Does your business struggle because you shoot yourself in the foot?

I’ve owned my business for several years and I’ve heard all of the stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve heard explanations as to why some business owners believe they are successful, and I’ve heard just as many explanations why others believe they aren’t successful. Especially given the ups and downs of the last few years, comments regarding the economy and its impact on business were certainly the norm.

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I do believe I have been fortunate to experience continued growth through the eight years I’ve been in business, although fear of the ball dropping has always been present. As a way of managing my own anxiety, I wondered if there was a pattern in the type of explanations and rationale that people use. When we hit the recession, people would ask me all the time, “Well, how is business?” I would smile and say it was going very well. The typical response was, “Well, of course it is. Look at all the struggling businesses; obviously they’d need a coach. So naturally your business is doing well.” The first time I heard that, I was struck. But after hearing it repeatedly, I sort of believed it. Then I ran into a few other coaches and assumed their businesses would be doing just as well. Instead, they commented that the economy had made things difficult for businesses and since coaching was seen as a luxury, fewer people were hiring them. I understood that, too, that coaching could be considered a luxury expense, and I wondered how I’d be impacted.

I really couldn’t make heads or tails out of it and just came to terms with the idea that we create our own results. I’m a big advocate of just putting my head down and doing the work. Never mind what everyone thinks or says; I just keep plugging along. But even now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, I still hear the explanations and complaints. In particular, I belong to a speakers’ association. One man commented that, as a professional, he refuses to speak for free. In the second breath he then commented that he can’t get people to attend his cheap webinar. He complained about the people in Florida and then asked me to get him an opportunity to speak to a civic organization, but he wanted me to ensure he would get paid.

I scratched my head, as I often do. If your business is down, then you need more exposure. You need to fill your pipeline. In order to create buzz, that might mean speaking pro bono, as a way to build goodwill and show value that will ultimately lead to more business. Feeling entitled, complaining about other people, and demanding that others assist you is a sure-fire way to diminish your pipeline. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, because you’ve painted yourself into a corner!

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