Common Business Pitfalls To Avoid

Common Business Pitfalls To Avoid

It is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o’clock.

~ Woody Allen

This blog post is for those of you who are earlier on in your business journey. Being early on in your business journey doesn’t necessarily relate to how long you’ve been in business, it speaks more to where your business is at in terms of growth. If you’re unsure about what stage you and your business are in, click here to watch the replay of a recent FB Live I did on the Five Stages of Business Growth or head here to read an article I wrote on the same subject.

It’s also worth noting that the pitfalls I share below can happen to business owners at any stage of the business journey and you may well find yourself nodding at some of these even if you’ve been in business for years!

1. Believing the hype

As with any industry, the amount of absolute crap online about how to succeed in business is breathtaking. As someone who has built profitable businesses and worked with countless others to build profitable businesses of their own, I know first hand what it takes to go from making zero dollars to making regular and consistent income and I can promise you now that there is no magic bullet. No secret formula to success, no quick and easy 6-step process.

In fact, when you see promises like these, I want you to run for the hills, because promises like these are hype, designed to play on your desire for success and have you reaching for your credit card before you can say: do I really believe what I’m being sold here?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame (or judgement) in getting sucked in by some of these promises. We’ve all been there. Who hasn’t bought the $37 guide to consistent $10,000 months, hoping that we’ll learn something that will expedite our business journey. These offers are designed to manipulate and play on your desires and your fear of missing out on fulfilling them.

I do, however, urge you to exercise caution and common sense whenever you see a promise that seems too good to be true. Anything that promises you quick and easy success is probably a lie — how do I know? Because if a fool-proof, quick and easy way to make big bucks online had been found, then everyone would know about it and everyone would be doing it already. Achieving true, long-lasting results takes time. It takes commitment and it requires taking consistent action, on the right things, over the long haul.

2. Waiting for perfection

Something I see a lot is people who have the desire to start their own business, know what business they want to create and yet they are playing the waiting game. “I need to have my website finished before I can tell people about my business”. “I need to have more people on my list before I can start sending out my newsletter”, “I need to have professional photos taken before I can launch my website.” “I need to clearly define my niche before I can put any offers out” and the list goes on. Can you relate?

Waiting for perfection is the ultimate form of sabotage. The clearly defined niche, the professionally designed website, the brand to die for and the enticing suite of offers you see from the established professionals in your field, all came after years of working this stuff out. Putting things out to see what works and what doesn’t, trial and error. Failure and flops. Dead ends and re-routes.

This is an inevitable part of the business journey and not one you can (or should want to) short-cut. If you find yourself saying I’ll take “x action” in my business when “y thing” is in place, then you’re probably playing the waiting game and I invite you to ask yourself if there is a way you can go ahead and take action before the perfect thing you desire is in place.

3. Wasting time on the wrong things

In the early stages of business it’s not uncommon to get bogged down working on the wrong things for the stage of business you’re at. This often happens when we compare our year one in business with someone else’s year 8, 9 or 10. We might become fixated on creating the perfect brand before we’ve taken the crucial steps of building an audience and then engaging with that audience to find out what would most speak to them.

It’s common nature to look at other business owners we admire and seek to emulate them in order to achieve similar success but when we try to copy someone else’s business model, we risk missing out on the vital steps that see our business model evolve and mature with us, and in a way that is aligned with how we work and want to work in the world.

Something I see often is people getting bogged down with the busy work of their business. Tweaking their website, trying to perfect their website copy, looking for the perfect images, fonts etc for their graphics. In the early stages of business growth your only job is to connect with people and to serve them in whatever way you can.

I would encourage you to be creating content and connections at every opportunity, regardless of whether or not you have the perfect website, brand or niche. Because here’s the thing — all that time you spend early on trying to create the perfect image of your business will likely change the minute you start working with people, which leads me nicely onto the next point.

4. Trying to niche too soon

Yes I know that you’ve heard it a million times. You have to have a well-defined niche or you’ll never succeed and whilst knowing who we help and what we help them with them is hugely important, a common mistake I see is business owners trying to niche too soon. Forcing themselves to pick a focus for their business before they’ve allowed themselves to truly explore what lights them up.

Consider the fact that you don’t need to choose your niche because it will evolve organically if you are out in the world connecting with potential clients and discovering the sweet spot between what they need and what you can offer. It took me years to define my niche as a coach and it only became clear to me after I had coached hundreds of people.

5. Trying to do all of the things

I totally get it, it’s overwhelming trying to start a business, especially, given how shouty many so-called business experts are these days online. With everyone and their dog shouting at you to come follow their secret strategy for immediate success, it’s no surprise that many business owners start to fall into a pattern of trying to do all of the things, a sure road to burn out or worse still, they strategy switch, which is chopping and changing strategies without ever giving the damn thing adequate time to work.

Being successful in business does not require you to do all of the things such as newsletters, blogs, networking events, podcasting, free workshops and being on every social media channel there is. In fact, this is more likely to do harm than good. On the other hand, following through consistently with one or two, tried and tested, business growth strategies (like content marketing and outreach) can make all the difference.

So there you have it, five common pitfalls I see people come up against time and time again. Have you been guilty of falling into one of these traps? If so let me know in the comments below.



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Five Ways To Demonstrate Your Expertise

Five Ways To Demonstrate Your Expertise

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.”

~ Werner Heisenberg

Imagine this.

You’re a talented, but relatively unheard of artist who has created a stunning painting. You now have to sell it without anyone ever seeing it. All you can do is describe how beautiful it is to potential buyers.

How would you do it? Pretty tricky huh.

