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It’s wonderful to imagine that when you start a business, you’ll instantly be successful. That’s not always what the first year of entrepreneurship looks like. Here are five things you can do to jumpstart your momentum.
n late 2021, I left a 21-year career in financial services and started my own coaching and consulting business. I quickly realized I was somewhat clueless about how to scale.
It only took a matter of weeks before I was inundated with messages from coaches, influencers and promoters all promising to find me speaking gigs and clients. I ignored these because I knew I wanted to grow organically. But, it wasn’t long before I wondered if I had made a mistake: I realized I was uncomfortable and didn’t quite know what to do since I’d never done it before. Here are the first five things I chose to do, which all worked wonders.
I knew I needed to develop marketing materials. But, I also know what I’m good at and not good at. Since I’m not classically trained in marketing, I hired people to do it for me. I stayed in my lane, but I also stayed involved in the process.
I hired a former contact from a university alumni club that I felt I could trust to design my website; I hired a Fiverr designer to create a press kit; I hired another Fiverr designer to design my book cover; and I hired an executive coach who has done everything I want to do to give me feedback on it all. Once these things were all produced, I directly sent them to all my prospects and also shared them with the world.
These marketing materials have repeatedly come in handy. When I meet with prospective clients, I now have several things I can send them. As part of my marketing strategy, I also asked my first 10 clients to write recommendations for me. I’ve been told by clients that seeing these testimonials on my website and media kit was very influential. Getting people to endorse your work as soon as possible can make a material difference in your business.
My second step was calling old contacts and colleagues from my network and telling them about what I was doing. While I absolutely recommend reaching out to your former connections and network, it’s important that when you do, you know what you offer and are prepared to voice that.
When starting out, the second person I called was the COO of a major national bank. He immediately asked me what it was that I was really wanting to offer his organization: coaching or consulting. I honestly had no idea, and without a reason why, I said both. In a different call with a regional executive of another bank, I couldn’t quite articulate what I hoped to get out of the call.
What I learned was this: Be clear with yourself (and others) about what it is you do and what you hope to gain from spending time with people. Successful people are busy — don’t waste their time. Have a clear and concise plan and know what it is you want them to buy from you and why. Then, don’t be afraid to ask for the business.
For the 18 months that I’ve served as a coach, consultant and author, I’ve been producing content:
Many clients have told me that watching my videos or reading my articles was a major factor in their decision to hire me. My shared content gives others a sense of who I am and what I stand for. No matter what business you’re in, find opportunities and ways to give people a little taste of you and whatever it is you do. When people like what they see, they’ll be more apt to engage with you.
So often, we look far into the future but forget about the present moment. We dream about where we want to be in five years or what it might be like when we’re rich and famous. This is great, but it doesn’t help us figure out the day-to-day.
Throughout the last year, I’ve always focused on simply identifying the 1-2 next steps I should or can take to grow. Do something every single day, or at a minimum, every single week that gets you closer to your goals. Perhaps it’s reaching out to one new prospective client a day or a week. Perhaps it’s attending a conference or seminar where you might meet prospective clients. Perhaps it’s taking a class or certification so you can get stronger at your craft. Perhaps it’s bettering your product or service. Whatever you do, it’s important to stay in motion and always be taking additional action.
When growing a business, it can be tempting to focus on what you don’t have yet (but want). Once you sign a client, it can be easy to mentally move on to the next five prospective clients you’d like to sign. Acquisition is important, but so is retention.
If you’ve recently made a sale or done work with someone, make sure to treat those people like gold. If clients are leaving out your back door at the same rate clients are coming through your front door, you’re static. It’s vital that you’re constantly generating reasons why the people you’ve already got should stay with you, as well as tell their friends and family about you. A few of my clients have been great referral sources for me and I can’t express enough gratitude for that, but that’s not an accident. That only happens when people are treated well.
These practices might seem simple — and they are. But, it’s the consistency in doing them that makes the difference. It’s easy to get discouraged when you start a business and don’t become an overnight success. However, when you invest in these things steadily, your success will come steadily as well.