New Year's Revolution
by C. J. Hayden
Resolutions are easy; most of us make them at least once a year. A revolution, on the other hand, is something you may not have made since you started your business.
No, that's not a typo in the title. Resolutions are easy; most of us make them at least once a year. A revolution, on the other hand, is something you may not have made since you started your business.
Starting a business is actually quite revolutionary. When you began yours, there were probably many details of your life that changed. Some of those changes were intentional, others accidental; some you liked, some you didn't. Other changes you always meant to make just never happened.
Is your business everything you meant it to be? Is it giving you all that you wanted? Are you satisfied, even delighted with the way your life as a business owner is turning out? If not, perhaps it's time to make a revolution. Here are some revolutionary ideas you might consider:
1. Serve only those clients you care about and enjoy being with. When you work with people you don't enjoy, everything becomes a struggle. Your clients are a key part of your business. You wouldn't hire someone you didn't enjoy working with, so why let them hire you?
Begin today to let go of clients you find difficult to work with, and start seeking out those you really had in mind when you started this business. Have the courage to refuse new clients that don't fit your picture of who you most want your business to serve.
2. Make a plan to reach your income goals. Unless you are independently wealthy, your business not only needs to support you, it needs to provide for your future. Setting goals for your desired income level is a good first step, but to reach those goals, you need a plan.
Create a financial model for your business. How many clients, appointments, billable hours, or contracts will it take to generate the income you want? How much of your time will be required to do that amount of work and do the marketing required to get it? How much money will it co st you in overhead, marketing costs, and admin help? Does the model work?
3. Take enough time for yourself and those you love. The number one reason entrepreneurs name for going into business is time -- more to spend with their families, more flexibility in work hours, or simply more control over how their time is spent. But how many of us actually get this?
Most entrepreneurs spend either too much time struggling to get clients and earning too little money, or become victims of their own success, working too many hours to fulfill clients' demands. You can overcome these problems by combining the financial modeling described above with the approach to marketing outlined below. And don't forget, if you earn enough, you can hire all the help you need.
4. Do more of the work you like doing and less of what you don't. If you're not enjoying the work you do, there's no one to blame but yourself. After all, you're the OWNER of this enterprise. If you can do different work in the same business, start now to make the shift. Loyal customers will follow you if you're still offering services they need.
If more rewarding work would require a new business, join the ranks of the serial entrepreneurs. You started and ran one business, why not another? Life is much too short to do work you don't enjoy, and it doesn't make much sense if you're working for yourself!
5. Build a marketing system that really works. The definition of a system is a selection of related components arranged in a specific order to achieve a common end. Does this describe your marketing? Or is it more like a hodgepodge of random elements jumbled together without a clear goal?
If you want better clients, more money, more time for yourself, and more enjoyable work, an effective marketing system may be the universal solution. Don't know how to build one? Make this the year you learn. Already know how but haven't built it? Get support from a colleague, mentor, coach, or group to make it happen. Have a system but aren't using it? Pull your plan out of the drawer and re-commit to doing what it takes to have the business you always dreamed of.