A guest post by Michael Knouse
Every entrepreneur I know goes through the proverbial rough patch where their income hasn’t quite caught up with their six figure dreams. And throughout this two-year period (on average) where you’re giving it everything you’ve got, you begin to wonder if you’re going to make it.
You’ve done everything you were supposed to do. You created your LLC, you had those beautiful business cards printed on 100% recyclable thick stock paper, you spent hours crafting the ideal business plan, your podcast is humming along nicely…but something isn’t working.
More specifically, you’re working harder than ever but the money just isn’t there. And something has to give…soon!
The Hard Truth That Most Entrepreneurs Never Talk About
Nobody ever sat me down and told me that sales and marketing needed to be my #1 priority as an early stage entrepreneur. And if this weren’t obvious to a guy who spent years in software sales (yours truly) then I can only imagine how hard it must be for the mompreneur down the street.
The most important lesson that you will ever learn about building a business is that your success (and financial stability) will come from expertly communicating the value of your product or service – not rebranding your website, podcasting, blogging or spending time with your mastermind group.
In other words, you need to spend 20% of your time doing what you love (in my case, coaching and creating) and 80% of your time marketing, selling and answering a shitload of email. Survival will totally hinge on how quickly you adopt the role of marketer and moneymaker first, creator of pretty things, second.
Your Bank Account Is Trying To Tell You Something.
You are either doing an awesome job, a mediocre job, or a crappy job of communicating the value of what you do.
Your bank account will reflect this back to you with such clarity that you’ll want to scream (with either joy or pain depending on the balance).
Money is an impartial teacher that doesn’t care if you are karmically blocked, energetically aligned or some other woo-woo bullshit.
Money is simply a measuring stick that reflects the value you are providing to others in the marketplace.
My Big A-HA Moment
I remember feeling so dejected once I realized that the thing I wanted to do (coaching + creating) was going to have to take a back seat to me actually running a business. I was seeing my entire entrepreneurial vision begin to collapse right in front of me.
And then I went for a run.
And on that run I got clarity. I realized that the reason I got into business wasn’t exclusively to coach people or create things. I started my business because of my desire to have creative control, to make an impact and to enjoy the freedom of having unlimited income potential.
It was in that moment I realized that coaching others is the gift I get to receive for running a successful business. It was the first time I had ever thought of it that way.
It’s so important that you really understand this so I’ll say it again.
Delivering your service is the gift you receive for running a successful business.
So to build a sustainable and profitable business it’s true that you’ll need to dedicate much of your time to telling your story and finding clients. The key is to recognize the purpose behind your business and connect the dots between the part you love and the process for finding those clients you love to serve.
As an emerging entrepreneur, you have infinite possibilities in your ability to impact others and do meaningful work. Pretty different from a regular J-O-B!
And when it comes to your business, not understanding what to do is the worst. Now that you know how your business is meant to work, go out at focus on the stuff that will allow you to receive the gift of doing what you love.
And when you get to the I-freaking-can’t-do-this-anymore / looks-like-I’m-gonna-have-to-quit bridge, just trust that you now know what to do and focus on the results that are coming. As long as you do that, the money will show up. And so will the random Wednesday afternoon where you’ll uncork a bottle of Dom Perignon, Skype your best friend and tell her you just delivered a five-figure month.
Michael Knouse is an Unconventional Startup Strategist, a Coach for Emerging Entrepreneurs, and creator of The Startup Sessions Podcast and Work Freedom Roadmap. He spent 14-years in the technology and software industry before founding The Startup Sessions and making the leap to full time business builder.
Michael works with burnt out employees and emerging entrepreneurs to help them craft a meaningful business, bring structure to their creative ideas and align purpose-driven work with financial stability.
Michael lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Jill, where he enjoys trail running, skiing, yoga, enjoying great coffee, sipping IPAs, and teaching others how to embrace their brilliance and do work that matters.