Accountability Works turns 4 in September and I’m blown away with how far we’ve come. You’ve been part of that journey and I’m so grateful. Looking back, there are a few things that seem obvious now that I wish I’d realized a lot sooner. If you are just starting out, thinking about starting a businss, or maybe you’ve already taken the plunge into entrepreneurship but things aren’t moving as fast as you’d like, this list is for you.
#1 Ask For Feedback
If you are just getting started in your business make sure you take the time to vet and validate your idea. This also goes for a new product offering or course. This was a really hard step for me to take in the beginning because my business felt very personal to me. I didn’t want anyone to dissuade me or tell me that my idea wasn’t good. This actually held me back because there were people in my network that had great insight and valuable feedback for me. Knowing what I know now, I’d be taking people to lunch, calling them up on the phone, or emailing them to discuss my idea and ask for their input. What I did do, which was a major breakthrough for me when I got started, was reach out to 20 people that I knew and I asked them to fill out a 5 question survey about my business. I got so much insight by just asking them to answer my 5 most pressing questions about my new venture. The most important being the suggestion to run my accountability groups remotely. I was in negotiation on a physical space because up until that point I led all my groups in person. That suggestion got me up and running faster and at a lower cost.
Now you might think that the business you are starting has been done by many before you so you really don’t need to vet or validate it but asking a group of people that you respect and admire for feedback about your new venture puts them in a position to help you. Not everyone on that list became an advocate for my business but many of them referred me business or became clients themselves. Getting feedback is a way to ask for and receive help and that is a very good thing when you are getting your business off the ground.
#2 Know How Much You Already Have
Early on in my business I got obsessed with growing my list of contacts. I spent hours and hours reading blog posts and taking courses on how to market my business online. Finally, I did something smart and hired a coach. She told me to enroll one group. Just one. I was focused on how to grow my empire when I hadn’t put down a single brick! When she gave me the assignment to enroll one group I got my head out of the clouds and enrolled it that week. I had been so focused on growing my list that I’d forgotten I had a list! It was sitting on my computer with no love. I sent my first email out to 125 people. I didn’t have a fancy header and my website was 3 pages and very simple. I enrolled my first group from that email. Plus, I got a really positive response which encouraged me. Within that first year my list hardly grew (despite my efforts) but my groups did. I went from 1, to 2, and then 4, and finally hit my goal of 8. It turned out that a list of less than 200 people that knew and appreciated my work was all I needed to fill my slots and get my business profitable. I needed to work with what I had in order to learn what people wanted to know from me and how I could help them.
#3 Let Go of Comparison
This is a tough one because it can creep in without you noticing it. You can start out by wanting to learn how to do something and then by watching someone else do it really well it makes you feel overwhelmed and unable to catch up. When I started my business I was looking up to people like Danielle Laporte, Marie Forleo, and Chris Guillebeau as my role models and teachers for what an online business looked like. They had great websites, live events, and were offering people like me so much value. I spent way too much time trying to emulate others rather than listening to the people that were working with me. It would take some time for me to realize that the people that were teaching me the most were not these big influencers but my actual clients. These days I make a conscious effort to keep my head down and focus on the next step forward. If one of my role models or business buddies has a big win or success to share I give them a virtual high five and get back to work. It’s good to have people to look up to but when it crosses over into making you feel insignificant, you know you are putting your energy in the wrong place and it’s time to redirect.
I would love to hear if any of these resonate with you. Are you hesitant to reach out to your network and talk to them about your business? Do you feel like you don’t have enough people on your list or in your database but even so you aren’t actively reaching out to the ones that are? Are you comparing yourself to other businesses that are a lot further along in their journey than yours?
Remember, the more you ask, share, and take action, the faster your business will grow!