I know that many of us have bootstrapped our businesses. Entrepreneurs are a very DIY kind of crowd. I love our spirit, but there are some areas I feel strongly require expert assistance.
I am on a mission to have more women in business succeed. Not just survive, but actually, have financial power and purposeful impact.
This means that sometimes we have to stop trying to do it all ourselves and get help from the experts.
The problem is that THIS is where people struggle. “Where do I actually need help?” “Where is the right place to invest my money?” “Who can actually help?” “I have been burned by so-called experts, so how do I know who is real?”
I have heard these comments over and over again.
So here are some guidelines from decades of being in business and working with thousands of women in business.
I am going to focus on service businesses because that is my expertise, but many of these principles can apply to any business. The first step is getting more honest about where you are now!
#1 Are you stuck, struggling or running in circles?
If you are moving smoothly and have steady growth in your business, then you probably don't need an expert right now, but if you are stuck, struggling or running in circles, an expert is most likely the only way out.
I have literally watched thousands of women stuck for years. They "hope" they can just figure it out on their own and they lose years of income, stability and success. Sometimes I can have a first session with a new client and clear up years of confusion.
All of these women are smart, knowledgeable and experts in their field, but they just can't step outside of themselves to see their business objectively. This is when it helps to call in the experts.
To clarify, you don't want to call in just any expert. What you DON'T need at this stage is a marketing expert, lead generation expert or a specific service professional. You need a business coach or mentor who knows how to work with a business wholistically.
Having someone who has extensive business experience and can look at your business as a whole will save you massive amounts of wasted money and time.
I would recommend that they have at least 5 years experience in their business and that they have worked with hundreds of women in YOUR INDUSTRY.
You want someone who has extensive experience in your industry. One of the reasons I work only with women in service businesses is because a service business is vastly different than a product business and both are different than a brick-and-mortar business. Applying my techniques and tools to a product business would produce less success. I only want to work with people I have the most impact with, and this is this kind of integrity you want from any expert you work with.
One of the things I commonly hear is how many women have been burned by business coaches and marketing experts. Most of the time this can be avoided by doing some serious investigating.
I often get lumped in with newbie business coaches that have never had actual clients or been operating very long in their business. Having worked with thousands of businesses is a very different level of expertise than having theories or learned techniques about operating in business. Working in corporate or having a long professional career DOES not give you an understanding of how to operate a business, it gives you a piece of that wisdom and is better for a very specific job, not a wholistic one.
Another thing to watch out for is anyone who promises you the world. In fact, if they guarantee you any results, run the other way. There is never a guarantee in business and you want to be sure you are talking to someone who is honest about what they can and can't do for you.
#2 Are you making less than 10k PROFIT per month in your service business?
If you have a service business, you have the potential to make great amounts of profit, but I see so many women wasting their money on "experts" that they don't need. Sometimes women lose their profitability for growth and instead of making more money, they create more complication.
Sometimes business owners don't even know what they are making in profit. If you don't, go look at it, because this figure will tell you what you need to invest in now. Now, let me clarify because this is where figures get tricky. I am not including your wage in this figure, but I am including every single other expense for your business. This includes experts, coaches, support staff, software, offices, operating expenses and computers. Anything besides you that is required to run your business.
I talk to a lot of people every week and I see behind a lot of businesses. There are so-called "millionaires" not making this much profit in their business. Many, many businesses are not making this much profit and so much of this is because they have focused on investing in the wrong things. One of my pet peeves is people selling their services by how much they can make you. Yes, they can help you make six or seven figures, but often times it is with very little profit. I know women making less than six figures but way more in profit than their "millionaire" counterparts.
If you have yet to make a consistent 10k per month of PROFIT in your service business, then here is where you DON'T need assistance:
- You don't need a website, graphic designer or branding expert
- You don't need someone doing your social media
- You don't need a Facebook Ads expert
- You don't need a lead generation expert
- You don't need a VA
- You don't need a copywriter
- You don't need a mastermind or coach that focuses on marketing
- You don't need Clickfunnels, expensive email software or a shopping cart
These have a time and place, but not before you are highly profitable as a service business.
