How to get off the marketing treadmill and play a bigger game

How to get off the marketing treadmill and play a bigger game

How to get off the marketing treadmill and play a bigger game

How long do you keep on pushing?

This was the question I asked myself a few years ago. It was the start of 2014 and I realised I couldn’t keep going the way I had been.

From the outside, I had a successful coaching business. I had a steady flow of 1-2-1 clients, had launched several successful online programmes and was running a membership site teaching social media to 100+ members.

But inside, I was knackered.

Worn out running a treadmill business.

Although I could make money, it was transient; as soon as money came in, it went straight back out again. So if I wanted to make more money, I thought I had to create another programme and get promoting again. And then again the next month. And the next.

I wanted to grow. I wanted to play a bigger game.

But I was using a push energy that meant I felt I was working harder and harder just to stay in the same place.

I know now that I wasn’t alone in feeling like this. The marketing treadmill is an easy place to get stuck on and yet can be incredibly tough to jump off. And this is why I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt over the past few years that have helped me get off the treadmill and start growing a scalable business, whilst making my health, wellbeing and downtime a priority.

1) It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of your marketing system

When you sell yourself – your IP, expertise, time or knowledge – it’s easy to get emotionally caught up with the whole selling aspect of business. If you put your heart and soul into your marketing, each rejection can feel like a personal insult.

Are you really as good as you say you are? Should you be charging those prices? There are bigger and better businesses out there … who am I to be offering what I do?

Now imagine if you had a process to attract new leads and a system that helped those people to buy from you. You would still be personally involved and ensuring that these people felt connected and engaged with you throughout the process but you didn’t have to think about what to do at each stage.

You had clear steps laid out, personalised scripts and follow-up communications all ready to go. All you had to was to trigger each part of the process depending on what action your prospect took.

Without a system in place, your marketing is random at best. And random means you have no idea what works and what doesn’t. So when you don’t make the sales you expect, the only thing you can do is to blame yourself.

2) Stop generating leads and focus on the follow-up

Your marketing system is broken down into 5 core stages: lead generation, nurturing, sales conversion, delivery and repeat referrals. Most business owners focus their marketing efforts in the lead generation stage, spending time on social media, at conferences and networking events and maybe even paid advertising. But they rarely go beyond this first stage and give no thought to the follow-up; the nurturing process, the sales conversion and beyond.

When you are stuck on the marketing treadmill the only thing you do is to lead generate. You have to make sales so you have find new clients … find new leads … got to find new people to sell to.

It’s inefficient and highly exhausting. I have the adrenal fatigue hangover to prove this!

If you are in start-up mode then this is the place to spend your time and energy. But there comes a point that you have to get your head out of your to-do list and look strategically at your marketing.

Stop running on that treadmill. Stand still for a day or two and you’ll see the leads dripping through the holes in your lead bucket. That person who messaged you on LinkedIn about your proposal, still waiting to hear back from you. The dozen or so emails you sent out four weeks ago but never got a reply. The pile of business cards sitting in a pile that you collected at the conference two months ago.

Contacts and leads all waiting for you to do something with; to start nurturing with articles of interest or a video you’ve just recorded.

3) You can’t do it all yourself

No matter how small and beautiful you want your business, you can never and should never try to do it all yourself.

I have been a control freak in the past. I think it goes hand in hand with the push energy, seeking perfectionism and an urgent desire to get things done. I know that when I have been in this mode, I find myself too busy to delegate.

It’s quicker to do it myself. I need to learn this first before asking someone else to do it for me. I haven’t go the money right now to pay someone else.

All lies.

It may not be quicker to delegate first time round but take the time to document your request for help, give clear instructions and make it a repeatable task, it will save you hours and hours in the future.

You don’t need to learn something to enable you to delegate, particularly when it comes to online marketing. Understand what you want to achieve and how it fits into your overall strategy but don’t waste your time watching a tonne of how-to videos on YouTube when someone else could do it for in a tenth of the time.

You can’t afford NOT to pay someone if you want to get off the treadmill and step up your game.

My advice is always to hire someone BEFORE you need them. Wait until you absolutely have to hire and you’ll find the time pressures you are under mean that you often abdicate rather than delegate, which often leads to frustrated cock-ups and the other person not delivering to your expectations.

If you want to play a bigger game, you have to have a team, even if that team is just a +1 to begin with.

4) Your vitality is critical to your business success

I’ve learnt to my detriment that push energy is not good for my health and wellbeing. And particularly for a woman-of-a-certain-age. I was blaming my fatigue and brain fog on menopause. I hit the wall two years after my dad’s death in 2012 and knew adrenal fatigue was probably to blame. But it wasn’t until this year that I realised I wasn’t taking my health as seriously as I should have been.

Re-engineering my business, putting in systems and building a team have all been important changes to helping me take a more strategic approach to my business. But a missing piece of the puzzle for me was the importance of vitality.

To make changes such as the ones I’ve made in my own business, you need stamina. You need a clear head (God, how I hate my brain fog & fatigue … sometimes weeks of frustration of feeling I’m living in an 80-year body!). And, most importantly I believe, you need to love what you do. Without a joie de vivre, your business is just a job. And I know you didn’t go do all this just to have a job, yes?

When so much marketing advice and courses are focused on push, promotion, getting the next lot of clients, it’s no surprising that so many of you get sick (and yes, quite literally) of following the “get clients now” approach month in and month out.

5) Successful marketing is an inside out job

The best systems and marketing funnels in the world will not work if you are not aligning yourself to the level you want to go in your business. My clients come to work with me because they want the practical, down to earth advice that I give. I teach marketing systems that incorporate digital alongside in-person conversations and traditional, offline communications (yes, stamps on a letter do work!).

But over the past year or more, my work has become transformational because of the inner work that we now do together. Understanding how your inner critic works and how your resistance kicks in as you start to charge more or work with a different level of clients. Your inner game is just as important – and sometimes more so – as the outer work that you put into your website, social profiles, content creation and marketing systems.

