The number of choices you have to make to each and every day can add up into the thousands; from what clothes you put on in the morning and what you eat for lunch to what podcast you listen to next or radio station you play in the car. In fact, some sources claim that we make up to 35,000 decisions every day.
So it’s no surprise that, when it comes to making decisions about your business and marketing, that decision fatigue can become a real problem. If you’re already facing a thousand or more decisions about day-to-day stuff, when you apply the same decision making process to bigger business and marketing stuff, your brain can be running tired and wired.
It’s like having too many tabs open on your browser or too many apps running in the background of your phone … because your brain is full of mundane thinking, it just doesn’t have the capacity to move up a gear to deal with the seemingly bigger or more important decisions about your business.
I believe decision making to be one of the “secrets” to business success. It’s action, rather than ideas, that grow your business and action can only happen once you’ve made a decision.
So if you find it difficult to make decisions, it can really hold you back in your business growth journey.
Many years ago I came up with The P Cycle; the constant and exhausting swirl of perpetual learning, which leads to perfectionism, which leads to procrastination which leads straight back to perpetual learning.
Because when you don’t know something (which is ALWAYS the case with most of your business and marketing decision, yes?!), it feels easier to go out and learn more about whatever it is you are making a decision about first, before actually making a decision to take action on it.
This means you are forever seeking ideas and learning more about how to do something … but you never quite get out of The P Cycle to take actual action and move forward with your business idea or marketing initiative.
So is decision making a skill you can learn?
Yes, sure it is. You can use tools such as the classic SWOT or cost-benefit analysis to help you weigh up the pros and cons.
But for most of your decisions you have to make to move forward with your business or marketing, I’ve found many of these decisions making tools have the danger of keeping you in the P Cycle.
Because you go off and learn how to make a decision, you try and get the decision making process right (AKA perfect!) which delays the decision making process even further and thus stops you from taking action.
Is there another way of making a decision?
Yes. I’m glad you asked 🙂
Because there is an important space within us that very few of us know how to access on a day-to-day basis.
You probably feel it from time to time and perhaps, like me, you know it’s there because so many people around you refer to it. Some people call it a gut feeling. Others may call it intuition. It doesn’t really matter whether you may feel it or hear it in your gut, soul, heart or solar plexus, it’s the thoughts and feelings that come to you when you may meet someone for the first time or walk into a room or in the middle of a conversation with someone.
Having spent the first 25+ years of my adult life as a strong, independent Super Woman (yup, I really was on track to burn out by the time I got to 43 – I just didn’t see it coming!), I really didn’t know how to access this intuitive way to help me make decisions. I was so busy making decisions based on logical thinking, that it was burning me out. Just like that browser with too many tabs open; at some point, you are painstakingly watching yet another spinning circle of doom that you realise the only thing you can do is re-boot the whole of your machine.
So a few years ago, I decided I need to re-boot, slow down and explore different ways of growing and building businesses.
Let me hand you over to my good buddy, Kate Wolf, who is an expert on this matter.
“Everyone is designed differently which means we all ‘hear’ our intuition in different ways. Some people hear words or phrases, for others, it’s a ‘feeling’ or sixth-sense. And for others, it’s an actual physical feeling or sensation in the body.
The key is to take the time to discover how your intuition speaks to you. The more you ‘listen’, the more you’ll ‘hear’. It’s also a journey of trust and courage. As you start honouring your intuition and daring to act on it, it will show up more for you and your relationship will strengthen.
Often people think they’re not intuitive but when I ask them to tell me a time they ‘just knew’ something was the wrong decision for them – whether it’s in the realm of business, finance, relationships, health or pretty much anything – everyone can come up with something.”
So if you’d like to find a way of accessing your intuition more to help you make decisions more easily – and thus take action on the stuff that’s going to grow your business – here’s what I love to invite you to do.
Learn to be a tracker of how your intuition shows up.
I’ve been on a huge journey over the last few years, re-connecting with myself and discovering how our energies work. I have had to learn how to slow down so that I may hear what my body and soul is trying to tell me.
A couple of the regular practices I use to allow myself to track how my own intuition comes up are are journalling – the simple practice of writing a few pages of my thoughts before I start my working day – and using Angel Cards – picking a card before or during my journaling to help me bring awareness to what I should be paying attention to. Both these practices allow me to get out of my head and feel into different parts of my body and awareness. And from here, I can pay attention to source rather than the exhausting logic.
There’s so much more I want to share about this topic but I want to finish off today with these final thoughts from Kate.