If you are not making at least 10k per month profit in your business, then what you need is to work on the basics!
What do the basics consist of? Having a solid business foundation. Having some business skills especially in the area of sales. You need an expert that can help you in these areas. (See #3 below)
If you are already making 10k per month PROFIT and are ready for the next stage of growth, then you need an expert who knows how to help you leverage your time. (See #5 below)
#3 How solid is your business foundation and how good are your sales skills?
DON'T SKIP OVER THIS POINT!! Most business owners think they are struggling with marketing, but marketing is rarely the issue. Most people have a weak business foundation and they lack good sales skills.
So many women are burning themselves out because they have the false belief that more effort and more marketing will eventually produce success. If you have a broken foundation, your efforts will just lead to burnout, exhaustion or failure.
If you can relate to the following, you need an expert who can help you repair your foundation:
- You don't know how to SPECIFICALLY define your target market (and no, women in business or women who want to lose weight are NOT a target market)
- You have multiple target markets and you are trying to speak to them all
- You spend a lot of time getting people into low-end services and struggle to get them to buy into your highest value service
- You don’t have a clear business model (or know what a business model is ;D )
- Your sales process consists of “hoping” people will sign up online or reach out to you
- Your messaging is not resonating with your target market & you are struggling to get interest
- You spend hours and hours on “content” in the hopes that content will convert into sales
- You are doing too much for very little return
...just to name a few.
Most business challenges can be found in a weak foundation and NO amount of effort will bring success until you repair the foundation.
What makes a solid business foundation?
A good business model that is financially viable. That seems obvious I know, but so many women I talk to have unrealistic goals and unproven business models that will produce burnout before financial success. A good business model takes into account your physical, emotional and mental capacity, the likelihood of people buying into it and an honest look at how you can leverage your time.
Your target market is the single most important part of your business foundation. You whole business model has to be wrapped around your target market. This is where I see people spin in circles for years. If you are still struggling to define a very small and specific target market, this is the best time to call in an expert.
You need someone who can objectively look at your business and help you define your ideal target market. This is definitely one of my areas of genius. I know how to see the sweet spot between a viable target market (financially and emotionally), someone my clients want to serve and a target market that they can have huge impact with. Ideally, you have to find an expert who has worked with a lot of different target markets in your industry, so they know the best way to define it.
Another really important point is that an "expert" knowing how to define a target market is not enough. You also need someone who will teach you how to validate it. I am great at defining target markets, but I still ensure that my clients do extensive validation to prove that yes, in fact, this is the ideal target market. Everything around your business foundation should be tested. The market changes fast and even amazing expertise requires proving.
So what are the components to a solid business foundation? Here are the basics:
- A viable business model
- ONE specifically defined target market that has been validated and tested
- ONE high-value service that has clearly defined stages and results
- ONE sales tool and a mastery of sales skills
- Clear messaging that has been validated and tested
Without these, you don't have a solid business foundation.
Okay, let's quickly talk about sales skills! Part of having a solid foundation is good sales skills, NOT marketing skills.
If you have a solid business foundation + GREAT sales skills, you don't need Marketing.
I know...shocking, right?
Sales skills are NOT writing copy for your website, doing "content", building a funnel, sending emails, etc. These are marketing skills and without sales skills, you will never convert.
Sales skills are things like being able to actually talk to your target market, peak their interest so they will talk to you, get them on the phone and convert them into clients. It isn't about manipulating people, but understanding them so well that you know how to communicate your value and easily sell the impact of what you are offering. It is about serving them, not serving yourself.
Women are actually amazing at sales, but they have lost the art and sold their souls to marketing. Every woman comes into my program hating sales, but leaves loving it.
If you think you have a weak business foundation or struggle to sell your services, this is an area that could use an expert!
#4 How clear is your path to growth?
Being able to see a clear path to growth is really important for success. This doesn't mean everything is crystal clear, but it does mean that you can see a sequence to achieving your end result.
A lot of business owners are flopping around like fish out of water. They don't have clarity on the right next step. They are just doing lots of things and "hoping" that those things will lead to the life and business they want.
If you are not REALLY CLEAR about your path to growth, this is a good time to bring in an expert.
