Do you ever forget who you work for? It’s easy to do, especially if you’re in business for yourself like I am. You get distracted, fall prey to information overload, or spend too much time critiquing yourself and end up forgetting you’re not your target customer.
The following list of 5 things I keep in mind to stay focused, here’s hoping they will do the same for you!
1. Making money happens when the right people buy.
Bet you thought I was just going to say “when people buy,” but no, that’s not accurate. “People” can buy what you’re selling all day long, but if you have to work too hard for every dollar — either because you’re trying to sell to the wrong people, or you waste time agonizing over how to sell to the right ones (or worst of all, getting upset about how many say “no”) — you aren’t going to make money (that is, be profitable).
Target the right customers, and find a way to persuade them with the least amount of effort on your part. Don’t be afraid to carve out a very narrow niche for yourself either. You can’t please everyone all the time, so don’t try. Please the people you can please with ease, don’t lose sleep over the ones you can’t. End of story.
2. I don’t have to “believe” in a product to sell it.
I used to think I had to believe in a product to sell it. I would want to spend gobs of time trying the product to see whether it would work for me, whether it lived up to its makers’ or sellers’ claims. Only then — I told myself — would I be able to sell it; only then would I feel good about my work.
What a load of self-important nonsense. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you knowingly lie to sell! I’m just saying you aren’t necessarily the target audience all the time. In fact, you’re probably not the target most of the time!
It’s not about whether you like it, would use it, or believe in it, it’s about whether the target audience does. Your job is to listen to the questions they have about your product or service, and then answer those questions. Better yet, describe a problem scenario they might find themselves in, and tell a story about how the product or service is, was, or can be the solution.
Of course if you do have a personal story to tell that’s relatable, in those cases where you are, or were, a member of your target audience, go for it! By all means tell your story! People love stories, and making it personal won’t hurt you as long as your focus is still on how your story can help them.
3. I am my own worst enemy.
For those of us who work in this wonderful world wide web of ideas and technologies that seem to change hourly (and proliferate like ants on an oreo), it’s easy to get bogged down in self-defeating thoughts like:
OMG, what an awesome blog post! I couldn’t possibly write something as good.
How is it that every day seems to get away from me? Who are these people who seem to ‘do it all’ so well?
GAH! Another book/podcast/webinar about how to do this better? I can barely finish the one I started a month ago as it is!
It’s official: I’m the shoemaker’s least-favorite child. I can’t seem to find the time to tend to my own content marketing, so how will clients believe I can help them?
Enough. Shut up. Stop and focus.
Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying you should stop striving to improve your time management, or let yourself off the hook when it comes to learning or marketing your own business. I am saying that every second you spend beating yourself up is time better spent doing those things you’re not doing enough!
Let’s say you’re right. Let’s say you’ve let time get away from you, or have been distracted, or overwhelmed, to the point where your sales are down, or your marketing is suffering. So what? What bad thing could possibly happen if you simply dove in somewhere in the middle and picked something to do each day that you haven’t done enough of lately, and did it? So what if you can’t do it all day-one? At least you’d replace completley unproductive damaging self-talk with productive work! Keep doing that for a few days, a week, a month, and just like eating right or exercising, you’ll see results, but you have to start somewhere!
Just remember, it’s not about what YOU think of you, it’s about what your target audience thinks, and they only know what you tell them. They aren’t sitting there next to you at your desk, looking over your shoulder, watching you stress. They aren’t scolding you for not crafting the most perfect blog post ever, or berating you about your dip in sales either. But guess what else they’re not doing? They’re not patting you on the back for being so hard on yourself. Your customers and prospects want to know what you can do for them. What you’re doing for your business? That’s your business.
4. They’re going to buy from someone, might as well be me.
Let me run you a special: people buy what you’re selling. In my business, it’s content and related marketing services. My target customers need this stuff, badly. If they can’t, or don’t want to create it themselves, they’re going to hire someone to do it for them. Even if they create most of it themselves, they might need to hire someone to proofread it, edit it, or post it to social media. Or maybe they can do all that, but they need help finding ideas to create a new kind of content, it doesn’t really matter, the point is that while I’m sitting here thinking about how I need to “prepare” or “research” more before I can produce something worthwhile, clients are out there hiring other people who are busy producing.
Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying there’s zero value in analysis and planning! If I really thought that, I’d be out of a job because that’s one of the services I’m selling! I’m just saying there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and “analysis paralysis” creates obstacles to success.
The key is deciding how much is enough to get the information you need about your audience and competitors, but not so much that you spend more time learning than selling. You need to do just enough to keep moving forward, as long as you’re open to improving your efforts over time (see #5). Stop worrying about perfection day-one, that is unless you plan to retire day-two!
In short, whether you are looking for customers to buy your product, or clients to buy your services, the reality is the same: If they have a need, they’ll go get it filled by someone else while you’re busy trying to find the perfect way to fill it.
5. Tomorrow is another day.
Scarlett O’Hara was right: Tomorrow is another day. Maybe today didn’t go so well. Maybe loads of people said “no,” and maybe they even said it rudely (shame on them by the way, that’s not about you either). The good news is, you can wake up tomorrow and start fresh.
I really do hate to sound like one of those cute posters you’ve seen, the ones with a kitten on it that say “Hang on baby, Friday’s coming!” I’m serious. There is absolutely no reason you have to wake up tomorrow and do anything exactly the same way you did it today. Unless you are literally constrained by the government in some way, and have to follow orders and protocols, you are in charge of your business.
If you genuinely think you keep hearing “no” because you’re not doing something right, then change it. Do it differently, or add a new approach, and test it against the one you’ve been using. Then measure the effectiveness or rate of return on each (without beating yourself up if it becomes obvious your new way beats your old way by a mile), and do what works without looking back.
You can do this as many times as you like, or not at all. Change for its own sake isn’t necessary either. If you’re happy and achieving your goals doing what you’re doing, good for you! Keep on keepin’on! But if you’re not, just resolve to do things differently tomorrow and call it a day.
The bottom line in all of this is: “It’s not about you.” Who you are, how you feel about yourself or your products, what you wish you were doing, could do better, or could know or plan for before you start doing anything…None of that helps you achieve your primary business goal of making money.
It’s about “them,” that is your customers. What do they want and need? What problems and questions do they have? What answers can you give them?
The best advice I ever got was that success happens when I keep my focus on those things, not on my own navel.
How do you stay focused? Share your tips in the comments below!