Enough Excuses. Start Living In Abundance.
I know you’ve heard the story before, but I started my business with around a $600 investment (website, llc, professional images) last December and within 3 months I resigned from my full-time day job because I knew I could support myself with my business. Upspeak had replaced my income and I was only putting 10-20 hours a week into it at nights and on the week-ends. I believed that I could double my success if I dedicated my full-time efforts to growing it. Sure enough, my first month as a full-time business owner I made more than I ever had in one month in the entirety of my career. I was only half shocked. Half of me knew I was doing what I was meant to do! What a fulfilling and encouraging feeling. I was hooked!
The following month I topped the prior month’s sales!!! This was just 5 short months ago. Not 5 years ago. This month I have already doubled what I made that first month being full-time and the month’s not over yet. I don’t say this to brag. Truly. I know the grind of pursing your passion just like every other business owner. There are times when I feel like it’s a 24/7 commitment and quite a few times I’ve considered wrapping it all up and going back to slinging coffee. I’m saying this because I want to demystify the process of growing your small business and also to let you know that you don’t HAVE to hate life and work your ass off for years and years before you turn a profit!
I know, right? How is the big question and because we’re all in different fields, there’s no easy answer that fits everyone. A big piece of the puzzle is dedicating each day to becoming an expert in YOUR business. What do your people want? What do they not seem to care about? What’s important to them? What do they not seem to know that they need but you can so clearly see that they DO need? Asking yourself these questions helps you craft a clear message that supports your efforts to become relevant to your audience.
“Oh, but Meg… you definitely don’t understand what I’m up against. Things are likely easier for you…”
Hmmm… that may very well be true. I’m not sure what you’re up against. We all have mountains to climb and no two look the same. Just to level set with you though… here were my mountains:
I started The Upspeak Collective:
one year after going through a divorce to my son’s father
as a single mom sharing custody & all that comes with it
having just moved into a new house that I had to fix up to sell (and then spent the following year fixing up with my partner as I built my business)
working a full-time job as Managing Director of one of the biggest events in the city (The Cleveland Flea)
with zero dollars in savings
without a business loan
without investors of any kind
not knowing how to use Squarespace (I taught it to myself as I built my website)
with chronic anxiety & depression (thank god for therapy and medication!)
Try to keep in mind that your hurdles may be unique to you, but it’s not unique that you have them.
Everyone does. They aren’t an excuse to stop or to go slow or to feel like a victim. They’re just part of your path towards your dream job and they’re often the very thing that will contribute to your feelings of success one day! Most of my clients fit into the “overcomer” category. They’re people have been through hell and back in some way, shape, or form and they are pushing forward anyhow. They want to do something new. They want to work for themselves. The want to be an example to their kids. They want to share their voice with the world.
Here’s the thing though: there are business owners I talk to who have made less than $5,000 in their businesses over this past year even though it’s supposed to be their primary focus. Meaning: they don’t have another full-time job. While it’s normal to start out small obviously, I’ve noticed these people have a tendency to over-think, over-plan, over-organize and pretty much “over” everything EXCEPT sell their actual service or product which is the very thing that will make them money and allow them to continue doing what they love.
What’s getting in the way of people making the shift from “working on their business” to actually running a thriving business?
A lot of things get in the way, but the big ones I’m noticing are:
Still feeling hesitant to take the big leap (risk aversion)
Enjoying “feeling” like a business owner and telling people, “I have a business” without being whole-hearted about driving the business forward
Lack of confidence (I don’t think I’m truly ready yet…)
Lack of clarity around what steps to take next
An aversion to sales (I don’t want to be pushy!)
A scarcity mindset (I don’t want to take from others… I don’t deserve to succeed)
Can you relate to any of these?
Every single one of us gets stuck from time to time, but it’s crucial that we call ourselves out on it and move through the discomfort to get to the other side. Don’t resist. Persist.
Here’s a checklist for you if you want to move forward fast and start making money:
Do you have a website home for your people to visit that you’re excited to share and know how to use/update and that totally 100% represents who you are and what you’re up to? It’s amazing how many people have “websites under construction”. You guys… get a Squarespace website and make it live this week. Enough with the drama. Ya, I said it.
Do you have professional images of yourself and your service/product that show the world you’re serious and that you’re committed to quality in all that I do? If you think this doesn’t matter in 2018 than you are incorrect. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. Your iPhone photos are not cutting it. Post the grainy cat pic in your stories if you must.
