Many people dream of working for themselves, being their own boss, and having the freedom to only take on clients and projects they love.
What they don’t realize, though, is that there is a huge difference between building a business and being self-employed.
Business owners scale their income. Self-employed people trade dollars for hours
Business owners leverage the skills and talents of others. Self-employed people rely only on their own skills.
Discouraged yet? Don’t be. Every business owner started out self-employed. Just don’t stay there. These tips will help you build a sustainable business instead of just another job.
Don’t Try to Do It All Yourself
Building a sustainable business requires that you leverage the talents and time of others. While it might seem cost-effective to simply do everything yourself—especially in the start-up phase when you likely have more time than money—it’s a path to burnout and stress.
Instead, separate your tasks into those that you love and are especially suited for (such as marketing) and those you dislike and aren’t good at. Then make a solid plan to get those that you aren’t good at off your list of things to do. If you feel like you can’t afford to outsource it all right now, start with what you tend to procrastinate the most on, even if it’s just a few hours each month.
Don’t Allow Yourself to Work All the Time
The trouble with working at home is that you live at work. And that means that there’s no clear line in the sand between your work day and your home life.
Since there’s always work to do, it’s easy to find yourself working every available moment—often to the detriment of your family relationships.
You can help avoid this by:
• Setting—and maintaining—clear work hours
• Having an office with a door you can close when you’re done
• Scheduling time for family and other activities
• Taking time for yourself
Vacations and Downtime Are Important
Don’t create a business that requires you to be “in the office” every day. At the start, you may need to be available more, but you should definitely be planning for the day when you can be “off the grid” for extended periods of time.
• Have trusted contractors who can handle things when you’re not available
• Leverage automation tools such as autoresponders and autowebinar systems
• Create repeatable systems so you’re not always re-inventing the wheel
While you might not be able to hit the road with no internet access for weeks at a time, at the very least you should be able to reduce your workload to a daily check-in.
Sound impossible? It’s not. With some forethought and planning, you can create a team—and the systems they need—to successfully run your business without becoming overwhelmed and overworked.
How do you leverage other people's talents in your business? I struggle with all 3 of these, do you? Coach Deb
Writing a “101 Tips” or “101 Ideas for…” Book
This is possibly the easiest type of book you can write. Research consists of gleaning tip after tip from multiple sources, all focused on your one topic, which is determined by your Title and Subtitle.
In order to make your book especially potent, however, follow these tips:
Don’t just dump your tips into your eBook any old how: First, organize them into categories.
Then weed out the duplicates
Deliberately include three categories of tips (for your reference only: Your reader should just be aware of a strong, well-balanced mix)…
Make sure your tips are “presented” nicely in strong, short sentences. Don’t ramble. Don’t use “fluff’ words or unnecessary “filler” phrases that distract readers from your point
“If you want to try this little tip, you could always squeeze lemon juice on bits of apple to really prevent things like some discoloration” does not sound half as authoritative and definite as: “To stop apples turning brown, sprinkle cut slices with lemon juice.”
And, of course, never, EVER lift tips verbatim from other sources (including PLR). If you do quote other sources directly, be up front about it and credit every source in your Acknowledgements or Appendix… or even arrange your tips by source, using the source as a subhead. For example:
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As an expert in your field, it can be difficult to watch the lack of progress of so many promising entrepreneurs. They have dreamed for so long about creating a solid, sustainable business, and yet, all they do is dream.
You know the people I am talking about. They attend conferences, sign up for free webinars, buy paid training, and sometimes even work with a coach or two. And yet week after week, month after month, year after year, they fail to make any progress toward their dreams.
Are they just lazy? No. It is something worse. They don’t know how to move from a dream to a plan, and they are stuck.
Start With the Long-Term
If you have ever been on a job interview and were asked, “Where do you want to be five years from now,” you might have thought it an odd question. But as a business owner, that might just be the most important consideration you can have.
Without knowing where you are headed in the long term, it is impossible to create a map to get there. You need to know what your destination is, so that every day, week, month, and year you can check your progress to be sure you are still headed in the right direction.
Once you know your ultimate destination, you can draft a plan for getting there, and create the interim goals that will help you stay on track.
