I used to think, “What do I have to lose?” Today, I’m ever conscious of what I stand to lose. I make every attempt to let wisdom influence my plans and pursuits.
We’re all human, though. At any given time, we’re capable of making some very bad choices and irrational decisions. Believing you’re not exempt from stupidity no matter how much experience you may have might be half the battle.
When what we want to sell doesn’t match what they want to buy, we can either figure out how to make our offer more enticing or going back to the drawing board and learn what they really want to buy.
The Problem with Group-Think
How do we know what they want to buy? One way is to ask them. Remember when surveys were all the rage online? In some markets, they still are. During the past decade, some of the largest companies in America created focus groups to decide what types of new products to introduce to the market.
If the product won the group’s approval, they’d roll it out to the masses. The results were disastrous. Without going into the psychology they discovered behind group-think, the bottom line is – people who like you will usually feel pressured to tell you what they think you want to hear and not what they really believe.
Perhaps the best approach is to develop a strong empathy towards the people you serve? Practice, and it does take practice, seeing things from their perspective. Let yourself feel their frustrations as you reverse roles.
From that place, ask yourself the question, “Does your business have the right kind of foundation in place to help clients with those kinds of needs and frustrations?”
If not, that’s what you build. If you have it 70% of it right, determine what the missing 30% is and start building it.
Getting a Deeper Understanding of Your Client
The other day I talked with a business manager. I asked her how everything was going with their new product line. She shared with me at a depth that was so insightful, I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the time she spent talking with me. During the course of our conversation, she’d pulled back the curtain on the inner-workings of the company. I was able to see things from a fresh perspective and with an increased level of clarity.
A friend of mine does a great job in her niche at taking a failing business, getting them out of the red, and finding a buyer for them.
It usually starts with the firing of a whole bunch of people. Then, she brings some of her own people in (people she trusts) to replace them. For example, if you had a restaurant, you’d end up with a new chef, new recipes, new menu and key members of the staff replaced. The key is getting rid of the people, products, and processes that aren’t working.
She fixes whatever’s missing in the foundation. Seems like common sense when you think about it?
What If You’re a Freelancer?
If you’re a freelancer or run a small agency, the above example may seem a bit foreign when you consider your own business structure. Sure, you may not have a “chef and staff” to replace. What you do have are tools and processes. That’s what you would be “firing” and replacing.
For example, let’s say you’re buying ads on Facebook and Google. The ads aren’t working well, though. If you’re doing them yourself, find someone else. Someone better than you are. Or, ditch ads altogether and test out another option. Test every idea and measure the results for yourself.
Make One Change at a Time
Even if there are just one or two of you in the business, it might be tempting to take massive action and work on changing four or five things at a time. The truth is, you can design your business to succeed with a simpler approach that has fewer moving parts. Marketing is a good example of this. The majority of your clients will come through one method. Still, people burn a lot of time and money trying to create, implement and manage additional methods.
If you start with the method that’s already working the best with the intent on making it better, you may be surprised by the progress you’ll make. Fix one thing. Make it better and measure the results. Then go from there.
Packaging Your Services Better
There’s no excuse for lousy presentation these days. Even if you’re not a designer, there are plenty of templates out there for everything you can think of. That’s just part of the packaging process, however. The other half is pricing. I tell everyone and anyone who cares to listen that you should have three price-points. Low, medium and high. If you only have two, most people will take the cheapest one.
If you only have one, you may forever be stuck in the price rut wondering if you’re charging too low or too high. Remember, we’re talking about what’s missing in your business. Put the multiple price-points out there and you’ll close more sales. It can be that simple. The data is out there to confirm it, we’re not just talking theory here.
Who knows, your packaging challenge could be solved by adding a new, better-thought-out set of pricing tables? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about – https://elementor.com/blog/how-to-design-price-table/ Here’s another – https://wpbeaveraddons.com/free-pricing-table-module-beaver-builder/
Learn to Communicate Better
There are plenty of books and videos out there that can teach you how to become a better communicator. If you really feel lost in this area, watching a video or two might be the easiest way to get started. Speaking of communication, don’t talk “geek” and expect people to catch on. Explain everything in layman’s terms. With many of my client’s, I’ll explain the logic behind a certain strategy and why we’re taking a certain approach. They really appreciate it, too.
Remember, with a new client, the jury will be out on you when you’re first getting started. If a client has unrealistic expectations, you have two options. You can tell them what they want to hear and close the sale. Or, you can risk disappointing them and tell them exactly the way it is.
Be honest if you’re looking to build a business that will stand the test of time. Being honest doesn’t mean being negative. If you’re trying to get a client to the first page of Google in a competitive niche, it may take a while.
A breakdown in communication can end friendships and marriages. And while you’ll never be able to make everyone happy, learning to communicate effectively will play a huge part in your business success.
What’s Missing in Your Business?
I’ve had so many “what’s missing in my business” moments over the years, it’s hard to keep track of them.
Having the right invoicing system in place, one that everyone was happy with, was an issue for years.
Our follow-up system was another weak spot. I solved it by creating a video follow-up system. Instead of sending a bunch of emails, I decided to use video for most of my technical communications. The results were fantastic!
Even today, I recognize the need to make things better and more effective. The challenge for me is, I’m not a great multitasker. Maybe you can identify? Sure, I can work on a half-dozen projects a day if I want to. With that approach, however, it takes a long time for anything to get completed. I find it much easier to get things done when I focus on completing one task at a time and getting it out totally out of the way.
My inherent weakness has always been the part of me enjoys jumping from one thing to the next. Still, when it comes to getting the best end result, that path never leads to a satisfying outcome.
Summing it up, I hope this topic has given you some things to think about for your own business? Feel free to share your thoughts and insights below.