When I walked away from my “job” and started my business, I got caught up in working my butt off to make it happen. I didn’t think I dared take a minute for myself. And that was killing my passion for my business. I needed family time. I desperately needed a life. I wanted to have fun. And suddenly, I realized that I was making life all about ME and I was stuck in that “you’re going to fail if you don’t do this right” mindset that would have eventually KILLED my business just like it was destroying my passion.
That’s when I realized there were strict, well defined rules for success, and I’d darned well better learn them or I really would fail.
The weekend about to arrive (within three hours) included Brunch with my Professional Mentor.
He just didn’t know that’s what I was going to call him yet!
That meeting with my Professional Mentor turned into Brunch, Golfing at the Club that backed up to my daughter’s place in the city, and a date night on Lookout Mountain. I didn’t have a date, and he didn’t either, so I kidnapped him and we visited my favorite place looking out across Denver, Colorado. The results of that incredible visit to the mountain are mostly contained right here in these 10 Rules for Success.
Don’t get stuck in 3rd Gear on an Uphill Switchback
You probably even know this story, but you need to hear it again, from me. Because it’s important, but more because nobody has ever told you this story, this way, before.
I learned to drive my best friend’s $45K Porche going up Lookout Mountain 38 years ago. If you’ve never driven Lookout Mountain before, you may not know this, but it’s a 35 degree climb most of the way up, and a good lot of it includes U-turns at the end of quarter mile (or less) runs. I’d never driven a stick shift before. Oh, I had a good idea how it was done, my first car had been a Volkswagon Beatle. But I hadn’t been allowed to drive it more than once. And that was on a flat bit of prairie behind the high school in my hometown.
This wasn’t a VW Beatle. And that wasn’t the prairie.
Driving up the front edge, I’d sped up to about forty and had shifted into third gear. My buddy knew I was about to hit the brakes, but he didn’t tell me. In third gear, you can’t shift down to first very easily on a 35 degree incline when you can’t figure out the clutch/gear shift thing. Well, you can. And I did. But it isn’t easy. I spent the next 2 miles driving straight UP the front side of Lookout Mountain, trying to figure out how not to blow up a Porche, and how to shift gears without going over the edge.
The thing is… When you’re in 3rd gear you’re going too fast to drive safely, and if you slow down, you kill the engine. And you’re wondering how this applies to Rules for Success.
- Don’t stop marketing your business. EVER. Just because the traffic is coming in good, they’re buying your product and your business is moving at a good rate of speed in the first few days, don’t forget the uphill run that’s coming at you, because it won’t always be this easy. The key to those first few buyers and profits is to keep that money going into the bank, and plan for the inevitable problems that WILL arise before you. Be prepared for anything that might happen as you start learning the program you’ve designed.
- Stay focused on the goal. Adjustments in the first few days of business are easy, but keep your eye on the prize. You don’t want to slow down your marketing, just because you’re overwhelmed with buyers right now… Keep marketing and schedule your customers, because you need that continuous flow of income to keep on coming.
- Plan for a weekend, or a day off each week. Don’t work so many hours that you don’t have time to check the view as you’re driving toward success. Take time off. Plan rest time, and play time. Be sure to include family time, and fun. Don’t work every hour of every day to get done. Schedule your time so you have time to do what you need to get done, but take time for fun.
- Know how to measure Billable Hours. Have a plan for creating billable hours, scheduling them, and be sure at the end of every day, that you’ve fulfilled the billable hours portion of your job. Most of the work you do as a small business owner, will NOT be billable hours. You can’t bill a client for marketing you do for yourself (for instance). You can however, bill clients for all work completed on their behalf. And you should!
- Charge what you’re worth. This one always stumps you, because you charge initially for the job, and then a client calls to request ‘just that one little thing’ done to his account, and you get caught up in the struggle of spending 15 or 20 minutes of your time ‘doing that one little thing’ and then spending the 10 minutes required to BILL the customer, or get back to relevant and billable work. But seriously, that 15 minute job took way more than 15 minutes of your time. You should be charging for the 15 minutes that are billable, because there were hours of time spent learning how to do that thing – the one that took 15 minutes. The client is being charged for your knowledge – and friends, that is worth a whole lot more than fifteen billable minutes!
- Follow your inspiration. The key to getting your job done, and succeeding in what you do, is literally the act of following your inspiration. When you feel inspired within your work, it’s easier to self motivate and get it all done. Know what inspires you and keep feeding that inspiration, because you don’t want to loose it.
- Know and understand your business model. Your business model is in the forefront of your success, if it’s working for you, it accomplishes great things for you. If it isn’t working, you’ll need to adjust it so that it does work. Keep it in front of you at all times. One Page Business Model – Required, for your business. This really should be framed and placed where you can see it every single day, because it’s important.
- Don’t go it alone. Many business models fail because they don’t have ‘partners’ to keep them focused and marketing their services. It’s really important to find your “co-marketers” and partner with them to keep your marketing efforts moving online, through Social Media, and to the right people. Don’t stop. Keep moving and bring along your partners in marketing. Tip: Your partners should have businesses of their own that you’re marketing for them too.
- Go big or go home. If your business isn’t accomplishing the goals, it may well be that your dream is too small. Grow it up. Go big or go home. If you’re not going to make success happen in a big way, stop… Go get a job. Your business can be HUGE if you simply think BIGGER. Reach out and pull in a bigger marketing share, and grow your business. Don’t think in minimums, think bigger. Think in MAXIMUMS.
- Never give up! The one thing every entrepreneur should know and understand about being in business for yourself is that you don’t have to FAIL if something doesn’t work. Adjust the program a bit and go at it again, until you find what works. As a golfer, I learned that an incremental adjustment to my ‘stroke’ could make a huge difference in the outcome. As a business owner, I’ve learned to make ‘small changes’ and find what works before I make huge changes that don’t work at all. And there’s nothing wrong with returning to a working position and starting your incremental changes again, if something didn’t work. KEY: NEVER GIVE UP.
Test marketing makes a huge difference.
You know it’s important to find the right market, but it may be just as important to test your market and put the right information out to draw in your specific market. Don’t hesitate to offer different options and find the one that works best for you. It really is THAT important.
Jan Verhoeff writes content for online business marketing.