Poor money management has been the cause of more business failures than any other single issue. And it’s no wonder. We aren’t born knowing how to manage money. Most of us aren’t taught how to handle it either. We figure it out along the way, through much trial and error.
Those same mindset issues and bad habits that wreak havoc in our personal finances can plague our businesses as well if we’re not careful.
Catching Shiny Object Syndrome
Some things are just hard to resist—especially when your friends and colleagues are all jumping on board! New tools, training, group coaching programs and even business models can all have a strong pull, and if you aren’t careful, these shiny objects can quickly distract you from your current goals.
If you find yourself catching shiny object syndrome frequently, try this two-step plan instead:
Falling for the Sunk Costs Fallacy
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’m not using this subscription, but I can’t give it up! I’m still paying the launch price and now it’s much more expensive!” Then you’ve fallen for the sunk costs fallacy.
This common mistake is famous among economists, and we all fall victim to it from time to time. Simply put, the sunk costs fallacy is what makes us justify investing more money or time in something—even though we’re not seeing results—because we’ve already spent so much. It’s what encourages us to repair the car one more time (after all, you just put new tires on it), eat a meal we don’t enjoy (simply because you’ve paid for it), and yes, continue to pay for tools and resources you’re not using.
Take a few minutes and examine your current business expenses. What are you paying for month after month that you’re not using? Either make a plan to put them to work for you, or cancel them. Stop falling for the sunk costs fallacy.
Too Much Penny Pinching
You thought this was all going to be about overspending, didn’t you? Here’s the kicker: Spending too little is just as bad for business.
When you’re constantly on the lookout for free and low-cost tools or working 16-hour days because you “can’t afford to outsource,” you’re not doing your business any favors. Sure, it looks like you’re bootstrapping and working really hard to make something from nothing, but what you’re really doing is digging yourself a rut it will be nearly impossible to climb out of. Not only that, but you’re reinforcing a scarcity mindset that will continue to plague you for years if you let it.
Rather than pinching pennies, learn to spend money strategically. Buy what you need, when you need it. Invest in top-quality products and programs rather than settling for the low-ticket, half-baked plans. Just like quality clothes, cars and furniture, quality services and software last longer and work better. And unlike that car, good quality business tools will pay for themselves.
What do you think? Are you a victim of shiny object syndrome? Let us know in the comments below
We all do it. No matter how successful you are, at one time or another you’ll fall into the self-sabotage trap, and the price of admission is high.
The end result? Frustration. Burnout. Resentment (of your clients or your business). And yes, even more self-sabotaging behaviors. This downward spiral can quickly turn devastating, but stopping it is easy when you learn to recognize the symptoms.
Did you mean to apply for that high-end client program but missed the deadline? Or maybe you were going to send a proposal to a potential new client, but waited too long? Or maybe you simply waited too long to take advantage of a sale price on a hot new app that everyone’s raving about.
These and other missed opportunities can often be blamed on simple procrastination, one of the most destructive habits we suffer from. Procrastination is what keeps us working late at night to make a deadline, costs us money in late fees, and even costs us business.
If you’re prone to procrastination, try these techniques to put an end to it:
Failing to Complete Your Projects
Be honest. How many half-written books, partially planned programs, and unfinished products are cluttering up your hard drive right now?
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, the answer is probably several.
You started all of them with great enthusiasm. You planned out the modules or chapters, created the slide decks, and maybe even outlined the sales page. And then…you just stopped working on it.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re too busy. Maybe you “need to do some more research.” Or maybe you simply lost interest. But the truth is, none of those are the real reason. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this self-sabotaging habit is actually a symptom of a lack of confidence, and it’s keeping you from the success you deserve.
Consider this: You cannot know the actual success rate of a program you’ve never finished, and you cannot improve upon something you’ve never completed. So rather than filling your hard drive with half-finished projects, power through and start releasing them—even if you believe they’re not perfect, and even if you think they’ll never sell.
What have you left undone that would make a significant difference in your business if you finished it? Tell us below
Whether you want to touch a nerve, reach a new audience, or boost your sales, storytelling is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. As humans, we love a good story, and when it resonates with us, it can drive us to take action when nothing else can.
Think about it. Which would you rather read, an interesting story, or a sales letter? Which are you more likely to remember a week from now, a compelling story, or a features and benefits comparison? And which are you more likely to buy, a story you can see yourself in, or a product that does x, y, and z?
If you think back on your most recent purchases, from the business associate you hired to the car you bought last summer, chances are you’ll find a story that resonated with you, and that drove your decision to purchase.
