OK so I know the title of this blog is a bit creepy.
But bare with me.
When I was a youngster the only subject I was really good at and motivated to do well with was Drama. I loved that it was creative, that it wasn’t sitting behind a desk being spoken at by a teacher…but also that it was expansive in terms of the themes and topics we would explore like energy states and power dynamics.
It was the only lesson I looked forward to each week.
And so it became a no brainer for me to stay on after school and do a BTEC in Performing Arts at the schools 6th form…my careers teacher had said A-Levels wouldn’t be for me as I wasn’t “academic”…which is weird seeing as a few years later I did indeed go off to Uni and get a First Class Degree, and later a Masters.
But let’s not go into how my teachers planted those “must do better”and “not quite good enough” seeds of doubt in my mind…instead let me tell you about one of the most important courses of my life.
A 5-day improv project called Blaggers…run by a bunch of awesome actors and comedians, one of whom has just become the first-ever Black Dr Who.
I was 17 or 18 and not as confident as you might think, but something made me want to do it…and one of our first sessions was called,
Learning How to Die
It was about being OK with running out of things to say, looking like an idiot, having to pass the baton to the next actor…and not dying of shame or embarrassment.
This was like improv 101, everything else we did that week was based on that premise…if you wasn’t willing to make a fool of yourself and risk dying, you’d probably not find your comedy gold.
Throughout the week we learned all kinds of drama and comedy games, being an expert in a made-up language, mucking about with accents, learning to make up songs on the spot…it was one of the craziest, most challenging…but most fun weeks of my life.
And so what the heck has this got to do with business?
When’s the last time you tried something in your business knowing it would possibly fail, you might look a bit silly, you would be completely out of your comfort zone?
I see so many business owners not willing to fail, not willing to make mistakes, to look like an idiot (or at least to feel like an idiot) when only 3 people turn up to their webinar or like their social media posts.
Running an online business requires fearless visibility whether what you are putting out there is gold or goes down like a lead balloon. As its that trial and error that helps you to,
A) work out what works for you
B) get rid of the fear of judgement
So what if only 3 people read your blog this week, so what if the programme you launched didn’t sell out first time, so what if theres someone in your circle who does something similar to you and they have better graphics, a better website, and better hair (seriously)
Your ability to get up on stage willing to die, over and over again, is what will ultimately be your superpower. Imagine how much time and energy you would have to work on your business if you wasn’t expelling that energy on second guessing yourself and worrying about judgement.
None of us feel ready, none of us feel good enough…you just have to get out there and do it anyway, whether your audience loves it or not, whether its a full house or just a few regulars.
Maybe I will do a one woman show one day on the trials and tribulations of being an online business owner…and I will do a whole section about asking for the sale…being willing to be told no.
And I could test it out on the streets as I try and drum up trade for the show ha ha….I mean that’s what would be going on in Edinburgh this month right? Actors, comedians, and artists touting their wares all over the city, not knowing if they will be a hit or a flop.
Being a business owner isn’t that dissimilar to being an actor (I should know I lived with a struggling one for many years), it takes
Having a thick skin
Being resilient AND persistent
Having overwhelming optimism
NEVER GIVING UP!!!!
Nobody is ever an overnight success, there is always graft behind the scenes, there are always a million nos before there is ever a resounding yes, and even the most successful people will be able to regale you with embarrassing tails of rejection, mishaps, and mistakes.
So get used to dying…its part and parcel of the journey….and it makes the eventual successes even sweeter when they come.
Julie Creffield is a community engagement specialist and business mentor from East London. She helps small business owners to scale their business by building profitable communities around their venture. She uses her creative background, and 25 years in community development to inspire her clients to step up and get seen.
Join her for her popular 10 day sales challenge which teaches a simple sales and marketing process to get you out of your own way when it comes to generating online sales. A Grand in Your Hand Starts on the 11th September, and there is currently an early bird of just £97…how much money could you make if you had a proper sales process and wasn’t so afraid of people saying NO.
Nobody goes into business to be a salesperson really do they?
We go into business because we have a certain set of skills or expertise that others need, or products and services that fill a gap.
But sadly they do not sell themselves.
So it doesn’t matter how good you are a a coach, an expert, a therapist, an artist, an accountant, a plumber, whatever you do in your busines…if you can’t sell, or more importantly don’t want to sell…then you are blatantly leaving money on the table.
When I set up my plus size fitness business I didn’t know I’d have to do sales…I just thought “what?? of course people will buy from me” and it didn’t take long to realise that beyond the low hanging fruit and my super fans, I’d have to get selling….and fast.
And I ain’t going to lie, for the first few years I hated it as much as the next person.
But then I found my flow, learned the basic principles of selling, and created a super-effective way of driving income when I needed it. I am not going to tell you I love sales now…but let’s just say we have a mutually beneficial agreement in place which seems to be working.
This week I saw two comments which prompted me to write this blog.
“I am sick of being sold to”
This came from a fellow coach, and peer.
And I was baffled. Like I get it when you get bombarded with shit you didn’t sign up for, or someone is deploying super aggressive sales tactics, but it was more a general comment about the amount of sales emails in her inbox.
I get lots of sales emails too…but I did sign up to be on those business owners lists, and I can unsubscribe at any point, so I’m never offended…we get to choose what works for us, we get to set boundaries around what we allow into our world.
You can’t have it both ways…you can’t register for someones freebie in the hope that they will transform your life or your business and NEVER dare mention the products or services that are their bread and butter.
This morning I saw,
“Can I not just outsource my sales???”
And I was like Noooooooooo!!!!
Why would you do that?