“It can be very easy to mistake projection for intuition. One of the key ways to recognise your intuition is that it comes without a story. If you find yourself explaining WHY something is so, and telling yourself lots of stories about it, it’s almost definitely some form of projection. Intuition simply is. It doesn’t need to explain itself, rationalise or justify.
So if your ‘sense’ or ‘feeling’ is coming with a lot of story and explanations, it may well NOT be intuition. When this happens, take some time to meditate, to journal, to get beneath the story to the truth. This is also a good time to turn to a skilled Coach or Healer who will guide you out of the story-mess of your head and into the wisdom of your body.”
I find I can use stories A LOT in my thinking when I’m running my decisions purely on logic, which is helpful when working with my clients because I can see them do exactly the same thing LOL. So this is great advice from Kate, particularly if these kind of practices are new to you.
If you have anything to add to this, please leave a comment below. I’d love to know how this article shows up for you and what you do to help you access your intuition.
To deepen your relationship with your intuition, download Kate’s free guide here: http://www.katewolf.global/survivalguide
And if you want to talk to me about your business and how you could simplify your business growth, click here to schedule a call with me
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
No, it’s not a trick question nor am I about to launch into some scammy way of turning on a money tap whilst lounging back on a Caribbean sundeck. It’s a serious question that all experts and service-based professionals need to answer at some point in their business.
Of course, the sum doesn’t have to be 6 figures. When you get a copy of my upcoming book, True Profit Business, you’ll discover that I am not a fan of pushing out the 6 figure business dream; it’s an ego driven target because the reality is that most “6 figures” mean some an entirely different money-in-your-bank-account-sum when you take into account exactly what profit you made and what you sacrificed to get it. Too many people are simply burning out to achieve the wrong the goals.
If it is a genuine 6-figure sum you’re after, great, but the money sum could be that you simply want an extra £10,000 over the next few months. For the sake of simplicity, the money sum I’m going to use in this article is £100,000 because it’s as an easy number to work through.
First of all, why is this question important?
Knowing how you want to make your money from your business is important because it’s going to significantly impact your marketing strategy, positioning required, resources needed (advertising budget, hiring of team, cost of digital platform set up), skills to learn and how much time and effort you are required to get it all working.
Your business model – how you shape your revenue streams and how you engage with your clients and deliver your products – is directly related to how well you can grow your business. You may not have realised this before now, but you have a choice in the way your design, set up and run your business. Most people like yourself end up with a business model based on what everyone else in your profession is running or a business model based on what you’ve been taught to be the most profitable or easiest to run.
In the first instance, you may have the same business model as everyone else in your profession not because of choice, but because you don’t know any better. What you don’t know, you don’t know and, as with most clients I work, I doubt you’ve gone to business school or have training in business processes and systems. If this is the case, you may have spent a lot of time learning about marketing and how to get clients but the topic of how to design, set up and run your business is something you’ve probably never given much thought to. Doing what everyone else in your profession does has its upsides because you know what works already. However, there is a big problem with this.
Just because most of your colleagues or competitors are running their business in a particular way, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all doing it the right way for them. If we take the Pareto Principle that statistically proves 80% of your outcome comes from 20% of your input, 80% of the success that happens in your profession comes from just 20% of the businesses. Thus 80% of businesses in your profession is creating just 20% of the output. Hmmmmmm. No wonder so many of your colleagues and competitors seem to be struggling when you get to see what’s really going on behind their marketing, promotional campaigns and brand presence.
You know if you are in the 80 percentile if you experience any of the following:
- You’re overwhelmed; you’re procrastinating over marketing initiatives and new product ideas because you simply don’t know what you “should” be doing to make your business work more effectively.
- You’re overworked; you are stuck in the day-to-day grind and feeling miserable that you can’t spend the time doing more of what you love
- You’re underpaid; you compete on price, charge by the hour or the time you spend with a client and often over-deliver so that you do far more than you originally promised thus dropping your value even further.
I know this paints a pretty depressing picture but there are plenty of you in this situation (you are part of the 80%!) and if you get a copy of my book when it’s due out later this year, you’ll discover the path out of this 80% and find your way to a True Profit Business.
What are the top 20% of your profession are doing to have a greater output?
There will be of course all sorts of reasons for their success but there is every chance that they are using technology to create huge growth advantage opportunities to allow them to stand out as a leading expert in your profession. You’ve probably already seen colleagues and competitors create new ways of sharing their expertise. From expanding their offerings to serving groups of clients, large and small, through to creating digital content and using cutting edge use of artificial intelligence; the opportunities to do something “different” and grow the number of clients you work with are open to you if that’s what you want.