When you are pushing to get your marketing to work, you simply don’t give yourself any space to discover this power you have within you. And, believe me, this power is incredible once you begin to slow down.

It feels counterintuitive but when you allow yourself to slow down, you speed up and grow.

3 ways that your business screws with your mind

3 ways that your business screws with your mind

3 ways that your business screws with your mind

Having been in control of my own career and income for the past 13 years, there’s one thing that I am absolutely sure of.

Being your own boss is an exhilarating and fun roller coaster ride and yet, at times, one of the most emotionally sucking jobs that you can ever hope to hold down.

I wouldn’t swap what I do for anything. I’m basically unemployable now, but I have the ability to do anything and be anything I want in my business. I hold the budget strings. I decide on my targets. I can do anything I want.

And there’s your bitter sweet pill you take every day.

Freedom. Yeah!

Oh shit … it’s all down to me. Not yeah!

There are two facets to running your business. There’s the external facet that encompasses the financials, sales, marketing and operations. All the practical, logical and process aspect to setting up and growing a profitable business.  

And then there’s the internal facet – the inner game of business.

My first 20 or so years of working was spent in full pelt Superwoman mode and not surprisingly, I’ve struggled with the odd system crash here and there. Working hard, pushing through, smashing SMART goals … we’ve all done it, haven’t we?

And I’m a natural mechanic. One my ninja skills, which is why a lot of clients come work with me, is that I’m good at the systematic side of business; putting in processes, platforms, tech and teams to enable a business to grow as simply and profitably as possible.

However, for the past few years, I’ve been working in more depth around the inner aspect of running a business and discovered that, despite having the best sales and marketing systems set up in the world, there’s absolutely no doubt that your business can screw with you.

Screw Number One

“I’m not ready yet. I need to take another course before I can charge that kind of price.”

When there’s no structured career path to follow or quarterly targets to review with your boss to get your next pay rise, it’s easy to feel there’s no validation in what you can offer. OK, you need a medical degree to be a brain surgeon but do you really need a MBA or NLP Prac to be able to offer executive coaching?

Being your own boss means exactly that. Within legal and moral standards, you can do what you jolly well like. Whether anyone will spend money with you will, of course, depend on your ability to deliver the results you promise. But essentially, you do what you like, yes?

However, a big problem I see is that too many professionals question their 20+ years experience and natural talents. They worry that they aren’t good enough to be doing what they really want to be doing.

I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine who has had a wealth of experience in consulting firms, such as McKinsey. She started off as a ACA qualified accountant and went leaps and bounds in her career over the next 15 years, managing multi-currency projects and MBOs. Once she started a family, she stepped away and decided to work for herself and for the past few years, had been kept busy with project management contracts she secured through her known network.  

Recently she was able to take on more work as her family got older and a couple of the companies she’d been working with asked her to facilitate sessions with the Board of Directors and start supporting a few of the members as an ongoing coach.

But when we spoke, she was doubting her level of experience. She was asking me if she should take some form of Executive Coaching qualification before she made this official. And did she think it was ok to keep charging the equivalent of her daily project management rate of £450+VAT?

Can you see being her own boss was screwing with her mind?

Because she was going into new territory – working with clients in a different capacity than she had started with them – she felt she needed official validation in the form of a qualification before she could put her prices up to reflect the different level of service she was offering.

Her clients could see what she was capable of. But with no boss to set her targets or give her clear career guidelines, she couldn’t see for herself that it was perfectly OK to say yes to more Executive Coaching work without getting qualified first.

Now of course, there may be a point that she does want to develop her executive coaching skills but to say “No” to something that a known client was asking to take on and she was excited about the prospect of doing something more than project management … just because she didn’t have the necessary letters after her name … well, to me that’s crazy.

Screw Number Two

“I can’t double my prices for what I’m already offering. I need to add more stuff into the package so that my new clients really see the value they are getting.”

This comes up A LOT in my GID School calls. When business owners join GID School, they are usually selling by the hour and offering ad hoc sessions. They often base what they’re charging on a previous corporate salary so, for example, a salary of £75,000 equates to approximately £35 an hour. Thus anything over £50 an hour, their mind starts playing tricks on them and questions whether they can justify their fees.

And when you throw in what your local marketplace is currently charging for what you offer, it’s easy to really have the wobbles when you contemplate prices of £100 an hour plus.

One of my current GID students is a hypnotherapist by profession, which is a highly competitive market place. Most people who search for an hypnotherapist either ask their friends or go to Google. It then becomes a process of price comparison as every hypnotherapist starts to look the same so the simplest way of deciding who to call is often based on price. So it is a challenge to charge more than £60 a session if you haven’t got a reputation and platform such as Paul McKenna.

But one area she has been working in has been stress, particularly in the field of Chronic Fatigue. So by positioning herself as a specialist, there’s an immediate separation from “all the rest” and a few simple tweaks by offering a structured programme, rather than selling ad hoc sessions, you can see how you can increase your profitability and average spend of your clients.

But there’s been this burning desire to create more “stuff” to justify her price increases. It couldn’t be as simple as £60 x 6 sessions and then double it … what else could she bolt on and add to her process of transforming the client to justify this level of pricing?

Having worked with clients such as her for the past 13 years, I know there is absolutely no need to spend your next 3 months creating online modules and fancy membership sites, just so you can justify your prices to your clients.

Because the real truth is that it’s YOU that you are trying to justify your prices to. It’s YOU that thinks you aren’t good enough … rarely your clients, especially the ones who see dramatic transformations and results from the work you do together.

Screw Number Three

“I’d love to XYZ but I just don’t know how or where to start.”

One of the most crushing questions to any dreams or new business ideas you can ask yourself is “How do I …?”

Most business owners and self-employed professionals are naturally creative. Ideas are not a problem when you allow yourself time and space to download them and let them come out.

