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.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

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. 

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

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.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

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.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

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.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

  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’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

  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 take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

Dealing with rejection

Nobody likes being rejected. 

Whether it’s being turned down for a date, getting overlooked for promotion or failing a job interview, rejection hurts. 

But when it comes to business, rejection is inevitable. 

Unless you successfully win every project you ever quote for, you will occasionally face the disappointment of being turned down. 

(And if you are winning every project, then chances are you’re pricing too low). 

Most businesses have a conversion rate somewhere between 10% and 90%. 

If you’re at the higher end, then don’t dwell on the rejections. 

If you’re at the lower end, then there’s probably some things you need to address, (I can help you with that if you get in touch). 

But for now, let’s concentrate on how to deal with rejection effectively. 

It’s not personal

People aren’t rejecting you; they are rejecting your approach. 

Perhaps you haven’t made the benefits of working with you clear enough.

Maybe you didn’t show how you add value. 

Or perhaps somebody else was just a better fit. 

Don’t take it personally. 

Get feedback

If your proposals are getting turned down regularly, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. 

Not everyone will respond, but if you ask politely, some clients will be honest. 

There may be something wrong with your pitch that you can easily change, but you won’t know until you ask.

Learn from rejection

Use every rejection as a learning opportunity. 

What could you have done better? 

How could you have made your proposal more appealing to the client? 

Could you have done more research around their business before you met?

Should you have followed up sooner? 

Was your proposal detailed enough? 

Could you have done more to prove your credibility? 

There is always room for improvement so use rejection as an opportunity to learn.

Move on

Don’t dwell on rejection. Understand the reasons, learn from them and then move on. Don’t waste time mulling over the ‘what if’s’ or letting self-doubt creep in. 

You win some; you lose some – focus on the wins. 

Look at the clients that accept your proposals. 

What was it that made them choose you over a competitor? 

What can you do to win more of the clients you want? 

How can you keep the clients you’ve got? 

Get the systems right

Sales is a process. 

If you don’t understand your process, you are essentially just sitting there with your fingers crossed. You’ll struggle to get consistent results, and you’ll spend too much time focusing on the wrong things.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

Working alone: how to combat the isolation

There are a lot of benefits to working alone. 

Nobody telling you what to do. 

Nobody holding you up with their incompetence.

And nobody distracting you with office gossip or personal dramas. 

Working alone is great. 

Or is it? 

Running a business can be a lonely place, and it helps to have someone to bounce an idea off, discuss a problem with or get advice from when we need to make an important decision. Even the most anti-social of us can find ourselves missing human company from time to time.

So, if your only conversations in the last week were with Alexa, your cat or the guy that called about mis-sold PPI, then it’s time to get out and mingle.

Attend networking events

Networking is a great way to meet people and build connections. There are loads of events on offer – each with different formats and different people. 

Referral based networking groups are good for building long term relationships and getting more business. 

Peer-to-peer boards tend to be smaller and are beneficial if you have specific obstacles you need help overcoming. 

Industry meet-ups are good if you want to stay up to date and share advice with people in your field.

And, if you really can’t bear the idea of formal networking, then attending an exhibition might be a less daunting option.

Attend a few different events to find the ones that work for you. Even if you’ve had a bad experience of networking, give it another go. Think of it like eating out – just because you’ve had a bad meal at one restaurant doesn’t mean you’ll never try another one.

Work in a public place

Co-working spaces are brilliant for business owners and freelancers who work alone. Not only are they far cheaper than an individual office space, you also get to network with the people you share the space with. 

If co-working feels like to much of a commitment, try working out of a coffee shop, bar, library or even the train station once or twice a week. You get the feeling of being around people all day, but interactions can be kept to a minimum. 

Get training or coaching

Personal development is essential if you want to succeed in business. Look for training courses in your area. Not only will you learn a new skill or build your expertise, it’s also a great opportunity to make some new connections. 

If you want someone to help you get your business to the next stage, a business mentor or coach is hugely beneficial. They will be there to bounce ideas off, hold you accountable and help you reach your potential. Different coaches and mentors have different personalities and styles, so find someone who feels like the right fit for you. 

Need some help?

When I first started out, networking was a scary prospect. Now I regularly attend networking events and training courses. I have also worked with various coaches at different stages of my career and have taken advantage of co-working spaces. 

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now