This leads me to the second instance where many of you may be. The explosion in selling digital content since 2015 has led to thousands of marketing experts teaching digital ways of making money and growing a business from your laptop on the beach, particularly within the coaching, therapy and training professions. Because technology has been the reason for a lot of businesses’ success, it’s easy to get sucked into believing that digital is the only way to grow a business like yours. But that’s not simply the case. Many marketplaces are now so flooded with digital offerings that it’s hard to break in and claim your space, especially when so much of the content can be of poor quality and your client base may have begun to distrust this form of learning or support. Plus there are plenty of those 20% businesses in your profession who are running more traditional business models, but because you don’t get to see their marketing campaigns or brand presence on your Facebook or Instagram feed, you may not realise they exist.
And let’s get real about how it is to run a top 20% business. You may have a business that, on paper, is well within your profession’s top 20%, especially if you are measuring its success on traditional key performance indicators such as turnover. But the reality of running your business in the top 20% is that it may be burning you out.
You know if you are getting burnt out in the 20% if you experience any of the following:
- You’re overwhelmed; you’ve stepped up and created your expert status but you don’t like the visibility and constant pressure to perform.
- You’re overworked; you can’t seem to keep up what you’ve promised your clients and can’t come up for air long enough to hire the right people to help you grow.
- You’re underpaid; your turnover may be 6 or 7 figures but there’s not much left for you once you’ve paid your team, advertising invoices and running costs.
Again, another pretty depressing picture. But as before, you aren’t the only one to have created a business that is burning you out because this practice of growing a business based on following someone else’s formulas and business model is rife. This is why I want to open up your eyes and see the possibilities available to you on your path to creating a True Profit Business. My mission here is to help you to avoid following someone else’s proven business model and systems, just because they are telling you it works for them.
So you have a choice. You have a choice on what business infrastructure, processes and team to have in place to give you the right business to help you achieve your creativity, purpose and money aspirations. You can choose the design, set up and how you run your business based on who you are and how you want to show up, just the way you can decide on the right vehicle you want to drive day-to-day.
The reason why there are so many different types of vehicles on the road is that each and every one of us has a different reason for choosing our mode of transport, and at different stages of our lives. Starting out, you’ll drive any car you can afford; a small hatchback or perhaps stick to your bike, especially if you live in a city. Families may drive a big SUV. Some may like fast cars. Others choose their mode of transport based on environmental impact and may even decide they don’t want to own a vehicle but use uber or rental cars for longer journeys.
There’s no one vehicle that’s right for everyone or for a specific profession.
And so it is with your business model.
There are four critical decisions to make to help you decide which business model you want; your role in the business, the number of clients you want to serve and then consequently at what price point, how you deliver your service or products and which selling system you decide works best for you. In my book, True Profit Business, I am taking you through in detail all four of these decisions. So for now, let me take you through a couple of examples.
The passive income dream
Someone I spoke to recently had recently spent a significant amount of her investment cash setting up a new membership website. She had read a lot about membership sites, had joined an online business mentoring programme to teach her the basics of setting up digital products and thought this would prove to be a perfect revenue stream to have around being a mum at home with two young children. She wouldn’t have to travel anywhere and she could do everything her business needed her to do from her kitchen table.
There was no questioning her passion for helping the audience she wanted to reach out; she knew they were desperate for clear signposting and easy to access advice. But 14 months in and her beautifully designed website was verging on a marketing disaster. Although visits to the site were climbing and she was good traction in the forums, database building was almost non-existent and her offer just wasn’t compelling enough.
Her plan was to start with the freemium model and then start charging £27 a month. She had dreams to have a 6-figure business but to make £100,000 that would mean 309 members, assuming that all 309 would stay a minimum of 12 months. That’s a whole lot of leads to get that many customers, and a whole lot of customer retention strategy to keep them being members.
Of course, long term this kind of membership model can work but you need a big bucket of resources (advertising, customer support, time, energy and hours and hours of screen time) because your marketing strategy is focused on high volume, low pricing model. It’s highly unlikely that any decent profit will be made for at least a year or two (probably many more!) if you are relying solely on this kind of revenue model. And this person was burnt out already after 14 months of struggling to build up her tribe on a bootstrap budget and a lack of skills around digital marketing and advertising.
Let’s go the other end of the scale.
A client I worked with recently came from many years in the publishing industry. Now I am sure you are aware of the massive changes that have turned much of the publishing sector on it’s head. The problem she was still stuck in the traditional, old school business model where very little revenue was created until a book was published and selling. For her business to make £100,000, it was all about book contracts; working hard up front and only seeing rewards when (and sometimes only if) the book was successful. Plus it was a cost-heavy business so profits were tight.
