The room is dark, except for the glow of the TV. Business has been a little (maybe a lot) slow. You just can’t cope with the idea of doing some marketing…or paperwork…or reading some business books…or listening to some business podcasts…or following up with clients to ask them, “How’s biz? Let’s brainstorm some ways to help build your business.” I mean, how could you, when you can barely do it for yourself? You’re ti-i-i-ired!
So, you binge-watch your favorite show. And your next favorite show. When it comes time to pay your bills, you wonder how you will, because you’re not making any money.
Turn off the TV and let’s brainstorm some ways to build your business.
What have you done for your business lately?
A few weeks ago, I talked about doing a SWOT analysis for your business. Have you done it? Maybe it’s been awhile, and you need to reassess. I know I do. It’s going to require that you research and understand your industry, your local area, your competitors, and yourself. Yes, that’s a lot of effort when you can hardly get off the couch. Do it anyway. Force of will. You can do it!
Maybe you can’t afford to do Google AdWords or, frankly, any paid advertising. But, do you have a Facebook page or Instagram account? Really, it’s not very expensive to advertise on Facebook and Instagram. Put that in your back pocket for later, maybe. Now, if you can afford it.
Do you have a blog? Do you know things about your industry that you could write about? Are you working on a project that you could post pictures of it in progress? Can you create instructional posts for what you do? Come up with a variety of blog topics. I know I need to.
When you can afford it, look for opportunities to actually advertise. Local newspaper (online, too), magazine? These will nuke a hole in your pocketbook (especially the magazine ad), but if you own a spa or real estate company, an ad in your region’s lifestyle magazine would be a perfect fit.
Can you donate something from your business to a local charity fundraiser? It’ll get the word out there, and probably for very little out-of-pocket to you. Don’t go crazy. Maybe do a one or two of donations a year. See if your local chamber has a silent auction for fundraising.
How is your networking?
Introverts of the world are diving under aforementioned couch. “You mean, I have to go up to someone I don’t even know and say hi?!?” At WordCamp Orange County this year, Gary Johnson from J2 Marketing spoke on “Networking: Learn to Make Yourself Memorable.”
He suggested you not worry so much about yourself, and don’t try to pitch yourself and your business right out of the box. Go up to the person and ask them about themselves. Wait for the person to ask you about you. He described committing to go to a networking event and not talking about himself at all. Mind-blowing. I tried it at my next networking meeting after the camp. It worked! Not my favorite thing, but I thought, I can do this! I’m looking forward to upcoming networking events to develop my skills further.
My local library system has a ton of books on networking. Does yours? YouTube has 13,100,000 videos on Business Networking. The education is out there.
Offer to speak at an event about a facet of your industry
We introverts get catatonic just thinking of publicly speaking, but we are business owners, and we do have to talk to people. It’s a good way to get your name in front of a bunch of people if you can speak on a topic. As I was writing about “Imposter Syndrome,” I thought, huh, this would be a great topic for a business event. I can convert it into a slide show. I’m already familiar with the content. I now have plans to apply to present it.
Read, listen, watch business videos, take a class or two
I do love my mindless TV binge-watching, but that’s not going to help my business much, is it? Okay, “Shark Tank” might help a little. That’s still not going to help my business as much as I need.
I like to do business or tutorial-type books (I don’t read many novels). Lynda.com gives me access to thousands of business courses. Podcasts (or audiobooks) are great while I drive, work out, or take a walk. Magazines are great for winding down at night before you sleep. Take business reading material with you for appointment waits. The “People” magazine on the table across from you doesn’t count.
The opportunities to educate yourself are endless and will only increase your confidence.
Binge-build it, baby
Brainstorm in more detail things you might have come up with in the “Opportunities” part of your SWOT analysis (“Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats”). Pick a winner or two and start researching them.
Are you charging enough? Do you have a solid financial model for your business? Can you afford to be a freelancer, or will that be part of your growth plan? Do you need to get a second job to pay the bills for a bit, or not quit your job in the first place? Do you have a source of potential clients?
Work on your sales and marketing plan. If you don’t know what that entails, learn, because if you are not selling and marketing so you can sell some more, you have no business. You are winging it.
Jayson DeMers, in Entrepreneur Magazine, came up with a fantastic list of 50 Steps Every Entrepreneur Must Take to Build a Business. “Starting a business is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you’ll ever do. The process is simpler than you might imagine, but to try to boil it down to five or 10 steps is an underestimation and an injustice.”
Are you servicing your present clients well enough and addressing all their needs? Are you missing something? Brainstorm ideas for each of your clients. Could you do something better or differently? Take a day or two or more. Write your ideas down. Do your homework. Each of those ideas is a potential revenue stream, clients will be touched that you were thinking of them, and you’ll have an easier time paying your bills after they pay you for implementing your ideas.
Take care of yourself
Yes, it’s important to be working on your business, and as a freelancer, you have to work longer and harder to keep yourself afloat, but rest is essential. Go for a walk or bike ride, sign up for the gym or Zumba, eat better, do something unrelated to your business.
But all the suggestions above really require that you turn off the TV, get up off the couch, possibly get therapy for depression (the mental issues are real), and get to work building your business. Or you will have no business.
It’s going to feel weird to finally turn off the TV and pick up a book or watch business videos on your laptop, but do it. Be binge-building, not binge-watching.