But nothing stops an idea dead that a flurry of questions all starting with a “But how would I do that?”

As soon as your mind goes into HOW mode, you’re using a different part of your brain. The part that’s logical and practical … you start to process information and start trying to find answers.

Now the problem with this, is that you rarely do have the answers; right there and then. The simple truth is that if you knew what to do, you wouldn’t be brainstorming the problem … you’d be getting on taking inspired action. You just would instinctively know what to do and the process would be energising and fulfilling.

But if your idea is to create a brand new online programme, or a community project, or a new membership site, or a new way of working … if it’s new to you, there’s every chance you just won’t know what to do.

You are NOT the person who has all the answers and yet, when you work for yourself, it’s real easy to feel that you are the one who has to fix everything. You are the one that SHOULD know what to do … and yet when you don’t, your dreams get crushed.

When you were working for someone else, you were probably working in a team. You had meetings, you had water cooler chats, you had reviews with your boss. Although you may have been responsible for projects or new ideas, you didn’t do it alone, did you?

So why is it that when you are your own boss, you try to work it out all for yourself?

And when you internalise the HOW, it becomes real easy for your logical part of your brain to talk yourself out of your idea. Your big idea is rapidly eroded away because you simply don’t know how to get started and you end up playing small once again.

I know this to be true because of the number of times this has happened to me. Being my own boss means that I have no accountability. And when I have no accountability, I can do what I like. And what that has meant over the years is that if a brilliant idea just becomes too hard, too scary, too complicated, too big … all sorts of excuses come out and the idea passes on by.

One of the misconceptions I had about being successful was that I had to be self-motivated. But boy, does self-motivation suck. It’s not only a lonely path to take but believing that you have to be self-motivated to run a successful business, means that you are relying on unnatural super powers.

I greatly admire the traits of highly motivated people but I know now that a lot of the people I once thought were self-motivated, actually aren’t.

They all use other people to help them stay on track and use as sounding boards for new ideas and project. You can’t do it all by yourself.

So reading this through, I wonder how many other screws are coming to the forefront of your mind. How many times has being your own boss screwed with you … letting thoughts talk you out of bigger plans … feeling lost and confused so you procrastinate and work hard at simply staying still?

Becoming aware of the inner game that your business plays with you is a big part of moving forward. And I love how my clients are able to laugh out loud when they catch themselves being royally screwed up by stuff that is simply not the truth.

Let me know below what this has helped you realise. I’d love to hear your stories, too.


7 Steps To Attracting New Clients To Your Business

7 Steps To Attracting New Clients To Your Business

7 Steps To Attracting New Clients To Your Business

When you run your own small business, attracting new clients is often one of the biggest challenges you face.  And especially so when you are in the first couple of years of trading.

But how do you go about finding new clients?  And why do some businesses seem to attract new clients like a magnet and yet others slog away cold-calling day in, day out without much success?

Follow these 7 steps and you will find that you naturally attract new clients week after week.  And without the need to hard sell!

Step One:  Know who you want to attract.  I know this sounds pretty obvious but you will be surprised how many small business owners haven’t taken the time time to decide on who they want to work with.  They are so desperate to bring in the business, that they are prepared to work with everyone and anyone.

Step Two:  Be specific about your target client.  For a small business to survive in today’s economy, the more specific you are about the client you want to attract, the more focused your marketing will be.  And the more focused your marketing is, the better results you will have.  Targeting “blue chip companies” or “women in their 40’s” is not specific enough.  I’m talking about writing out a personality profile outlining their likes, dislikes, family situation, career path, inside leg measurement!

Step Three:  Understand what their problems are.  The majority of new small businesses today are started because of someone’s passion and skills.  They use their past experience or re-training to start their own business without taking the time to really understand their target clients’ pain.  Without providing a remedy for their pain, it is very, very hard work promoting oneself.  So stop marketing a service or product just because you think it’s a great idea.  It is solving someone’s problems?

Step Four:  Create solutions to the problems.  If you have taken the time to really understand your target clients’ problems, it will make it far easier to create a programme, product or service that your clients want to buy.  You will have a programme, product or service which is marketable – that attracts enquires and leads because it is desired rather than needs the hard-sell because you think its needed.

Step Five:  Find out where your target clients hang out.  It’s hard work trying to talk to one person at a time.  Yes, you have to start from somewhere [and no the local telephone directory is not a great place to start!] but make it easy for yourself.  Do your research and find out what media they would read, what groups do they belong to, which conferences do they attend and which online forums do they chat on.  Become part of those groups and your messages can reach dozens, hundreds and even thousands of target clients at a time.

Step Six:  Find out how they like to communicate.  Just because you hate email, doesn’t mean that your clients will too.  Just because you love to tweet every day, doesn’t mean that your clients are addicted to twitter too.  Understand how your clients like to communicate and make sure you provide your marketing messages in a format they like to read and act on.  If that means getting your head around email marketing, then do it.  If that means spending more money on printed material, then do it.  But don’t assume – because you know that will just make an ass out of me and you!

Step Seven:  Make an offer they just can’t refuse.  If you have followed all six steps, then you should be a position to make an offer that your target client will have to act on straight away.  You’ve understand who you want to work with, you have created a solution to the problems they have, you have found out the right medium in which to communicate with them and start to build a relationship.  If you have all this, then you’ve done your market research and making an offer they just can’t refuse should be easy and simple to do.

Marketing is easy and simple.  Marketing is also a lot of fun.  And the reason why most small business owners shudder at the prospect of promoting themselves is often because they have missed out some [if not all!!] all these steps.

Make it easy for you.  Follow these steps and you should find yourself attracting clients naturally to your business.  And not a hard-sell in sight!

The self-imposed glass ceiling on your income potential

The self-imposed glass ceiling on your income potential

The self-imposed glass ceiling on your income potential

Do you put a glass ceiling on your income and limit your earning potential?

