Catchy title, eh? Well…
The “F” word will never serve you. Failure has no place in entrepreneurship. Instead, we need to see our businesses as an experiment that we agree to continually conduct until we get the results that we want.
Every time we make a mistake, we need to learn from it, even when it hurts, even when we’re beating ourselves up for a great big no-friggin-way expensive oops.
This January marks my eighth year as an entrepreneur. Eek! Here is what I have learned (in no particular order) from almost a decade of business lessons:
- Networking is a waste of time.
How many times have I been told to join a BNI? Business Networking International has its place. When you’re first starting out, go to as many meetings as your calendar can accommodate. Shake hands & kiss babies while you gain a deeper understanding of the way the business world works.Once you are very comfortable talking about what you do, who you do it for & why you’re the best at it, it’s time to move on. Only attend targeted meetings with actual clients in the room. If you can’t find them networking, take your business online.What does targeting your market mean?
If you’re in the Princeton, New Jersey area, take a peek at the event my friend Christine Gallagher’s Amplify Event November 9 to 11. This would be an example of an event for 1. Women 2. Coaches 3. Newer businesses, etc.
- Wearing real pants for no reason.
I made a vow to myself that I would give a speech in my loudest, proudest tie-dye skirt before I retired from business. On September 12, 2015 at the NEPA Blog Conference, I made that goal a reality.Changing yourself physically to try to appeal to the people you’re “supposed to” attract will NEVER serve you.Choose a niche that represents who you are holistically. Let your experience speak louder; if you are (including dressed!) uncomfortable, you’ll have a harder time making sales.
- Not focusing on a desired outcome.
Why are you here? To meet people. That’s a very clever thought but you’ll need to dig deeper. What do you want to learn? What opportunities are you seeking?Now, how will you help others? How can you serve them to accomplish their desired outcomes in the process? Yes, anything is possible, when you focus forward.
- Drinking way too much coffee.
One on one meetings have their place. If you are a financial advisor, you have a high standard of trust. You’ll need to make the time to meet. Clients should be treated differently, as well, than affiliates, joint ventures, or other business contacts.For non-income-generating meetings, before you take time out for coffee, assess if an online meeting, Skype, a telephone conference, iPhone Face Time or Google HOA is sufficient.Â You save drive time & you don’t have to wear real pants. Win-win.
- Sales meetings & jolly ranchers don’t mix.
During a big sales meeting, just before the head honcho walked into the room, I shoved a jolly rancher into my face. I slurped it for a while & tried to talk around it for five minutes before I excused myself to, more than a little awkwardly, spit it out.Be fully present in all of your meetings – especially sales meetings. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and focus before you step into the office (or dial the phone number.) Look your honchos in the eye – no distractions period. Just you, your expertise, and how you can help the client grow.
- Free food isn’t the point of meetings.
It’s pretty common to gain about 20 pounds your first year in business. For one, you have a lower income than you may be accustomed to, which makes all the danishes, bagels, cheese & crackers at business meetings appealing.By year two, the reality hits you – you’re there to meet & mingle. Work the room like it’s your mission to shake at least 10 hands (wink wink how about that desired outcome?). Then, if there’s still time, gnosh my friend. It’s free.
- No one cares about your excuses – ever.
In 2008, while working in my first business, I didn’t have a GPS. I had a Partner-Partner that I’d call freaking out because I was lost. Map Quest printed pages in my lap, I’d yell out road names until I arrived. No one cared.Don’t waste other peoples’ time recounting why you’re late, the reason you didn’t review their needs before the meeting, which obstacle presented you from being prepared, etc. Say simply, Sorry I’m ____ (thing that happened) & dive right into the point of why you’re there – business.
- Not taking a solution-minded approach.
This relates strongly to point #7. Â However, it’s natural to want to talk about a problem. Instead, be direct with yourself and your clients, Here’s the problem, here are three solutions, which would you like to do?Â Often, you’ll be asked why other solutions won’t work. Be prepared with those answers as well – it shows that you thought deeply & came to the best possible conclusion.
- Listening to the wrong people.
