You now have some momentum on your side as you’re seeing revenue come in and you’re working with paying clients.
You enjoy the work you do with clients, but they are not always the best clients to work with. Your business still feels a lot like ‘trial and error’.
You’re starting to get a feel for the type of clients best suited to work with you and have a better understanding of who you want to work with, and what your ideal clients need.
Despite having the “know how” from the courses and programs you’ve taken, the intense pressure and the long hours you’ve put in to gain traction, is not stacking up to the progress you’re seeing yourself make.
Even though you may be able to pay your bills and sustain yourself, sales are sporadic. It’s not enough to be hugely profitable. You still feel like you’re just trying to survive, making a wage trading time for money.
The business is encountering a lot of constraints on time and money, and you may be starting to realise that you need to be more intentional about designing a business that isn’t going to keep you on the hamster wheel forever.
You may be looking for better strategies to help you get to where you want to go now that your offering, audience and business model has firmly been validated.
Despite the intense pressure and long hours, there’s an underlying sense of optimism and excitement when you have paying clients, and an idea of what the future might hold.
Common Questions At This Stage
- How can I differentiate myself to stand out?
- Where can I find more qualified leads?
- How can I convert more leads to clients?
- What marketing channel should I use to grow my business?
If any of this sounds like where you’re at, then pay attention to what you need to focus on below in order to advance your business to the next stage.
This stage is all about refining your sales and marketing.
You will be stuck in this stage for too long if you don’t focus your mental, creative and physical energy towards improving your sales and marketing.
You need to find a way to get yourself, your message and your offering in front of people, so they can talk about it, share it and ultimately buy from you.
The key system to implement in this stage is your external communications system for building awareness in the market, attracting your ideal audience and converting prospects into clients.
The key skills you need to level up in Stage 3:
- Writing and/or Speaking
- Educating / Teaching
- Project Management
If you don’t develop and level up your communication skills, you will get run over by people who are savvier at the game of demand generation and influence than you.
It is so easy for ANYONE to start an online business now.
The internet and technology has created a level playing field in the business world, while at the same time it also created an uneven playing field that is tilted steeply towards the best marketers.
You will not safely and securely graduate out of this stage until you have a consistent stream of quality prospects and clients coming into your business.
Pitfalls To Avoid ⛔️
Overwhelm of owning a business and quitting
The optimism and excitement that you feel in the beginning can quickly turn into overwhelm as the reality of having an actual business and serving clients can cause you to throw in the towel.
At this stage you’re wearing 17 different hats and juggling lots of new tasks that you may not be naturally good at, nor enjoy.
This is the reason why developing your project management skills is important in this stage to ensure you’re completing the right projects and getting the right things done to make progress.
Until you have more revenue coming in to hire a team, overwhelm is something you have to learn to cope with.
Working long hours all the time can lead to heightened emotions, decision fatigue and stress. The mounting stress may lead you to start doubting that things will ever change.
Loneliness and isolation
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can rear their heads, especially if you spend your days behind a computer screen without social interactions.
This is one of the pitfalls you’ll find yourself in if you’ve neglected to do the work in Stage 1 to develop a habit of surrounding yourself with the right people.
Some things you might hear yourself say:
- Am I really cut out for this?
- How can I possibly get ahead when I’m buried under so many menial tasks?
- When is my partner going to ask me to ‘go back to a job’?
Habits To Develop 🕰
Positive mindset and positive self talk
Like I mentioned in Stage 1, everything in life starts with your mindset and your perspective. Your key survival tool in this stage is your ability to stay positive.
None of us start out in business knowing what kind of mountain we are really climbing until we start encountering all kinds of obstacles in our journey that stand between us and our dreams.
Be mindful of the negative self talk that can invade your head.
Your project management skills are further built from the self awareness, self evaluation and personal management skills you’ve developed in Stage 1.
In order to effectively manage all the projects and tasks you have on your plate, you need to know where your skill level is at for all the different tasks you’re trying to do and the resources you can deploy to help you complete those projects.
Then you need to develop the habit of reviewing what’s working, what’s not working, so you can refine and do more of what works and let go of what doesn’t work to move your business forward.
Rest and recover
Because this is the stage where people start to burn out from overworking and overexerting themselves, you need to build in regular rest days on your calendar to give yourself time to recuperate and recover.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you allow yourself to rest and recover, the better you perform in your business because your mind is clearer, you can make better decisions and you’ll be able to stay in business for longer. Business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Primary Focus in Stage 3: Refine & Amplify 🔍
Establish your external communications system.
Develop the skills you need to improve your ability to communicate your message and stay productive:
- Writing and/or Speaking
- Educating / Teaching
- Project Management
If you don’t refine your audience, messaging and offering at this stage, then it will be difficult to amplify the effectiveness of your marketing. You will get stuck in this stage if your marketing doesn’t land with anyone.
It may take you a while to really hone in on your audience, messaging and offering. This is not easy work to do at all so give yourself grace and patience as you work on tweaking and refining things.
Remember that each stage is built on top of the other. If your systems aren’t clearly established and properly implemented, everything after it will eventually falter.