“I can’t move forward because I don’t know what to do next.”
I hear this a lot in my coaching. Not only is it warranted as a strong way to feel, but a feeling I used to have all the time and can relate to. I completely understand how it feels to have an enormous amount of balled up energy, only to be wasted on marginal tasks because I wasn’t sure what the larger undertakings were.
You may have products to make. You may have a few orders to fill here and there. You may have to look up your upcoming year’s schedule to see where you can fit in some shows and markets. You may feel the need to create more and different products, not only to sell, but simply because you are a curious creative. You know you need to do some accounting work, but you find the time for other tasks instead.
Any of this sound familiar?
I used to do this kind of thing all the time. It never failed that I would “feel” productive when doing marginal tasks, but when my bed hit the pillow, I knew I didn’t do the hardest thing. I didn’t eat the biggest frog.
One of my favorite success books is called “Eat That Frog!” by Brian Tracy. The premise was sparked by a concept developed by Mark Twain.
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.
Successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete. “Failure to execute” is one of the biggest problems in organizations today. Many people confuse activity with accomplishment. They talk continually, make wonderful plans, but in the final analysis, no one does the hard stuff that gets the results they are hoping for.
And here’s why…
Lack of Clarity.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t have clearly defined goals. In many casual conversations I hold with fellow soap and bodycare producers, I will often ask them if they know exactly how much they are to generate in revenue in any particular year, quarter, month, etc. 99% cannot tell me.
You can’t hit a target you don’t have.
It stands to reason then, that we will go through the motions of our business, not really pursuing the bigger, more uncomfortable tasks that need to be done to become more successful.
If we don’t have a clue on how much we want to make, there is no real reason to pursue any further than where we are right now.
Lack of Marketing
If someone were to walk up to you and give you $10,000 tax-free, no strings attached, if you could define marketing, could you do it?
Here is Wikipedia’s definition: “Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business development. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.”
Does that make sense to you in a tangible way?…cuz it doesn’t to me. It sounds nice, but how do you implement this definition into your business?
To me, marketing is about taking steps. It is hard to do big things…it is much easier to take smaller steps to get to the bigger thing.
Marketing is a process through which goods and services move from concept to customer. It includes the coordination of four elements:
- identification, selection and development of a product,
- determination of its price,
- selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer’s place, and
- development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
Anyone can take these 4 steps and create a marketable product. Amanda’s marketing book helps you cut through all the generalized verbiage about marketing, like in the Wikipedia example above, and encourages you to develop a plan that caters to you. I would check it out.
Most folks in our industry utilize what I call “hope marketing,” where you make a great product and hope it sells. That will only work on a very small level. You must eventually implement a marketing plan. How?…INFORM YOURSELF!
If you have a business, yet are not able to pay yourself or simply aren’t generating enough revenue, you aren’t making enough sales. That is where it begins and ends. You aren’t generating enough sales to make your business profitable.
So, how do you make more sales?
- a) The first thing is make a sales goal.
- b) The second is develop a marketing plan.
- c) The third is to get out of your current comfort zone and do something that you are unfamiliar with.
If you think and do the same things over and over, you will always get the results you are getting. Entrepreneurship is about breaching old comfort zones and trying new things. It’s about making scary phone calls. It’s about hiring a website designer. It’s about stepping on loved one’s toes, even if you don’t mean to. It’s about setting up clear work boundaries and not letting stuff seep into that space and time.
Asking the Right People for Help
I’m not an expert business person. I have never claimed to be one. I did have a very successful business in this industry, and I’m quite proud of that. Though success is in the eye of the beholder, I found myself to be succeeding at a rate that was a bit higher than other folks in our beautiful, burgeoning cottage industry. It wasn’t because I was smarter or worked harder. It is because I asked for help from the right people. I hired a coach, and to this day I still utilize the practices and techniques I was empowered with during my coaching.
And if you aren’t ready to be coached, you can still glean a lot of knowledge from folks online, but please be careful in who you choose. Also, there is SCORE.org, which was a huge help for me when just starting out. Also check out sba.gov
You can’t do it alone. Being a “solopreneur” only lasts so long before you get burned out emotionally and financially.
Do Something Different Today
Take these 4 pointers above and implement a plan today. Do something different. Think outside the box. Do your research. If you don’t know how to research, hire someone who does. Find an accountability partner.
You can do it. You have everything you will ever need right now, which is your head and your heart. With those, working in conjunction, you will have the audacity and courage to get clear, make a plan, get help and implement your business on a more serious level as this new year moves on. You got this!
-Benjamin Aaron, InspiredOdyssey.com