You’ve created a website, claimed a niche, learned a few business strategies and announced to the world that you are ready to serve. You’re aligned with your passion and living your purpose, but you still don’t have any business – or if you do, they’re not your ideal clients. What gives?
You were told:
- Follow your heart and the doors will open
- Align with who you truly are and the clients will come
- Leverage your strengths and you will be unstoppable
In the age of online business and the solopreneur, why are so many talented people doing it right, but still getting the wrong results: no income and increased debt?
So often, a well intended coach, yoga teacher, nutritionist, or any other highly trained service-based entrepreneur finishes her training and becomes frustrated when she doesn’t instantly earn the money she imagined (and intended, and manifested, and magnetized) for herself.
After dropping thousands of dollars to invest in your new career, it’s terrifying to hear crickets in return for your boldness with moving toward your dream.
Simultaneously, days, weeks and even months go by without a nibble. You start to question your talent and daydream about the days of passionlessly pushing paper for your cushy, bi-weekly direct deposit.
Clients come to me in this position again and again, and to be frank, it breaks my heart. Watching talented women question themselves then slip down a dark hole of self-blame, guilt and desperation just because they’re disappointed in their results is upsetting – mainly because it’s so unnecessary.
If this is you it’s time for a “Come to Jesus” moment.
You were told that all you had do was align with your authenticity, get a little basic training in your skill area and launch a snazzy website to turn your laptop into an ATM machine. Now you are ready to gain total freedom and serve in a way that melts your heart into a unicorn sucking on a rainbow lollipop.
The reality is this sort of dream-come-true-miracle-reality takes time to develop, and I’m not talking about hours here.
Building a website does not equate building a business. Nor does having a refined talent equate to automatic income. Profitability happens when you leverage your skillset to solve a specific problem for people who are willing to invest, AKA a steady stream of paying customers.
To grow a loyal client base, you need to know your people inside out. You need to be able to speak to their distinct problems with such specificity that they automatically say yes to your products and services. The only way to know your clients that well is … well … to get to know them really well, and that’s going to take time.
This is the part where you learn patience. (Like it or not.)
The hard truth is there really isn’t a shortcut to the process and no training out there will allow you to bypass this step- though the best business trainings will guide you through this process. In fact, building client relationships is something you’ll need to tend throughout the duration of your business … not just at the beginning.
As Marie Forleo says (gotta love her), the average consumer doesn’t pay to get healthier or happier in general – she pays to solve a distinct problem that ails and aches in that present moment. Figuring out the exact problem you solve for someone else, and the way they talk about it requires consistent effort, attention and refinement.
Now, I realize that you intended to create an Internet business, but you are going to have to go outside to get it off the ground. While looking good online is awesome, it’s rarely enough to create a steady stream of clients willing to pay for your services, especially if you are in a client drought.
My advice: Do everything you can to get to know your ideal client better, even if it means getting crafty.
- Offer ideal clients a free session so you can spend a little time with them
- Barter your services to expand your contact list
- Show up at events where your ideal clients hang out
You may have to travel to conferences or leave your hometown to connect with your audience. Don’t let precious opportunities slip through your fingers. Think like a crafty ninja and meet your ideal clients where they gather. Then when you make those connections, take care to nurture them in the right way.
Make being of service your #1 priority.
Don’t let your “value” stand between you and your clients when you are starting out (especially if your only clients so far have been the ones required to graduate your certification program). Instead, be of service! This will expedite the process of gaining the experience you need and the raving fans who will help you gain clients at premium prices.
In order to build a practice that is highly profitable in the long term, you need be a ninja at the start. Figure out a way to spend time with your client while delivering your service, so you can get crystal clear on who she is, what she needs, and what your most leveraged approach to help her really is … without focusing on your bottom line. (I have learned when my #1 priority is to be of service, everything else falls into place- especially money!)
While it’s totally true that you have value, you are talented and you are worth top tier prices in your industry, until you convert window shoppers into raving fans, it will be difficult to gain momentum in your business. That’s why at the beginning of your business, it’s important to open up to sharing your genius without focusing on the financial return. (Charge for your services, but don’t let profits keep you from gaining experience.) This is how you grow and gain traction, by obtaining precious experience, being generous and being of service. (I know I am repeating the being of service piece… it’s intentional. Being of service is the secret sauce to being an incredible leader, that and impeccable listening skills.)
Growing my business wasn’t something I could figure out in my head; I did through slow and steady action. I spent a lot of time learning my client inside and out. In doing so, I increasingly became better at my trade while creating raving fans. (Shout out to Kristen Domingue for supporting me through the process. Btw, If you are looking for a program that leads you through the process of getting to know your ideal client inside and out, I recommend Kristen’s Make Impact Make Money program, www.makeimpactmakemoney.com)
Over the years I have:
- Offered free talks at live events
- Traded services with other entrepreneurs
- Put programs through beta with ideal clients
- Interviewed people on what problems they wanted to solve
- Solicited honest feedback from current clients
- Monitored results and used them to improve my practice
Once I had a consistent stream of inquiries about my services I upped my prices and started to hold firm in my value.
(And, to totally out myself- I am still volunteering my time. I am currently Tal Ben-Shahar’s Teaching Assistant, which I am doing in exchange for experience and mentoring. I fiercely believe in the apprenticeship model of learning. I am happy to give freely of myself while being of service to people who are much further along the path than I am in order to learn from them. This sort of arrangement is a win-win, they get support, and I get exposure to information, strategy and training that I’d otherwise have to spend years to learn on my own, or pay significant $$$ to learn from someone else.)
Trust me, it’s far more important to gain exposure to your client in real time, collect precious feedback, and embrace the opportunity to do the thing you love while building momentum for your business, instead of establishing premium prices before anyone is ready to pay for your services. Further, find people who you deeply respect + admire and study them… Maybe even find ways to join forces with them, like I did with Tal + his amazing team at the Wholebeing Institute!
In the meanwhile, let yourself off the hook. Taking time to build your business is NOT a sign of failure; it’s just a fact of how entrepreneurship goes at times. This is what you want to do for the rest of your life, right? It’s okay if it takes sometime to get it off the ground.
Take action without judging your process in terms of immediate payout. If you need to, find additional ways to generate money until your business is self-sustaining. Just be patient, continue to refine your skillset, commit to being of service and get yourself out there.
I can tell you from experience, having a business you love that provides for you financially is well worth the investment!