Many business owners are out of sequence and they are applying the wrong solutions to the stage of growth they are in. I can often quickly diagnose the stage business owners are in and know the tools that will bring them accelerated growth.
It isn't rocket science, but you need an expert who understands that there is a sequence and that certain tools are better for certain stages of growth.
Let me give you an example. One of the tools so many people are selling is lead generation. I get messages every single day with people trying to sell me their tool for lead generation. The problem is that they have no idea what stage I am in. They are offering me a blanket solution because this is what they SELL.
If you are in the stage of building a solid foundation (in other words, you don't have one yet), then the tool of lead generation is never going to work for you. To be able to utilise a lead generation tool, you need to know exactly the messaging that will work for your target market. You need a specifically defined target market. You need sales skills so you can convert all the leads you get. You need a viable business model so you don't lose capacity if the tool actually gets you any leads.
I know I keep saying this, but I would also hire an expert that can look at your growth wholistically.
They need to assess exactly what stage you are in and the next 2-3 stages of growth for you and your business. Once someone helps you determine the bigger picture, THEN you can look at hiring experts that are more SPECIFIC to your unique challenge.
If you hire someone who can only see a small piece of your puzzle, they can often steer you in the wrong direction for your overall growth. I have seen this too many times.
#5 Do you know how to BEST leverage your time and scale?
Once you have created a solid foundation, are making a good amount of profit, have mastered sales and can see your path to growth, you can cruise in your business. I would call this cruising period a stability stage. I often advise my clients to have a short period of growth and then a stability stage before they encounter their next stage of growth. It gives you time to master skills, adjust to your new level of growth and really determine what is working and not working in your business. It is also a time to listen to your wise self and not hire as many "experts" or any one at all.
After this stability stage is a really important stage of growth, and that is one where you start to leverage your time and scale your business. Leveraging your time can be done in many ways, but it needs to be done in the right sequence to ensure you stay stable and continue to have steady growth.
If you scale your business in the wrong way, you will go backward not forward.
For instance, leveraging your time by hiring staff is the last way you want to scale. It takes the most amount of money and eats into your profits very quickly. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make and it can destroy your business.
The other way a lot of people try to scale is by doing an online program, hoping they can reach more people and make "passive" income. This usually tanks a great service business. You trade time with your clients for time spent in marketing your program. You have to get 100x more leads through your door to make up the amount of money you had with your one-on-one clients. You take the transformation you have provided clients personally and lose massive amounts of impact. This hurts your reputation and long-term growth. This is not an ideal way to leverage your time or grow your business!
You want to hire an expert to help you look at the best way to leverage YOUR TIME and scale YOUR BUSINESS. Every business is unique and there is no cookie cutter model that will work for you.
Before I help someone scale, I have to assess whether or not they have a solid foundation, how they operate, where their strengths are, what will work best with their market and the best sequence to get long-term growth. In other words, I want to ensure the path that will help them move forward, not backward.
You want to find someone who knows how to scale your type of business and has worked with many others to do it. Scaling a product business is very different than scaling a service business, you want someone who understands this and knows how to navigate the pitfalls you will inevitably encounter at this stage of growth.
To grow and stabilise your service business, you need an expert that will look wholistically at your unique circumstances.
If you are stable in your business or growing slow and steady, you may not need an expert. We all need to go through stages where we are working our business, as I say to my clients, where we are just chopping wood and carrying water.
The key is knowing when it is time to have someone look under the hood of your business and help you with your next move. These tips will help you contemplate your stage of growth and whether or not NOW is the time to call in the experts.
P.S. Want more? Here are a few ways you can access more support around this topic:
1) I have a few great Women in the Business Arena podcast episodes that will shed more light on these topics. EP 79: The Right Way to Grow Your Business, you can find it on any podcast app or here; EP 96: Where To Invest Money in Your Business here; or EP89: How and When Do We Delegate in Our Business? here.
2) Join my Facebook group Women in the Business Arena to connect with amazing women learning to grow their businesses in a more stable and authentic way.
3) If you are a woman in a service business and KNOW you need someone to help you assess your next stage of growth or determine what is getting in the way of more success, message me and I can steer you in the right direction.