Stories About You
You’ve heard it time and time again: People buy from those they know, like, and trust. And part of getting to know you is hearing your stories. Your potential clients want to know how you came to be in business, what experiences you’ve had that drove your decisions, what lessons you learned along the way.
Your stories don’t have to be directly related to business to be powerful, either. That anecdote about the time you nearly got arrested for not having a valid driver’s license is the perfect lead in to a blog post about better record keeping. Or the story about how you accidentally seated two warring families together at your wedding reception? It’s just what you need to drive home a point about relationship building.
Stories About Your Clients
Otherwise known as social proof, stories about your clients are incredibly useful in your marketing and branding strategy. Testimonials, white papers, case studies and the like are all just stories, after all, and they showcase how you and your products have changed a life or a business for the better.
Stories About Your Products
Yes, even your products have stories to tell. Why did you decide to create that new e-course or fitness program? What will it help your clients achieve? Who is it not suited to? These stories and more can show your potential clients more about your products and services than any sales page ever will. When you openly share your thought processes as you were creating your program, buyers will instantly know if it’s a product that will work for them or not.
Clearly, stories have a lot of power when it comes to branding and marketing, but you have to use caution. Beware of the awkward insertion of a story just because you’ve heard it’s good for your marketing. If you find yourself midway through a blog post and you write something like, “but anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with business” and then making a total shift to a completely different subject, chances are the story isn’t working.
But if you can tie your story in naturally to what follows, that’s your golden ticket to better branding, more sales, and a more profitable business. We love stories. Don’t be afraid to tell yours.
Comment below with your story,we'd love to hear it
When you first hung out your virtual shingle, you likely were thinking:
These and many, many other thoughts go through the heads of every would-be business owner, and are often the driving force behind that final, “I quit.”
But while they’re great for lighting a fire and inspiring you to make a scary jump to business ownership, they’re not so fabulous at motivating you to grow and improve. They won’t inspire you to increase your skills and raise your rates and be brave and authentic in your marketing. They won’t help you find the courage to hire a new coach or launch a brand new program.
To find the inspiration to make your business thrive, you have to identify the real why behind what you do.
“Passion based” is a phrase that’s found a massive following in the past few years, and seems to be the holy grail of entrepreneurial adventures. And for business owners with a true passion for their field, it can be a strong motivator.
Some business owners are passionate about a subject, spending all their waking hours learning about the topic. Some are passionate about a market, and would do anything to help their ideal client achieve his or her goals.
Whichever type of passion-based business owner you are, learning to harness that passion will help take your business to the next level.
Maybe you want to retire at 40 to travel the world, or send your kids to an elite private school. Maybe you love fast cars, and dream of driving a brand new Ferrari.
Whatever your big dream, you knew you’d never make it while putting in time at the day job. While everyone seems to go on and on about those passion-based dreams, the truth is there’s nothing wrong with wanting financial fulfillment. Money is a necessary tool. We need it, and the more we have, the easier life is. And wanting more of it is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you maintain your integrity and authenticity in pursuit of it.
Plenty of online business owners go into business so they can have more to give. You’ve no doubt heard of—or maybe even know—marketers who use their earnings to fund mission trips, build schools in war-torn, third world countries, and support a variety of charities at home and abroad. Others use the time freedom they’ve built into their business to volunteer with local hospitals, animal shelters and children’s organizations.
If you have a heart for a cause, a philanthropic why might be the driving force that takes your business to the next level.
To find your own why, consider your biggest dreams. If money were no object, what would you be doing?
I look forward to reading your comments below, Coach Deb
I get it. You’re a solo-preneur.
You’re proud of the fact that you’ve bootstrapped your business from the ground up, tackling every task that comes your way. You built your first website, dove in and learned how to edit and upload videos to YouTube, figured out how to format your email newsletter, and even wrestled your shopping cart into submission.
But that feeling of pride that comes from doing the work yourself comes with a price. Too many small business owners are working too many hours, suffering from burnout and frustration—not because they’re not good at what they do, but simply because they’re unwilling to truly invest in their business.
They’re letting a scarcity mindset prevent them from taking the steps—and making the investments—that will have a massive impact on their business. And maybe you are, too.
By far the biggest objection to outsourcing you’ll hear is “I can’t afford it.” Perhaps you’ve heard—or even said it. But the fact is, if you’re a serious business owner, you can’t afford not to outsource.
