In talking to several clients this week, an interesting theme emerged. Some of the concerns I heard go like this:
“If I change my website to my new brand, and away from a dollars-per-hours model, that will commit me to different offerings. What if no one wants them?”
“I’m afraid to hire someone to help me with my workload (even though I know how badly I need it) because taking that step would make me more committed to my business. I’d feel like I couldn’t fail or quit if I wanted to, which is scary.”
Both of these fears are completely understandable. But in order to move forward, to grow your business and create something that provides you a great living, and doesn’t take all your private time, you DO have to make decisions and commit.
So, what’s the option? Live in fear all the time of your decisions? *Yuck*
There is another way.
When you’re a freelancer, when all of your work is short projects, and one-off sessions or a few hours, there’s very little you have to worry about failing at (except getting enough clients, and we’ll talk about that later.)
You’re free to change your message, your specialties, the method that you use when working with clients, and lots more, all at the drop of a hat. Your decisions have little consequence because there’s no long-term commitment.
There’s nothing wrong with this model. Nothing more than there’s anything wrong with someone who wants to continue to date for years instead of getting married, anyway.
But there is a completely different experience awaiting those who are willing to commit.
In order to grow your business, you MUST decide and commit.
You must decide and commit to a brand, a message, a way of working. If you’re smart, you also commit to a target market and a specific transformation that you provide. You commit to providing a certain experience for your clients, and being known for something specific in the marketplace.
Hint: The faster you make decisions as a business owner, the more successful you can be.
Here’s what stops people, even if they don’t know it:
Every decision and commitment brings with it a risk of failure.
Each commitment reflects a decision about you, your business, and the difference that you want to make in the world. What happens with failure is that most people second-guess their decisions, thinking, “I shouldn’t have made that decision because I failed in that regard.”
You can either avoid commitment and walk away from the growth that it brings. Or you could live in fear, beating yourself up for “mistakes” and cower your way through growth.
The third alternative is to embrace failure.
Failure is a part of success. The most successful people are the ones who have failed the most times because they found what didn’t work on the way to what did work. Interestingly, people who hit it out of the park on the first try often fail shortly afterward, because they aren’t sure what contributed to their success, so they try something new or change something, and THEN they fail.
So, how do you embrace failure?
1. Set your business up so that space for failure is built-in.
Every year, when I project what I want my business to make in revenue, I have goals for each project, program, and launch. Historically, there has never been a year when every one of my projects succeeded. EVER. So, to help balance this out, I’ve built in enough projects and enough action that a portion of them can fail and I’ll still have a good year.
2. Have a process to de-construct failure to learn from it.
I debrief every project after I go through it. Now, I do this with my team. But when it was just me, I’d still sit down and ask myself these four questions:
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What do I want to keep if and/or when I do this again?
- What do I want to do differently?
This way, I make sure that I don’t repeat things that worked poorly, just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
3. Begin to celebrate the learnings and growth from failures.
One of the areas in business that I had the biggest learning curve was in hiring a team.
When I started out, one of my challenges was that, as a coach, I could always see the potential in people. That’s a great thing as a coach, but it’s less useful when you’re hiring.
I used to hire people and then expect them to step into the potential that I could see. Many didn’t step into their potential, and these were costly and depressing mistakes.
Now, I hire people who can already do what I need them to do AND have the potential for even more. My team raves about how great it is to be a part of such a wonderful team with co-workers we all love, and it truly is a great work environment. But it was created out of learning from the mistakes, and celebrating that learning so I could grow.
Here’s my invitation: What commitment are YOU willing to make today that will move your business forward? Share with me on Facebook what you’ve decided!