I mean of course you can. Nut it will cost you, more than you might think. And I would suggest the people that hate sales the most are the ones that can’t afford to outsource anything, and in my views at most stages of the small business owners journey you HAVE to be head of sales…
A. Because nobody else will do it if you don’t…and your business will fall off a cliff
B. You are the only one who understands the transformation you get for your clients….they need to hear it from you
C. It would look bloody weird if someone else was doing…its an energy thing
So whats the answer?
First its accepting that sales are a part of doing business…get the fuck over it
Then learn some basic tactics and create a strategy…that you follow 80% of the time.
And then finally, and I think this is the MOST important part of it….
Get clear on how much money you want to make and why? What could hitting your sales targets mean for you and your family. What freedom could it give you, what change could it enable…how much easier would like be if you wasn’t stressing about making enough sales each month?
Look…I am a community engagement strategist first, business mentor second and sales and marketing expert third.
My Grand in Your Hand Challenge was born out of a frustration that sooooooo many of my clients were afraid of sales, and didn’t have the first clue about where to start in terms of a strategy.
Sales doesn’t have to be scary, icky or unethical
It can be fun, and creative and collaborative
You don’t have to do it alone.
Join me in September for 10 days of learning, doing and receiving. Learn the strategy I use to make money and test new ideas fast in my business.
Learn the process I use over and over again to grow my business, the process that has helped me to double my income over the last 12 months.
The process that has helped my clients make probably something close to half a million in revenue.
I didn’t set out for it to cause such a stir, but I was frustrated at the lack of voices about the unique set of challenges us single parents have faced…it’s like a double whammy of loneliness…or at least that’s how my initial blog post read.
I sat with it on Friday though, while running my first in-person mastermind session with clients in months…5 to be exact. Something didn’t feel right about the post I had written. There I was with my million lives club mastermind, feeling anything but alone…they had been with me throughout…as had around a thousand of my most active clients from across my business.
It struck me…I was never really alone, a little lonely at times…but alone…NEVER.
The messages of support I got, the care packages, the birthday wishes, the gifts for my 7 year old, the private messages, the ad hoc zoom calls, the planned zoom calls…I was always on a bloody zoom call…but they helped, they really did.
I mean what would I have done without them?
A decade ago I set up a blog because I felt alone, alone in the sport of running. I didn’t feel like there was anyone out there like me, running in a larger body, struggling with all of the feelings about being too slow and too fat…not having the right gear, any idea of how to train…not welcome in the sport.
Finding others like me helped. It helped me feel less alone, and it helped change the way I saw things. I was never not-welcome, the sport just needed an army of folks like me to be a bit more vocal so we could be included more…it just took a bit of persistence and time.
The key to any change really, particularly in terms of business growth.
When lockdown happened I panicked a bit…just a bit…I worried that my business coaching clients would leave…and although some of that would have been about a loss of income, most of it was about the community I had created around me and a fear of losing that.
Selfish as it sounds.
I build communities because I need community. I REALLY need community. I am stronger when I am part of something bigger than me. Knowing my clients are looking for me to hold my shit together and model my style of leadership…keeps me on the straight and narrow.
We were in this together.
We were and we are, even now.
I shared with my clients my strategies for growth, my strategies for time management, I showed them what boundaries looked like, and communicated what I needed and why.
I celebrated wins, I talked about the struggles and we laughed at the lunacy of it all.
I was never lonely though, never…because I knew many of my clients were going through similar challenges, they got it. Juggling multiple priorities, managing their energy and their mental health, having to make decisions on budgets and pricing, and managing their own communities.
The last 6 months have helped me get more clarity about what I want to do with my life and with my business (the good I can do on this earth) than the last 6 years, probably the last 20.
I sometimes have to pinch myself at what a) we have endured and b) what we have achieved…and by we, I mean me and my daughter, but also me and my clients, and me and my wider business buddies too.
We don’t just build tribes so we can tap into an endless supply of paying clients and folks to stroke our egos, we build tribes because collectively we have somewhere to go and we don’t want to go there alone.
We build community around us because we know that makes us stronger, safer and more resilient as business owners. They give us additional resources…information, expertise, support, energy, influence.
Larger audiences, more engaged audiences…and of course active client lists give us better options as business owners….so it’s not all the nice touchy-feely stuff, they make good business sense.
Finding your unique style of Tribe leadership and designing an engagement strategy around that is probably the most sensible thing you can do as a business owner in these uncertain times.
The least sensible thing you can do is go it alone.
I have massive plans for continued growth as we hurtle into the second half of 2020…I have new projects, programmes and services, all with a focus on developing deeper and more meaningful connection with the people around us in our businesses.
Our communities, our client base, but more broadly than that too…I’m talking about all of the various stakeholders in our business eco-system, our part-time staff and suppliers, our joint venture pals, the people we mastermind with, are coached by, and connect with over similar missions…maybe even our competitors.
This is about people. Good people. Business people.
Finding our people, loving on our people, supporting them, and allowing them to support us, creating opportunities to collaborate, cooperate, and coexist as we all grow and move closer towards our collective and individual dreams….and as utopian as this might sound….this is the mission…my mission….and I accept.
Julie Creffield is a community engagement strategist and business mentor, through her various online group programmes and masterminds, and VIP consulting services she helps small business owners, to build profitable and impactful communities for maximum impact and income.
Her signature programme Tribe Builder opens it’s doors again in late September, but if you would like to find out more about how it could help you to build a community of engaged clients then get in touch…via firstname.lastname@example.org, you may even wish to secure a super early bird rate by putting down a deposit now.