I see lots of business owners saying they are behind, that they are not going fast enough in their business and it’s frustrating them.
If you feel like this I’d like to reframe it for you.
Building a business is a long game where you learn from experience and get better over time.
🚗 You know those ‘learn to drive in a week’ courses where you learn enough to pass your test but then you have YEARS of learning what it’s really like to drive on different roads, in different conditions and with other (often dodgy) drivers on the road?
It’s a bit like that.
You can learn enough to get going in business pretty quickly but the rest takes time.
Every mistake is a lesson
Every disappointment is a learning curve
Every flop is a chance to try again
Every bad customer is showing you who you DON’T want in your business.
The knowledge to grow your business comes FROM the experience of running it
You can’t rush that
You’re not behind, you’re going at exactly the right speed for where you are now in your business and your life.
I was listening to a podcast on the way back from the school run one morning and they interviewed the safecracker who opened Prince’s (the singer) safe after he died. Random, I know, but bear with me.
This man had been cracking safes for over 20 years. He studied them. He had honed his skills and perfected his art. He had files and folders of measurements and technical drawings to help him do his job.
He explained that modern safes, especially the one Prince owned, are unbelievable and deemed uncrackable. It’s not like in movies where they listen for clicks, that went out years ago.
The only way to crack them is to get through the multiple layers, including one made just of ball bearings that wrecks drill bits, use an endoscope and reverse engineer the combination. They have minute tolerances – if you are a couple of millimetres out when performing just one of the complicated steps it will fire a re-closing mechanism that wrecks all the work you just did. It was fascinating (well at least I thought so!).
Anyway after an hour he was able to swing open the door to the safe and the roomful of people gave him a round of applause and it made me think of you. Why?
Well, think about the spectators. To them they had watched a man take an hour to open a safe.
What actually happened was a man only took an hour to open an uncrackable safe because of the 20+ years of practise, experience, research, learning and persistence he had behind him. Understandably he is expensive to hire but you’re paying for the years not the hours.
Now, think about how much you have learned over the years to get to where you are today.
All the practise you’ve had, the mistakes you have made, the shortcuts you’ve worked out, the art you have perfected, the skills you have developed.
The end result is what you sell in your business and you under-charge because you think people won’t pay what it’s actually worth.
This is my reminder to you that your end product or service is the result of years of experience and the ‘right’ people will value that and will pay the right price. Focus on them.
Running a small business is challenging – not only do you have to deal with legal stuff, tax and accounting, you also have to do the thing you’re actually in business for AND market your business so the customers and the money keep coming.
It’s not easy.
It’s one big, scary, confusing juggling act and it’s not for the faint hearted.
Marketing in itself can be a struggle. For starters, what IS marketing, exactly? And how is it different from sales? And when you’ve got a whole host of social media options plus advertising, blogging, networking, email marketing, speaking, SEO and more, no wonder it gets confusing.
And where are you supposed to find the TIME to do it, for pete’s sake?
OK let me help. I’m going to answer those questions and a few more besides and by the end of this blog you should feel more than capable (not to mention inspired and motivated) to market your awesome business and make more money.
What IS Marketing?
OK there are whole text books (really big ones) devoted to marketing. Loads of them. And I’ve read far too many in my student days. Let me give you one piece of advance forget what the text books tell you because it’s far too complicated for micro-businesses and small businesses – we need to keep it simple.
Marketing is attracting customers. There are lots of ways of doing it and some work better than others for different types of business but it can include all those things I mentioned above from social media to speaking gigs, and a whole lot in between. These marketing activities help to get you known, stand out and be seen by potential buyers. They position you as an expert, show you’re credible and show how you can help your buyers. AND they drive sales, that is, they encourage people to buy from you. That’s what marketing does. In a nutshell.
What Marketing Should I Do?
Well that depends on you and on your business. What sort of people do you want to attract? I’ll tell you what marketing you SHOULDN’T DO and that’s the ‘marketing to everyone’ sort of marketing – that is expensive, time consuming and doesn’t work.
