3 Ways To Stamp On Business Fear
Running your own business should be a daily delight. It's the gift that keeps giving. You get to do what you love. You get well paid for doing what you love.
As you know, running your own business is not a day at the beach. It's hard work. There are times when it's stressful. There are times when it feels like a prison sentence.
Why does being your own boss not live up to the dream?
I believe business stress boils down to these 3 things:
Not enough time
Not enough money
Not enough skill
Let's look at each of these in turn.
#1. Not Enough Time
If you're anything like me, then not having enough time to do your best work, is a stress that weighs heavy on your chest. Tight deadlines can make it difficult to breathe.
Unrealistic deadlines are something you have to live with when you work for the man. Your boss sets the deadlines and there's nothing you can do about it.
What happens when you are the boss?
Why have you set yourself unrealistic deadlines?
Is it because you've said Yes to too many projects? Is it because the client set the deadline? Or is this something you can change?
There are 4 ways that I stamp on time stress...
Stamp On Time Stress Tip #1
The most powerful way that I stamp on time stress is to get better at estimating how long things take.
We all have good days and bad days. There are times when a task takes 15 minutes. There are other times when the same task takes 2 hours.
On average, how long does the task take? Is the average 30 minutes or 60 minutes?
If the average is 60 minutes. But you budget 15 minutes because that's your best ever time. Then you are setting yourself up for failure. Stressful failure.
You're the boss. So why set yourself up to fail?
If you have no idea how long things take. Start timing yourself. Time the good days. Time the bad days. Time the okay days. Then calculate the average.
I bed you find the time difference between a good day and a bad day are not as great as you think. It feels like you are running up sand dunes. But the clock shows something else.
When you can accurately predict the time to complete a task. You don't set yourself unrealistic deadlines. Then you can do your best work. Then you can love your work.
Stamp On Time Stress Tip #2
The second tip to stamp on time stress, is to find out how long other people take to complete a task.
For decades I thought I couldn't write because I got 10% in an English exam. It didn't matter that I worked hard to improve me results. That embarrassing result made me believe that my writing was terrible.
When I started to write copy, I thought every wrote better than me. I believed everyone wrote faster than me.
Then I hired a professional copywriter. I gave him copy ideas for each email. I told him the purpose of each email. Then I gave him room to work his magic.
When I saw his timesheets I was shocked. A professional copywriter with several years experience took 2.5 hours to write an email. Even thought, I'd given him ideas and a structure for the copy.
This made me see that I wrote faster than I thought.
You see, fast is a relative term. It's relative to something else. If that something else is your imagination... then you will always lose. If that something else is another professional in your industry. Then you can see how fast or slow you really are.
Knowing how long other professionals take to complete a task. Will help you manage your expectations. It will also help you manage client expectations.
Stamp On Time Stress Tip #3
The third tip to stamp on time stress is focus.
It's easy to fill your day. It's easy to work a 10 or 12 hour day.
Have you worked on the things that matter. Have you taken a step towards your big goals.
If you take a step towards your North Star every day. Then you will soon enjoy the success that is inches from your fingertips.
Taking a step towards your North Star does not take 8 hours a day. So with focus you can do this every day.
You know what your North Start is!
If you say No to other distractions.
You see, its easy to work till your fingers bleed. But if you aren't doing work that moves your business forward. Then your dream business will remain inches from your fingertips.
That's why it is critical you know your North Star. You must know this with rock solid certainty. When you do. Then decision making becomes easy. Focus becomes easy. Saying No becomes easy.
That's when you take daily steps towards your North Star... without working to exhaustion.
Now lets look at the second cause of business stress...
#2. Not Enough Money
A dream business is one that gives you the income and lifestyle you want.
What's a business that doesn't cover your expenses?
It can feel like living a nightmare. It's stressful. It's embarrassing. It makes me want to scream.
It also makes me focus on a solution. The solution is simple...
Put more pay days in the calendar.
Put More Pay Days In The Calendar
If you run a training or mentorship program. If you sell a physical product. If you have a retail business. Then you can stamp on money stress by putting more pay days in the calendar.
