Think you have what it takes to be an consultant or a coach? I wasn’t so sure I knew when I first started in 1999. All I knew was I desperately wanted to work from home to raise my two sons after my divorce. It took a lot of trial and error to get to the stable and profitable business I am running now. There are some things I learned along the way I wish I knew much earlier in the game.
One thing I learned is that writing is a very small part of being a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong. You DO need to know how to write. But your success depends largely on your savvy as a businessperson. How do I know? Because I’ve played it from both sides of the street. And I didn’t begin to enjoy success until I started doing some very distinct things in my business.
Please let me share with you some of the mistakes I made starting out so you can avoid those pitfalls yourself…and catapult to success much faster than it took me.
Mistake #1: Don’t attract new clients
When I first started out in 1999 I had exactly one client. He kept me very busy…for awhile. Then, without warning, he suddenly shifted his business to 100% offline and began using a copywriter with more experience in that area. I floundered for 10 months before I got back on my feet again from that blow.
Solution: NEVER stop marketing yourself. Even if you have a full practice, don’t stop getting the word out. Write articles and press releases. Do interviews whenever possible. Start an ezine and/or a blog so your name is always out there. Don’t get caught flat-footed.
Mistake #2: Don’t effectively manage your clients
At first I was so grateful to have any clients that I let them call all the shots – regardless of what was in my best interest. It took me a long time to realize every client is not a match for me. Sometimes they were unreasonable in deadlines. Other times they would call me at all hours…including 6 a.m. and even on the weekends. (Until I learned to communicate better and eventually even fired a few clients!) Bottom line is you can never have enough communication.
Solution: Have the client fill out a detailed questionnaire to open up lines of communication or have a long phone interview (which you record). Get a feel for his or her expectations. Add an extra cushion to your deadline. If possible, get a gatekeeper (assistant) to set up a schedule so you can focus on what you do best – writing.
Mistake #3: Poor time management
Eager to please, I often did not give myself enough lead time for an assignment. I’d say, “I’ll do it!” before I looked at the reality of my schedule. So I’d have to pull all-nighters or miss important family events. I was incredibly stressed and not a lot of fun to be around.
Solution: Plan your daily schedule BEFORE you go to bed at night. Turn off email until you’ve made some headway with your copy. And use a kitchen timer to work in increments of 35 minutes (studies show after that frame your mind craves distraction). When the ding goes off, get up, stretch and clear your head.
Mistake #4: Not getting paid enough
Face it…in your business you do a lot more work than most people realize. You have to do deep research in your industry, around your competition, and with your own target market. You have to attract leads. Then you have to write powerful copy that crawls inside the head of the prospect and leads them to a specific action. You should get paid what you are really worth – no exceptions.
Solution: Value yourself enough to get paid what you’re worth.
Mistake #5: Don’t invest in yourself
I have read the classic “Think and Grow Rich” 16 times. Every time I read it, I learn something new. I have watched the motivational movie “The Secret” 6 times to date. I go to seminars (even when I’ve heard the speakers before). Because I learn something new every time. I have a huge marketing library of books, binders, home study courses, CDs, DVDs, MP3s and I listen to them over and over. Again, every time I go through the material, whether it’s new or old, I learn something new.
Successful people in all walks of life invest in themselves. It’s one of the keys that separates them from the less successful. (Trust me, at times it hurt to part with the massive amounts of cash I’ve laid out for this education. But the payoff happens every time. Just do it.)
Solution: If you’re looking to attract more money into your business, start by investing in yourself. Think LONG TERM. As the old adage says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
Author Resource -> Copywriting guru Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero has been helping entrepreneurs and copywriters get their marketing messages razor sharp since 1999.