Let me explain. You’re a small business owner. You’re busy enough just trying to run the darned business without trying to market to everybody in the world.
First of all, not everyone is a good fit for you. Most people won’t be interested in what you sell and some will be interested but they’ll be a bad fit, and they’ll turn into BAD customers. You don’t want those.
There will be some people, though, who are a brilliant fit for your business. They will love you and love what you do. They will tell their friends about you and they’ll keep coming back and spending more. And you’ll enjoy selling to them because they are fab and the time flies when you chat to them.
They are your Super Customers.
Out of everyone, they are the most likely to buy from you. So here’s a question: Why would you try to market to everyone when most people are not a good fit and aren’t interested? Why not market to the people who are most likely to buy from you?
Why not market to your Super Customers?
Now this may go against what you’ve been taught. It will definitely go against what that bloke at the networking group said ‘what do you want to niche for, you’re doing yourself out of business…’ But the thing is, you have a clever secret. Let him go and try to market to the world, while you figure out who is most likely to buy from you and focus all your marketing effort and energy on them. It will take some time, maybe 3-6 months to really get traction and see results but once it starts to work, wowsers! You’ll start attracting amazing people. People who love you and who BUY. More than once!
You’ll start to find your marketing working and it will feel effortless (but don’t let that fool you, you still need to put the work in). You’ll spend your days working with and selling to people who think you’re fab – and they’re right. You are! You’re a marketing ninja and you’ve got a distinct advantage over most of the small business owners out there who are opting for the ‘spray and pray’ approach.
Once you get your head around the whole ‘Super Customer’ thing, you’ll find your marketing just got a whole lot easier.
When you know who your Super Customer is you:
Know what marketing to do, because you’re aiming it at your Super Customer (are they on FB? If not, don’t market on FB!)
Know what to say in your marketing (because you’re talking to your Super Customer and not trying to please / attract everyone)
Know where to put your marketing (where your Super Customer will see it)
Save money because you’re not doing ‘spray and pray’ marketing that costs a lot and doesn’t work
Save loads of time because you’re only doing the marketing that works for your Super Customer rather than marketing for the sake of it
Get much better results (remember, it will take a few month) because you’re marketing to the people who are most likely to buy from you
Feel awesome because you’re surround by lovely people who think you’re fab
The last thing you need to know is, once you get your Super Customer right (and by the way this might take longer than you expect and addle your poor brain in the process but stick with it) then you need to market CONSISTENTLY and PERSISTENTLY.
Have a simple plan.
Pick 2 or 3 marketing activities AT THE MOST or you’ll find yourself feeling overwhelmed and you’ll spread yourself too thing. Do your 2-3 marketing activities regularly and don’t give up, even if you think your words aren’t getting seen or heard.
It always feels like this when you start marketing to your Super Customer, it will feel like you’ve made a mistake and you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel and go back to the ‘spray and pray’ option but please, don’t! Stick with it and in a few weeks and months you’ll start to see the results – the fruits of your labours.
A few months from now you will be attracting Super Customers who love you, value you and keep coming back. Your cashflow will be healthy and your income will be steady. You won’t be frantically marketing in a panic just to bring in business and you’ll feel like you’ve got a proper business. But you’ve got to keep going – keep marketing consistently and persistently.
And that, in a nutshell is how to market your small business. Good luck!
“When you turn down £500 cash (50% discount) in your hand today because they are not your super client!!!! ARGH!!! lol Off to lie down!”
I love this post!
A lady in one of my Facebook groups posted it and it started a big discussion that might not have gone the way you might expect. Instead of bemoaning the fact that she had ‘lost’ £500, everyone in the group was cheering her on and saying how well she had done!
And they were right!
She’s a very talented photographer and puts a lot of work into every client project.
She made me laugh because her next comment was “My head was going ‘just take it, go on’ but my mouth kept saying nope!!!… I know it was super cheeky of him to ask for that kind of discount but I’d have only had myself to blame if I’d have taken it!” This is the power of knowing your Super Customer. She knew that if she had taken that money and discounted her prices by 50% even though she really needed the money and it was right there, ready to grab, several things would have happened:
She would have under-valued her service.