The time you free up by not doing those mundane, everyday tasks is time you’ll spend more profitably, by:
Outsourcing should never be looked at as an expense. In fact, if you’re not getting a return on your outsourcing investment, take a hard look at what you’re outsourcing and to whom, because there is likely plenty of room for improvement.
Most online business owners start out using low-cost tools with limited features. For example, you might be using PayPal exclusively for product sales, and manually adding buyers to your mailing list each time you receive a payment. While that’s an acceptable solution when time is easier to come by than money, you’ll quickly outgrow it. The problem is, too many entrepreneurs fail to recognize the benefits of true automation.
Not only is trying to “make do” with a pieced-together system costing you sales, but it costs actual dollars, too. You (or your VA) will spend extra time simply getting it all to work, rather than letting the tools do the heavy lifting.
Recognize when it’s time to up-level your marketing tools to include true funnel automation, and watch your income increase dramatically!
It is possible to build your business solely on your own. You can pay attention to what others are doing and reverse engineer their systems. You can read books and blogs and maybe invest in a few carefully chosen training programs.
But there will come a time when your growth will flat line, and you’ll struggle to reach that next level. That’s when it’s time to invest in coaching. And yes, even coaches have (and need) coaches. A coach can help you see past your own blind spots, work through the blocks that are holding you back, and build a business you love—on your own terms.
Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. Wise investments such as coaching, automation, and outsourcing will pay for themselves many times over.
Looking forward to your comments and tips below, Coach Deb
We’ve all done the exercise. It’s the first thing you’re taught when you first start your business: Create an ideal client avatar.
This vision of your ideal client guides everything you do, including pricing (you can’t charge that single mom as much as you can the CEO of a Fortune 500 company), pain points (mom probably isn’t worried about shareholders), and even the color of your logo.
So you spend a few hours considering things such as:
Maybe you even write up a nice little story about your ideal client. You give her a name, a couple of kids, a husband who just doesn’t get it, and a load of student loans. You know quite a bit about her, you think.
But you would be wrong, and if you stop there, you may be missing a huge piece of the puzzle—and losing out on the best clients because of it.
Here’s something that’s rarely considered in the “ideal client” equation, and it’s arguably the most important part: personality.
If you’re snarky, sarcastic, fun-loving and loud, then a quiet, middle-aged mom who spends her time volunteering at the church is probably not a good fit for you. Sure, she might need your help, and she might love your products, but for one-on-one services, this match-up is a disaster. Either she will be uncomfortable with your style, or you’ll be miserable trying to reign in your natural exuberance.
Better to pass mom on to the professional who is a better fit for her personality wise.
Drive Determines Success
This one can be difficult to calculate from the start, but once you recognize it (or the lack thereof) it’s worth paying attention to. The client without the drive to succeed will—more often than not—only end up frustrating you both.
Better to end your relationship as soon as you see the signs of this than to waste your time going over the same material and exercises again and again with someone who simply won’t do the work.
If you look at your current and past clients, you’ll begin to see patterns. You can easily look back and see what made some clients a joy to work with, while others were a struggle. Think about what those differences are, and add them to your ideal client profile. Then compare any new potential clients to this ideal profile, and you’ll never again sign on with a less-than-perfect client.
As always, looking forward to your insights and comments below
“I’ve never been good with money.”
“I hate budgets.”
“I’ll never be a 6-figure earner.”
“My market won’t pay premium prices.”
If you’ve ever heard these statements come out of your mouth—or even in your head—then you’re engaging in a damaging habit known as negative self-talk. By telling yourself these lies (and yes, they are lies) you’re reinforcing the beliefs that go along with them.
What you visualize and believe is what becomes true.
Tell yourself that you’re not good with money, and you won’t be. Believe that budgets are horrible chores to be reviled, and you’ll resist creating one. Convince yourself that you can’t earn a 6-figure income, and you won’t.
It’s not “the secret.” It’s a scientific fact. Known as a self-fulfilling prophecy, this kind of self-talk results in poor performance simply because we act as if it’s already true.
If you tell yourself that you’ll never be a 6-figure earner, you will not do the things that 6-figure business owners do. You won’t work to grow your mailing list (“No one reads my emails anyway”), you won’t increase your hourly rates (“It’s not like I’m some top-earning professional”), and you won’t build a brand worthy of a 6-figure income (“A beautiful brand isn’t necessary at this income level”).
By contrast, if you act and think as if you already are a 6-figure earner, you’ll approach your business quite differently. Your confidence level will increase. You’ll present a very different brand to your prospective clients. You’ll go out of your way to connect with those who can and will afford to pay your higher rates.