When we starting diving in to the process she went through with her author clients, it was apparent to me, almost immediately, the value of what she did even before the content was written. Of course, being surrounded with the traditional – and very much outdated – publishing business model, it was a classic case of “what you don’t know, you don’t know.” But having talked through all her options and what role, client capacity and delivery process would work for her, it was as if a searchlight was beaming through the fog and a new path became clear.
Offering her services as a book coach and mentor at the start of the process was an obvious place to begin; charging for the 6 months run up to get the book ready for editing was not only profitable for my client but incredibly powerful and instrumental for the success of her author clients. Again, not a holy grail solution to making 6-figures – there was still a lot of thinking and doing to be done around her positioning and marketing her new offerings – but she could see clearly that this additional revenue stream could be a far simpler way of growing her business revenue than sticking to what everyone else in her industry did. And without distracting her from her core revenue base or burning herself in the process.
The price you decide to charge has a lot to do with your success.
Before I send you off to have a think about your potential revenue streams, let’s deal with the elephant in the room; the price you charge. When creating new revenue streams in your business, it’s often perceived easier to start at the lower end of charge of the price scale. I’m sure you have seen, and perhaps even bought from, the classic product funnel that gets you started with a £10 introductory product, which leads into a £295 course and then takes you into a premium programme of £1,000 and more.
So what many do, and are taught to do, is start creating your £10 introductory offer because you believe you need to build your list. And a £10 product is so much easier and safer to create, is it not?
Coming back to the question on hand – how do you go about creating £100,000 … that’s a lot of £10 sales you need to make to build enough momentum to move people up to your next mid-level product. You’d probably be needing 500+ sales to get you the conversions to that £100,000. That’s exhausting (and I speak from experience!)
Again, like the membership offer example above, this kind of product funnel works. There’s no doubt about it. But starting with the perceived easier end of the funnel is not always your easiest path to growing your business. A far quicker, simpler and easier way can be to flip your funnel on its head and start at the top end of the scale. Even if you decided to start small and create a programme or service at around the £2,000 mark, it becomes obvious that you have to sell to far fewer people to get yourself to your £100,000 goal. Plus you’ll gain valuable experience, build your credibility and see better results from your clients working at this level.
Now, of course, I’m starting to sound like the rainbow fairy.
“Just wave your wand, burn your candles and the unicorn will come and poop out those clients for you.”
You know clients aren’t going to magically appear with intention alone (don’t you?!). There is focus needed for your overall strategy and positioning, a clear offer created and an understanding of what your market place really wants. But I hope that you get the point that I am making here and that you realise you have a choice about how you design, create and run your revenue streams in your business.
Think carefully about your pricing and offers as you grow your business. Don’t just follow someone else’s system that they are selling you or stick to what your industry does best, because it’s not always the case. If you get clear on what it means for you to have True Profit Business and develop the right mix of prices and numbers of clients to suit you and the way that you work, creating revenue streams to help grow your business can be far simpler than you may believe right now.
If you want to talk to me about your business and how you could grow your business and create revenue streams to suit your financial goals and the way you want to work within your business, click here to schedule a True Profit Business Audit.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
Have you ever taken into account the timings of your monthly cycle when planning your business or deciding when to launch your next programme or to speak at an event?
(Yes, this article is written for ladies but if you’re a guy with women in your team, please read on because this is a serious post and can be incredibly enlightening if you’ve never considered this in your business!)
Cycle tracking is becoming a common question I ask my female clients. It’s just one of the ways to track how your energy flows naturally and responds to external influences, such what food we eat and how we look after our bodies. It’s important because creating sustainable business success is so much more than just a well put together marketing funnel. Being aware of how our inner energies work and affect our thinking and thus what action you take is an incredibly important part of deciding how to design, create and run your business so it fuels you, rather than burns you out.
As I go about planning my own business, marketing campaigns and promotional events, I find the more I am aware of my monthly cycle calendar, the more I am able to tune into my ebb and flow of emotions, creativity and stuckness.
If you’ve ever tracked your cycle, you’ll know there are ebbs and flows to your energies. I first started to be aware of the exact dates of my own cycle when my husband and I decided to start a family (ah, those fun days of taking one’s temperature to confirm ovulation days!). But it wasn’t until my adrenaline reached boiling point and my system crashed back in 2012 when I started seriously to research my peri-menopausal symptoms and I began to track my monthly cycles again.
Tracking my emotional and physical changes throughout the month helped me make sense of what was going on inside of me; the feeling of being out of control one week, focused and in flow the next, often followed by a serious energy crash, irrational mood swings and my inner critic shouting down any great ideas I had for my business.