It’s worth what she charges for it and if she had taken 50% less then she is telling the Universe and herself that she’s not really worth what she charges. It might sound woowoo but if YOU don’t value your time and expertise, how can you expect anyone else to?
She would have begrudged the work
It wouldn’t have flowed, it would have felt like hard work and she would have been carrying out the project knowing that the customer wasn’t prepared to pay the proper price.
If someone else had come along, who was prepared to pay her usual rates, she would have had to say ‘no’ because she was booked up with this ‘half price deal’
The customer clearly didn’t value her enough to respect her pricing – he was looking for ‘cheap’
And that always spells trouble.There’s nothing wrong with bargain hunting but when you are dealing with someone’s time and expertise and livelihood and you want cheap, that’s a different matter. Clients who want ‘cheap’ under those circumstances often become nightmare clients because they don’t value you or respect you.They are hard to work with. They are tricky – they try to squeeze ever more from the deal, stall signing it off and then become troublesome payers, if you invoice them.
But she didn’t give in to temptation or pressure.
She said ‘no, thank you’.
By doing that she showed him that she values herself and her service.
She proved to herself that she is brave and bold and confident enough in her service to not have to discount.
She showed the Universe that she’s prepared to stick it out and wait for a better client who loves and values what she does, and she’s made room for them by saying ‘no’ to bad business.
She’s let that ‘bad’ client go and find someone else to work with, someone cheaper who maybe doesn’t value themselves as much. That’s their call, but she’s not prepared to compromise at that level.
She’s freed up time that she would have spent begrudgingly working for him.
She knew that the £500 she rejected could have cost her much, much more in time wasted, energy sapped and confidence battered. It’s a ‘no-brainer’ when you think about it.
She’s done herself proud.
And I am really proud of her, as are the other ladies in the group.
It’s hard to say ‘no’ to the money, especially when it’s being dangled in front of your face and you’re feeling a bit broke. But it’s harder to deal with the consequences of saying yes.
We all have times when, for one reason or another, we NEED to come up with some quick cash in our business – so how DO you create money when you need it?
I have some ideas for you. Some of these depend on what type of business you’ve got, not all of them will work for you, however, one might and then you’ll get some money quickly –YAY! These are NOT strategic business moves, they are one-off quick fixes that will dig you out of a hole. If you keep having to do this, you need to look at what you want from your business, why you keep running out of money and how you can put a business strategy in place with the right pricing, profits and marketing.
Chase Money You Are Owed
If you have got people who owe you money…chase them! If you need money and you’re feeling a bit broke and you’ve got people who owe you on invoices, then chase them.
Believe me, the people who shout the loudest get paid first. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big organisation or a small organisation; do not be embarrassed to ask for money.
If you can’t bear the thought of it, then invest in an hour or two of a Virtual Assistant’s time and get them to make the calls.
The reason your invoices get paid late is because you are not top of the list to be paid. You’re not chasing, you’re scared of being a nuisance. You feel that if you chase money they’re not going to like you anymore and you won’t get any more business. There are two things I want you to think about: firstly, if this customer always pays you late and clearly doesn’t respect or value you enough to pay you on time, do you really want them?
Secondly, the only way to deal with customers like this is to get to the top of the list – they are probably juggling payments and will pay the people who shout loudest. You need to be one of the loudest shouters.
Get to the top of that list, in a lovely, respectful and non-confrontational way, but get to the top!
If you’ve been sitting there with invoices not ready to go out because you only invoice at the end of the month, STOP! Who says that they have to go out at the end of the month? – They don’t!
Why not start invoicing when the job is finished? You don’t have to do what everybody else does, but if you do something on the first of the month and then you don’t invoice to the end of the month and then they take another month, six weeks, ninety days to pay, how long is it since you did that work? That’s ages!
Invoice once a job or a task is completed. This will help your cashflow and stop the broke/OK/broke rollercoaster that seems to have taken over your business. You’ll have steady income throughout the month – it might be smaller amounts but that’s fine, it all adds up and doesn’t leave you so vulnerable.