I know you wouldn’t intentionally, would you? I know you wouldn’t put a “CLOSED” sign up on your website or ignore email enquires.

So why is it, that at certain times of your business growth, you cap your earning potential and create a glass ceiling?

This is a very personal story I want to share with you today. Outwardly I know I give the impression of confidence; of someone who knows exactly what she’s doing. A woman with a goal and a clear plan on how to get there.

And yes, that is me … most of the time.

But in between those times, I’m just a normal, average human being who thinks way too much and talks herself out doing stuff because … well, it’s scary at times to take a leap in one’s business.

I’ve been subconsciously imposing a glass ceiling on my personal growth and business potential and because I know there are some of you who read my stuff do exactly the same thing, I wanted to open up so you, too, can really see the glass ceilings that you may be imposing on yourself.

Your glass ceiling may not easy to see (hence the name!).

But when your head bangs up against it … you feel it, that’s for sure.

Gentle knocks to begin with. Nothing painful. Easy to ignore.

But over time, as your potential and growth swells within you, you realise that you’ve stopped banging up against it and you are actually stooped over, head bent down and your vision is constrained to what you see below you.

Imagine running your business squeezed into a box with no room to move. Imagine only looking down or backwards from where you’ve come.

Well, that’s your glass ceiling pressing down on you.

glass ceiling on income

Self Imposed Glass Ceiling on Your Income

I know I’m no different to you (we are all human beings after all!) so I know you may have had one (perhaps more?!) that’s come out at certain times of your business growth.

What’s been mine?

I smashed through mine last week. I registered for VAT on the 1st April (I know … a lovely day to have a joke on my subconscious!), which means my business turnover will exceed £82,000 this year.

Cripes … even just typing that sentence for all the world to read creates a knot in my throat. How funny that I feel my resistance kicking in again even though the deed is now done!

(Please note: as I tell you my VAT story, don’t take this as accountancy advice. I’m NOT an accountant and this isn’t about whether you should become VAT registered or not. This is about the stories that play around our heads and pull you back every time you are close to leaping forward. I am sure you have similar stories that pull you back from your leap forwards hence my need to share this story.)

Not getting VAT registered at the start of my business in 2004 has probably been the only business decision I’ve ever regretted. If I’d only treated it as part of setting up a business, got it over and done with at the start, I wouldn’t have had to deal with this over the past few years.

But why would I have registered for VAT when I first started up? After all, I barely made any money in my first 9 months of being a life coach.

Yet I started my business with all good intentions. I wanted to create an income that matched my part time job that I left. Thus for me to have £50,000+ as income, I would have had to invoice at least £70,000 (which back in 2004 was about the VAT threshold).

But I told myself I wanted to keep things simple and yes, doing VAT returns may have pushed me over the edge and have me running back to my PAYE world.

So I kept things simple, became self-employed and didn’t get registered.

Over the years, my income went up but just as I thought about taking my income seriously, I lost my Dad after 18 months of cancer. As you can imagine my business took a back seat and I barely made a profit those 2 years. So when I came back to work in September 2010, all I could focus on was building up my business again … registering for VAT didn’t even get on the radar.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the I found myself squashed up against the VAT glass ceiling and I realised how much not registering for VAT was capping my potential. Working with various mentors at the time I had all the support to create and build new revenue streams and raise my game. But somehow I never really upped my game sufficiently enough because it seemed I had convinced myself that by growing, I had to become VAT registered and VAT registration had created a number of stories in my head.

I know, I know. There will be some of you reading this thinking “What’s the problem here? Surely getting VAT registered is simple … just do it, make hay and let the sun shine!”

But I know in that what’s hard for me maybe simple for you … is true in reverse … as what’s hard for you maybe simple for me. For example, creating campaigns in Infusionsoft is a dream for me. I love it and would do it for fun if I could. But I know other people see this a total block; they don’t move forward with promotions or launching products because they get stuck in “I’m crap at tech” or “outsourcing this stuff is hard” stories and the like.

Stories That We Tell Ourselves

We all have stories running around in our heads that are based on our beliefs and what we’ve seen, heard and experienced. And these create glass ceilings on our income potential. These were just 3 of the core stories that I had running around VAT registration:

1. My clients won’t pay VAT as so few of them are registered themselves.

That was an interesting story that ran for years. Back when this story first started manifesting, I was charging a £30 monthly subscription to a membership site, my programmes were all bubbling around the £250 mark and my 1-2-1 fees where about £145 a session.

So yes, I had convinced myself that, at those figures, VAT on top would have been a proportional hike. But looking back, I could see I was seeing each sale in isolation. Simple maths would have told a different story if I had calculated my membership numbers on 1,000 members rather than the 100 I had at the time.

If I had decided to take the hit on the VAT, for example, and included it in the £30 a month rather than pass this onto my clients, how would have that affected my decision to start attracting 1,000 members? What different strategies would I have acted on?

Plus VAT is part of our every day lives. We don’t like paying it, but we know we have to pay it. If VAT was included in prices, then we often don’t blink an eye … it’s when you choose to buy, get excited about buying, go to the checkout and then be told “Oh, that’s another 20% please” … that’s when, as consumers, we get the bitter taste in our mouths. And thinking that this was the only way to position a 20% increase in my prices, held me back.

2. I hate financials – I want to keep things simple

OK … I know this is a story that a lot of you will resonate with. Simplicity is all the rage right now! I’ve been working on building it into my life for a number of years and I know simplicity is one of skills I have that makes the work I do with my clients so effective.

But using simple as an excuse not to understand stuff that you don’t get that would help you shift you and your business forward, is … well frankly … a crap excuse.

I am never going to try to convince anyone that VAT is simple but I know now (see how I changed my story!) that I didn’t have to be a VAT specialist to get VAT set up. That’s why I have a trusted accountant who I don’t confess to understand everything he tells me in detail, but I take his advice and move on.

