The certificate hanging my office wall says I’ve been in business 10 years, and I wonder how that can be?
Imagine 10 years of being my own boss, of learning to market my business better, of disciplining myself to spend time on the tasks that matter most, and of helping clients live their dreams – priceless. And although there were a few times I wondered if I should go back to get a “real” job, I realize that my work is the most real and truest work I’ll ever get to using my skills and bringing me joy – I am truly blessed to be a successful Coach and business owner.
Reflecting on where my clients have come from, I begin to see patterns and similarities, and can see what works and what doesn’t to grow a six figure business.
1) Be Ready. Being self employed means having the liberty to run an errand or stop at the market between client appointments. But, at those times, don’t let your guard down, keep your business owners hat on. Keep looking for opportunities to share your professional face. I’ve gotten business while grocery shopping, booked a new client being on the massage table and scheduled speaking gigs visiting the chiropractor. Opportunities for business are all around you so don’t get caught without your business cards, your appointment calendar, and looking professional and polished for your type of work.
2) Be on the lookout for places to contribute. Is your local Chamber of Commerce looking for a new member on their board? Does the annual town festival need someone on their planning committee? When you contribute, you get known in your community and you build a reputation. The networking groups I started and ran were a big boost to putting me in the spotlight, enhanced my credibility and connected me with exponential opportunities. Put yourself out there where you will value contributing and making a difference.
3) Be aware that not every offer is an opportunity. Although this may contradict my earlier statement, be careful not to say YES to everything that comes along. Protecting your time as a business owner is critical to your success. Ask yourself if by agreeing to become involved will get you exposed to your target market. Will the role be something you love to do and that uses your talents while showing you as an expert? Take in consideration the other demands of your life outside of work. While helping to care for my Dad who had Alzheimer’s, I stepped down from some community involvement. Be aware that burnout is very real for small business owners and protect yourself from over committing, or you’ll find yourself backed up with work to do and feeling overwhelmed.
4) Say yes to opportunities whenever possible. When I collaborated with a colleague and gave a seminar on Facebook, I was not the Facebook expert, but I was an expert trainer and my colleague had never done a live seminar. Together we gave a terrific training seminar, a smashing success. And the reason to say yes whenever possible is because one thing leads to another. At that training, a participant asked if I could do LINKEDIN training for his organization. While pretty familiar with LinkedIn, I did not think of myself as an expert. I said YES and brought in another colleague who was an expert that led to the two of us having a 6 month contract of LinkedIn training for a Fortune 500 company that doubled our income on the spot. I focused on teaching what I do best; identifying a company brand and strategic visioning while my colleague focused on the details of using LinkedIn. By the end of the 6 months, I was an expert on how to use LinkedIn, and exponentially wealthier because I said YES.
5) Always have a Mentor, Coach or be involved in a Mastermind Group. The challenges of undertaking any new venue, whether growing a business, backpacking for a week in Colorado or learning how to do Asian cooking means you have to rely on others to guide you and show you the way. Trying to figure out the best ways to grow your business by yourself is like jumping into a river of swift current without a life jacket on – risky stuff. The money I’ve invested in my business over 10 years has allowed me to get to the place of security and knowledge I have now, where I can be a leader and role model to other entrepreneurs.