Francine woke before her alarm clock once again because her mind could not stop thinking about her business. As was her habit, she needed to journal her ideas before they escaped. She couldn’t sleep anyway, so why not?
Francine loved to write and decided she would be a content writer for small business owners who didn’t like writing so much. Her problem was that she couldn’t seem to get clients. When she would wake up early in the morning, she’d write down her ideas. For some reason, when she tried to execute her new ideas, she would quickly get discouraged, stop and move on to a new idea. It wasn’t just that she seemed to wander from idea to idea; but she tended to lose focus on exactly what she wanted to do; how much she wanted to charge her would-be clients; and how her work could add value to others.
In fact, after her early morning wake-up, Francine would sit in front of her computer surfing the internet, posting on Facebook, play video games and essentially waste away most of her day. Francine didn’t really need the money. Her husband, Jack, did okay as a banker in their community bank. It wasn’t about the money for Francine. She wanted to make a difference. She wanted to have a career of her own. She saw how Jack seemed to love his work and seemed engaged in his job, why couldn’t she do the same with her writing business?
At dinner that evening, Francine shared her discouragement with her husband, Jack, “I just want what you have. I want to do something that I feel is making a difference.”
Jack chewed a mouthful of pork chop, took a gulp of water and smiled, “Why don’t you get a job?”
Francine could feel the resistance well up in her, “I don’t want a job. I want to write. No one will hire me as a writer without prior experience.”
Unaware that he was already on shaky ground, Jack offered, “If you can’t get a job as a writer, how can you convince others to hire you to write for them?”
That was enough to make Francine explode, “I can write, but I don’t have a resume that shows that I can write!”
Jack knew he had touched a nerve, “Sorry, honey. I guess I am thinking like a banker and not a business owner. What struggles have you had getting customers?”
Francine quickly realized she had over reacted to her unsuspecting husband, “I just don’t know what to do each day. I’ve tried to do a few Facebook ads, but I spend money and get no customers. I have a new idea, and then never really see it through. I tend to get distracted a lot in my office with house work and stuff on the internet. I have some networking meetings, but I don’t get many people interested in hiring me.”
“Have you tried to get advice from someone who has succeeded in business?”
“It doesn’t make sense to spend that kind of money, when I’m not sure I even have a business that will work. What if people don’t want professional writers to create content?”
“Maybe I can help. What is your typical day like?”
“I usually wake up early and have some great idea that I think will attract customers. I start writing about it in my journal, but when I try to do the things I have thought about, I seem to run into obstacles and then get distracted with other things.”
Jack was at a loss. He didn’t really have to find customers at his bank. He knew their bank did some marketing, but most of their customers had been with them a long time. Even so, he decided he would give his wife advice, “Why don’t you create a calendar and plan out your day?”
Francine reacted again, “What? Exactly, what am I supposed to plan my day with, if I have no clue what I am supposed to do?”
“Sorry, hon. There is a guy that helps out our marketing department at the bank. I’m not really sure what our marketing department does, but they say that he has really helped them. His name is Coach Russ. I think he is some kind of marketing guru. Maybe he can help you.”
“Thanks, Jack. But I’m pretty sure I can’t afford a marketing guru. And, I don’t think he will help me magically fill up my calendar with tasks that make me more productive.”
“I’ll see what Coach Russ charges for his services. It’s worth a shot, right?”
Francine felt encouraged. Jack tried to be supportive. Who knows? Maybe Coach Russ could help.
The next day, Jack told Francine that Russ doesn’t charge for his initial consultation, but then charges $1,000 per month, if you hire him. He said that you may not be able to afford to hire him full-time, but he’d be glad to talk with you.
Francine decided to take advantage of Russ’s offer to talk, so she set up a meeting with Coach Russ at a local coffee place. She made sure that they would meet during a slow time, so that they wouldn’t have to yell to hear each other speak.
Once they got their drinks and dispensed with the small talk, Francine felt like she needed to take advantage of the free time she had with a “marketing guru”.
Francine opened, “Jack tells me that you were able to help his bank get customers. I was wondering if you can give me a few pointers?”
Russ smiled, “I’d love to help you out, Francine. Tell me how you try to gain customers.”
Francine felt a little embarrassed. She hadn’t really tried ANYTHING. She would passively attend networking groups; announce who she is; and tell people what she does. But she hardly counted her efforts as genuine marketing.
Francine responded, “I really don’t have a whole lot of money; so I don’t do much marketing. When I have tried Facebook ads, or networking groups, I don’t seem to get a response.”
“What do you say at networking groups?”
“I introduce myself and tell people that I write content for business owners.”
“Why should a business owner buy your service?”
Francine seemed a little confused, but answered anyway, “Uh…because they need content on their website.”
