Perhaps you're familiar with this maxim: "The cobbler's children have no shoes." Many freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners share the cobbler’s problem and leave their businesses barefoot. In this post, I will share some advice for small businesses that has the power to change your life.
Most freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners have the best of intentions and the worst of execution.
Do you ever find yourself making excuses about why you haven't finished an important but non-urgent task or project?
- "If I have any time left over this afternoon, then I really need to write something new for the blog. I haven’t posted in months."
- "Gosh, we really need to update our portfolio. It doesn’t even show our best projects."
- "I've gotten so busy that I can never seem to find the time to check in with old clients. Maybe I find some time to make a few calls next week."
- "I need to raise my rates. How can I tell my clients without sounding greedy? What an awkward situation!"
Putting your business last is a sure-fire way to be in the exact same position next year. But if you truly want to double your income, then you have to change your habits. You must get serious about business development projects because they are to your business what gasoline and pistons are to engines.
But where are you going to find the time? It’s not as though tomorrow will magically come with an extra hour or two, right?
Barring any cosmic shifts and acts of God, the only way to ensure that you do marketing and business development is to do them first. Let me say that in a slightly different way: make marketing and business development your first priority each morning.
The Concept of First Fruits
The best time to begin doing this is when you don't need tons of new business or clients. Consider for a moment the concept of “first fruits.” The ancient Hebrews set aside the first 10% of a new harvest as a religious offering. Why? Because if they had waited to give the last 10%, then they would have had nothing left to give.
Grain, time, and money are funny that way. They have a tendency to disappear.
Have you ever said to yourself, "If there's any time left over today, I'll go to the gym"? I know I have. This thought process and the habit that it conceals didn't lead to a flat stomach and low cholesterol. Neither will a plan to use "leftover" money to save, invest, and give lead to substantial savings account, valuable portfolio, and stacks of Thank You notes from charities.
If you really want to stay fit and save money, then you must set aside the first fruits of your day and paychecks. Dedicate the first 45 to 60 minutes of each workday to important but non-urgent marketing and business development projects.
Write the eBook that you can sell in Amazon’s Kindle marketplace. Write thank you notes to your favorite clients. Tackle that new website in 15-minute increments. Sell some stuff on eBay to pay for those new camera lenses. Try it and you’ll be amazed at what you are able to accomplish in a month—without neglecting your clients.
That’s just the point: you will be driving your business. It won’t be driving you. When you talk to clients about their businesses, your ability to get stuff done will speak for itself. You'll have even more credibility because your business won't be "shoeless."
Next week’s post will be provide a step-by-step plan for those people who need extra “encouragement” to practice first fruits and develop better business habits.