In case you haven’t noticed, your business isn’t Forrest Gump. It doesn’t start running and “just keep right on going for no particular reason.”
Don’t get me wrong. It would be amazing if your business threw on jogging pants and a baseball cap and ran all the way to the ocean and back again. But the reality is a teensy bit less impressive than that.
In the real world, your business is more like Homer Simpson. It slumps in its chair. It drools. It just doesn’t get moving the way you want it to. And when your business isn’t moving forward, you’re stuck wondering, “What’s wrong with my business?”
When you don’t know the problem, you can’t start to fix it. And the weeks, months (or years) go by without getting your business off the ground.
So the question is, how do you make your business run a little more like Forrest Gump and a little less like Homer Simpson?
That’s exactly what I’m helping you with today.
Dive into my handy-dandy checklist and discover EXACTLY what’s been keeping you stuck, so you can shift it, and get things moving again (and easier than before).
What’s Keeping You Stuck?
The first step in solving any big problem is to figure out what your problem is. Only then can you solve the problem for good and finally get the traction you want in your business.
Sometimes, figuring out your real problem is easier said than done. That’s why we’re scouring through the most common problems I see business owners facing, so you can see what might be tripping you up.
If you wish business were easier than it is, don’t skim this list. Take the time to read it through and see where you’re really stuck.Click to Tweet“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem, and one minute resolving it.” Einstein
Your Niche Is a Problem If…
Luckily, there are a few telltale signs that indicate your niche is holding your business back. Read on to find out if you need help clarifying your audience, so you can start selling to the people who need you most and will happily hire you.
You believe that “everyone” could use your services
There are two camps business owners fall into.
Camp #1: You (mistakenly) believe that everybody on the planet could benefit from your services. This forces you to water down your copy until it feels so bland and generic that no one will buy from you.
Even if it’s true that you can help everyone, in the internet age, you simply can not market that way and build a business from the ground up.
If you fall into this camp, it’s time to narrow your niche. I’ll be writing more about this in a few weeks, so hang tight!
Camp #2: You have a narrow niche but are hesitant to get specific in your copy, because you’re afraid of turning people off.
When my clients fall into this trap, I love to tell the story of the time I hired a coach who helped women with pelvic pain.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t have pelvic pain! But I resonated with her philosophy and approach to coaching, so I hired her.
My point is, you MUST be specific in order for your perfect prospects to “get” your message. Even when think you’re too specific, you’re not excluding people like you fear. The right people will hire you, even if they don’t fit squarely into your target client description.
You think that doing what you love counts as a niche
I always encourage my clients to do work they’re passionate about, but you have to be careful about “following your passion.”
First, you can’t get paid for everything you’re passionate about. (Sadly, people won’t pay you for watching Netflix all day.) Second, not everything you’re passionate about would be fun to turn into a business. (I love teaching my dog to do tricks and cooking homemade lunches, but have no interest in making either of those into a business. Some things should just be hobbies!)
The trick is to find something you would love to help people with all day long even if you didn’t get paid to, and that would also be something people will pay for. That’s when you’re on the right track.
If you’re not sure if your passion is marketable, test your idea. Start out by offering your services to a few people for free. Then play with a bite-sized offer. Experiment with your idea to make sure you like it before you commit fully.
You can’t communicate the problem you solve
If you can’t concisely describe how you help your people, it’s a sign that you’re niche is squishy.
When your niche is solid, you’re able to put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes, feel what she’s feeling, and think what she’s thinking. You know the words she would use, the things she’s tried, and what she wishes would happen for her in her life.
If you’re describing your process instead of your clients’ desires and pain points, it’s time to revisit your niche and make sure you’re clear on who you’re serving and what they need from you.Click to TweetStruggling in your biz? It could be your niche or pricing or…whoknowswhat? Discover your most pressing problem with tips from Jenny Shih.
Overwhelm Is a Problem If…
Overwhelm is a legitimate issue with business owners. You’re wearing multiple hats, learning 27,463 different things, AND trying to serve your clients.
Although overwhelm is sometimes unavoidable, you don’t want it to become the norm. Read on for signs that overwhelm is holding you back.
