If you’re like most self-employed professionals, you started the year with goals, plans, and maybe even dreams, for your business. This was going to be the year you reached ambitious marketing goals, implemented a realistic marketing plan, or expanded your business with a new market or service. And now, you find yourself not on target. The goal’s not met, the plan isn’t in place, or the expansion hasn’t taken off. That’s a pretty normal state of affairs for us self-employed folks. Stuff just gets in the way.
There’s really only one solution to this problem, although it comes in a number of different flavors. Take action. Now.
What dreams and goals do you have for your business at the beginning of this new year? As you ease into January, take time to set the stage for a great year to come: great marketing, great sales, and great clients. Ask yourself the questions below to help you reflect and plan, and get ready for good things to happen!
– How much business do you really want? What would be new and different for you if you had that level of business?
– What worked best to bring you clients last year? How can you do more of that in the year to come?
If you’re answering calls, replying to emails and notes, responding to invitations, and receiving referrals and leads, it probably feels like you’re taking a lot of action to market your business. But it may be that a good deal of what you’re engaged in is actually RE-action.
Waiting to hear from the right prospects is nowhere near as productive as proactively taking steps to seek them out. And a stream of incoming communications can take up time and energy, but doesn’t always lead to closed sales.
Consider these suggestions for getting out of reaction mode and becoming more proactive in your marketing.
At the start of every year, I encourage my clients to follow the same practice I do of reviewing the past year before setting intentions for the new one. I find that a thorough review of the previous year can provide important guidance for moving ahead. I make a list of “Successes, Accomplishments, and Breakthroughs” and another of “Failures, Disappointments, and Breakdowns.” After giving myself some time to celebrate my successes, I analyze my failures. Try this process yourself, and see what it provides.
Looking at each of your disappointments over the past year, ask yourself what went wrong in that area, and what you might be able to do differently. Let’s say you didn’t gain enough new clients last year. What’s your take on what went wrong?
Even the best marketing doesn’t always pay off quickly. In the lag time between when you launch a marketing campaign for your business and when you start to see results from it, it’s easy to become discouraged. Especially when you work mostly solo, it can be a difficult task to keep yourself motivated about marketing when there isn’t an immediate payoff.
Once your marketing does begin to work, you may still encounter times when it’s hard to keep it going. You may become overloaded with client work and feel like there’s not enough time to market. Sometimes you may feel blue and begin to wonder if any of your efforts are worthwhile. Or it may just be that marketing isn’t your favorite thing to do.
We self-employed professionals are constantly faced with difficult choices about how to best grow our businesses. Should I pursue this line of business or that one? Would it serve me better to choose Niche A or Niche B? Shall I spend my time building a relationship with Client X or Client Y?
Often, these questions hinge on what we perceive as the most desirable result. If we value potential earnings more highly, we select a course of action that will lead to more money. If we are more concerned with our personal fulfillment, we follow a path that we believe will be more satisfying.