We need to talk about your business. Not to be too crass, yet part of the formula for a successful business looks like this:
Clients = Money
You need clients because you need money, because you want freedom to do things for yourself and others personally and professionally, which means you need to do something about that. About the getting of clients. That thing that’s easy to say, that you’re “supposed” to do, yet is easy to ignore. But. Something. Is. Always. More. (seemingly). Urgent.
The cat needs to be let out. The baby is crying. Your email inbox has exploded in a mind boggling way. The dishes are overflowing the sink. Your family is insisting you feed them. You have current clients to take care of.
How can any human be reasonably expected to do all these things *and* spend time getting new clients?
The bottom line is this: No Clients = No Business. No business means you have to get a joby-job. That means the control and freedom you enjoy as a free agent is over. Your entrepreneurial ship has sailed, my friend, right into the harbor of working for the man. And I don’t think that’s what you want – at least it wasn’t last time we talked.
There is a lot of snake oil out there about how to get clients, as well as confusion, mystery, shame and embarrassment, mixed in with a lot of “I don’t know how,” “It’s too hard,” “I’m not good at it,” and the classic “I don’t like it.” The snake oil salesmen will tell you if you do their magic formula you’ll have all the clients you need in the next few months, and if your brain is wired the same way as the person who created the system, they’re right; you will be successful in getting clients their way. If you’re part of the 95% who don’t think like they do, however, you’ll need to create a system of your own. The good news is it’s easier than you think.
The secret is figuring out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Then you look at how that can be made into a marketing strategy. You want to create a marketing intersection, where you and your clients are coming together in a way that enriches you both. You offer your services – they say yes – you have more clients – you have more money – you get to do all the things money allows you to do, one of which is stay in business.
How do you figure out what you enjoy doing? Trial and error, experimentation, going outside of your comfort zone. Talk to your colleagues about what they’re doing that’s working. Try their methods out and see if they might fit (have coffee with referral partners, attend a networking event, etc). Work with a mentor who can brainstorm and support you in learning what marketing strategies are best for you (writing, hosting your own events). Read books, blogs and articles about getting clients and see what sounds interesting to you, then make a list of things you’d like to try (cold calling, advertising). Pick one or two to try at a time and keep the ones that work. If you don’t know how to do a certain strategy, yet you’re curious about it, you can have fun learning (that’s how I came to use speaking as a getting clients strategy; I was not a natural born speaker, yet I was curious about it and decided to learn more). Ultimately you’ll find one, two, maybe three strategies that you like and that work, then you do those strategies over and over. And just like that you’ll have a steady stream of clients.
It takes some time, curiosity and exploration, *and* it’s totally doable. You’re in business because you said so. Your business needs clients and money to survive. You have the power to make that happen. You got this. Time to go show it off.