Please don't dismiss this as a stupid statement.
Yes, people can buy your products today and tomorrow. But they aren't. That's the truth. That's what you have to change.
By putting pay days in the calendar.
A pay day is the END of a marketing campaign or a product launch. It's the deadline for your special offer. It's the time the curtain goes down on your event.
If you sell training or mentorship then you need to do a promotional campaign. The sales sequence should include an online training and a sales letter. And it should be at least a week long. In my experience, 2 week sequences work best.
If you want to try out different ideas then run a 7 day sales campaign. Tell stories. Give great value. Build the excitement and need for your product. Then give your audience an irresistible offer.
Run a campaign every month and you've got a monthly pay day. Run a campaign every week and you've got a weekly pay day. Weekly campaigns will burn your email database so I wouldn't recommend them.
If you run a retail store, then put on an event every month. Book stores can have author readings. Book signing. Writing talks or workshops.
Don't think that a poster in the window will drive a flood of people into your store. You need to let people know through email and text messages.
If you don't have your customers' contact details then this is your North Star. This will drive your business. Better communication with your customers will drive sales.
If you sell physical products online then run a campaign about one specific product. Make your community understand how one specific product will help them.
What if you're a consultant?
That's brings us on to...
Get More Clients
If you're a consultant then you can stamp on money stress by getting more clients.
I know that can be easier said than done. And like all goals...
You don't achieve them by chance!
You need a proven system. Followed with consistent action.
What's the proven system?
Here's the mantra that I live by. Here's the system that I use to get a meeting with anyone...
Don't throw darts at a board
Never make cold calls
Follow up is King
Don't Throw Darts At A Board
If you need new clients fast. You pick up the phone and dial. Simple. Right?
Who are you going to call?
You see, there's one critical reason why you can't call every business in the phone book...
They can't all afford your fees!
If you're an IT consultant you could help every business that uses computers! That's every business.
Can a business with less than 50 employees afford your fees? Can a business with less than £5 million turnover afford your fees?
If the answer is No. You've just found a powerful selection criteria.
You see, you don't want to waste your time. You don't want to waste your prospects time.
So if you pick up the phone and don't know how you can help the other person. Then you are embarrassing yourself. You are wasting your time. And making cold calling even more brutal.
Creating a list of clients that you want to work with is worth its' weight in gold.
1-day of client research is worth a week of cold calling!
When you research the clients you want to work with. You know that they can afford your fees. You know how you can help them. You know who you want to speak to. You know how to make a good first impression.
You know the importance of first impressions. That's why I'm puzzled that so many businesses forget this on the phone. Here's what I mean...
When I get a call from someone who asks "Can I speak to the business owner". I immediately hang up. Why? Because they haven't take the time to find my name. That means they know nothing about my business or how they can help me. They are fishing. They are wasting my time.
You don't want to make that kind of first impression. You can't afford to make that kind of first impression.
Make a list of the clients you want to work with now. Make a list of the client that will transform your business. These are the Frank Sinatra clients. The clients that prove to the world that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
If you need cash flow today then focus on the clients that are most likely to say Yes.
Don't fill all your time with 'low level' client work. Keep some space in your week to contact Frank Sinatra clients. Yes, they will take longer to convert. And they are worth the wait.
Frank Sinatra clients make it easier for you to get other work because of their name. They show potential clients that If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Once you've got a list of clients you want to work with. You know how you can help them. Is it time to pick up the phone?
Because of the second part of the Get More Clients mantra...
Never Make Cold Calls
Cold calling sucks! Would you agree?
Cold calling is demoralising. Cold calling is brutal. And... I'm not convinced that cold calling works.
What should you do instead?
You send a letter to the person you want to speak to telling them why they want to take your call. What's in it for them if they take your call MUST be worth their time. You then tell them that you will call ONLY to arrange a time for a meeting.
In this way, you are much more likely to get through to Mr or Mrs Big. Why? Because they know why they should accept the call. They know the initial call is only to find a date to meet. In other words, they know you are not going to take up too much of their time.
Because it will get read.
It's easy to delete an email from someone you don't know. A physical letter stands out because few people send letters.
