What is it about owning a business that turns you into a paranoia queen?
Every time you hear of a competitor doing well, your mind chatter kicks into overtime ‘OMG, everyone is saying great things about her’, ‘Oh no, how can I possibly compete?’ or ‘You’ll never make a living with her around’.
Even worse, you decide not to go to networking events in case there are competitors there.
You spend your time checking out her website, partly in admiration and partly in fear.
You watch her Facebook page and keep a beady eye on how many fans she has.
You become mildly obsessed.
And downhearted. And that’s not good.
The ‘competitor crisis’ gets to the point where you avoid doing things that you need to do to grow your business. Lady, it’s got to stop!
Let me tell you some truths about your competitor
(I do mind-reading as a sideline). She is just like you. She is scared of the same things you are. She worries just like you. She is doing her best to build a business she loves and to make a good living.
She might look more confident, sound more self-assured, feature more often in the papers but I’ll bet you, she’s had to work at it.
She DIDN’T quit when the going got tough. She hung in there when she had bad days. She kept going when it all seems to be crumbling around her and and she didn’t let competitor paranoia stop her.
As a result she’s still in business and has people saying great things about her.
My advice to you:
Let her inspire you not scare you.
There is more than enough business to go around.
You need to find your niche and focus on YOUR stuff, not your competitors’.
Put all your attention on growing your own business and keep going, however tough it gets.
Before you know it, it will be YOU inspiring others with your business success.
Find more fabulous marketing tips and ideas for small business owners on The Girls Mean Business website or on our Facebook page
Let me tell you a story…
…a lady messaged me via Facebook and said “Claire, I’m at the end of my tether. I am thinking of giving up my Reflexology business because this marketing thing is tooooo hard. I’ve spent a fortune on Facebook ads, I’ve got a website and people still aren’t buying.”
Does this sound familiar?
So what I asked this lovely lady was – who do you want to attract?
She was stumped because she’d never thought of it that way. Her answer was ‘anyone who wants reflexology’.
Now, there’s a big problem with this approach.
Firstly, she has a reflexology business – it’s hands on. So there are only a limited number of people she can work with each day. She has young children and can only see clients for one and a half days a week, so she has limited spots to fill.
Secondly, people will only travel so far for reflexology, so there is no point trying to market to people over 10-15 miles away.
Thirdly, she loves working with women who are having fertility issues because she gets great results but she hadn’t mentioned this anywhere because she was scared of putting off people who didn’t fit this description.
As a result, her Facebook ads were general.
They were aimed at anyone and everyone. They didn’t mention her town. They didn’t mention women. They didn’t mention fertility, or pregnancy or any of those key words. They weren’t talking to ANYONE in particular. She was trying to attract anyone and everyone, but actually she was attracting no-one.
So let’s just revisit a couple of points here.
She has a reflexology business, it’s hands on and therefore she can only fit in maybe 4-5 clients each day. WHICH MEANS THAT she only needs to attract a very small number of people in order to fill her diary. She doesn’t need thousands.
Hold that thought.
So she only needs maybe 10 clients in her business initially, getting regular treatment, with a few new ones getting added on each month to replace those who drop out.
Bearing in mind that she only wants to attract a very small number of clients each month, she may as well attract people she loves to work with, right?
I mean, let’s face it, if you are spending your days working on clients’ feet, you really want the right kind of clients because you’re going to be chatting to them and spending time with them and touching their FEET for heavens sake– why would you choose to treat people you don’t like when you don’t have to?
She gets great results with her fertility clients – they all love what she does and they leave feeling amazing. And these ladies don’t want general reflexology or general anything. They want specific help. They want to see if it can help them improve their fertility and help them have their longed-for baby. They want an expert in their specific field.
So let’s approach this a different way. I’ll put myself in her shoes for a moment:
- I need to attract 10 clients into my business and then have a steady stream of 2-3 new ideal clients each month to replace any leavers.
- I love working with fertility clients because I get great results and I have some fab testimonials.