In my experience, knowing where I’ve been at in my cycle, at any given point in my working week, has helped me enormously over the past few years to deal with things that haven’t gone according to plan … as well as helping me realise I wasn’t going mad; I’m just being a woman!
You may or may not be aware, but there are 4 distinct stages to your cycle; each one affecting your energy, emotions and physicality. Of course, not every woman has a regular 28 day cycle; we all have our unique pattern and sometimes so irregular that it’s hard to track. But if you are still in menstrual flow, the first step in taking this approach with your business is starting to track and keep a record of how you feel and what symptoms you experience.
Phase 1: Menstruation
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of menses. I’ve often found that I have a huge sense of relief on this day, followed by a few days of general yuckiness, bloating and tiredness that has seemed to got worse as I’ve got older. It feels as if my body finds it tougher each month to kick start the engine as I get closer to menopause each year.
Day 2 or 3 can be a day I can quite happily stay in bed all day and, although walking and getting out and about brings relief, it’s always important for me to lower my pace and keep rested. I’ve learnt from experience that to go full pelt during these days will only have a knock-on effect of being knackered for weeks or even pick up a bug and get ill. So now, instead of pushing through with tasks that feel difficult and hard work, I Lean Back and enjoy moments of connecting within myself during these times. When I do this it can turn out to be an incredibly creative time for me.
Phase 2: Follicular
This phase is usually days 7 to 10 of your cycle and it’s when your estrogen and testosterone levels start to climb, getting you ready for ovulation. I used to feel wonderful during this time but as my peri-menopausal symptoms kicked in, the lack of estrogen has made this week tough for me some months. It’s when I’ve been the most frustrated; I’ve been used to surging ahead with plans and action taking with my brain going full steam, but my body not being able to respond.
Phase 3: Ovulatory
Lasting only a couple of days, your body produces your egg and you may often feel incredibly powerful, able to take on the world and say yes to everything. It’s Mother Nature’s way of making you attractive to the opposite sex and ready to mate, of course. But this can be a fabulous time to run an event, negotiate with a new contract or even pick up the phone to prospect you’ve been putting off for an age.
Phase 4: Luteral
Typically lasting 12 to 16 days, this is the remainder of your cycle. Estrogen and testosterone decline and progesterone, the heat-inducing hormone, kicks in, preparing your body for a potential pregnancy. It’s often the time you feel the most tired because Mother Nature is assuming you need to rest and nest. So this is a good time to brain dump to-do lists, clear up clutter and re-align yourself before taking action on any new projects or ideas.
And, of course, PMS can start to kick in towards the end of this last stage; from chronic back pain and stiff joints to raging anger and mood swings, this can be a particularly stressful time to think straight or do projects such as the end of month accounting! So perhaps, not the best time to reconcile your banking or respond to a negative comment on one of your Facebook posts.
Once again, every woman’s monthly cycle is unique to her. You have your own symptoms and experiences and yes, some months go better than others. But when you become more aware of your cycle, the more effective you can be in your business. As marketing can be such an emotive part of your business, from deciding what price to sell at and whether to record a live video when all you want to do is climb into bed with a hot water bottle, here are some of the lessons I have learnt along the way of planning my marketing and my business.
1. Stop beating yourself up
You can stop beating yourself up when you get frustrated something’s not working. Being “on your period” is not about making excuses but when you are aware of how your body is responding to which hormones you are producing, it can give you clarity on why you may be screaming at your laptop for deleting your file (because, quite obviously, it had nothing to do you!).
2. Give yourself a break when you need it
You can give yourself a break when your body needs it most and plan to deliver your best work when you are at your best. Planning a 2 day event in the fourth week of your cycle is probably not the best time if you’re contending with stomach cramps and irritability. But if you have control over your work calendar, choosing days in your follicular weeks could give yourself the chance to rock your best work when you’re in front of an audience.
3. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more irritating than someone (AKA your partner) asking you if you’re PMSing … when you are PMSing. I try to head this off at the pass now because when I get that first sign of irritability, I’m off to check my period tracker on my iPhone and I tell my husband that I’m on the way. I find that I can laugh about it if I’m the one to bring it up first … funny how that happens!
4. Take days off when you need them.
Running your own business gives you the enormous benefit of being in control of your diary. In corporate life, taking a sick day for bad period pains can be tough to negotiate, especially if it’s regular as clockwork and it’s the same day of every month. Plus trying to explain in a board meeting why your brain fog is so thick and you have no idea why your sales figures are down this month may not go down terribly well.