You’re throwing spaghetti at the wall or changing tactics on a daily basis
If you’re jumping from big idea to big idea or chasing after new tactics every time you open your laptop, it’s time to reassess your approach.
Scattering your energy is often a symptom of fear. When you don’t stay committed to ONE strategy, you never discover what actually works for you and your business.
The only way to know for sure if something does or doesn’t work is to go “all in,” make sure you’re executing it the right way, and see how it pans out. Doing this well takes time and follow-through.
Your family and friends are worried about you
Have your friends stopped asking you to hang out? Is your partner losing patience when you talk about how much you’re struggling to get clients and make money?
While it’s normal for it to take time to see your business to take off, if struggling has become a way of life—and your family and friends have taken notice—it’s time to shift something.
The solution? You might not want to hear this but…
You need a break!
Downtime helps your brain recharge and also amps up your creativity so you can get back to work feeling renewed. Not to mention, your family will love seeing your face when it’s not behind a computer screen!
You feel like you’re busy working but not seeing results
If you’re rushing through projects, working late nights, or investing in lots of courses and not seeing it pay off, it’s a sure sign that you’re either focused on the wrong things or are working on the right things but doing them in the wrong way.
A few signs that you’re focused on the wrong things include:
- Working exclusively on the backend parts of your business and not putting yourself in front of new prospects
- Focusing on “pro strategies” that are several steps away from you and your business
- Worrying about making everything in your business perfect before you take the next step
But how do you know if you’re working on the right things in the wrong way? That’s definitely trickier and a big reason why my clients hire me to help them with their businesses. That level of personal feedback is invaluable!
To evaluate this in your own business, notice if you’re following a strategy that you read about but aren’t 100% sure how to execute it. For example, maybe you heard “blog weekly” so you write to your list weekly. But do you know exactly what to write about and how it fits into the overall strategy for your business?
That’s just one example in a list of thousands of little things in your business that you’ll want to make sure you’re doing exactly right to get results.
I’ll be sharing tons more overwhelm-busting advice in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
Your Mindset Is a Problem If…
Here’s how to know if your mindset is holding your business back.
You consistently use phrases like, “I can’t,” “I have to,” or “I don’t have enough…”
Pay attention to your thoughts, especially the crappy ones, as you tackle challenges or obstacles.
This sounds simple enough but “catching” your thoughts can be challenging! We often assume that what we’re thinking is true, so we don’t question our thoughts or give them much attention.
But that’s where the trouble comes in. A thought like, “I’ll never get this business off the ground” is similar to computer malware. Even if you don’t realize it’s there, it’s still causing harm on a daily basis, holding you back from taking action, putting yourself out there, and building the successful business you want.
For now, don’t worry about changing your thoughts or judging yourself for having them (we all do!). Simply notice your thoughts with gentle awareness, know they’re trying to keep you safe, put them to the side, and get back to doing your work.
Though if you feel inclined to take things further, I always encourage that! I’m a big fan of Byron Katie’s The Work, the #1 mindset tool I use in my own life.
You compare yourself to others
If you constantly feel like everyone else is further along than you, living a better life, or being more awesome than you overall, I get it. I feel that way, too, a lot. The key is to not let it stop you from doing your thing.
Remember, the internet only gives us part of the story. Blog posts, short videos, Facebook updates, and Tweets show us one side of a scenario.
It’s important to stop the shaming before it spirals into a storm. Again, the answer to this problem is to pay attention. If someone online brings up your shit, then unsubscribe, unfollow, and avoid those people. (It’s why I personally spend very little time on social media!)
Put your focus on what you need to do, and get back to work.
You don’t push yourself past your comfort zone
When you’re facing something new or challenging, like being of service on social media, pitching yourself to bloggers or podcasters, and executing the 100 email strategy, you can get really uncomfortable, really fast.
You see this discomfort as a red flag, and you think that because you’re uncomfortable, you must be doing something wrong.
You think that if you learn more, jump to a totally new strategy, or simply wait for the fear to go away, the discomfort will disappear and you’ll finally be able to do all those things you’ve been putting off.