For example, if in five years you want to be free to travel for 8 weeks every year, then you need to have a few pieces in place before that can happen:
With this list, you can then work backwards from your five-year goal, and create milestones along the way. If you know you will need to earn $150,000 annually in order to fund your travel plans, and right now you’re earning $60,000, then reasonable milestones might look like this:
With these milestones in place, it is much easier to figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve them, by setting monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Create Small Goals
If you say to someone, you need to move from $60,000 to $150,000 in five years, that’s a pretty overwhelming task. After all, it’s a $90,000 increase, and most people will look at that and immediately dismiss it as impossible.
But when you break it down as we have above, and then again into smaller steps, it suddenly doesn’t look so daunting.
In the first year of the plan we have outlined here, your income needs to increase only by $10,000. That’s less than $1000 per month! Surely that’s easy enough to accomplish!
You can further break that down by week: $1000 per month is just $250 per week. If you sell just one more VIP package, or five more of a $60 training program or five more $60 massages or acupuncture session, depending on your specialty, you’ve already reached and surpassed your milestone.
That might mean sending one more email to your list, or investing an additional $20 per month in Facebook ads, or perhaps reaching out to one more JV partner. The point is, reaching this much smaller goal is far easier than thinking about that five-year plan.
So what’s your big dream? How can you deconstruct it into achievable milestones, workable goals, and finally, daily and weekly tasks? Tackle that elephant one bite at a time, as the old familiar saying goes. If you can do this (and you definitely can) then you can achieve anything in business and in life.
Setting goals sounds so easy, but what's really involved in turning your dreams into reality? Find out: with our newest workshop turning Castles in the Sky to Castles on the Ground
The first thing new online business owners learn is the power of the offer funnel.
You will find WordPress plugins to help you design your funnel and landing-page creators to assist in building it. And yet still your funnel does not perform as it should.
So what’s missing? Cohesiveness
I know, I know. You mail regularly. You’re making offers. You even make sales. If you weren’t, you certainly wouldn’t be in business this long. But if your funnel isn’t bringing in a steady cash flow that grows month after month, then something is clearly wrong, and I’m betting it’s because you lack consistency and cohesion.
Most of us do, so don’t beat yourself up, but do take a look at your funnel and offers with a critical eye, and ask yourself:
Does my opt-in offer satisfy a real need of my ideal client?
Too often we throw together a simple eBook or webinar without ever stopping to consider if our ideal client—the one we really want to work with—really needs or wants it. Unless your opt-in offer answers a driving question or solves a problem for your client, she’s going to pass.
Does my follow-up series continue to help resolve her issues?
This is where a lot of funnels go off the rails—in the follow up. In order to maintain cohesion and keep your readers’ interest, your follow-up emails should continue to address the issue that originally brought her to you. Unrelated products and random affiliate offers do little to build trust and can even lead to unsubscribes.
Does my big offer follow naturally from the opt-in?
If your opt-in incentive is designed to help homeschooling moms manage their time better, then your program must include an element of time management as well. Anything less and your loyal readers will feel as if you don’t know them at all.
Just like a great sales page, all the pieces of your funnel need to flow naturally from one to the next, leading your readers toward bigger and better offers. It’s this cohesiveness that will help plug the leaks and keep your funnel filled with prospective clients who can’t wait to buy from you.
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of setting up your sales funnel? You are not alone. Many online business owners fail to properly plan out their funnel, and it shows.
They have an opt-in incentive that does not appeal to their audience.
Their follow-up emails don’t flow naturally from the opt-in.
Messages are unbalanced—either too many sales pitches or not enough. Even worse, the offers do not match the market.
Making these mistakes is common, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There is an easy fix.
Step 1: Survey Your Market
All too often we think we know what our readers and potential buyers want, but in reality, we are simply guessing. We make the mistake of believing that we are our market, but that usually is not the case.
The only way to know for sure what your market truly wants and needs is to ask them. Set up a simple survey (even a Google form will work) and ask your blog readers, social media followers, and email list to give their opinion.
Do this right, and you will know exactly what you should be offering your audience, plus, you will know what language to use on your opt-in page.