How to Combat Negative Self Talk
The first step toward changing your negative self-talk is to simply acknowledge that you do it. Tick a mental checkbox every time you catch yourself making negative statements, whether out loud or in your head.
Make a note of the ones that come up most often for you, and identify their origin if you can. For example, if your ex-husband continually berated you for your spending habits, chances are your “I’m no good with money” mantra can be laid right at his feet. It’s time to turn that thinking around.
The next time you catch yourself saying “I’m no good with money,” take a minute to recall 5 instances where you were good with money. Maybe you paid off your credit cards or saved for a house or built an emergency fund. Rephrase your self-talk to, “I used to be bad with money [if that’s true], but now I make smart choices to achieve my goals.”
Just as negative self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, so does positive self-talk. Re-frame your thinking, and your business finances will certainly improve.
How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Do you say things to yourself you would never say to anyone else? Share in the comments below, Success Trainer Deb
Think all a farmer has to do is wait until fall to harvest truckloads of delicious tomatoes or corn or squash? Think again! That farmer has worked hard all year long to prepare for that week or two of reward.
He prepared the ground following last year’s harvest.
He planted seeds in the spring.
He watered and fertilized and protected his fragile crops from pests and drought and poor weather.
And finally, after months of work, he enjoys the results.
Your business works the same way, and if you take a page from the farmer’s playbook, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards, too.
Preparing the Ground
This is your brand, your voice, your very presence in your market. If you’re just starting out—like that farmer after his harvest—you’ll spend your time simply becoming known.
Hang out with other professionals in your niche. Join forums where your ideal clients spend their time. Build a website and start your mailing list. This is the prep work that will form the foundation of a solid business in the future.
Planting the Seeds
Your seeds are your content and products. With each blog post you write, every product you create, you’re planting a seed you can harvest later. But unlike the farmer, your seeds will produce over and over again, endlessly.
In fact, you’ll likely find that blog posts you wrote years ago will continue to bring in new clients year after year, with no further help from you. Products can be sold over and over again, or reworked into new offers. Podcasts, videos, ebooks and more all continue to work for you, month after month, year after year.
When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see that planting seeds is a critical part of every business.
Nurturing Your Crop
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just “set it and forget it”? Unfortunately, that style of business rarely works.
Instead, you must spend time nurturing.
It doesn’t take much effort to update your blog posts or tweak your products, and the rewards can be fantastic.
Of course, being a farmer is a long-term investment. The work you do today may not pay off for weeks or months to come. But with a strong history of consistent “farming” in your business, you’ll soon see that those long-term rewards are paying off consistently as well.
Tell us how you are nurturing your business, Nameste Deb
We’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.
But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.
Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your relationship. You’ll want to review:
This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to her criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.
Be Honest With Yourself
One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when she signed up, or maybe not, but now that she has moved on, ask yourself:
If you can identify a bad client match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer her to another professional who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.
Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:
Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to get your wayward client back on track. Many client relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.
Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.
Share your stories of lessons learned from lost clients, Coach Deb
At one point, every business owner will find herself in a troubling situation. Revenue is down. New clients are scarce. Profits are falling, and a peek at the financials is enough to bring on a full-fledged anxiety attack.
Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, chances are you’ve experienced that sinking feeling of a business that’s trending downward, too. But how you handle it can mean the difference between continued success and business-killing burnout.
Here’s where a lot of entrepreneurs get it wrong. They start to worry about money, and that worry leads to poor decisions that ultimately have a negative impact not just on finances, but—maybe more importantly—on morale, too. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.
You Take On The Wrong Client
When business is down, it can be tough to keep your ideal client avatar in mind. Instead, you jump at the chance to work with anyone who comes along. The trouble with this scenario is you can find yourself with a roster full of clients who:
You Stop Creating
And who can blame you? With profits down, you have to pull back. You can’t afford to spend time and money creating new programs, so you recycle the ones you’ve already produced.
Now, this would be ideal if you were re-purposing with a positive intent. Turning your ebook into a group course or a seminar? Perfect! But that’s not what your fearful brain is telling you.
Your fearful self is saying, “Just re-release this same product again, so I don’t have to have new sales copy written or record new videos.”
And while this might help bring in a bit of cash short-term, it won’t do anything for your reputation or your self-esteem.
Yikes! That’s no way to operate a business, but that’s just what a fear-based mindset can do to you. Better (much better) to hold out for that perfect client. And while you’re waiting, take what you’ve learned from your drop in sales and create the killer program or product your audience is clamoring for!
Share your tips for overcoming fear based business decisions below, Coach Deb
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