Why is my phone not ringing?

I talk with business owners every day. All of them tell me they are not where they expected to be by now in their business. They don’t have enough clients, they aren’t making enough sales, they aren’t making as big a difference as they wanted to when they started on this journey.

They are all without a doubt, incredibly passionate about what they do. Many of them have invested thousands of dollars on their education, studied with the masters of their craft, invested time and sacrificed to get where they are.

Then, like so many who have bought into the cult of “passion”, they get a year or so into their business and wonder why the customers are not just “flowing” to them.

Let me give you an example. A lady I spoke to recently had a passion in a particular aspect of horse care. She researched and studied, and found a course that met all her needs. She invested THOUSANDS of dollars in this course, and worked hard to complete it, including hours and hours of unpaid case study work. It made her so happy, and she felt so fulfilled to be finally on the right path, following her passion.

So, with her qualification in hand out she went into the big wide world. She gained initial success- as with most things brand new, the shiny bright object naturally attracted the early adopters in her market. She felt encouraged.

We spoke about a year or so into her business, and she was finding the phone wasn’t ringing, she wasn’t getting new business. Its not that she wasn’t good at what she did- people raved about her. Why wasn’t word of mouth enough?

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again because it’s the damn hard truth- Word of Mouth referrals are not enough. WoM will get you to a certain point, and that’s it. When you are growing your business, to get somewhere sustainable you simply cannot risk leaving the success of your business in other people’s hands. (when you are a sustainable, profitable business, then we can talk about formal referral programs, but not before)

I guarantee that if you are a newish business, or even one that has been around for some years and are not achieving your goals, it’s because of these three reasons:


 1. Not knowing your niche

Your niche has nothing to do with what you do and EVERYTHING to do with who you are here to help. If I ask you who your ideal client is, and you reply to me “anyone with a dog/ horse/ goldfish/ heartbeat” I can guarantee you THAT is why you’re fucked.

 2. Not Marketing

I used to think that marketing is the work of the devil. I did do a communications based arts degree after all, and thought advertising was all about convincing people to buy shit they don’t need. How wrong I was.

Marketing is simply letting people know that you can help them. If you have an awesome product that solves a problem for a particular niche like nothing else, how do you expect them find out about it?

Hint- you have to show them. That’s marketing.

If you have an incredible service that you know will help your niche in ways they don’t yet even realize they need help yet, how do you expect them to magically know about you?

Hint- you have to show them. That’s marketing.

(bonus tip- having a facebook page and posting on that every now again is NOT marketing.)

3. No systems

Amazingly, someone has found out about you and they have felt inclined to pick up the phone and call you. They are actually ready to buy. (imagine how you felt the last time you stood in a department store, new jeans in hand, desperately trying to find a staff member to just take your damn money…) They dial you, it rings, then they get “the person you are calling in unavailable. Please leave a 10 second voice to text message…” aaaaaaannnd they hang up.

Or, they actually get through to you, and rather than you helping them on the phone either with a sale or a booking, you say you’ll send them an email… and then never do. (or you do, but it gets overlooked)

Or, you actually manage to complete the sale, take their payment but then forget to post the product for a week and half.

All three of those examples of  having”no systems” have happened to me in the last 2 weeks when I tried to buy from 3 different businesses.


Niche is about knowing who you are here to serve.

Marketing is about knowing how you will find those people, and how to speak with them.

Systems is about knowing how you will deliver your service and retain those customers.

90% of business owners I speak to (the one’s who I manage to get past the 10 second voice to text bullshit anyway) have a weakness in all three of these areas.

Imagine, if you were just 10% better at knowing who your niche was. Imagine if you were just 10% better at your marketing. Imagine if you were just 10% better at taking bookings and closing sales… what would your business look like then?

One of my service business clients went from $800 a month in sales to $6,000 a month in sales in less than 9 months because she focused on improving just these three aspects of her business. And she’s still growing. Because if you can get these three things right, if you understand the reasons why, then you can take your business wherever you want to.

Where do you stand? Reckon you have this shit nailed? I challenge you to take the business health quiz and see for yourself. The results may surprise you.

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Written by Anita Marchesani
I've come to small business the long way round- but enjoyed and learned from every single step. I learned about the power of Media during a BA and while working in Film&TV. I learned about the hard graft while groom for an international eventer in the UK. I learned organisation and staff management from running hundreds of weddings both here and in the UK. I learned from the mistakes of my first business that failed, to create an e-commerce success story, and now I'm here to help you have even greater success in your business. Oh, and I dance to really loud music like a crazy bastard.