The truth is… discomfort never goes away—ever!
Discomfort is a part of business, plain and simple. So as long as you’re trying new strategies or reaching for new goals, discomfort will be right there with you. You can’t escape it, you can only learn how to embrace it and deal with it. (And I’ll tell you exactly how to to do that next week.)
Your Website Is a Problem If…
Your website: Every entrepreneur’s favorite distraction!
Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get totally obsessed with your website and avoid doing the things that can move the needle in your business.
Is this you?
You keep waiting to click Publish until your site is perfect
If your “Under Construction” sign has been up so long it’s sprouting weeds, it’s time for a gut check.
Is your website truly not ready? Or do you have it ready to go, but you’re waiting for it to be “perfect”?
News flash: Your website will NEVER be perfect, not ever.
It’s time to call yourself on the BS and hit “publish.”
Then get on with actually building your business, getting clients, and doing your work in the world. That’s what you want to ultimately do anyway, so get started right now.
You update your website copy instead of doing what it takes to get clients
Do you ever notice that when it comes time to do the HARD things in your business, like pitching your services to prospects, shooting a live Facebook video, or setting boundaries, your website suddenly catches your eye?
You feel like NOW is the time to change your tagline, browse new WordPress themes, install a fancy plugin, or check your analytics.
Don’t fall for it!
This is fear’s way of keeping you safely hidden away from your prospects. Because instead of going out and finding clients, you’re stuck on your WordPress dashboard trying to figure out what you did to accidentally make the font on your website 10x smaller.
Fight the urge to make website tweaks and instead get out there, connecting to prospects and establishing yourself as an authority. Client getting activities should always be at the top of your to-do list.
You spy on other people’s websites and second-guess your own
You know how it is. Your curiosity gets the best of you and you start scrolling through your arch nemesis’ website, getting more and more frustrated about how much better she is at explaining her services and making money and being funny and looking gorgeous.
With my clients, I’ve found that when they’re feeling lost or confused about their next steps they check out the competition to “get ideas.”
The problem? They end up feeling worse about themselves.
When you’re not sure what next step to take in your business, there are other options aside from scoping out the competition’s website.
- Journal through your thoughts and fears
- Get outside to clear your head
- Schedule a session with your coach or mentor
- Call a friend and talk about something other than work
Whatever you do, stay away from other people’s websites. It’s not worth it!
Your Pricing Is a Problem If…
You’re afraid you’re charging too much because no one is buying
When you hear crickets, you might assume that your packages are too expensive and that your prices are scaring people away.
While it’s true that many people jump to premium pricing too fast and it dramatically slows down their business, be warned that just because people aren’t buying doesn’t mean that you’re charging too much.
Other factors could be at play.
So before you blame your pricing, do a quick check on the three things above.
You worry that you’re charging too little
If you have the nagging feeling that you’re leaving money on the table or you feel resentful toward your clients, it’s possible that you’re charging too little.
You CAN do this (and your bank account will thank you)!
You don’t know how to communicate the value of your packages
You KNOW that you can help people but you’re struggling to explain your services in a way that your perfect prospects will understand.
Here’s how to fix it.
Start by asking yourself these three questions:
- What problem does my ideal client have?
- What does my idea client want?
- How am I going to help them solve their problem or get what they want?
Don’t just think about the questions. Write out your answers. Brainstorm what your ideal clients really want and look at the world from their perspective.
Something powerful happens when you take time to write out the answers. Major a-ha’s happen, and I see it with my clients all the time.
Answering these questions will help you communicate the value of your offer in a way that will have your prospects scrambling to hire you.
We covered a lot in this post. So here’s what to do next.
Step 1: Review the list above. Choose the top scenario that best describes your biggest business challenge right now.
Step 2: In the comments below, tell me more about your specific challenge, where you’re stuck, and how I can help. I’ll coach you for free right here in the comments!
Step 3: Stay tuned over the coming months, because I’ll be tackling each of these areas one by one in more depth so you can overcome these obstacles once and for all.
Sound good? Leave a comment now and join my email list to stay in the loop.