I was listening to a webinar presented by Rich Litvin a successful international coach. One of his slides really related to me. It said, “Be proud of your mistakes. Take a risk. Fail spectacularly. And then go out and fail again.”
While I don’t recommend failing so spectacularly that you put your business out of business, I feel that many of us shy away from taking a risk that is just as likely to fail as it is to succeed. And, if it doesn’t work the first time, most of us give up altogether. Thank goodness we aren’t all researchers in the cure for cancer!
I don’t know why the culture of business is now so against failure. Could it be that we are so focussed on just keeping afloat today that we can’t stomach any risk that may provide benefit in the longer term?
I like the quote from Thomas Edison, “I haven’t failed. I have just found 10,000 ways in which it did not work.”
What is possible for you and your business if you took risks and considered failures to be something to learn from?
What if you considered a risk of failure as an investment rather than a career limiting action? Where would your future lie?
Last week I had a coffee with someone I had met at a networking function a few weeks back. As part of the usual get-to-know-you questions he explained that he’d started up his own business nearly 3 years ago and he had just two clients. As someone relatively new to self-employment his revelation concerned me.
I asked him what he did to market his business and he said he attended networking functions around where he lived. He showed me his business card on which his title was Business Manager. On the back of his card he listed all the services he could provide a business, all of which I thought belonged to the corporate world. This was all fine except when I asked him what services he provided he said bookkeeping. When I asked who his chosen market was, he said it was sole traders, in particular tradespeople.
My friend blamed his ego for using his old title and advertising the skills and knowledge he used to use in a previous corporate life. He admitted that as a bookkeeper it wasn’t necessary to list those corporate services or call himself a Business Manager. He did it because he said it made him feel good.
Now I have no doubt my friend would offer really good services to help the people he wanted to help. He certainly was well qualified and experienced to do so. Unfortunately for the past three years he hasn’t had much success in attracting clients and he needs it to change.
So what could help this gentleman be more successful with his business? Some helpful suggestions are:
- Don’t let your ego rule. As they sang in the cartoon Frozen, “Let it go, let it go”. You will not do yourself any favours.
- Decide upon and focus only on your target market, don’t try to be everything for everyone. Once your business is up and running you can then consider diversifying.
- Use a variety of marketing techniques that will reach your target market. My goal is to use five with three social media outlets and two face-to-face.
- Ensure that when you ask others for leads or contacts that you are specific and aligned to your target market. My friend’s two clients are not tradespeople.
- Most importantly, have a clear goal that is achievable and has a time period attached to it. It can be something as simple as deciding that you want a total of 10 clients by June 2017. Ensure that you write it down and then break it down. For most of us a single big goal is daunting whereas small positive actions keep us motivated.