To make your business profitable, you must have two critical things in place. The first is a business model that adds up. In other words, what you offer and how you offer it will generate the amount of money you need, minus all your expenses. Your business plan and projected financial statements prove that your plan will take you where you want to go.
The second critical thing you must have is a creative marketing strategy that is comprehensive and hits your target market. As Ali Brown and many others have said, you can be the best at what you do in the whole wide world, but if you can't market yourself you will go broke. You have to master marketing even more than you master your expertise.
If you have these two in place and you are faithfully working them, wonderful things are sure to happen. And when they don't happen, a third thing is coming into play, something I often see in the bright, capable solo professionals I work with. That third thing is you – the resistances, denials, limiting beliefs and energetic blocks you hold that keep you from fully implementing your biz model and your marketing strategy. These are the inner blocks that are keeping you from being profitable. In other words, if it isn't a bad business plan or a weak marketing strategy, the problem is right within you!
I often tell budding entrepreneurs and solo professionals that the best way to engage in a rigorous path of self-growth is to open your own business. It will push every button you have, and challenge you to develop yourself both personally and in business skills. It takes a courageous combination of inner work and outer work (skill building) to support fantastic success in business.
A mathematician might say that my formula for success is P + BP + MS + RIB = DCT. That translates to passion plus business planning, plus marketing strategy plus removing inner blocks equals dreams come true. It is a formula that works every time. Find the weak link, fix it, and you are on your way.
Solo professionals must have a true passion for what they offer. Working on your own requires high energy, so if you are not enthusiastic about what you do, forget about it! You will more than likely burn out before you get where you want to go. So, that P in the formula is critical.
However, you can't build a business on passion alone – you have to know and work your business plan. What is your model of doing business? How much income is it realistic to think you will generate? How do you measure that? What is your overhead, or operating cost? If you don't watch the money in and money out, your overhead costs can go out the roof very quickly.
Marketing strategy is the formula's next part. Are your actions gaining you top of mind awareness with your target market? Are you getting a return on investment with marketing, publicity, events, social media, and advertising? A plan will keep you on track, marketing in a consistent manner rather than piecemeal.
If you have those pieces done well and in place and your business is not creating DCT (dreams come true) then the place to look is RIB (removing inner blocks). Blocks show up in dozens of ways, but the bottom line is fear. Fear is behind every excuse and every failure to implement. Fear creates dark and murky underplaces, which show up as resistance, avoidance, passivity, or denial. How do these show up? Here are a few things to check.
1) Look at your to-do list, and put a star beside anything that has been on your list longer than a week. You are avoiding the starred items, and that's a good sign of an inner block.
2) Look at your calendar and find the last time you carved out at least two days for a personal retreat. Never? Three months or longer? You have an inner block about working on your business versus in your business. There's probably also a block about control and delegating.
There are dozens of others ways to look for blocks. The point is, a willingness to look combined with a willingness to change will serve you over and over again, both in business and personal life. I have a great deal of respect for solo professionals who are willing to do that. They grow both inside and out, and they take off in their businesses.
(c) Sue Painter