Yet this is what so many business owners attempt to do with their marketing.

They have a skill or service that they offer, they get great feedback from the people who have experienced it, but then they feel like they have to “sell” it and themselves to their audience, using persuasive copy and/or gimmicky sales tricks.

No wonder most people struggle with marketing. Both those doing the marketing and those being marketed to!

What I teach my 1:1 Clients and Mastermind participants is how to demonstrate their expertise without feeling like they have to sell themselves.

What an almighty relief that would be, right!?

If you know that you’ve got a great service to sell, but the idea of trying to describe why it’s worth buying makes you want to stick pins in your eye, then this blog post is for you.

Below you’ll find 5 simple and authentic ways to demonstrate your expertise without ever having to feel like you are being a sleazy salesperson.

I know you’ve heard this one before, but it does bear repeating because not all content created is equal.

What I’m suggesting here is that you be intentional about creating content that demonstrates your expertise. How? Consider the nuggets of wisdom, practical strategies, top tips and ideas you share with your paying clients and then package those in the form of content for your audience (and would-be clients). The way I do this is to make notes on my content schedule after virtually every coaching session I have.

Without exception, there will be a concept, strategy or several that come to light within each and every one of my coaching sessions. An idea that I’ll walk my client through that can be put into practice in his/her business to ensure further business growth.

In one such recent session, the subject of doing Facebook Live Q+As (more on that below) came up as a way to demonstrate expertise which gave me the idea for this whole article.

So next time you’re short on ideas for content, consider your last client session or call. What advice did you give that could be packaged as a blog post or article and go write that.

Allowing someone to directly experience your skill or service is the best way I know to sell it. There is no need to describe the benefits of working with you if you can give someone a direct experience of working with you. I do this by offering complimentary coaching sessions — and if you are a coach too, you can read more about the benefits of doing the same in your business here.

If you’re a teacher you might offer a free class, or if you’re a website designer, a free website review. Think of your local yoga studio who lets you drop in to your first class for free so that you can assess whether or not the style of teaching is for you.

The key to making this work for you in terms of demonstrating expertise is to deliver whatever you give for free with the same level of professionalism and care as you would for a paying client.

So many business owners save the best of themselves for the paying client, when in fact, if you are generous with your gifts and they truly help your audience, it will naturally leave them wanting more.

This works under the same premise as a free session but allows you to reach more people in one hit. Instead of 10 x 1 hour complimentary coaching sessions, you can host an informative and valuable 1 hour group call that could reach 100 people or more!

Of course the impact of attending a one hour group call maybe lower than the impact of an hour of dedicated 1:1 attention but you can still use free workshops to demonstrate your expertise by teaching your knowledge to the very people who need it the most.

One piece of advice I would give is to avoid the word “webinar” as it has become synonymous with being sold to. I would also avoid any hard selling on a call of this nature as the purpose is not to sell something but to demonstrate your expertise and be of value to your community. If the call is powerful enough, you can bet they will head to your website straight after to see how they can get more from you.

Don’t underestimate the trust that can be cultivated when you don’t sell on on a call like this. People are so used to the sales pitch that it’s both disarming and delightful when there isn’t one.

This was the idea that sparked this whole piece. A former client of mine, who has a great deal of expertise in healing PCOS was looking to create more interaction with her growing audience and I suggested that she hold live Q+A sessions on her Facebook page. She already had a raft of questions that she’d been asked in the past so I suggested that while her audience warms up and starts showing up to ask questions in real time, she could just do Facebook Lives where she answers the questions she’s already been asked.

The trick is to set a time to show up live and then publicise that time with your audience so that they know to show up and watch along in real time. If you are earlier on in your business and haven’t yet had any questions from your audience or former clients, consider what questions you might get or even those questions you yourself have had, before you gained the expertise you now have. Then take the time on a Facebook live to answer those.

The key here is to position yourself as an authority in your field, without trying to sell yourself and at the same time being generous and providing genuine value to your people.

No one can speak to your expertise better than other people. Having strong testimonials and reviews is essential when it comes to verifying your expertise to potential clients. You can rave about your qualifications and skills all you want on your website, but if you don’t have other people sharing about the impact of their work with you, then you’re missing a trick.

Something I like to do on a fairly regular basis is to ask people who have worked with me, either as a paying client or on a gift basis, to leave a review on my Facebook page. I make sure to only ask those people who have told me directly that our work together made a positive difference to them. The reason I ask people to leave it on my Facebook page is because once there I can share it in different places on social media and also repurpose it for other places like my website.

So there you have it 5 non-icky ways to demonstrate your expertise to your audience.

It’s important to speak to a fear that sometimes comes up in people when I talk about giving away our expertise for free. Someone recently shared with me that she was thrown when a potential client asked her why he should pay for her 1:1 services when she gives so much of her process away on her blog. And she’s not alone, many business owners worry that people will take their free content and never buy.

But here’s the thing. A significant proportion of your audience will never buy. In fact the vast majority won’t. That’s just numbers. But those who want 1:1 support (your ideal clients — because the people who think they can do it without you aren’t) will pay you for it, if they truly believe you can help them.

I never hold back in my free content out of fear that you wouldn’t hire me as your coach because when you hire a coach, you’re not just paying for information, your paying for customised feedback, advice and support for your specific situation, accountability to implement, guidance, troubleshooting, hand holding and dedicated 1:1 attention.

No blog post or free session could ever replace a long-term 1:1 coaching relationship and the people who don’t get that, aren’t my ideal clients.

I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve shared here, if it resonates please let me know in the comments below.

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