I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently. There are a number of self-styled gurus promising to show fledgling entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses using their expertise and self-development knowledge. The problem is that the advice they offer is suspect at best. I saw one coach telling a group of female business owners who asked how they could get more clients that it wasn’t more clients they needed, it was more self-belief. Another promotes training “guaranteed” to grow your Facebook community, which consists essentially of stating that if you know exactly who your audience is and write a group description targeted to them, they will flock to you in their droves.
Sorry, but no. Just no.
Self-belief is important. It helps you to take vital steps to drive your business forward, like building your network, charging what you’re worth, pitching big clients and approaching high profile partners. Self-belief is valuable for what it enables you to do, not purely for its own sake. Similarly, you absolutely do need to know exactly who your audience is so that you can create the right content on the right channels to attract them. But selling a “build it and they will come” mentality is risky at best.
Then there are people who tell you to go into debt to make your business work and invest every penny you have to show “the universe” that you are serious about what you’re doing. Seriously, no. Stop.
You do have to spend money to make money, there’s no doubt, and you will need to make a serious commitment to your business if you want it to succeed, which often involves investing money. Putting money down also strengthens your resolve – you’re in it now, you have to dedicate yourself to it. But please, please, please do not get yourself into debt you can’t handle or take on unmanageable financial burdens.
Telling people to put themselves – and potentially their families, as well – in positions of financial risk is beyond irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and it reeks to me of someone trying to convince you to spend your last penny on them for their own gains, not yours.
All you need is a business plan
You do need to love your business. You need passion and purpose behind what you do. Your confidence and self-belief will be battered and stretched to the limit, and you will need to be able to maintain your dedication to your vision and your faith in yourself. You will need to be willing to leave a certain amount up to whatever forces you believe govern your life – fate, the universe, god or just the random flow of life – because you can’t control everything. But you will also need to put in some serious planning, strategising and old-fashioned elbow grease to work on the things you can control.
Self-development certainly has a place in the entrepreneurial process. You will have to deal with so many knock-backs and set-backs and meltdowns and about-turns that learning about yourself, your mind and your relationships and how to manage all those things will be incredibly valuable to you.
There is also absolutely no doubt that your mindset massively influences the way you do business and therefore how successful you will be. But to suggest that’s all there is to running a successful business is nonsense. If that were the case, only highly developed people with strong and powerful mindsets would be successful. And I refer you to Donald Trump.
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
You should work with a coach. They will be invaluable in giving you guidance, tools and accountability to pursue success. But, for the love of the almighty universe, make sure you work with one who can give you practical business advice. Work with someone who knows genuine, actionable ways to pursue new clients, and that getting clear on who your audience is will be a good place to start. Find a coach who can talk to you about the ways that you can build a social media community, and whether you need one. Look for someone who will help you identify the steps that you need to take to move your business forward, and then work with you on an action plan to make them happen.
Do not, no matter how beautiful the pool looks that they’re sat by in their Instagram post, work with someone who tells you to go into debt up to your eyeballs and then just think positive thoughts until the life of your dreams falls into your lap. Love yourself, love your business, believe in yourself with all your might. Think positive thoughts, focus on the life of your dreams, then roll up your sleeves and make that life happen.