Step 2: Create Your Opt-In
Now that you know what your market needs, it is time to create your opt-in incentive. Keep in mind that readers today seem to prefer simple, easy-to-digest offers rather than 200-page eBooks or 7-part video series. This makes your job a bit easier, too.
Some popular choices for opt-in incentives include:
Every good opt-in incentive should be followed up with a series of emails that build on the material. If you have offered a resource guide, for example, then your follow-up emails might include usage tips for each of the resources, or case studies that show how others have benefited from using the tools.
Step 4: Make an Offer
Arguably the most important part of your funnel, your offer must be the logical next step for readers to take. They have worked through your opt-in incentive, read, and acted on your emails, and they are hungry for more. Time to make your offer.
Just like the other pieces of your funnel, your service offer needs to be the answer to your readers’ most burning questions. If you consider your opt-in and follow-up series to be the “lite” version, then your service offering is the premium package. Bigger, beefier, and the perfect next step.
Before you post your first opt-in code, take some time to map out your funnel according to these steps, and you will not only fill your funnel faster, but you will close more sales along the way.
Do You Have an Offline Marketing Plan?
With millions upon millions of people using the internet every single day, it’s very easy as a service professional to get caught up in how to market your business online. But offline marketing is equally important for your business success and shouldn’t be ignored. The two factions really should work hand in hand for ultimate success.
Build Those Relationships
Marketing your business in real life isn’t much different than doing it online except you’re not hiding behind a computer screen. This idea can be extremely intimidating, especially for introverts, but the more you practice your real life interactions, the easier it becomes.
You will find the the uncomfortable eventually becomes the new comfortable.
One tip to remember: Marketing does not equal sales. Marketing is about building relationships or planting seeds about your business so when the time is right, a prospect will remember your name and contact you. You do not need to be in a constant state of selling; answer questions about your business but also ask questions to learn more about your contact’s businesses. You won’t truly know if you can help each other without listening to what they do.
Local Networking Events
Begin searching for local networking groups or events. Many groups, such as BNI, allow visitors to attend meetings free of charge so ask about that option. After one or two visits, you’ll know if the group will be beneficial to you; if so, join up. If not, search for your local Chamber of Commerce, small business meetups, or other professional networking groups. Use the same criteria for joining local groups as you would for joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups: who is in the group; how you can contribute in a meaningful way; and how will the group benefit you?
Find Local Sponsorship Opportunities
Many local organizations or charities look for sponsors to keep their programs running. Check out your Little League or other youth sporting clubs to sponsor a team or purchase an ad in their outfield. Look for youth theater groups – or even drama clubs in different schools – and pay for an ad in their playbills. Ask if your local places of worship have a weekly bulletin that accepts advertisements. Be smart with your choices; ultimately you still want to target your ideal clients but paying it forward in your community will also bring about some name recognition.
Participate in Community Days
Does your town or those surrounding you have Community Days? Ask about setting up a booth to showcase your business. Print some pamphlets and business cards to hand out. Better yet, create an inexpensive swag bag with your printed material inside, along with a treat for those who stop by your booth. Remember to visit the other vendors and introduce yourself, much like you would at a networking event. Sometimes vendors will become your clients, all because they met you at a local event.
In the end, interacting with your local community and business owners is much like interacting with online followers. Be helpful, be attentive, and be visible to naturally attract clients.
Refine Your Marketing Message in this Webinar
Knowing your ideal audience is important but knowing what they struggle with will help you refine your marketing message even further. Now you can narrow your market even more by telling them how you can help, once you identify those pain points.
Not sure how to start? We all have a story to tell BUT you need to finesse your storytelling abilities in order to share your story while also connecting with your ideal clients. Even though YOU are the main character in the story, the real focus should be on your audience.
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Think about all the emails and sales pages you’ve seen just in this last week, touting a new class, product, or service. Very often marketers will highlight the features and benefits of their latest creation but then fall short because they didn’t include a story.
The art of storytelling in business can be crucial to your success. It can mean the difference between having a sales funnel full of leads or barely staying alive because you’re connecting with the wrong people. People will spend their money with you only after then know, like, and trust you. What better way to build that relationship than with your storytelling skills.