So, as your own boss, don’t make it more difficult for you or your team members that it needs to be. If you have particular bad PMS or find it tough on other days of your cycle, factor those days into your working calendar. Your body and brain will thank you for it when you come to your productive days and you can turn up the energy dial.
5. Get braver on your brave days.
If you know you’re raring to go during your follicular week, then add this time of your cycle in your diary. Plan your sales days during this time. Or your business planning or creation of a new programme. Let Mother Nature help capitalise on these days and help you do your best work.
This topic of periods and hormonal cycles is an incredibly important topic and I wish more people, men and women, could discuss this in the context of business. As we grow into a more feminine world and more female leaders rise to the top, this is a topic that needs to be discussed openly to enable us to develop and grow our businesses, without burning out.
So if there is one thing I’d love you to take action from reading this article, if you don’t already, is that you start to track your cycle. It can be as simple as writing in a journal or if you prefer a piece of tech, then there are plenty of period trackers apps you can get for your phone (you get the added benefit of the apps automatically calculating your future due dates based on your cycle dates).
Self-awareness is powerful; gathering evidence, rather than wondering what the hell is going on with your roller coaster of energy, can give you specific patterns to look out for and help you plan your marketing WITH your menstrual cycle rather than run your business against your natural ebb and flow.
For those of you who already track your cycle, I’d love to know what you do already in your business and marketing plans to take into account where you are at during the weeks.
Let me know your thoughts. Do you plan your business around your dates already? Or has this article made you think about how you could?
(Article originally published in July 2016)
Until next time, remember to do less, be more and play that bigger game.
When a client spends money with you, do you deliver what you promise?
Of course, you do!
But if you are like 80% of business owners who sell their expertise and talent, you probably deliver far more than what was expected of you.
Over delivery is a common problem and not only does it mean you work harder than you need to and puts you on the path to burnout, but it also affects your profitability and your ability to grow your business.
Let me show you how.
Example #1 Corporate trainer & executive coach working in the tech industry
The last few years have been good. Business has turned up when they needed it (but only just in time, to be honest!). But at the end of last year, they felt exhausted. She’d been to 15 different cities and 4 different countries to deliver her training and executive coaching and she felt out of control over who needed the follow-up reports she promised.
Here’s what she’s letting happen:
- She is saying yes to every project that comes her way because she’s not sure when her good luck is going to run out. Consequently, she’s blocked out her diary to the max some months, running back-to-back with different clients.
- Her one day that she promised herself to keep free for a day at home, without work is now being spent at her laptop typing up reports and support documents that she agreed to do because she wants to impress her clients and get the repeat business they promised, even though these weren’t included in the original proposal.
- Her coaching clients are turning up late for their 121 sessions and recently she’s been left waiting patiently on the conference call whilst one client took another call and had to answer an urgent email.
Example #2 Therapist with a busy clinic
She’s got a busy schedule and from the outside looking in, she appears to have a successful and thriving clinic. But over the past few months, she’s getting tired and looking at her bank account again this week, she’s wondering why she never seems to have enough cash to do the things she wants to grow her clinic, such as that online booking system she knows will help grow her client base.
Here’s what she’s letting happen:
- Client sessions are overrunning because she’s giving them a longer treatment than advertised, which means clients who are turning up on time are being kept waiting.
- Clients are cancelling on the day which means she has spare chunks of clinic time she can’t resell at such short notice.
- Clients aren’t re-booking their next appointment before they leave because she’s telling them it’s OK to do it later in the week. They never do.
Even if you’re not this corporate trainer or therapist, do you recognise similar problems in your business?
The real truth behind all of these problems is that clients are not giving you these problems; you are allowing them to happen. You’ve let your professional boundaries slip by giving your clients everything they ask for, and more at times.
Something I teach my clients is Partnership Power; the ability to sell and work with clients from a place of equal power. When you let your boundaries slip, you start to give up your power and the power shifts over to your client. This can lead to them starting to take more liberties, perhaps start asking for discounts or add-ons to what you’ve already agreed. And when you start saying yes to these, you let your power shift away from you even more and the relationship can fast become toxic, with invoices even going unpaid.
But take too much power over your clients, and you can come across as arrogant, cold or dismissive of their needs. This, of course, would start pushing away clients and your business will suffer.
So setting boundaries doesn’t mean you need to become Queen Bitch. Far from it. Setting boundaries are about creating the space and container for both and your client to work side by side, in partnership and in service with each other, rather than you becoming the servant.
Before we dive into the practicals of how to take back control and put in strong boundaries, first let’s look at why you may be allowing these problems to happen.
