How do you work through anxiety (and accompanying self-doubt and fear of failure) to start a business?

I’m sure you recognise the feeling.

Paralysed with anxiety.

Frozen with doubt.

Your stomach rolls, you feel nauseous and your palms go sweaty.

Because the thought of starting a business can be terrifying.

It doesn’t have to be like that though.

You can figure out the path you want to take, ahead of time.

You can learn where to find your clients, and understand what they’re looking for.

You can look beyond whatever is holding you back and take steps to move forwards.

Because if you plan it out, if you understand the way, if you have a roadmap – and then you take it one small step at a time, then whatever it is that you’re afraid of now will seem completely insignificant when you look back in a few months time.

And if you’d like to know what that roadmap could look like, check out my “Hacker’s Guide to Quitting your Job

I have an idea that could make me money but I don’t know where to start

So you’ve got an idea.

You think there’s a market for your idea.

You think that people will pay for it.

But you don’t know what to do next.

You need to find a way to make this idea a reality.

You need to find a way to make it happen without wasting a huge amount of time or money that you don’t have.

You need to reduce the risk.

To be brutally frank, you’re probably starting from the wrong place.

The idea might be amazing.

The idea might change the world.

The idea might be the greatest idea anyone has ever had.

But if people won’t pay for it, it’s worthless.

You need to start with an audience. You need to pick a niche.

Who are you going to target? Who do you know? Who can you get in front of?

This is important, because it then leads you on to the rest of the process. For example, poor people are generally a bad market to get into. It’s tough, but they necessarily have to look after every penny. They will ring you up for help and support, because they have nowhere else to turn to.

It’s actually easier to raise your prices and sell to the rich. Because they will just hand over money to make their problems go away.

And the more focussed your target audience, the closer you can understand those problems and the easier it will become to get them to pay you.

So don’t start with an idea.

Start with an audience.

One year into starting a new business? Tips for growing growing clients within a niche?

If you work within quite a narrow niche, it can often look quite difficult to find new clients.

Especially if what you do is quite technical.

Those of us who work in that space tend to be quite detail orientated and often struggle with marketing, networking and finding clients.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, putting a process, a system, in place can actually make it quite easy.

First thing you need to know is who are your clients? And why would they hire you? The narrower you make this, the more focussed your niche, the easier the rest of the process becomes.

Next step is to figure out where they hang out – is it offline or online? If it’s offline, how can you get an invite to those events? If it’s online, can you subscribe or join to those places?

Can you get niche-focused testimonials and case studies from your existing clients? Can you describe how you solved their problems in their own words?

Then, go to the places they hang out, listen to what they are saying and if they have a problem, talk about how you solved something similar for one of your existing clients. Point them at your testimonials or case studies.

It will take some time, but you will soon be noticed and become known as the expert in your field – at which point people will start coming to you for help.

The words you hate to hear: “Sure, I’ll keep you in mind”

Have you ever had someone say to you “sure, I’ll keep you in mind” and then nothing comes of it?

If it happens once or twice, then that’s fair enough. 

But when it happens again and again and again, you start to lose faith in yourself. 

Is there actually any demand for this?

Why don’t people realise that they need me?

How do I convince people that they actually have a problem that I can solve?

In an ideal world, these people would see the problems that they have and would come to you. 

They would be searching you out. 

You’re an expert in your field – they need the help of an expert – so you’re the one they go to. 

The answer is to meet people where they are now. 

You’re starting too far along the journey. 

It’s known as the Curse of Knowledge

Because you’re an expert, you know the issues they’re going to run into long before they realise they have them. 

You’re screaming at them “you need to fix this now and it will help you so much in the future“. And they’re just not listening, because that future isn’t on their radar. 

So you have to educate them. 

Lay out the roadmap.

  • Show them that you understand where they are now. 
  • Show them that you know where they want to go.
  • Show them that there are pitfalls ahead.
  • Describe how to avoid those pitfalls. 

Because you need to take them on a journey. 

That’s what a funnel is for. 

To see an example of a simple sales and marketing funnel – with information on how to implement it, check out the ClientRobot Funnel Blueprint

How do I start an online business

If you’re wondering what it would take for you to start an online business, I can tell you – you don’t need coding skills, you don’t need masses of technical expertise.

What you need to do is:

  • Find an audience who has a problem that they are willing to pay money to fix
  • Learn how they talk about their problem, the language that they use and the beliefs that they have
  • Design a plan to get in front of them, so they learn who you are (of course, the ClientRobot Blueprint is an excellent system to use)
  • Talk to them about their problems using their own language
  • Ask them if they’d like any help.

It’s not complex. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a series of simple, easy to follow steps. Get them right and it should all flow, one from the other.

How to keep going even when things aren’t going your way

I really like automation.

It’s something that I enjoy setting up, it’s something that saves me time, it’s something that gives me benefits whilst also using some of my core skills.

But, when things aren’t going your way, automation can also be your enemy.

