Many entrepreneurs and startups fail unnecessarily. Part of the issue is focus. Particularly in this social media age, it is easy to get sidetracked by what it looks like others are doing, versus what you should be doing as a small business owner uniquely designed to be YOU. Tailoring your business after the latest trends and fads can be dangerous to any new business if you have not taken the time to survey YOUR vision and determine YOUR desired impact. Why did you go into business? What lasting effect do you hope to bring? Are you fulfilling a need? Are you obsessed with leaving a meaningful legacy, or are you obsessed with ‘what’s hot now?’
Often, slight adjustments in our thinking can make a difference in our bottom line and can mean the difference between a failed attempt at business and a thriving longstanding one. You have to know what you’re not doing when it seems you’ve tried everything. Entrepreneur and business speaker Jay Goltz told The New York Times once, “If the owners really knew what they were doing wrong, they might have been able to fix the problem. Often, it’s simply a matter of denial or of not knowing what you don’t know.” This thought can be applied any number of ways, but let’s start with some basic things you may not know, that is preventing your business from seeing the growth and profits you desire:
1. You are not charging what you’re worth. You are charging what you think people can afford. If you have spent time and money bettering yourself, getting information and gathering, attending classes and seminars, and have paid for coaching and mentorship, you need to place a value on that. If you have proven expertise that would cause customers to trust you and your products, place value on that. Constantly undercharging or not charging at all, undermines your confidence and profits. Yes, there is an internal battle that people may not be able to afford what they need from you. But the harsh reality is, you can’t save the world if you’re broke, and everyone is not your ideal client. I’ve had people say to me, “I want to join one of your anthologies, but it costs too much. Other people are doing anthologies for [this price or that price].” Well, I am not other people. I don’t focus on what anyone else is doing, and I don’t run my books as a business platform like anyone else. Therefore, the price point that I offer is reflective of said experience, education, and resources. I have no reason to feel as if I must charge what anyone else is charging when I’m providing master-level services. Many entrepreneurs don’t become profitable because they do not charge what they’re worth. DO NOT price gouge, but you cannot be afraid to value yourself. Yes, some people have not joined my book projects or hired me as a coach because of price, but then, there are the 435 men and women I’ve either made authors and/or led into thriving entrepreneurship. (Bonus: If you have a quality product or service, but your expertise is not known, try posting blogs or sending out newsletters routinely. Participate in interviews. Go after opportunities to publish content through noteworthy sources whenever and wherever you can. Start a YouTube channel and upload informative how-to and instruction videos that relate to your business).
2. Don’t expect anyone in your business to work harder than you. Entrepreneurship is a huge leap of faith as it is. You can’t sleep on the faith it takes to make a dream happen while everyone else is working on your vision. It’s never going to work. You have to be the one to keep the engine going. It’s your dream, your hope, and your vision. No one is going to push harder for your it than you. No one is going to market you more than you. If you are not a major conglomerate, you cannot afford not to create a little elbow grease. You have to get in there and work your business. When you depend on everyone else, you lose money. (Bonus: Don’t be reckless. Take calculated risks. Devise strategic plans. Have back-up plans. Have back-up plans for your back-up plans. Put banking, marketing, accounting, insurance, and legal in place. Then follow each of the plans and components to the letter. Don’t leave the business of your business up to anyone else, especially at the start).
3. Likes and views are not paid invoices. If you are an influencer, it doesn’t matter if you have 2 million followers, if you can’t convert them into customers. It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand likes or views if they don’t translate into sales. Likes and views that you fail to monetize are just people who came to your page, liked what they saw, and moved on to someone else. Content and engagement are important, but spend time on more than that. Your product, service, delivery, and whether or not anyone hears you are paramount. Are you making an impact? Is your customer service on point? These are the things that need your focus. Anyone can post pictures all day, but if it’s not making an impact, what’s the point? People ask me all the time, “How are you able to get so many people to join your anthologies and write books with you?” It’s because I clearly understand that it’s about service and impact, and I do the accompanying work. If you stop chasing likes and views and focus on quality products and services, building a legacy, filling a void, and fulfilling a need, you will see those likes and views turn into sales or paid appearances and invitations to speak. (Bonus: Research monetization and turn your social media likes and views into cash.)
4. Stop asking people to get you to the table, then when you get to the table, you’re not prepared to eat. Be prepared. Stop asking for the opportunity to sit with decision-makers before you prepare. You can’t be anxious to get into the room, then when you get into the room, you have no website or business cards; you can’t properly articulate your vision, product, or service; you don’t work the room–you’re just there. Stop missing opportunities to flourish because you’re not prepared. Stop getting ready and BE ready.