Over the past 15 years of working with clients, I see these same reasons come up time and time again.
1) Feeling of a lack of worth; you don’t really believe how good you are at what you do and subconsciously overcompensate in make sure your clients are happy with their results. This often messes with your head when it comes to selling because you tie up the “no” to buying from you to mean that you aren’t good enough, rather than the offer you are making.
2) Need to be recognised; tied in with a low level of self-worth, you only feel you’re doing OK when other people tell you so. So because you want more people saying “yes” to buying from you, you charge far lower prices than you should be charging.
3) People pleasing; you are programmed to make sure all your clients are happy and pleased at all times. On one hand, it is important to strive to a high level of customer happiness but the reality is that, in business, you just aren’t going to meet every one of your clients’ expectations, all of the time. Some people simply don’t like or see the value in what it is you offer … and that’s OK.
I have had challenges with all three of these over the years. So it’s OK if you recognise one or more of these. We are all human, after all. And, in my experience, they never completely go away but live in my head like a piece of software waiting to start up at times when I’m feeling down or business is not going so well. So although it is important to spend time unravelling the emotional thinking behind your over-delivering, what I want to share with you here are some practical ways of putting in strong professional boundaries.
Once you start setting the right rules, structure and systems for you and your clients to work towards, you’ll find you will get fewer opportunities to allow your people pleasing or the need to be recognised to rear their ugly heads. And you need to re-balance the Partnership Power in your client relationship so you are working together, rather showing up as the servant.
1.Set Your Working Hours
To begin with, you may make your calendar available to anyone who is interested in speaking with you. But as your diary starts to fill up with appointments, it’s easy to lose control and become highly unproductive. It’s time to set your working hours.
Believe it not, you have total control of your working week. You may not feel it right now, but you can decide exactly when you work and where. That’s the beauty of being your own boss, yes?
For example, Monday morning is sacred to me; it’s for my weekly reflections and planning, my weekly cash flow and money, my weekly team meeting with my assistant. The time I allow my clients to book into my diary is from Monday afternoon through to Thursday, afternoons only. I also don’t work past 5 pm.
What specific working hours do you want to set? You may like to work evenings but don’t start work until 11 am. Perhaps you only want 3 days a week, term times only. Set your working hours, block out your diary accordingly and don’t let your clients or client work take you away from this.
2) Contracts, Terms of Service & Signed Agreements
Whatever you sell, your clients have to be aware of the parameters of your professional working relationship. If you don’t set the rules at the start, your client won’t know when they are stepping over the mark or requesting something that you can’t or don’t want to deliver on. Remember you are in service to them, not serving them.
The specifics of your working relationship need to include:
- Cancellation policy – What happens if they no-show or cancel late? How do you deal with emergency situations when they genuinely can’t keep their agreed time? Is there a charge in place when they don’t? (Any dentist does this now, so why should you be any different?)
- Confidentiality – Is this important to highlight in your client work?
- Support times and access to you – How do your clients reach you whilst working with you? If you don’t want them calling you on your mobile number, why do you have it on your business card or email signature? What response time do you promise for emails or phone messages? (ie instant is not an option unless they are VIP level and they paying good money for this kind of response!)
- Payment terms – When do you expect payment and how? It’s not good enough to let your clients pay you when it suits them. You either set up a pay-before-we-work process or invoice with 5 days payment terms, slightly longer perhaps if you are dealing with a finance team in an organisation (but certainly not 60 days which I’ve seen some my own clients feel obligated to agree to).
These documents don’t need to be long and legal. You can create a very personable contract or terms of service that highlights the promise you are making to your client and the level of service you are giving them, without lots of small print. But I do recommend you get your clients to sign one, rather than just email them a copy for reference, before you start working together because it means they’ve read it and acknowledged how your relationship is going work.
If you want some well-written templates to work from, then I can highly recommend The Small Business Legal Academy which is where I’ve got all my contracts and terms of service documents from.
3) Don’t Discount; Negotiate
Sometimes you are going to get clients who want to work with you but either don’t have the money or don’t want to commit themselves to the full offering straight off. It’s easy when you may be feeling unsure of yourself and lack the number of sales you may need that month to start bartering and discounting. But you lose your Partnership Power and you are starting your client relationship off on the wrong foot.
In my experience, the client that bartered and got a discount ended up a toxic client; they rarely did their “homework” between our sessions and they often didn’t pay my invoices on time.
So rather than discount, negotiate what’s on offer. If they can’t or don’t want to pay the price you are quoting and you’ve decided that you would like to work with this client because you know you can help them and they’ve be great to work with, then take something out of the offer to compensate for the lower price. This could mean one less session with you. It could mean no email support, or follow up call or access to digital files.
