Improve your public speaking skills.
We’ve all been doing it since we had to give book reports in the third grade, but public speaking still ranks at the top of nearly every list of “most common fears.” I’m not sure what it is that terrifies us so much, but it often tops things like “fear of dying.” As Jerry Seinfeld once said, this means that if you’re going to a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” Public speaking is one of the best ways to build your business. There are countless networking groups, business and civic associations, conferences and even schools that would welcome your expertise. Whether you are giving a sales presentation to a potential client, introducing your business to a local leads group or sharing an idea to help others build their business, you are establishing yourself as an authority and professional in your field—and if you do it enough, not only can you gain new clients and build your business, but you may become good enough that they’ll actually pay you to talk about what you do. If you aren’t sure what you need help with or how to improve your skills, find a local Toastmasters’ group. They’ve been helping people improve their speaking skills for nearly 90 years.
Ok, I admit it. I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon in the last month or so. And can I tell you I have really felt the effects of it? (We’ll talk about why in another post.) New content gives people (meaning potential customers or potential referrers) a reason to visit your site regularly. And if they’re visiting your site regularly, they’re going to remember you—and when they need your services, they’ll know who you are. Also, if you’re blogging regularly, your readers have something to share via their social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn—and so do you. Blogging regularly requires you to exercise your creativity, stay on top of your industry and gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise.
Create a focus for your business.
Do you ever feel like you’re wandering in the business wilderness? You know what you’re good at but you’re not really sure how it translates into customers and dollars? I know that feeling, too. Take a time out if you need to and figure out where you want to go. Sometimes our business can be led in directions we really didn’t intend for it to go. When you discover that is happening to you, you need to step back and decide if that’s really where you want it to go. If it’s not, it’s up to you to figure out where it is you want to go and create a plan to take it in that direction. This may require the help of a business coach, a mastermind group or some additional training. But if that’s what you need to achieve the success you’re seeking, it will be worth every dollar and hour you invest getting it there. Allowing others to dictate the direction of your business will eventually lead to dissatisfaction and then failure. Taking charge of your own future is empowering and builds your confidence, which will show through in what you do and lead you down the road to success.
Get out of the office and meet people.
Running an online business and working in the virtual world is great, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you need to ditch the fuzzy slippers and get out from behind your computer every now and then. Online business-building and networking groups can expose you to new ideas and to clients who live outside your zip code. In-person networking groups will help you meet real people and allow them to meet you. You can build relationships that will be both professional and personal, create a support group (being a solo entrepreneur can be very isolating and lonely) or mastermind group. Getting out of the office can also lead to those speaking opportunities and to business with people who like to do business with people they know. Small business is still personal—it’s still about relationships; expanding your business beyond the virtual can open up a whole world of opportunity for you.
Get a life.
It’s good to be passionate about your business. It’s good to love what you do so much that you’d do it 24 hours a day. Working at your business 24 hours a day isn’t good. Your life needs balance. You need to get out from behind the desk or the camera or the kitchen. You need to have relationships that have nothing to do with what you do for a living. You need to expand your horizons, have new experiences, do something creative, develop a hobby. All of these things won’t just build you a better business, they’ll make you a better person. It really is true: “All work and no play does make Johnny a dull boy.” If you’ve been working so long and so hard that you can’t think of anything to do that isn’t business related, start by just putting on your shoes and going out for a walk. Pay close attention to your surroundings and make note of what catches your attention, whether it’s an art gallery you haven’t been in before, a new restaurant or a beautiful scenic view—and then go check it out.