My five year-old regularly tells me how she can’t do things. From reading or writing, to physical endeavours like doing a cartwheel, she’s forever detailing her shortcomings. It’s drives me crazy, not only as a parent, but as a business owner. Because telling yourself repeatedly that you can’t do something will destroy your ability to actually do it. By telling herself she can’t, she’s already lost.
Here are four phrases that I hear far too frequently from business owners that we should agree to strike from our vocabulary, lest we make them true:
1: I’m don’t know much about business
2: I’m not really interested in money
3: I’m not good with technology
4: I could never do what ______ does
Let’s break these down, one by one:-
I don’t know much about business
Business is pretty simple – people have a problem, issue or inconvenience they want solved. A business solves these. That’s it. The biggest mistake I see people in the health and creative sectors making is not recognising that they are in the business of solving problems.
Get out of your head and into the shoes of your ideal clients. Stop worrying about people watching you (they’re too busy worrying about others watching them). Get out there and meet your prospective clients and get to know them.
Your marketing should focus on these particular issues that your clients grapple with (I don’t know anyone who lies awake at night worrying that they’re not flexible enough). Then you illustrate how your particular approach is unique, different and special. Finally, you take this marketing message to where your ideal clients hang out and invite them to try it.
If you lack some foundational knowledge about business, call the tax office and ask how to access this information. There are plenty of local government business services and banks are also pretty good at providing quality information on running your own business.
I’m not really interested in money
Here’s a secret – nobody is really interested in money, they’re interested in what money can buy. What could you do with some extra coin? Outsource those business tasks you aren’t interested in? Pursue further education in your field? Spend more money on child minding? Take a holiday?
Money baggage (and we all have money baggage) will cripple your business quicker than any other thing you do, or don’t do. If you’re embarrassed about taking money from clients, if you doubt the value of what you offer, if you spend money unwisely, and if cashflow is constantly a stress, your days of doing what you love will be short.
As adults, it’s our job to become good with money – outsourcing this responsibility to a spouse or business partner is asking for trouble. Burying your head in the sand and hoping that money will miraculously take care of itself is what children do. Pull up your big girl pants and get interested in money. (It isn’t at odds with your spirituality and if anyone suggests that it is, you can bet they’ve got pretty heavy money baggage).
Start with setting some goals on how much you want to earn per month. Then it’s simply an equation of money in and money out.
I’m a huge fan of sustainable business – business that supports itself and moves with the times so that it’s future-proof for upcoming trends that influence clients’ purchasing habits. As a business coach, the hardest clients to work with are those lacking ambition. It doesn’t matter if your ambition is to work three hours a day and take two months off every summer, you need ambition if you’re to be any good at business. And ambition is not a dirty word.
I’m not good with technology
If you’re not good with technology, can I hazard a guess that it’s because you avoid using it?
Nobody is born knowing how to update a website. No teenager today has a natural ability to effectively use Twitter as a business tool. But I daresay if teenagers are better at technology than you are, it’s because they use it far more often than you do.
You don’t need to do anything too fancy-pants. You do need to be able to update your own website with edits and additions (not major redesigns), send your own email newsletters, and manipulate images (using a free tool such as Pic Monkey). Set aside some time; make it a priority. Stop relying on friends and family to help you out. Take charge.
I could never do what ____________ does
Humans are so funny! We spend so much time and mental energy devising reasons why we couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t do something that we could have done that very thing several times over with that same time and energy.
There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. The stories you’re spinning to yourself and other people are at best misleading and, at worst, false and damaging (far more to you than to them).
Are you, in fact, jealous of these people? Or are they doing something that you disagree with? Don’t waste time mentally criticising them – get out and do the best damn job you can.
Introduce yourself to your competitors. Introduce yourself to influential people. Hire people whose skills you’re in awe of.
Repeatedly telling yourself you’re no good at something only reinforces it while stopping you from making a change. The first step to change is the expressed desire to change. That’s the hardest first step. You can do it. You, and Google, and all the other millions who are conspiring to help you.