As your business grows, it may not be VAT that bothers you. But there will always be stuff that you don’t understand to begin with. Marketing funnels, hiring teams, project managements and outsourcing …. all typical steps up to growing a business. But often you know very little about each of these steps until you step up … so staying on the step below and convincing yourself you want to keep things simple is often just an excuse for not stepping up.

See how easy it is NOT to see your glass ceiling?!

3. I want to stay small

Small is beautiful. Spending time in my office working with clients who I find easy to work with keeps things easy. I need a calm, simple existence because if I stay small, I can play safe.

These were all stories I was telling myself which worked fine some of the time.

And there’s nothing wrong with easy, don’t get me wrong. I see there is a big difference between work when you are in the flow and hard work. I work hard but it’s never hard work for me.

But playing safe is not always a good long term strategy, especially if your competitors over take you or you get complacent with your marketing or you stagnate or get bored.

It was last year that I realised I didn’t need to play small to stay small. I don’t want to employ a huge team. I don’t want to rent an office space. I don’t want to become an agency or a full blown consultancy. I like the freedom of working for and by myself, in the comfort of my own home.

But that doesn’t mean I have to play small; squashed up against my glass ceiling.

There have been other stories that have rumbled away in the background but these were the 3 core ones. Perhaps they have helped you seen your own stories for what they are.

What Stories Create Your Own Glass Ceiling?

Perhaps you’re now starting to see how not being VAT registered is seriously holding you back from charging more, offering a different package or programme or working with clients at a higher level.

Perhaps you’re creating a different glass ceiling.

One of my clients recently admitted to me that her reason for choosing a £45,000 income goal was because over that she’d be paying a higher rate of tax. Now I know paying out large sums of tax can be heart wrenching, but if you have a good accountant, you only pay a percentage of what you earn … you’ll always be quids in. Thus capping your potential earnings based on the fact you don’t want to pay a certain level of compulsory rates of tax suddenly becomes rather laughable. (And believe me, when you can laugh at your stories, that’s when you know you can change them!)

A good friend of mine has a wonderful way of thinking of her taxes. Every time she pays her tax bill, she works out how many life support machines for babies she’s just paid for.

And yes, I’m not naive enough to know that her tax money doesn’t necessarily go to that budget. But as it’s compulsory and you have no choice in the matter, better to have a good heart when you pay it because of the ripple effect it creates in the rest of your being.

So what I am getting at here, is that your stories you tell you yourself are going to be different to mine and the next person who reads this article.

It doesn’t really matter what the story is just so long as you acknowledge what’s really going for you.

And acknowledge that that story may be putting a glass ceiling on your income potential.

Now that I am VAT registered, I have taken a few hits. The rumble strip that I drove over last week going through the process of contacting clients, making the changes to my accounts and prices was bumpy. But the few short term financial losses are counterbalanced with a huge, massive long term gain, for both me and my clients; stepping up and taking a leap of faith will filter through to the people I work with … that’s guaranteed!

I knew those bumps were temporary and carried on regardless because I knew the road will smooth out in a very short space of time, allowing my acceleration to the next stage of my personal growth and income potential.

Now that I’ve smashed through this glass ceiling, I can’t help but wonder what my next glass ceiling will be. At least this time, I hope to acknowledge it quicker and smash through it sooner.

Your Thoughts And Comments Please

Has this story inspired you to look at what’s creating your own glass ceilings?

Perhaps you are struggling with the thought of VAT registration? Or paying a higher rate tax? Maybe it’s your feelings of guilt or shame that stop you charging the prices you could be charging for your services? Or fear of going after a new market or creating a new brand or product?

Your personal beliefs around money create a lot of energy – positive and negative – around what you take action on to grow your income potential. I’d love to know your thoughts so leave a comment below.

What’s your True Profit?

What’s your True Profit?

karen skidmore true profit business models

There’s a difference between the price you sell at and how much you pay yourself … you knew that already (didn’t you?!)

Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash flow is reality.

And then there’s gross profit and net profit; the difference between your sales, cost of sales and running costs. Not to mention all the other costs that need adding to your final end of year accounts, such as running an office from your home or depreciating assets.


Don’t let your eyes glaze over.


I don’t want this to be a bookkeeping lesson and, quite frankly, I am not at all equipped to be giving your tax and accountancy advice.

But one of the reasons why many clients come to work with me is because we talk True Profit.

It’s True Profit that I want to bring to your awareness today.

True Profit is much more than just figures on a spreadsheet. And as much as I would love to give you a simple formula to work from, everyone’s True Profit calculations will vary depending on your values, priorities in life and your personality.

Your True Profit is so much more than gross and net profit margins.

If you are running a service-based business, around your expertise, your day to day running costs are likely to be quite low. You don’t have retail space to rent, you probably don’t have a team of people you employ, there are no huge utility bills to be paid nor are you importing raw materials or paying distribution costs.

The running costs of your business are going to be your phone, internet, web hosting, advertising, marketing, home office, possibly travel and outsourcing such as a virtual assistant or web manager.

NOTE: If you really don’t know the exact running costs of your business, you need to get a handle on them right now. Especially look out for all those small monthly subscriptions to tech services you’ve got quietly running away from your Paypal account … they can add to hundreds every month if you’re not careful!

An important part of your expenditure is probably going to be around your cost of sales. And these are going to vary depending on your business model.

It’s these costs of sales where I want to start you on to help discover your True Profit.

Let’s take events.

If you run in-person events, your venue costs are going to be dependant on where you’ve decided to position yourself. The more expensive the ticket price, the bigger the budget you’ve to spend on your venue.

But if you’re staying cheap to keep the price of the tickets down, you could be penalising yourself in the long term. Let me explain.

karen skidmoreVenue costs are directly proportional to the positioning of your event and thus what you charge for them.