“Why do they need content on their website?”
“I suppose because they want to convince people they are an expert and help sell whatever it is they are selling.”
“And… how does good content do that?”
Francine felt a little insulted. Here is a supposed ‘marketing guru’ and he doesn’t know why business owners need good content on their website?
Francine responded, “It helps Search Engines find their websites, and builds website traffic for people who are interested in buying the business’s goods and services.”
“Bingo! So, it sounds like you have a valuable service. Why do you think you are not getting a positive response to your message at networking events and Facebook ads?”
“I’m not sure. Do you know?”
Russ knew their time was short, so he needed to give Francine the answer, “People don’t buy your services, they buy your benefits. It took me three additional questions for you to reveal the value of website content writing. If you make Facebook ad readers and network meeting goers struggle with the value of your service, you will not get an immediate response.”
“Are you saying that if I fix my message to talk about benefits, I will get more customers?”
“Possibly, but I don’t think that’s the only challenge you face.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jack told me that you struggle with focusing on your business when you sit down at your home office desk.”
“I think that’s just because I lack customers. If I had customers, I would be spending my time writing content for them… right?”
“Maybe. Let’s pretend I’m a prospective client of yours. Tell me what you will do for me as a content writer.”
Francine played along, “How many blog posts would you like to publish in a week?”
“I’m not sure. How many should I publish?”
“It depends on how much you can afford.”
“What does it cost for you to write one blog post for me?”
“I charge $35 per hour to write content.”
“How long does it take you to write a blog post?”
“It depends on the length of the post.”
Russ seemed exasperated at this point, “How long should a blog post be?”
“I suppose it should be around 500 words.”
“How much will it cost to write a 500-word blog post.”
“I think I could do it in 2-hours, so it would be $70.”
Russ noticed that their time was running short and he knew Francine would most likely not be able to afford him after this free visit.
Russ offered, “Francine, it sounds like you have a valuable service and that you can offer a lot of benefit to prospective customers. However, you don’t seem to have a lot of the details of your business figured out before you talk with a prospective client. Unlike Jack’s bank, you are a one-person business. This means that you need to master many different aspects of business yourself.”
Russ slid a document across the table that had a circle that was broken up into eight pieces.
“This is my Business Wheel. It is broken up into eight pieces I all spokes. In the case of your content writing business, you need to evaluate how your business is performing on each spoke of this wheel.”
Francine interrupted, “I don’t have a business. How can I rate each spoke of my business that doesn’t exist?”
Russ smiled, “I know that you are starting out in business, but you still need to cover most of these bases. For now, if you simply focus on Operations, Marketing, Sales and Finance, you can do wonders for your business.”
Francine felt discouraged, “I felt like you could point me in the right direction, and you hand me some strange form and ask me to evaluate my business that doesn’t yet exist.”
“Francine, as I asked you to describe your offer to me, you struggled with defining your benefit. When I asked for you to sell me on your service, you struggled with understanding your pricing to the point, I had to ask several questions to understand my value as a client. By going through the Business Wheel tool, you will become aware of aspects of your business that you need to work on; and instead of surfing the internet, you will actively start defining your service, your pricing and what it is that you do; so that you can speak confidently to prospective clients about the benefits of content writing. What do you think?”
“I suppose it couldn’t hurt.”
Russ looked at the clock, “I have to run. Please look at this tool and use it. You can contact me whenever you’d like through email.”
Francine read through Russ’s Business Wheel document and realized that there were several items that she could work on to improve her ability to sell her content writing services. After a few email exchanges with Coach Russ, Francine learned how to define goals and then break up those goals into daily tasks. Week by week, Francine became clearer on her messaging, her pricing and her product to the point that she attracted a few new clients. Once she demonstrated her writing ability, those clients started referring her to other clients.
After a year of slow growth, Francine was making $3,000 per month and decided she could employ Coach Russ part time to help her grow her content writing business. They both continued to use the Business Wheel to create goals, then tasks that translated into weekly time management plans. In 5-years, Francine had a team of writers who were sought out by website developers and business owners to generate amazing website content. Francine had turned her confused daily routine into a REAL business. Francine was making so much money, Jack considered retiring early from his Banker’s position.
As a business coach, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they have always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I urge you to sign up for the free Business Success Wheel exercise below to see how you can grow yourself as a successful business owner.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.
As a long-time small business owner, I know how hard it is to create the business of your dreams while struggling with the financial realities of attracting prospects, converting those prospects into high-paying customers, and making money for you and your family. My biggest mistake in my past was not seeking the advice of wise counsel sooner than I did. I don’t want you to make the same mistake. I help my clients see exactly what they need to work on in their business by doing the Business Wheel Exercise. If you’d like to try it out, sign up to the right. It’s completely free.