- Plus they are coming to my home treatment room so I’d prefer women rather than strange blokes turning up at my door.
My ads would say something like ‘Struggling to get pregnant? Tried reflexology? What have you got to lose? Book your half hour taster session in our Middlesbrough treatment room for just £20 now’ Or something like that.
Now I’m not going to attract hairy builders with that one. (Nothing wrong with hairy builders, I just don’t want to touch their feet!)
Or young guys with football injuries.
Most people will take no notice of it.
Unless they are near Middlesbrough and struggling to get pregnant. And there are lots of ladies in every town in that position.
The right ladies will take notice. The right ladies will see that ad and contact her. The right ladies will see her as a godsend, as a person who might be able to help them. The right ladies will value her.
So she’ll get more of the right ladies calling her and booking appointments, meaning she gets to fill her diary with people she loves to work with, who value her and recommend her to friends, and keep coming back because they love what she does.
Doesn’t that sound GREAT?
And don’t get me wrong. She doesn’t need to say ‘no’ to people who want reflexology who don’t fit that description. If local hairy builders want reflexology and approach her, she can say yes IF SHE WANTS. But she won’t MARKET to them.
Get it, gorgeous girl?
Now how can you apply that to your business?
Off you go!
I have a confession to make. I used to be scared of numbers when they were related to money. I would rather hide under the table than tackle cashflow forecasts or sales projections – it used to nearly bring me out in hives.
But when I first started working with my coach, Kim Duke, she made me develop some daily numbers habits that have had a huge impact on my business. Kim is the Sales Diva and she thinks like a sales person – she’s always worked with targets and sales forecasts, it’s second nature.
Although I used sales targets in the corporate world for many years I’d never used them for my own business – it’s just me, after all. Sheesh! As if I didn’t have enough to do without updating SPREADSHEETS (yawn). But Kim is a strict coach and I couldn’t hide under the table forever, so I did as she asked.
She made me set up a sales forecast spreadsheet with my targets for each week & month and I update it each time I make a sale. Every time I update it means I’m another step closer to my target.
Now let me share a secret with you.
In the time I’ve been using it, guess what’s happened? I’ve made more money. Lots more money. In fact I’ve made FOUR TIMES more money than I used to make before I had sales targets and my sales forecast sheet. Why? Well remember that saying of mine ‘wherever you place your attention is where the magic happens’? When I placed my attention on my SALES figures, I started to get SALES. MAGIC.
Don’t get me wrong, the sales fairies didn’t just appear and sort it out for me, I had to work for it but I knew what I was aiming for. Before I would have just trundled along and been vaguely aware of how much I was making – today I know to the penny how much in my account.
I haven’t had to change anything radical. I still do business the same way and I’m still me. I still help people; I haven’t turned into a cold-hearted sales machine. The difference for me is that I can now spot opportunities to attract new clients, sell more to existing clients and build my business, that I just didn’t see when I wasn’t focused on my targets.
My challenge to you this week is to set up a really basic spreadsheet (or a notebook if you can’t face spreadsheets) and put your weekly and monthly sales targets on there. Then update it every time you make a sale. Start focusing on what you want to achieve – place your attention on your targets.
You’ll be surprised how your business grows when you develop this nifty little money-making habit – go on, stop hiding from the numbers and give it a try today!
Hands up if you’ve ever felt guilty where your business is concerned? Yes, me too.
- Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m working on my business that I’m not spending time with my daughter.
- Sometimes I feel guilty I’m neglecting my business when I’m having time out on a weekend.
- Sometimes I feel guilty I’m not spending enough time with my other half because I’m really focused on the business
- Sometimes I feel guilty that my house is a mess because I’m BUSY spending time on the business.
It doesn’t stop there.
I’ve been known to sneak into the bathroom at children’s birthday parties to catch up on work emails, so the other mums don’t think I’m antisocial.
I’ve pretended to be ill while answering the door because I’ve been so busy making the most of a quiet day, working on my business that my house looks like a tip and I feel I need an excuse to explain it away.