Staying cheap and choosing a venue that only charges you £25 a head, there’s every chance you decide to charge a classic £95 per person. That’s 73% gross profit margin (before any marketing costs, etc).

Moving to a venue that charges £95 a head, the price for the same event wouldn’t only be increased by £70 … the value of the event has proportionally increased and there’s every chance you’d be able to charge £495 or more for the same day.

Not only has your total gross profit gone significantly up, but you are also up to 81% gross margin.

Taking this workshop example further, at a price tag of £495, you’d have to sell far fewer places to create far greater sales and profit.

It’s a mistake that many coaches, trainers and experts make when running training events, workshops and seminars. You believe that by setting a price at £95, this will make the event easier to sell. Thus you are forced to secure a cheaper venue to ensure you stay in profit.

And yes, I know … some will run these kinds of events as lead generation events; no profit made on the day but the profit is realised as you engage and build on that initial relationship. But let me put that strategy to one side for now, because to have a lead generation strategy like this needs to be seriously considered before you decide on your business model.

When you realise you will go through the exact same amount of effort to sell 1 place at £95 as you will 1 place at £495, it pays to pay more for your event venue to enable you to position your price better.

Plus, higher prices generally attract better quality clients. You only have to run 1 event with 40 people at £95 to realise far fewer people will step forward into other programmes with you compared to a room of just 10 paying £495.

OK … with this example, I’ve dealt predominantly with sales revenue and event costs here.

That’s just one small part of your personal True Profit formula.

True Profit also takes into account the following:

Health & Wellbeing

Some people thrive on launching and event promotion. I know I used to back when I was 10 years younger (I’ve been 12 years running my own business now). I used to love the hustle and the energy of promoting a live in-person event. The thrill of selling tickets and then running the day.

Today it’s a very different story for me. My energy levels are lower now being a “women-of-a-certain-age”. I’ll happily admit that the thought of standing in front of a room full of people all day exhausts me. I just can’t do it. Give me a day with my Academy members who I’m working intensively with over a course of a year … yippy de do. I’m a pig in muck.

But being presenter, trainer and speaker for a whole day … no way.

Thus the lead generation strategy that I mentioned earlier – sell lots of low priced tickets and then build and nurture those relationships to reap rewards during and after the event – is just not part of my business model.

Although it could be hugely profitable – and it is for many experts out there – it would affect my health and wellbeing and thus my True Profit would plummet.


There’s lot of different types of stress when you run your own business. There’s the stress of running around like a headless chicken with too much to do through to the stress that gnaws away at you slowly when you’re getting week after week after week of No’s.

Stress from not making enough money. Stress from believing you’re going to get found out one day … you’re not as good as you think you ought to be. Stress from having too many should-be’s cluttering up your to-do list. Stress from working with too many clients.

Many business owners, like you, take on work when you know you should be saying no. And many business owners create a business model based on what works for others … but just doesn’t work for them.

Stress of running live in-person events would be high for me and, of course, would affect my health and wellbeing. But for others, they love the excitement and the buzz – stress doesn’t even enter the arena.

What is not stressful for some, could be stressful for you. So make sure you take this into account when working out your True Profit.

Time with family and friends

karen skidmoreTime is a critical part of your True Profit calculation.

Time is constantly ticking by hour by hour, day by day. It’s a resource that feels endless (there’s always tomorrow) but the reality is that it goes with a blink of your eye.

What you decide to do with your time is, of course, always up to you. And how you work time to yourself in and around your business is something you do have control over.

For me, my core objective when I first started working for myself was to create a term time business. My children back then were 3 and 5. I needed to be able to work only whilst they were in school or asleep in bed. It was the only way that my husband could carry on working full time, without the need for hiring live-in nannies or au pairs – something neither of us wanted.

It wasn’t all Easy Street straight off the bat. I was constantly frustrated by the short working days I had. It seemed I just got into the swing of doing some copywriting or arranging a couple of meetings, that I had to switch off and go pick up 1 or both of my kiddies.

But because my focus was Term Time Only, I worked hard at shaping my business model around school hours and terms. I am proud to say that I have maintained this term time approach in True Profit style 12 years on … and need it more than ever as my eldest embarks on her A Levels shortly and my youngest starts his GCSEs.

Time with family may not be your focus. You may have an elderly relative you need to care for. You may have a new love in your life that you want to spend leisurely long weekends with.

As I wrote at the start of this article, your True Profit will be different to everyone else’s. You need to clear on why time is important to you to give the motivation to go make a business to make it happen.

Holiday and days off

This follows on from time with family and friends, but I like to keep this separate because planning and booking holidays often needs long-term thinking to make happen. A member of my Academy realised last year that, although holidays were incredibly important to her, she always found herself too busy to book any because she was a self-confessed workaholic. She loved what she did, so she allowed herself to keep going month after month before getting to the end of the year and realising she hadn’t gone away.

This year, she started the year by booking holiday dates in her work diary first … and then went about creating her business strategy and plans around them.

Now that’s True Profit.

Education and personal development

karen skidmore true profitAnother problem I see happen is business owners “forgetting” to allow time for personal development and education. If you were an employee as an HR or accountant or legal professional, you’d probably be obliged to complete your CPD (Continual Professional Development) hours.

But work for yourself and where does this obligation come from? When you have no clients, you worry about taking time out to learn because it’s not bringing in leads. But when you get busy, how do you make the time to take out from client paid work?

Scheduling in and making education and personal development is critical if you want to keep your business growing because if you aren’t growing, stagnating is a dangerous place to find yourself.

A business model that allows this, will give you the True Profit that you need to make this happen.

Resources and hiring of a team

This is an interesting part of the True Profit equation. Hiring a team is often a critical part of ensuring your business is not ALL about you. You can’t be the expert, web designer, customer services manager AND the tea maker. At some point, you will need to hire to ensure your True Profit is realised.

