Do you remember how you felt when you started your business? You probably felt many of the same things I did: excited about being your own boss, anxious about whether you would be able to find clients, hopeful that you would build something great, and—there’s no other way to say it–scared shitless that it might all crumble down around you and that you might fail. But, in spite of the fear, you did it. You got started. You got your website up, your business cards printed, and your desk all neat and organized. You probably went to some networking events and told people who you were and what you do. And then what happened?
Well, for some of the people I know who went into business around the same time I did, NOTHING happened. And they were flabbergasted. They couldn’t believe that people weren’t coming to them and begging to buy from them! And many of those folks have closed their doors and gone on to get the dreaded J.O.B.
Even though I had more than 13 years of corporate marketing experience and had read more books and taken more training courses on sales and marketing than I can count, I admit that I was a little surprised myself that people weren’t beating down my doors. Didn’t they know how smart I was? And what a great bargain I was? And how I was going to totally change their lives? Didn’t they see how cute my business cards were???
And then I got smart. I realized that there were people out there who knew how to grow a business. And one of them said to me, “Rachel, do you think people are driving past your house wondering if a great coach lives there? What do you expect them to do? Knock on your door and ask if they can hire you?”
I realized that 13 years of marketing expertise was languishing behind my inability to get really brave and ballsy and go out and FIND THE BUSINESS. But staying motivated was hard. My dog didn’t give me grief if I wasted my time, and no one else knew if I did. So I took action. And to be honest, some of these actions started off as happy accidents. But they are actions that have kept me in business when too many of my friends and colleagues have failed.
Action Number 3: I joined a networking group that had built-in accountability. Surprised? The reason taking this action was so important to my business is that once I joined, I HAD to do certain things every single week. I had to attend a meeting where I spoke about my business. I had to put on my game face even when I didn’t want to. I had to interact with lots of other business owners between meetings and expand my connections. I had been having a hard time motivating myself, but once I became engaged in a small community that demanded my participation, the actions I took to satisfy the group led to my being more motivated to take OTHER actions that built my business.
Action Number 2: I hired a coach—two coaches, actually. I found a coach who could relate to some of my experiences and who had built a half-million dollar business in just a few years. She had been in a corporate job for ages, and when she started her business, found out that self-employment is a totally different animal from corporate employment. She mentored me and gave me some hard medicine to swallow at times. She lovingly kicked my butt. And my second coach did the same thing, and added a new level of knowledge to my growing expertise in running a business. To hire these coaches, I spent money I didn’t have, but I couldn’t afford NOT to work with them. I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own, and looking back, I still know for sure that I was right.
The the Number 1 Action That Has Kept Me in Business: I got myself a phenomenal accountability partner, or mastermind partner. Lucky for me, we met when I had only been in business for a couple of months, and I was just wrapping up with my first coach, so I really didn’t have to go it alone for very long. She is a really smart woman, and has been doing her own thing for well over a decade. She knows things I don’t know, and what she doesn’t know, I usually have expertise with. We talk every week for at least an hour, and not only do we help each other set goals and then hold each other to them, but we strategize about each others’ businesses, and get down and dirty into the details of individual tactics and situations. She is now the first person I call when I have a problem AND when I have good news. Everyone needs a partner in business, and I’m lucky to have such a good one!
I am 99% sure that if I had kept myself isolated, I couldn’t have kept this business going. When I learned that the average coach makes less than $10,000 a year, I realized two things. First, that I had made LOTS more than that—even in my first year–and I felt proud! And second, that I was able to be so far above average because I had taken actions that kept me accountable. It’s just too easy to fail when we’re isolated. But if you surround yourself with successful colleagues, coaches, and partners, your chances of success increase tremendously.