Because, when things aren’t going your way, they weigh you down. You feel the weight on your shoulders, you feel it within your brain.

That weight, that heaviness; it makes it harder for you to keep going. It means the simple things that you need to be doing, they just don’t get done. The tasks that you need to complete take twice as long.

Because of that, the weight increases. The struggle continues.

The thing is, most of the time, when we feel like this, we don’t actually need a solution. We don’t need a way out.

We just need to feel like we’re moving forwards.

And that’s why automation can sometimes be your enemy.

That’s why, sometimes, you need to force yourself to do some easy activities.

Track them.

Count them.

Set yourself a simple target.

And then just watch yourself as you hit those targets.

Especially when it comes to bringing new clients into your business.

I’ve got a little something planned about this – how to escape the everyday struggle by setting yourself the right targets.

It’s coming soon…

Does your subconscious hate you?

Do you struggle with impossible deadlines?

Do you find your clients are generally unreasonable?

Do you consistently charge ridiculously low rates?

Do you struggle to make a decent living?

Do you rarely charge what you’re worth?

Do you have cheapskate clients?

Have you failed to grow your business?

Is a full pipeline a pipedream?

Are most of your clients utterly clueless?

Do you struggle to get noticed?

Are your clients often rude or abusive?

Have you gone months without landing a gig?

If the answer to six or more of those questions is “yes” then your subconscious hates you. You need to prove your subconscious wrong, get out of your own way and start attracting better clients.

Do you ever have episodes of crushing self-doubt?

I’m building a funnel for a new product I’m about to launch.

If you’re not aware, a funnel is basically a process, a system, for educating my target market about the service I offer – leading them from “I might have this particular problem“, to “this sounds like it might help“, ultimately ending with “shut up and take my money“.

The thing with this particular funnel is I deliberately barely mention the product until the final stage2. I don’t mention the price till after the final stage. But the funnel is failing just after stage one – I can easily find people who might have the problem, but they’re not coming through to “this might help”.

So my issue is long before the product becomes an issue, even longer before the price becomes an issue.

Yet despite that, my brain is screaming at me. “It’s because you want to charge to much. The product isn’t worth it. You’ll never get anyone to sign up at those prices“.

Know I know the product is worth it. I know that I can get people to sign up at that price. But why is my brain doing this?

It’s because pricing is intrinsically tied in to self-worth. It’s built on layers and layers, years and years of being told how good you are, of being told whether you can do something, of being told if you’re worth it.

Whether that’s being told by your parents, your friends or yourself.

Ultimately, your subconscious brain listens to all these messages and then chooses to act on them. It’s primary role is simple – it’s there to protect you. When someone moves to punch you, you flinch. You don’t think about it – your subconscious just steps in and acts, regardless of how much your conscious brain wants to ignore the punch.

And likewise, when my subconscious sees me setting a price that it believes to be too high, it wants to protect me. By mentally flinching. It’s saying “you’ll be humiliated if you set the price that high, so just back down now before it’s too late”.

Well, screw you subconscious.

I know this product works. I know this system works. I know it’s worth every penny of the investment my clients are going to make in it. If they pay less they won’t be as committed, and if they’re not committed they won’t get the results they need. This product is going to transform people’s lives, and I won’t let some prehistoric part of my brain stop that.

Because, frankly, I’m worth it.

  1. Photo by Marat Gilyadzinov on Unsplash
  2. Quick tip – people don’t care about your product or your service. They only care if you can help them eradicate the problem that they have in their life. So starting your funnel with an in-depth description of your product or service is just going to put people off

How to run a successful Facebook advertising campaign without spending a fortune

Have you ever spent a fortune on a Facebook advertising campaign?

It’s easily done.

Facebook is probably one of the most sophisticated advert delivery platforms around – maybe even the most sophisticated platform around (and don’t forget, it’s not just Facebook, it’s Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger too).

But that sophistication can bring you huge rewards, or massive costs.

Jumping in and naively chucking a load of cash at some boosted posts is not going to help you. Instead, you need to have a strategy for your campaign.

This image shows a small snapshot of a set of campaigns that I’m running for myself (the results are from a few hours in one day).

It shows the “Four Ts” – the four things you have to be doing if you want any chance of getting Facebook adverts to work for you.

Targeting

Never “boost a post”. Never just pick an audience for your advert off the back of an envelope.

More than anything else, choosing your target audience for your advert is the key to success.

Facebook hoovers up a ton of personal and intimate data about you and everyone you know all the time. So let’s use that to good effect – you can build audiences of people and then show your adverts only to them.

So you need to know:

  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • What brands do they like?
  • What interests do they have?
  • What car, phone or clothes do they want?
  • What sports do they follow?

You need to know all this stuff, or you’re just throwing your money away.

Testing

There are four components to a Facebook ad – and one of them is nothing to do with Facebook. You need to have an image or video to catch people’s eyes. If they look at that, then they will probably take the time to read the headline. If they read the headline, they might read the text (the copy). And if they read the text, they might click the ad and end up on your landing page.