Starting small with an assistant who may help manage your diary appointments and answer your phone is a good place to begin. Over time, as you learn to delegate, you will outsource more of the doing of your business; graphics, content creation, bookkeeping right through to online business managers and possibly salespeople.

However, there is a tipping point that hiring a team eats into your True Profit. A very good friend of mine found herself celebrating a 6 figure plus business. From the outside, her business was a huge success and she was recognised as one of the leading experts in her field. But pull back the curtains and there was an 8 person team working away costing her thousands of pounds every month. Her turnover was high but what she was paying herself was minimal.

Her True Profit was almost non-existent.

So hiring people works in principle but only if your business model ensures you get your True Profit.

What else have I missed?

There will be other parts of the True Profit equation that will be important to you. Perhaps it’s having one of your children come work in your business. Perhaps charitable contributions rate highly in your values.

I’d love to know what else you value and how it affects your True Profit calculation.

Want to discuss your True Profit potential with me?

Then head on over and book up one of my Catalyst Calls.

There only a limited number of these available each month so if you don’t see any times on my calendar when you click through, email my assistant Alexia at [email protected] and ask to be put on this month’s waiting list in case we get a cancellation.


6 Rules For Keeping Your Marketing Really Simple This Year

6 Rules For Keeping Your Marketing Really Simple This Year

If you are reviewing your business, you may have got some kind of plan together for this year.

You may have set your intention to make this year your best year yet; smashing all previous goals out of the water.

Perhaps you are being a little more cautious, deciding to err on the side of caution.

Or perhaps the thought of business planning fills you with you dread so that you avoiding making a plan at all costs (you may want to skip straight to this article here if you feel planning ain’t your thing and you find you’ve got a severe allergic reaction to anything goal related!)

But wherever you are at with your business, there is one thing that’s certain.

As each year goes by, marketing gets more and more complicated.

New marketing tools come out promising to be the secret cure to your problems. Your inbox fills up by the hour quicker than your Friday night wine glass. And there are more productivity apps to test out and distract you from your focus.

And it’s not just the tech.

As you go from one marketing blog to the next and register for yet another webinar or seminar, you get told about the next latest, quickest, easiest, fastest way to get clients. You try out blogging and then get told that periscoping is where it’s at. And then you turn around to hear that Twitter ads are starting to work and, even though you haven’t got your head around Facebook ads yet, you then start to feel that slight panic about having to learn about something else … just to keep up.

marketing tornado

Keeping up with what marketing is working is exhausting and because it is my quest to simplify the act of client attraction, I want to share with you today my 6 rules for keeping marketing really simple this year.

Rule Number One: Less gives you more

I’ve been reviewing business plans for the past couple of months, both for members of my GID School and Mastermind Academy, and one common problem I see is cramming in too much. Yes, if you run a large business, with dedicated sales and marketing teams, then you can afford to divesify and spread yourself over mutiple channels and opportunities.

But as a solopreneur – a consultant, coach, designer, trainer, therapist – you are your own marketing director. The time, energy and resources you have to dedicate to marketing you and your business are limited. So trying to blog, tweet, periscope, network, speak, write your book, run webinars, create courses, setting up events, running your own Facebook ads …. it ain’t gonna happen!

All those plates you start to spin … they are going to come crashing down sooner rather than later. And when they do, it’s demoralising and you often lose your confidence. Not recommended.

And as many entrepreneurs are creatives (you love an idea!), this is hard rule to stick to. But stick to it you must if you want to see yourself get traction and results.

Focusing on just 2 or 3 core marketing activities and communication platforms will keep you focused on getting better results. Plus you’ll be a lot less stressed as your to-do list evapourates as a result.

Rule Number Two: Sell in person first before selling online

It’s become too easy for you to hide behind your screens and sit in your offices in your pajamas each day. The dream of running an online business from your phone in your back pocket and your local coffee house is possible. But it’s not an easy reality if you’ve never sold in person.

Of course, there are always going to exceptions to any rule. So before I get blasted by examples of people who have done this successfully … let’s get real here. For the majority, a pure online business will never happen because by hiding behind your screens, you won’t know your market place well enough.

The quickest and simplest way to market a new product or service is to get on the phone with a handful of potentially interested people and make them the offer in person.

And yet, what most people do when they have an idea of new course or programme is to spend weeks creating websites, making sales pages look gorgeous and shiny, write long, lengthy email sequences, decide they want to do a webinar (so the quest of learning how to run a webinar gets chucked into the equation!), realise that they need an online payment system and they want it synched up perfectly with a shopping cart and automatic fulfillment process … oh my … I don’t know about you, but I’ve just come out in a cold sweat and adrenalin is pumping around my system!!!

All this before you even know if your new product is any good and anyone is going to spend money with you.

When I first launched my Get It Done Marketing Programme 3 years ago, all I had was a basic web page with about 500 words and a link to fill in an online questionnaire. There were no paypal buttons or webinar or sales video or long form sales page. I sent an email out to just 130 people, told them what I had planned and if they were interested, they had to click on this web page I’d knocked together and fill in the short online form so I could arrange a time for us to speak.

I sold all 8 places at £750 each within 10 days of that first email.

Even I impressed myself how simple my marketing campaign was back then.

happy having a sales call

So whether you like the idea of selling in person or not, get over it. I’m not suggesting you starting pitching or going into double glazing mode … I’ve referring to having conversations with people who are interested in what you may have to offer.

Conversations that you spend most of the time asking questions and listening; not spending 30 minutes blasting them with reasons why your latest offer is so brilliant.

Ask questions and LISTEN.

Once you’ve started doing this, you get to understand and connect with your market place. And if you decide that it’s right to make an offer during that call and the other person says yes, you know you’ve got a product or programme that you can then spend time to refine your marketing campaign.

Rule Number 3: Stay off Facebook

Seriously .. this one’s a doozy.

Facebook is the gateway to endless opportunities. It’s a powerful traffic generation tool, connector of people and can position you as an expert almost overnight (with the right content you share).