Connect with the Right People
Of course, your storytelling skills are wasted unless you identify your ideal clients and where to find them. Think too broadly and you’ll attract freebie seekers or others who will request a price reduction. Or you’ll find those who can afford your price point but who don’t want to do the work. Narrow your sights on your ideal client and create a storyboard with their demographics. Where do they live? Are they married? Do they have a family? How old are they? What are their pain points? How can you help them?
By stating these specifics, you will paint a clear picture of who you want to help, who you want to attract into your funnel, and where you can find them to start interacting. Focus on building relationships instead of selling products. Not everyone you meet will be ready to buy or maybe they are just on the fringes of your ideal market and not the right fit. Keep growing your network and you will find your tribe who will hang on your every word and will trust your judgment enough to make purchases.
Make Your Connections Personal with Stories
Your audience wants to connect with YOU, not with your product. What more personal way to make a connection than with a story, or two. Your customers or clients want to know your history, why did you start your business, and how can you help them. How are you different from all the other coaches out there? What is your inspiration? What personal struggles have you overcome?
Yes, at some point they will want to know about the features of your product and how it can help them but start off by allowing your audience to know you. Show your human side by telling your stories on video. They don’t have to be as polished or as lengthy as a TED talk but you’ll be surprised how many people prefer video over reading outrageously long sales pages.
Show your human side; don’t edit out all your flubs. What better way to portray yourself as human than to show some bloopers. Showcase your expertise but show your tribe that you’re accessible by answering questions and asking them directly what kind of help they need.
When you decide to connect on a human level instead of always pushing a sale, people will naturally be attracted to you and will want to learn more about you and your business. Be patient; relationship building takes time but the sales will follow.
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We all do it. No matter how successful you are, at one time or another you’ll fall into the self-sabotage trap, and the price of admission is high.
The end result? Frustration. Burnout. Resentment (of your clients or your business). And yes, even more self-sabotaging behaviors. This downward spiral can quickly turn devastating, but stopping it is easy when you learn to recognize the symptoms.
Did you mean to apply for that high-end client program but missed the deadline? Or maybe you were going to send a proposal to a potential new client, but waited too long? Or maybe you simply waited too long to take advantage of a sale price on a hot new app that everyone’s raving about.
These and other missed opportunities can often be blamed on simple procrastination, one of the most destructive habits we suffer from. Procrastination is what keeps us working late at night to make a deadline, costs us money in late fees, and even costs us business.
If you’re prone to procrastination, try these techniques to put an end to it:
Failing to Complete Your Projects
Be honest. How many half-written books, partially planned programs, and unfinished products are cluttering up your hard drive right now?
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, the answer is probably several.
You started all of them with great enthusiasm. You planned out the modules or chapters, created the slide decks, and maybe even outlined the sales page. And then…you just stopped working on it.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re too busy. Maybe you “need to do some more research.” Or maybe you simply lost interest. But the truth is, none of those are the real reason. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this self-sabotaging habit is actually a symptom of a lack of confidence, and it’s keeping you from the success you deserve.
Consider this: You cannot know the actual success rate of a program you’ve never finished, and you cannot improve upon something you’ve never completed. So rather than filling your hard drive with half-finished projects, power through and start releasing them—even if you believe they’re not perfect, and even if you think they’ll never sell.
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Poor money management has been the cause of more business failures than any other single issue. And it’s no wonder. We aren’t born knowing how to manage money. Most of us aren’t taught how to handle it either. We figure it out along the way, through much trial and error.
Those same mindset issues and bad habits that wreak havoc in our personal finances can plague our businesses as well if we’re not careful.
Catching Shiny Object Syndrome
Some things are just hard to resist—especially when your friends and colleagues are all jumping on board! New tools, training, group coaching programs and even business models can all have a strong pull, and if you aren’t careful, these shiny objects can quickly distract you from your current goals.
If you find yourself catching shiny object syndrome frequently, try this two-step plan instead:
Falling for the Sunk Costs Fallacy
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’m not using this subscription, but I can’t give it up! I’m still paying the launch price and now it’s much more expensive!” Then you’ve fallen for the sunk costs fallacy.
