Being in your own business can be hard, right? Some days we wake up and wish we didn’t have to chase up unpaid invoices, follow up enquiries from those annoying clients, answer a million messages on FB, and wishing that we didn’t stay up till 2am getting those orders done so you can wake up again at 6 to start it all over again.
Business can really suck. I say almost every week to someone that being in business is the hardest and most difficult personal development journey you will ever undertake.
So why do we do it?
A big factor for me is the freedom. The freedom not to do what I want when I want to, (because let’s face it, I never WANT to do my BAS,) but rather the freedom of choice.
Having the freedom to be able to make the decision for myself, and the responsibility that comes with that.
I’m a very independent person, always have been. The idea and the feeling of responsibility has never scared me. I thrive under pressure, deadlines, challenges- if anything I’m tending to be a control freak. If it’s gotta be done, I’d rather do it properly.
So for me being responsible in my business is key, now and with my previous ventures. That covers not just in my personal decisions and what I do, but taking responsibility for how my clients and customers act as well.
I was engaged in a chat in a small business group recently around the perils of working long hours and the expectations of clients. The person who posted originally was in retail, and had had a shocker of week, feeling burnt out and unappreciated. She felt like she was making extraordinary efforts for her clients and not being recognized for that.
When clients behave in a way that is making you anxious, it’s important for you to take a step back and recognize that you have a choice in that matter. It’s important that you take on some of the responsibility of creating that situation and the anxiety in the first place by allowing it to happen.
Here’s an example. As is so very common Julie runs her retail business with a very active FB account as her main source for leads. She encourages people on FB to message her about products, and as a result, her phone is pinging constantly with message notifications, comment notifications and the like. She gets a FB message one night at 11.38pm from someone who says they have emailed her 3 times that night about her order for no reply, and she’s worried now she’s been scammed. Julie is lying in bed, with her husband sleep next to her crying because she’s at her wits end. How is it that she can always be so busy but never seem to get anywhere?
We’ve all been there right? It’s a terrible, dark place to be. If Julie were my client, I would ask her this.
What is the lesson in this, and what can you change?
Because it’s Julie’s business, right? She has the freedom to choose to do or change what she needs to.
Creating your own business is like building your own utopia. It’s all your choices- from niche, products, prices, marketing strategies- they are all your choices, and therefore your responsibility. What you accept in your busienss- and in your life- from your customers, your suppliers, your colleagues, your friends, you will always get more of.
So when things go wrong in your business, let’s look for the lesson, and let’s make a decision on what needs to change to make it better.
It’s an absolute truth that social media, like facebook, is as addictive as crack- it stimulates the same part of the brain. It’s actually designed that way, to keep us happy, engaged, entertained, connected. And yes, it’s a fabulous business tool as well, and great way to reach your niche in a meaningful way.
It is however, far to easy for us to become enslaved to it.
So, if Julie looked at her situation, and what behavior she had allowed from her clients in the past- she might see that she rewarded them by responding to those late night messages, she’s taken part in 4 page long text conversations in the hope of closing a sale. She’s chosen to leave her phone switched on all night, and worse- answered early morning and late night calls because she was worried about loosing a sale.
The lesson she might take is that all the anxiety she felt, all the need to respond to every single contact immediately was born from a place of fear. A place of fear of loosing the sale, missing out the those $$, of the prospect going to her competitor.
What could she change? First, she could turn her phone off at night, and not answer unknown phone numbers during “her time” or “family time”. She could make sure she had an excellent phone message on her voice mail. She could start requesting that people contact her by phone or email, rather than FB message, and clearly stating they would hear back within 24 hours. She could put rules in place around when and how she would communicate with clients, which worked both ways because when she was “on”, she could be 100% focused on her customers, and they would certainly feel that.
The other things I would strongly suggest she look at is the profitability for her products, and raise some (all?) of her prices when the margins were a bit low. I would suggest she reviewed her online store, improved her checkout options, paid more attention to how she was marketing.
Clients that I have done this with, particularly around implementing more structure around the their use (and not-use) of social media have all emailed me a day or too later saying how much calmer they felt, how much more balanced and in control.
Change for change’s sake is not good- consistency is a powerful influence in your business too. But if there is something happening in your business that you’re not happy with, look at why, and see how you can change it to make it better.
It sounds simple, but it’s not easy.
The power is yours though, and yours alone. Sometimes you just need someone on the outside to help you see the obvious when you’re knee deep in the trenches.