That's your opportunity to stand out. That's your opportunity to make a lasting first impression. That's your foot in the door.
A letter followed by a call makes you a welcome guest in the prospect's life.
A letter followed by a call gets results. You get through to Mr or Mrs Big. They want to have a meeting with you because they know how you can grow their business.
You want to get results. You want more consulting clients. With the least amount of pain.
A letter followed by a call is the way to do it.
This brings us onto the third and final part of the Get More Clients mantra...
Follow Up Is King
Imagine you've researched your Frank Sinatra clients. You've sent one an irresistible offer letter. You've followed up with a call. You've had a meeting and they want to work with you.
You don't hear anything from them for a month or two.
Does that mean they don't want to work with you?
Does that mean they have changed their mind since you met them?
Does that mean you need to change part of the proposal you sent to them?
It means they are busy. They are a Frank Sinatra client because they are busy. They made space for you in their calendar. They want to work with you. Then they dived back into business as normal.
Follow up with them in a gentle way. You don't want to pressure them. You don't want them to forget about you.
This is where simple things like Christmas Cards are your friends. This is a non-threatening way to say I'm thinking of you.
How long do you need to follow up?
I know that's not the answer you want to hear. The truth is that I don't have a magic number. I know that if you've got your foot in the door with a Frank Sinatra client. You want to keep it there until they welcome you with open arms.
If you can help them grow their business. They will want to work with you. Be patient. The right opportunity will arise. If you follow up. They will call you.
Now lets look at the final cause of business stress...
#3. Not Enough Skill
In her book The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp states:
"The bridge between what you see in your mind and what you can achieve is skill."
Dedicated practice is the path to mastery.
How much time do you dedicate... daily... to mastering your craft?
If the answer is None... then you need to change your habits.
You see, working on your craft must be a daily habit. When it becomes a habit then it gets done.
If it's not a habit then you'll only do it when you've got time. You're never going to find an extra hour in the day. You have to make that time. Then you have to protect it. Because life will try and steel it.
I spend at least an hour a day working on my craft. I'm not talking about writing. I'm talking about writing practice.
Metaphor exercises. Storytelling exercises. Language exercises.
These exercises have a clear purpose. I want to write more persuasive copy. I want to write copy that is easier to read. Copy that I can use in emails, sales letters and adverts.
I'll focus on craft. Then I'll do some work. You know, do the work that pays the bills.
A daily focus on craft means my writing is improving.
The beauty of direct response marketing is that I get real world proof on the quality of my writing. Does the new work get more webinar registrations? Does the new work reduce my lead generation spend? Does the new work make more money?
These are the tools that I use to measure the improvement of my work.
So what teachers or guides can you use to hone your craft?
These are the guides that I use:
Books & Blogs
You need one or more of these guides in your life to build your dream business.
How does working on your craft help you stamp on business fear?
It always takes me longer to learn a new skill than I expect. The concept is often simple to understand. That lulls me into a false sense of security. When I'm nodding in agreement. I think it will be easy to use the new idea. Before I've put pen to paper I can hear the cash register ring.
It's a different story when I start to do the work myself. That's when it's hard. That's when I have to grind out a result. It takes time. A lot more time than I expect.
It feels like learning to ride a bike. I'm terrified that I'll fall.
Because I know that learning a new skill is a process. A process that takes time. I've transformed that process into a habit. That habit means I'm always learning and growing.
Learning and growing is a journey. Long journeys take faith and daily steps. Habits make daily steps happen.
Now It's Your Turn
Now you know the 3 things that cause business stress. Now you know 9 ways to stamp on business stress.
Knowledge without action will not change your life. So pick ONE thing that you will do today. If you're a consultant that could be as simple as writing a list of the clients you want to work with.
If you have a retail business it could be as simple as deciding what events you will run to drive footfall.
If you have a training or mentorship business it could be committing to promote a new product next month.
Whatever it is, right it down right now. Write it somewhere you will see it every day. Seeing it every day will help you act on your commitment.
If you've found this useful then please leave a comment below.
If you know a business owner that struggles to get their name out there then please share this with them.
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