I’d like $5 for every, My sister / friend / so-and-so on Facebook said such & such about my website. Inevitably, the best follow up question is, Do they own a thriving, successful business? Is their ship headed the same direction as yours?Only take advice from people who are experts in YOUR field and have accomplished what YOU want to do with your life. We are seeking to gain the “how” of their achievements so that we can replicated the results too.
- Letting fear make decisions for me.Â
I’m irrationally afraid of losing all my clients. There, I spoke that truth. Until recently, I often failed to see how this holds me back from moving powerfully forward.Let yourself live that fear: What if all my clients stop working with me at the same time? Play it out in your head until you can be at peace with the outcome you most dread. Find the opportunity within it to grow.Â
- Having a stingy money mindset.Â
Bootstrapping has its merits. You shouldn’t pay for extra software, contractors or services until your cash flow is somewhat consistent.BUT it wasn’t until I started to spend money on the tools I needed that my business grew. Set aside a budget for conferences (targeted networking) and expert level professionals to help you grow.
For me, this included: head shots. Mine were done by The Sizzle System‘s Carol Ann DeSimine. And the minute I started posting them, heads swirled to give me compliments on my new Hollywood brand.
- Expecting to like my work 100% of the time.
I own a business. Life should always be sunshine & lollipops. Eh-eh. No. If you stubbornly fail to see that you must work for pay, you probably won’t make it past the first few years of business.Every three years, you will redefine your brand to get a bit closer to working with the clients you love on work you love. But to start, say hello to oft low paid practice clients in industries you’ve never even heard of.
- Holding on to clients who aren’t a good fit.Â
It takes a lot of strength to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re a good fit.”Â The best tactic is to refer someone out before you take the contract. If your belly voice (aka intuition) is telling you not to do something, don’t.
- Trying to “do it all” – yes, even that.Â
Here is a list of a few things I have zero interest in: web design, web development, graphic design, photography, technical set-up of business systems (i.e. setting up a lead magnet). I only know this because I tried doing them all.Having ONE main focus gives you clarity. It lets you easily talk about what you do, who you do it for & why you’re the best at it. Align yourself with strategic partners for everything else to share the love.
- Refusing to work the plan.
You must set out the work that you will do each week to make sure it gets accomplished. If you have a down day, take “me time” until you can see your path to profit more clearly.
- Thinking, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”Â
Speaking to everyone in freelance copywriting, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.Setting client expectations is equally as important as delivering your product on time. Be clear, communicate well & don’t dilly dally when it comes to follow up – ever.
- Failing to call a prospect immediately.Â
In a recent study, it was found that for online business, the highest success rate of closing a client deal was when Â the phone call was returned within 10 minutes. This includes if you are contacted via an online form a customer fills out.
- Not billing what I’m worth.Â
Doesn’t this bullet speak for itself? Yes and no. As you grow, your business will grow. As you change, your needs will change. Make sure what you charge is in line with your level of expertise.Â (eMarketing Copywriter wants to be accessible to coaches & heart-centered lifestyle businesses. Therefore, we’ve kept our pricing below the industry standard for our level of expertise – for now!)
- Being inconsistent with my marketing.
From newsletters to social media posts, the most successful businesses are the most consistent. If you occasionally pop into your business, and pop back out, it will be a lot harder to gain a regular client cash flow.Â
- Thinking one sales funnel was sufficient.Â
If you market effectively to your audience, you’ll need several sales funnels. This means one for gaining folks to your list, another once they are on the list, another for anything you a launch – and you’ve got to have them all running at the same time.
- Buying into bad advice from bad sources.
In the last few months, a few folks tried to tell me I needed more experience in sales copywriting. What they meant was that I needed more big names in my portfolio. And I let that stop me from pursuing my dreams for a minute.Until the reality became crystal clear: I don’t need more experience, I just need to talk more about my experiences. Focus on what you’ve done well – how you’ve succeeded – the results you achieved for others – and it will lead you down the path of abundance.
- Forgetting gray is a color too.Â
Things are too often black or white in my world. But, gray is a color too. You can compromise by finding another solution to almost everything if you just look for it.
Elspeth Misiaszek is the innovator behind eMarketing Copywriter. She believes you deserve to profit from your passions & has dedicated her business to mentoring others to do what they love & love what they do. Grab your 10 Free Email Marketing Templates to really rock your writing.