A colleague of mine recently came up to me and said, “how did you make your business so successful?”.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never thought of myself as a success or that my business was either. I did what I did, because I loved it, nothing more. I hadn’t identified my side hustle as a success, it was just there.
And then I looked back at how much my business has grown in a year and I realized that I had grown substantially.
If you look back at early 2016, I was cutting my rate by 60%, I was struggling to get clients and I was embarrassed to talk to people about my business because it was doing so poorly.
Here’s normally what my process looked like:
- Have a panic attack because I did not have any clients
- Hyperventilate and consider living in a refrigerator box to save on rent
- Pester friends and family for leads
- Harass countless people I don’t know on LinkedIn to hire me
- Finally get a ‘yes’ but only by cutting my rate and agreeing to work more hours for less
- Finish the project feeling burnt out and disheartened
- Stress cry
As I’m sure you can tell, this is an exaggeration, and it is meant to hit home with you if you have ever felt this way.
As much as I loved this process (see #7) I knew there had to be a better way.
And, here it is.
I stopped thinking about me.
But………you’re running a business, Ryan, you have to think of yourself.
Yes and no.
I have to think of myself in the sense that I need to stick to knowing my strengths, what value I bring and what I am worth.
What I think is more crucial is making sure you are actually solving a problem for a customer.
Customers & Clients love to be listened to and feel like their mission matters.
Powerful words, am I right?
Let me show you what that looks like in practice.
Here is what an old pitch would sound like: “Hi! I’m Ryan! Here are all the things I can do for you and why you should hire me.”
Here is what my new pitches sound like: “Hey <name>, got your info from <wherever> and it sounds like you’re looking for <x>. I have a few questions about <x> and here are some projects I have done that are similar and the results of them, too. I think I am a good fit and would love to chat for 15 minutes to make sure we are both aligned on what is needed and if we are a good fit.
A little clunkier than my actual proposals and I hope you get the idea of the shift.
I went from, “here’s why I am the best” to “here is some value and how I can create more value for you”.
If you’re a consultant, chances are you are a helper and a problem solver, too. Don’t stray from your roots, as counterproductive as it sounds, giving more than you get pays huge dividends in the long run.
In conclusion, here are three things to remember if you are ready to make ‘the shift’:
- Stand behind your rate (if you did your research and this is where you landed, you are worth it)
- Stop thinking of clients as a paycheck, they are a partnership
- Start talking about your business more, it solidifies it and you will notice a shift in how you manage it.