Every self-employed professional has unique circumstances. The solution that will help one person acquire more clients and earn a better living is not the same as the answer that will solve similar issues for another. Finding the best approach to make your business take off is rarely so simple as copying what another person does. It may take a bit of detective work.

Change direction

Very often, I’ve found that there is one single course of action that would change a professional’s business for the better. If you’re ready to discover what that might be for your business, here’s a simple method that has worked for many of my clients and students. Ask yourself these four questions, in order:

  1. What is your biggest obstacle to having a more successful business?
  2. What do you think is causing that?
  3. What might make that obstacle disappear or matter less?
  4. So, what’s one thing that could transform your business?

Let’s say your answer to question #1 is “not enough clients.” What’s causing that? You don’t meet enough people in your target market. What might make that matter less? If you had a steady stream of referrals. So, what could transform your business? Building referral partnerships with people who could refer to you.

Or, if your answer to question #1 is “not getting paid enough,” then what do you think is causing that? It seems like potential clients perceive you as inexperienced because you look young. What might make that obstacle disappear? Maybe if those people knew what you are capable of before you talked rates. So, what could transform your business? Perhaps, collect testimonials from everyone you had done a good job for and feature those in your marketing and sales efforts.

Notice how important it is for you to ask yourself all four questions. Don’t skip over questions #2 and #3 and rush to a solution. How you answer those in-between questions can have a dramatic impact on your final answer.

For example, your answer to question #1 might be “not getting paid enough,” just like above. But then when you ask yourself what you think is causing that, you respond that you’re afraid to ask for higher rates. Now question #3 will lead you in an entirely different direction. What might make that obstacle disappear? It could be knowing others who were asking for more. And what’s one thing that could transform your business? It might be finding other pros in your field that you could discuss rates with.

The beauty of this method is threefold:

  • It’s hard to come up with a wrong answer. It’s almost guaranteed that your answer to question #4 will be a course of action that will benefit your business.
  • The solution you design will be custom-tailored to your own unique circumstances.
  • You’ll end up laser-focused on a strategy that could serve as a tipping point for your business.

Give this four-question discovery method a try. It’s worth the few minutes it will take you to potentially discover the one thing that could transform your business for the better.

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out more about C.J.'s books and courses or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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