This common mistake is famous among economists, and we all fall victim to it from time to time. Simply put, the sunk costs fallacy is what makes us justify investing more money or time in something—even though we’re not seeing results—because we’ve already spent so much. It’s what encourages us to repair the car one more time (after all, you just put new tires on it), eat a meal we don’t enjoy (simply because you’ve paid for it), and yes, continue to pay for tools and resources you’re not using.
Take a few minutes and examine your current business expenses. What are you paying for month after month that you’re not using? Either make a plan to put them to work for you, or cancel them. Stop falling for the sunk costs fallacy.
Too Much Penny Pinching
You thought this was all going to be about overspending, didn’t you? Here’s the kicker: Spending too little is just as bad for business.
When you’re constantly on the lookout for free and low-cost tools or working 16-hour days because you “can’t afford to outsource,” you’re not doing your business any favors. Sure, it looks like you’re bootstrapping and working really hard to make something from nothing, but what you’re really doing is digging yourself a rut it will be nearly impossible to climb out of. Not only that, but you’re reinforcing a scarcity mindset that will continue to plague you for years if you let it.
Rather than pinching pennies, learn to spend money strategically. Buy what you need, when you need it. Invest in top-quality products and programs rather than settling for the low-ticket, half-baked plans. Just like quality clothes, cars and furniture, quality services and software last longer and work better. And unlike that car, good quality business tools will pay for themselves.
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The most successful people in the world did not arrive there by accident. Truly successful people, whether they are millionaires or have just found their true life purpose and get to enjoy living it every day, are in that position for a specific reason: their habits.
You can work, and work, and work at becoming successful until you are completely burned out. But if you don’t develop the specific daily habits of successful people, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get there.
I’m going to share 5 of these successful habits, and I hope you’ll consider integrating them into your life.
1) Successful People Believe in Themselves
If you’re going to be successful in creating the life of your dreams, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen. Believing in yourself is a choice.
Of the hundreds of super successful people I have interviewed throughout my career, almost every one of them told me, “I was not the most gifted or talented person in my field, but I chose to believe anything was possible. I studied, practiced, and worked harder than the others, and that’s how I got to where I am.”
Successful people assume in favor of themselves and act as if achieving their goals is completely possible.
2) They Set Goals
Experts on the science of success have revealed that the brain is a goal-setting organism. And successful people know that if they give a goal to their subconscious mind, it will work night and day to achieve it. They set high goals that are both realistic and measurable, and they make an effort to work towards those goals every day.
3) They Go the Extra Mile
Successful people know that if they want to really excel in business, school, and life, they have to go the extra mile. They give the people around them -- their customers, team, family -- more than is expected and, in return, they’re handsomely rewarded with loyalty, referrals, opportunity, and money.
They don’t focus on the “What’s In It For Me” policy. They don’t put stock in whether something is fair or whether they’ll be compensated or recognized for more effort. Instead, they focus on exceeding expectation, paying extra attention to detail, and providing quality work above all else.
4) They Take Action
Successful people know that the world doesn’t pay you for what you know; it pays you for what you do. They make a point to create a vision, set goals, break them down into small steps, visualize and affirm their success, believe in themselves, and then get out there and go for it. They are keenly aware of the fact that nothing happens until they take action.
When you take action, you trigger all kinds of things that will inevitably carry you to success. You begin to learn things from your experiences that cannot be learned from listening to others or from reading books. And you begin to attract others who will support and encourage you.
5) They Practice Appreciation
Successful people know that when they show appreciation to the people in their lives -- such as their employees, loved ones, or colleagues -- they not only make those people feel better, but they themselves feel better and more successful.
The fact is, people are more likely to help you achieve your goals if they believe that you appreciate their efforts. There is no downside to this. Appreciation costs nothing, and no one has ever complained about being over-appreciated.
Keeping these 5 habits in mind, I want to leave you with a bit of homework to complete. Write down 2 of the habits that I listed above that you feel you can -- and should -- incorporate into your day-to-day life.
To hold yourself accountable, leave a comment below with the habits you plan
Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul®and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
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What do top coaches, industry experts, and media superstars all have in common? They've all written a book. You can too. It's easy!