But this same gateway of opportunities also distracts you, taunts you, pulls you away from your daily focus … if you let it.

If you need a reality check of your online activity throughout your working day, use a web application such as It’s similar to those awful weight loss TV programmes where they display the week’s worth of food consumed in front of the “contestants”.

Rule Number 4: Know your Best Client

All great and awesome marketing (AKA marketing that generates sales) starts from the “who”; the person you want to attract and you know would love to spend money with you in order to access what it is you offer.

I call these people your Best Client.

Your Best Clients aren’t just people who buy stuff. Your Best Clients are people who pay the prices you deserve to charge; they don’t quibble or huff or puff or haggle. They pay their invoices on time; they don’t leave your invoices to the last to pay or stop taking your calls when you start asking for your money. They are the people you love to hang out with (perhaps even socially!). They are the people who take action on what it is you do with them; they keep to project timeframes, submit coursework on time, take action on the advice you deliver. They are people who love what you do, who you are and what you represent. They are people who recommend you to others and willingly give you testimonials or share your posts on social media and within their own communities.

They aren’t the people who you think you have the best chance of making money out of. Nor are they the people who you feel more comfortable in approaching. And it’s really easy to end up feeling desperate & willing to take on anyone when you start to lose control and your marketing goes scatter gun.

The reason why most of your marketing doesn’t work (AKA doesn’t generate sales), is because you’ve usually started with the platform and the message. You’ve decided that you want to use Facebook … or Linkedin … or that you want to run a webinar. And this then sends you off on a merry dance of learning from course after course after course.

When you’ve identified and emotionally connected with your Best Client, you will know where and how to find them. You will know whether they are active on Facebook … or on LinkedIn … or whether a webinar is a right place to start.

Starting with your “who” is marketing 101 … and yet hardly anyone does it because you get distracted with tech and start learning about platforms and tools and websites and stuff.

your best client logo

(If you want to fast track your marketing and spend just a few hours working out your Best Client, click here to find out more. Use the promotion code BLOG on the order form to get 50% off today.)

Rule Number 5: If it works, do it again.

Your marketing can be made so much simpler if you spend a little while each and every month reviewing what’s working for you.

I know I’ve had a real problem over the years of getting bored very easily. As soon as something started to work for me, it felt too easy and I switched lanes to start something new. Back when I first started in 2004, I began to run a workshop every half term. After a while, I narrowed down the topics to just 2 that sold out each time and I would get 15 people along in a room for a morning’s workshop. In each of those workshops, I would usually get 3 or 4 people who wanted to speak with me after and take up 1-2-1 coaching with me.

After 12 months I had my marketing system working so well that I could fill each workshop with just 3 or 4 emails and I’d get enough clients to keep me busy.

But I got bored. I decided it was too easy and switched lanes to do more stuff online and, although it worked in my favour over the long term, I went backwards before going forwards again.

I’ve learnt now that boring (AKA doing something that works over and over again) is good is for my business. Every time I get a little twitchy, I remind myself of my priorities and why I do what I do, which reminds me of the pain of going backwards when forwards is so much easier and fun.

Of course, you need to keep reviewing. What works one year, may not work as well the next. We live in a fast-paced society where is it difficult to predict where our businesses may be more than a year ahead. So keep checking in with how your marketing systems and activities are working for you; keep track of some simple sales metrics – whether that’s number of calls booked into your diary each week or number of proposals sent out or number of new sign-ups on your email list – and keep track of trends up and down.

You can afford to be flexible enough to change direction very quickly if you need to … but only do so when what you are doing, stops working and NOT because you get bored!

Rule Number 6: Trust that ideas and opportunities are endless

When you work from a place of scarcity, you’ll know how scarce business becomes. Without getting too whoo whoo on you, the Universe has a knack of knowing when you are desperate and when you are holding back.

It’s the same with ideas and opportunities.

As you start to get known and your business attracts more clients, you also start attracting opportunities; other business owners suggesting you get together to create a joint programme, someone wanting you to co-host a new podcast, someone else suggesting that you really should write a book, a conversation inspires a new product idea.


Ideas are not a problem for most of you. Ideas & Opportunities keep piling through to you, day in and day out – especially when you are busy and feel on a roll.

You start saying yes to stuff because you feel it’s better to say yes, then miss the boat. You start creating huge long to-do lists of all the things you feel you “ought” and “should” be doing to the point that you wonder whether the Andrex puppy is going to bound into your office any minute.

But here’s the thing. Ideas and opportunities are always there. And saying no to some now may actually help better ones come your way.

If you find yourself in one of these mind-fog periods, where your head is buzzing and you are starting to feel overwhelmed, get yourself a piece of paper and write down everything that’s going through your head. Keep on writing until you can’t write anymore.

Take a picture of that paper on your phone so you’ve got a digital record of it and then throw the paper away.

Now that’s your head clear, ask yourself what’s your ONE thing that you want to focus on.

You’ve not lost all those ideas and opportunities. You’ve got a picture of them on your phone if you need to ever look again. But here’s the thing … I bet you never go back and look again at that photo because once you’ve got your ONE thing, you know what to focus on.

And even though you’ve cleared your head, you’ll find new ideas and opportunities still keep on coming.

They are endless and you’ll never be at a loss for ideas or new ways of moving your business forward.

Once you realise this, it takes all the pressure off you trying to do it all; all the things you feel you “ought” and “should” be doing because you now know that it’s impossible to do them all. Your job is to do just ONE thing at a time because that’s what makes your marketing simple and that’s what gets you better results.

(If you want to read more about doing ONE thing, then I highly recommend Gary Keller’s book The ONE Thing.)

So there you have it.

My 6 rules to keeping your marketing really simple this year.

I know have more rules to share with you – I’m sure those will come to me as soon as I hit the publish button – but I want to keep things simple here. And I know you’ve got stuff to do. So go do it 🙂


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