It can be very daunting owning a small business. You want to do the work that feeds your heart and excites you, and do it on your terms, working the hours that suit you, from the space that suits you, wearing the fluffy Finding Dory pajama bottoms if that suits you! You want to be your own boss, of course. But with that often comes being your own administrator, project manager, sales and marketer too. And that’s a lot of load on one person.
Look, the decision to work your own business can be rewarding and liberating while it is exhausting, busy and frustrating. I know this all too well, chasing clients for work, chasing clients for payment, slow months, the unknowing dread of making the monthly bills. I swing between anxiety and elation, a new emotion flooding my system every hour at times, but I know too that I cannot have it any other way.
The thing is it is a journey of growth, whether you’re just starting out in your business or you’ve been gainfully unemployed for many years like myself. You can only benefit yourself and your business by learning as much as you can from mentors and books. One such book crossed my path recently and I want to share it with you. It’s a fantastic resource that will definitely help guide you to become a better service provider and businessperson.
The book is called Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. I can’t remember where I saw it recommended. It was on an web article, possibly on startuplessonslearned.com. Regardless, I found a copy on Google Play Books. It’s also on Amazon, of course. Locally, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a hardcopy in Estoril or Exclusive Books.
However you get it, please read it from end to end. It’s not a book that you should skim through or jump around. Michael has written it in a way that allows you to build a foundation for your business such that the marketing becomes easy and you’re not doing drudge work. You chose to work for yourself because you’re following your passion and you want to be excited to get out of bed. Every aspect of your business should be no different. And the point that the book hones in on is that if you’re doing what you love and are truly passionate about your work, choosing the clients who are as passionate and fun to work with, the marketing almost falls into place automatically.
Here are some lessons that you may get out of the book.
- Choose your clients as carefully as you choose your friends. Not everyone is a good fit and if you’re working with somebody purely for the sale, you’re going to resent working with them. Everyone has a story about those difficult clients. Easy solution. Don’t work with them. Be picky with the people you want to work with and who want to work with you, so that you can continue loving what you do.
- If you don’t love what you’re doing, your business is doomed. And, conversely, when you do love and want to share your talents, and are confident and fully self-expressed, you will love marketing. Your world won’t come to an end when you get a rejection. You’ll simply move on to the next opportunity because your ability to express yourself is directly proportional to your level of confidence and vice versa. And this will attract more people who are in the same mindset, and who you will most likely enjoy working with.
- Determine you ideal market, and find your target market within that ideal market, getting to know their needs and desires. You’re building relationships with people. This goes beyond the traditional elevator pitch that was actually designed to win over investors, not clients. Spending the time knowing and serving your target market can truly give you an edge over the competition.
- Communication is part of that relationship building. Stay in contact, share freely, show interest, and be open to questions and comments. Be a friend to your client. Personally, I hate that adage that business is business. Of course, you’re in business to make money but when that becomes the focus, the relationship starts breaking down in my opinion.
I love this quote from Mark McCormack, the founder of International Management Group: All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.
- Networking and marketing doesn’t have to be a drag either. Your confidence in yourself and your talents can be shared in an enlightening and exciting manner. And, once again, this energy is infectious, drawing in your best clients and potential new friends. Your likeability factor has an enormous impact on your perceived value. Develop your credibility, establish yourself as an expert, strive to be your best, most likeable self, and you’ll quickly become the best and most obvious choice for your potential clients.
- The book also goes into finding the perfect price for your services, and understanding your value versus your pricing. Customers will pay highly for perceived value and you can raise your prices to best serve your business without the guilt feelings that sometime plague us small business owners. And, of course, you are free to price your services in a way that can be more exclusive or allow more options for customers, while having specials and discounted deals that best serve your market. There will always be people who are willing to pay for what you have to offer. Part of being very specific about your market is figuring out where these people will be found.
- Maintaining your website and blog, as well as having social media strategies (this is something I really need to work on) contribute to your business foundation and keep you in front of your clients so that when they are ready to work with you, you’re top of mind.
- You can be a confident consultant. Get yourself out to events, throw your own if you can, seek out speaking opportunities or do some guest blogging, and build your experience in front of an audience. People like to work with confident, self-assured people. Be that. 🙂
This is but a tiny snippet of the information and learning that this book gives. Do yourself a favour and go grab it. Read a few pages and you’ll be hooked, I promise you.
Book Yourself Solid is a fantastic foundation book to any business. I wish I’d come across and read it a year ago. But all things in the right time, I guess.