I’ve been there. When I first started Idomeneo I was lucky. I started with a client so although it was a very small amount, at least I did have SOME money coming in. But I toiled away for another year before the next client came along.
Now, I’m definitely not saying you’re going to have to wait a year between clients – I really had no idea what I was doing at the time, my marketing was non-existent, and you would be very generous in calling what I was doing – networking. Basically I was sitting in a coffee shop, working away, and expecting people to just KNOW I had a business.
But, I digress.
So, although I don’t think you’ll have to wait as long as I did between clients – you will probably experience the frustration, and honestly, anger, I did when nothing was happening. Because the truth is, even if you are doing all the right things – it will take time to get the flow where you want it to be.
Now, you should definitely do all the things. Understand your target market, develop marketing pieces that speak directly to them, get in front of them where they are and be as helpful as you can, listen, listen, listen to what they are saying they need – and it to them. Get your business house in order so you are providing consistent, excellent service. Have procedures and processes; do quality control on what you’re putting out there; expand your knowledge – both in your field of expertise and around business in general. Get help – get mentors, join a mastermind, grow a team – or all of the above. Get yourself surrounded by people who can help you keep your spirits up, and level out your mindset. People who know more than you and are willing to share.
I could go on – but you get the idea. Do all the things. But even with all that – it’s not all. There is a secret ingredient that doesn’t get talked about very often. But it turns out, it’s a critical one to your success.
What is it.
You have to stick around. As one of my mentors said to me – the most important thing is to just stay on the field. We tend to overlook the value of sheer time.
The truth of it is that if you can stay at it long enough, eventually you will break through – even if you are like me back in the day, and doing a lousy job of marketing. Staying at it will yield results.
And that advice applies to all sorts of other areas of the business. You launch a product and it doesn’t take off right away. The first inclination is to yank it and fix it. But you haven’t even given it enough time to catch hold, or to find out why it isn’t catching on. Stay on the field, let things play out a bit.
“…As one of my mentors said to me – the most important thing is to just stay on the field.”
And it certainly applied to sales. Once we got that first cluster of clients, they told their friends, who told their friends and on and on. Soon we had a nice referral based business.
Listen, building a business is a long haul exercise. I’m here to tell you, the real secret to building a 6 figure business, sticking around. The secret to building a 7 figure business, sticking around.
Even when there are setbacks (and there will be setbacks), you haven’t failed until you leave the field of play.
Idomeneo stayed on the field through that first recession in 2001. We stayed on the field when the 2008 recession hit our largest client, who then terminated their contract, which was over 50% of our revenue.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You have to learn and adapt. In 2001 we learned we needed to adopt some type of organized marketing and sales method. In 2008 we realized the mistake of having all your client eggs in one basket (I mean really, 50% of the revenue with one client – don’t ever put yourself in that position). And now, we are seeing the value in the coaching division we launched at the end of 2019 – Leader’s Journey.
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Being around, being consistent and steady – once you get that down, people will begin to know you. Word of mouth may not work as fast as we all want it to, but when it does work, it’s magic. Because people (your clients) buy from people they know – or people their people know. So a referral from someone already makes your business a hot pick. You have a leg up – that sales conversation just got 100 times easier.
But it takes time for those potential referral partners to get to know you, and trust you enough to give your name to someone they know – with confidence.
So get out there – show up. And be prepared to stay put – for a while. The longer you stay on the field of play, the more people will begin to seek you out for help.