4) Deliver What You’ve Promised And No More
It’s easy to keep bolting on extra stuff or letting sessions going on longer than you had scheduled just because you find what you’re offering easy to do. But remember the years of experience, the hours of professional training and the many life lessons that you had to endure to be able to offer what it is you do. It’s easy to do more for your clients because it’s who you are and it comes easily to you.
But if you don’t know how to limit what service you provide, you are in danger of not just over-delivering, but also overwhelming your client. More information, training or teaching often is not helpful. It’s not that you hold back vital tools or techniques or knowledge that your clients need from you to maintain a level of expertise; that shifts your Partnership Power too much on your side. But you give your clients what they need at the time to progress. Simple as.
So however you lay out your programmes, packages or service offerings, make sure you list everything that’s included … and stick to it. If you find you want to increase what’s on offer, then adjust your pricing accordingly.
So that’s four simple ways to set your boundaries and get back into Partnership Power with your clients. Do all these and within a few weeks, you’ll notice the difference in your productivity and your profitability; working just the hours you’ve originally priced and discussed with your clients. Plus you feel far less overwhelmed and in control of your working week.
Until next time, remember to do less, be more and play that bigger game.
Happy New Year!
It’s the first blog post of the year and it feels wonderful to be back in the office, albeit for just for an hour to write this. I know there are plenty of people who have been dreading the return to work; having to face the daily commute or office politics again. But I hope, like me, that is it not the case for you.
Whatever reason spurred you on to work for yourself, being your own boss has its ups – freedom of where and how you work and time off when you want it – but it also has its downs. I wrote to my Ready Steady 2019 members yesterday about how excitement and fear are only one step apart; it can take just one step to go from anticipation to apprehension.
You see, coming through The Festive Fog can be one of those downs of being your own boss.
I know your Facebook and Instagram feeds are probably filled with upbeat, motivational quotes, just like my feed. Perhaps you’ve even been one of those people posting your word-of-the-year and 2019 intentions. Some of you reading this I know will be rocking your first week back.
But what if you’re not?
Coming through The Festive Fog can mean you don’t feel terribly motivated, particularly if you’ve been overindulging, clocking up hours on the sofa watching TV and enjoying wakeups without the alarm. So I thought I’d share a few things that I do that helps get my business head get moving and grooving again.
1) Be kind to yourself.
You wouldn’t go out for a 10K run without a) seriously training for it first and b) warming up your muscles. So if you’ve set yourself some seriously ambitious goals this month to kick start the year and it’s been a few weeks (and maybe even a few months!) since you’ve been on form, make sure you’re warmed up and have the training plan in place to build up gently.
It’s very easy to ROOOAAARRR yourself in the New Year … and then find yourself exhausted and emotionally wrung out when you get to the end of January without achieving all your high expectations of yourself.
Been there, got that T-shirt!
2) Be clear on where you are headed
If you haven’t planned this year out yet, now is the time to do it. Without knowing where you are headed, you have no idea where to set your compass.
Again, you wouldn’t go out for a 10K run without having planned your route first. It may feel like a fun adventure just to set off and see where you end up, but you are in danger of being miles away from home, with no idea where you are at the end of your 10K.
You certainly don’t need every path mapped out in detail but know your endpoint and the milestones and you can relax and enjoy the passing scenery as you go about your journey.
I simply couldn’t start a brand new year now without having focused milestones and financial targets set.
3) Don’t try and do it by yourself
If you are feeling like you need a reboot to get going this January, please don’t just hide away in your office. Reach out to a buddy or someone in your close network and set up a virtual coffee date. I have found shooting the breeze with someone who knows what it’s like to be your own boss an easy way to help ignite my mojo again.
But be careful who you reach out though; avoid anyone who may drain your energy or whose call could end up being a moan-fest.
4) Get some dates in the diary
Dates in the diary really help set structure to my work rhythms and flow. Don’t overbook and schedule yourself so that there’s no space for surprises and interesting opportunities. But having a few conferences, meet-ups and events lined up throughout the year can give you focus on what skills you want to develop and who you want to meet.
Be strategic about some. Schedule others for the sheer fun-factor. It’s your choice but the start of a new year is a great opportunity to make the time now for where you want to be hanging out with this year.
I’d love to know what you do to get through The Festive Fog. Maybe you haven’t experienced it this year. Perhaps you’re right in the thick of it. Comment below with your ideas and insights.
Until next time, remember to do less, be more and play that bigger game.