The other thing you can do is stop giving people 30 days to pay. Start thinking about changing your terms and making it half up-front, or all up-front, or 7 days or 14 days.
It gives you the right to chase it quicker. Your mind monkeys might be going crazy at this point, telling you “I can’t do that, I’ve always done 30 days, I’ve never chased clients, this is dreadful!” but I’m telling you, if you need money, you need to start thinking like a business owner.
If you’re late with a credit card payment, you get fined. If you’re late paying your suppliers, you get people calling you. Start thinking like a business owner and stop thinking like ‘little old me’ and you’ll find you have far more money in your business and your pocket.
Offer An Amazing Deal To Existing Customers
Rather than just chasing after new customers all the time, put together some kind of really attractive deal or offer that you can send out to your existing crowd. Remember, these are people who love you, who know you and who have bought from you so they know the quality of what you offer. They will feel special because it’s only for them.
There’s a really good chance that your clients will think “I loved her stuff before, so I’m going to take advantage of this, even if I’m not going to need it right now, I’ll get it because that’s a really good deal.” Even better, put a deadline on the offer to encourage them to make a quick decision – urgency is a great sales tool!
Hold A ‘Flash Sale’
Flash sales are quick, easy sales that last a day or two at most and have heavy reductions on your products/services – they are great for generating interest, creating a buzz and bringing some money in quickly. I do these a couple of times a year, for example for 24-48 hours, everything in my shop is half price.
Because my products are virtual products, I don’t have any costs associated with them. Clearly you can’t do that if you’ve paid out for stock – you need to at least recoup the cost of the stock, but imagine the interest you could create on social media and among your subscribers if you marketed the heck of out this special, one-off sale?
Flash sales are a great way to let people dip their toe in the water. People who have never previously bought from you can try out your products or services at a greatly reduced price. If they love what they see, they will be back and they’ll be paying more but they won’t mind because they know your business is a perfect fit for them – the Flash sales was a low-risk way for them to see if they like you. Works like a treat AND brings in some nice chunks of cash in the meantime.
Be Open To Money Flowing To You
If you set your intention that you are going to let the money flow in, you’ll suddenly see lots of opportunities open up around you. The more you focus on being open to opportunity, the more opportunities will present themselves.
If you’re into the law of attraction and if your into energy work, which I very much am, setting your intention to say “money will flow to me easily, I’m going to get lots of money coming to me today” can change your mind-set and change your entire perspective and change your energy.
So if you want money to come to you, believe that money will come to you!
Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
A really basic one, if you need some money quickly to pay a bill or book a holiday…sell stuff you don’t need! If you’re sitting there with piles of clothes you don’t wear, get onto eBay, start selling them. If you’ve got a photocopier or a printer sitting there unused, put it out on Facebook. Maybe you’ve got baby stuff from when the kids were little, just start getting stuff out there.
Spend a day selling stuff that you don’t need and following on from point 5, be open to money flowing. You’re getting rid of stuff that you no longer need, which is great for your energy and decluttering at the same time.
Imagine if just one of these ideas worked in your business – you’d have cash in your hand within days. Imagine if several of them worked! But it’s no use just thinking about it – action is everything. Pick one to try and implement it today.
Create Something That Will Create Money!
Depending on your type of business, you could create a class or workshop to teach what you do – either online or in person. You know your stuff inside out. Other people want to know what you know and will pay to learn. What could you teach?
Clearly, none of these are long-term, strategic business moves. They are short term fixes for when you need cash, fast. You can’t run a business like this all the time because all the tips above will lose impact if you overuse them, and you’ll lose credibility.
Instead of lurching from one cashflow crisis to another, now would be a great time to think about what you WANT from your business, how much you want to make each month and where those sales will come from.
Get a plan together.
Take control of your business and start to think like a business owner.
Put some sales targets in place and get to grips with your numbers.
Before you know it, you’ll be a business whiz with a healthy cashflow and a healthy income.