I’ve dealt with waves of guilt about being away overnight on the odd occasion I need to travel for business, especially after the inevitable tearful, emotional bedtime phone call from my 8 year old.
Guilt is a bugger.
Guilt is horrible.
It doesn’t help anything and just piles on the pressure when you could really do without it.
It makes us feel sad, annoyed and distracted. It drains us of energy we could have put to much better use. When we’re feeling guilty, we are not enjoying what we are doing there and then.
You can’t enjoy time with your family if you’re feeling guilty about not working on your business.
You can’t enjoy the time you spend on your business if you’re feeling guilty about not giving your family your full attention.
So you’re never fully focused on what you’re doing and you’re beating yourself up about not being good enough. What’s THAT all about?
And where does all this guilt come from?
Well, I guess some of it comes from society – there are lots of views out there about how we should live our life. It doesn’t mean we have to listen to them, though.
Some of it is undoubtedly self-inflicted. We girls are experts at beating ourselves up about one thing or other – we put far too much pressure on ourselves and burden ourselves with unrealistic expectations about what we SHOULD be doing. We compare ourselves with others. Even worse, we compare ourselves with people on the TV, celebrities and stars. We look around for ways to prove we’re not good enough.
The thing is, GUILT doesn’t help anyone or anything. It’s a destructive, useless emotion that doesn’t make a single outcome any better.
It’s actually REALLY bad for your business.
Well, because you’re feeling guilty, you’re not focusing properly on what you’re doing. This means you’re not being very productive. Things take longer. You don’t do them as well as you could because you’re trying to minimise the time you’re spending working.
You can’t enjoy your work time so you’re missing out on all the lovely fun and creative energy you could be using, if only those pesky guilt mind monkeys would do one. You don’t get to celebrate or show off or shout about your achievements because you feel guilty about spending time on your business.
You don’t get to think like a business owner and that’s a shame because thinking like a business owner gives you Super Powers. That’s a whole different blog.
So How Do We Ditch The Dratted Guilt?
Well, first of all you have to realise you are doing the best you can.
Your version of life is very different to everyone else’s. Your circumstances are unique to you. There is NO POINT COMPARING yourself with other people, let alone celebrities (things are NEVER as they seem on the TV). You are doing the best you can with your circumstances and your life.
Yes, there’s a bit of juggling involved. Yes, you might get the odd grumpy comment or woeful look but remember you are doing this for the family. To create a better life for you all. You can’t create that better life if nothing changes – you HAVE to work on the business or it will never grow.
Secondly, you have to communicate.
Stop bottling it up. Stop feeling like you have to sneak work time. Have a family meeting and talk about your vision for the business and what you want to achieve, AND how it will help everyone in the family. Help them see you’re not being selfish or silly, you’re using your precious time to create something wonderful for you all.
Third, find a balance so everyone knows where they stand.
Set some work hours and STICK TO THEM. If every evening between 8 & 9.30pm is your business time, then crack on and get as much done in that 90 minutes as you possibly can. That way your other half knows they can get to see you after 9.30 and you won’t be trying to sneak away or begrudge having to leave your work. If mornings between 10 and 12 are your key business times, then tell people (family, friends, anyone who might be inclined to drop by or call you for a chat) so they know to leave you alone until you’re free. You won’t need to feel guilty – your business will be getting fixed bursts of attention and everyone else knows you’re available outside of those hours.
Guilt can’t strike if there is no reason to feel guilty. And if everyone knows where they stand, if everyone gets the time they need (including YOU) and if your business is getting regular bursts of energy and attention there IS NO REASON to feel guilty.
And finally, why not decide NOT to feel guilty?
It is a simple decision but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it changes things. Once you decide to let the guilt go, you can enjoy your time no matter what you’re doing. Remind yourself you are doing the best you can with what you have. There’s no room for guilt in your life – channel your energy into building your brilliant business and if the guilt mind monkeys strike, tell them to bog off, you’re too busy being awesome to worry about them!