All four of these need to be in alignment. But more importantly – because we are dealing with human beings here – you cannot be sure exactly what is going to work.

So when you start a new campaign, you need to be prepared to throw a load of money at testing. A phase where you try out different combinations of images, headlines, copy and landing pages, to see what gets the engagement, what gets you results.

Tracking

This testing process is useless if you can’t measure the results you are getting. If you look back at my screenshot earlier, you can see that I have a number of stages that are being tracked – in effect I have built a marketing funnel. At each stage, I know how many people have arrived there – and just as importantly, I know how much I have spent to get them there.

The final column on that screenshot is “arrived on sales call questionnaire”. This is the last piece of my marketing funnel and means that someone has actually booked a call with me – which is a result. And in this case, it has cost me £3.55 to get that call1.

Transform

People grow tired of adverts. Eventually, you will have shown your ad, several times, to your audience. So you need to shake it up, you need to change things around. Sometimes, this is as easy as switching the images you are using. Sometimes, you might need to change the audience definition.

Facebook uses machine learning to pick out good candidates to show your ad to. As they respond, it learns who to show it to next. Sometimes, it gets “stuck” and can’t figure out good candidates to show the advert to – and you’ll notice your statistics plummeting. If that happens, you’ll need to rebuild your audience so Facebook can reset who it’s targeting.

The Funnel

The final thing, with a Facebook campaign is never, ever point your adverts at your website. It might sound funny, but your headline, your advert, has hooked them in on a particular promise – you can fix the problem that was bugging them at that moment in time. If you send them to your website – it’s not really going to fix things for them.

Instead, you need to send them to a dedicated landing page which focusses purely on that one problem and gives them the solution – either as a free download (in exchange for an email address) or a webinar or other type of training. You have just spent money to grab their attention – don’t waste it by failing to give your audience what they want.

In effect, you are building a marketing funnel – you grab their attention and then lead them through your funnel on a defined, controlled, journey that eventually2 leads them to buy from you.

So that’s the Four Ts of Facebook advertising.

If you’re not sure about any of this marketing funnel stuff, I’ve got a free email course that explains how to build a measurable funnel that can bring predictable, reliable revenue into your business. Just enter your details below to find out more.

Unpredictable Business? Inconsistent Cashflow?





  1. This screenshot shows the stats for half of a single day – so it has cost me £3.55 so far that day to get that call booking. Over the lifetime of this campaign, each sales call has actually ended up costing me about £100. But I wouldn’t know that if I weren’t tracking my figures.
  2. and this can take time – the potential customer needs to learn who you are and has to believe you can help them and trust building can’t be rushed

How do I deal with cheap clients who always pay late?

A common problem when working for yourself – especially in a service business where delivery of the project can take some time – is late payments.

Now there are a number of things going on here and it’s not necessarily going to be what you’re going to want to hear. But, underneath it all, there are two possible reasons that they’re paying late.

Firstly – they simply don’t have the money. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you, they shouldn’t have signed up with you and you should not have accepted them. It’s an easy mistake to make. I’ve got a client right now who owes me thousands, and I keep kicking myself over the situation I’ve put myself in.

Secondly – they don’t trust you to do the job. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you and you failed completely during the earlier stages of your relationship to remind them that the work you are about to embark on is important enough, vital even, to the success of their business.

In both cases it’s your fault.

So now you’ve found yourself in this situation, what do you do to deal with it?

Step 1) Stay in touch. Email and messaging isn’t enough. Schedule a weekly call with the client and keep them up to date on the progress made on the project every week. Just remind them that things are going well. I really don’t like talking to people but this has to be done. If they’re the “don’t have the money” type they will start to feel a bit of pressure to find the cash. If they’re the “don’t trust you” type they will start to understand that you’re actually making progress.

Step 2) Get some help. If things get too bad, ask someone else to get in touch with the client for you. I don’t know why, but having someone else’s voice delivering the message that payment is due makes a real difference. They don’t even need to be some muscly heavy type.

Step 3) Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Be more careful in how you select your clients. Add “guard rails” into your sales process where you inform yourself as to whether these are good clients or not.

Step 4) Give yourself time to find new clients. Make sure you understand what your pipeline looks like – if things are looking good, just feed your marketing activities in the background. But if your pipeline looks a bit empty, in three months time1, now is the time to take action. That way, you aren’t desperate for work the next time a dodgy client shows up and you don’t end up in this situation again.

If you’d like to know more about how to predict your business pipeline so you can take action early, check out my free email course – “Your Two Magic Numbers”. Just fill out the details below to sign up.

Unpredictable Business? Inconsistent Cashflow?

This free email course shows you the two “magic numbers” that add a layer of predictability to your business, so you can understand when to take action, long in advance of it becoming a problem
 




 
  1. Actually I say 3 months time – this time period varies and you need to know how far ahead you need to be looking.