I have a lot of women in business say they admire what I am doing. Friends say ‘wow I am so inspired by your business!’. Yes I am putting myself out there. Yes it’s scary as hell. Yes it is awesome too.
But…I just want to point out, like most people, you are only seeing my show reel, my highlights. Like most business owners, I am generally not putting my business struggles out there. No body knows what is going on behind the scenes, but I wanted to be completely transparent on this one in the hope it helps someone, so here goes….
For all of January I had no work. Scariest thing ever.
I was waiting on designs to be finished, clients to get back to me about feedback from websites I’d built in December and I pretty much sat and twiddled my thumbs. There weren’t even any foreseeable invoices to issue or unpaid invoices to chase. The whole time I was stressing big time.
Flowing on from the twiddling of thumbs, February was my worst month in terms of sales ever. I was busy. Writing quotes, having meetings, but still my bank account was scant. Continue ‘freak out mode’.
By the time March rolled around, finally things started to look good. A little TOO good. I am now inundated with work, I am booked 3 months in advance, I am turning jobs away and ….it has been my best month ever in sales.
So this little gem is what I like to call ‘The Cycle’.
It’s constant. It’s not necessarily seasonal, but it’s definitely related to my own actions and headspace. It goes a little like this…
Stage 1 – The stress out
In January, I was so confused about my offerings. This is what I feel was a major block to any new work rolling in. Not being clear about the types of projects I wanted really stopped me from putting myself out there.
I was freaking out so much about money, the stress consumed me, so much so that it made it really hard for me to make decisions about anything relating to my business. All I could think about was money. Not obtaining great new clients, but literally logging into my online banking every couple of hours to see if miraculously there was some kind of bank error.
Stage 2 – The rally
This is where you finally get over the fact that you have no money and actually start doing something about it. In February I finally got clear on my offerings and what I wanted to focus on. I started working my butt off to get more work.
I focused on increasing my Search Engine Optimisation (which has now jumped 40%).
I dropped a small amount of cash on Google Adwords & Facebook ads (probably not something I’d do again for my demographic).
I started increasing my networking as 80% of my business is word of mouth.
I reached out to old clients. I reached out to colleagues. I even reached out to Friends.
I offered my services on a Pay What You Want system (A really cool experiment that I’ll post more about that later).
I increased my overall social media marketing, increased my content marketing (aka blogging) and really made use of my email list.
I made myself busy, not with paid work, but marketing my business.
Stage 3 – Trust
After I had done everything in my power to get my business back on track I started to trust that everything would be OK. As soon as I trusted and stopped stressing, the work just flowed in. It was like I had opened the flood gates.
That change in mindset allowed me to lose the whole ‘desperation’ thing. Yep it’s a thing, and people can smell it. And it reeks.
I allowed myself to trust in my own ability, to trust that there was enough work to go around and that allowed potential clients to trust that I was the right person for their project.
How to avoid the Cycle
It’s funny, I know exactly what to do to avoid the cycle, it’s so simple, but this is something that I think I will always struggle with, until I find someone to build me a time machine.
You need to stay in the constant state of Stage 2. The Rally.
The key is to never stop marketing your business. Never lose that momentum.
You don’t need a great wad of cash to get started on your business marketing, you just need a plan and time to get it done. If you don’t have time and don’t want to lose the momentum and have the cash, get someone to do it for you. If you can’t do either of those things then perhaps it’s time to rethink if you’re up for the challenge of running your own business. It’s a tough gig.
Do you have your own version of the ‘Cycle’? Would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.