Do you have a clear message? Can you share your business with others in 15 seconds or less and have them leave with an understanding of what you do? If you can’t do this, then you need to work on it tomorrow. Lack of clarity around what you do will show up over and over again on your IG feed, on your website, in your conversations… EVERYWHERE… and it will act as a barrier between yourself and your financial success.
Are you attached to your stuff and unwilling to let it go when it’s not working? Attachment is a huge barrier. It could be attachment to a logo, a name, an image, a story, a service… It doesn’t matter what. I’ve worked with people who are attached to their bio! If it’s not working then drop it. Become skilled at letting go fast or you will stand in your own way time and time again. Do you want to be right or do you want to grow? I’ve had small business owners who are not making any money ARGUE with me over coffee about why they can’t put into practice all of the things I’m suggesting. Needless to say, these are typically also the same people who don’t feel they can afford to invest in their business and who have 100 excuses for why what they’re doing isn’t working right now but WILL WORK eventually. What’s the definition of insanity again?
Are you clear about what you’re selling? I know this is a funny one because how could you be running a business and not be clear about your product or service (???) but alas, it’s totally a thing. This isn’t always the case, but for most of you, you should have your services and pricing listed clearly on your website with easy access to “buy now”. Bam. Simple. Do you have this???
How are you using social media and your newsletter? Is it just for sharing fun pictures or is it adding value to your dream clients? Everything you post should connect your people to the thing you can support them with in some way, shape, or form. At the end of every post you should have a “call to action” so that they know what to do if they feel compelled to do something. “Click here”, “High five me in the comments”, “Tag someone you love”, “Read more”, “Link in bio”, etc. - share from your heart in a relevant manner and then invite people in. Do this at least 5 times a week on your social platforms and at least once a week via your blog and/or newsletter. Sound like a lot of work? It is.
Is your content too salesy? People hate to feel “sold”. What they want is to feel connected. Seek connection in all that you do and then offer a step forward for those who choose it. Add value through your content (no fluff!!!) so that everyone walks away with something but make sure you’re creating a path forward for those who want to engage more by adding buttons, links, and action steps any time you share anything. You never want people to walk away from your content wanting more but not sure how to get it. It’s surprising to me how often I see this happening. It’s a dead end and a missed sale.
Do you have clear financial goals each month and are you tracking what comes in? When I first started Upspeak I made a spreadsheet for everything and every week I checked in with those spreadsheets for at least an hour. I still do! My favorite one is called “Money Honey” and it’s just for me. It’s ONLY relevance is to keep me informed as to what my goal is for the month financially and how close I am to it. That’s it. There’s a column for each month and at the bottom is my goal number. Each week I update it with any $$$ that comes in and watch it grow. It’s not detailed at all. I have a budget tracker for the detail. This sheet is just my little “pot of gold” as Tessa and I joke. I’m not 100% motivated by money obviously and neither are you. We are driven by passion. Having said that, we all know that we can’t keep doing our heart’s work if we aren’t supported to do it. THAT is a huge motivator for me. If I check in on my Money Honey sheet and see that I’m far away from the monthly goal then I hustle! Are there times I haven’t met my goal? YES! But typically I do. Looking at my business with one month financial goals instead of daily, weekly, quarterly, yearly, etc. is a way to make it feel manageable to me. I have a yearly goal of course (that’s how I got my monthly goals), but a year can feel overwhelming. One month feels like something I can wrap my head around. This is a bold statement, but If you are not looking at these numbers every week then you are disconnected from your business and you will not know when to hustle, when to breathe freely, and when to strategize differently. You’ll just be flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best!
To support you with your financial goals, I’ve created a 30 Day Challenge for us all to take part it! It’s called #EndTheYearLikeAGirlBoss and it’s 30 days of dedication to your business through all of December!!! Are you in? Here’s something to sweeten the pot: if you participate then I’ll give you a FREE 30 minute photoshoot as a reward in January. If you’re not local then we’ll do a 75 minute business coaching session over the phone!
Click here to download a cute PDF with all the deets and be sure to tag @theupspeakcollective on your IG posts and tag each one with #endtheyearlikeagirlboss to receive your prize at the end.
Happy Thanksgiving beautiful dreamers! I’m so grateful for all of you on this day and always.