Recently I was talking with a friend, a fellow business owner, about the state of her business.
After starting her coaching business 3 years ago and celebrating multiple successes:
—5 figure months
—6 figure weekends
—Back to back 6-figure years
—Having her own high level mastermind group
… she announced she is still struggling financially.
On paper she looks like she has it all.
Behind the scenes, she has amassed thousands of dollars in debt by joining high level masterminds to learn how to keep growing her business, hiring staff and teams of staff to plan her next few projects, and putting down payments on marketing strategies geared to help bring in more clients.
Every dollar that comes into her business is already spent.
The business itself has become her boss.
So although it looks like she should have it all, she is barely surviving and definitely not living.
She said that every month she felt like she was starting over—looking for clients, dreading picking up the phone, and desperately searching for or creating the next opportunity for a cash injection.
Because it isn’t happening, she keeps working harder while simultaneously blaming herself for being a business failure.
Her mind and body are feeling the effects.
- Her health is suffering—she’s not sleeping at night, her eating habits are all over the place, and she feels tired all of the time.
- Her client relationships are strained. She is questioning how well she is doing as their mentor and starting to wonder who she is to help them.
- Her relationship with her husband is at a point that he is no longer willing to be on the financial roller coaster her business has put them on.
Exhausted and exasperated, she is at a loss for what to do next. She knows if she doesn’t figure it out soon she will be forced to go back to work.
Even though the business earns money, it is not paying the bills.
Returning to work would be the nail in the proverbial coffin for her. She couldn’t imagine it.
As I listened to her, I empathized. I know what it’s like to have big financial gains only to have to “do it all over again.”
As exhilarating as it can be, it can be equally exhausting.
At times it can feel like a merry-go-round looking at the same scenery over and over again. Up and down month after month. At some point you just want to get off of the damn ride.
She asked me what I thought about all that she said, so I told her, “You are stuck in Start Up Mode.”
You would have thought I had slapped her. Her eyes widened and her face clouded over. Anger shadowed her face. She sat straight up and opened her mouth as if she were going to protest my point, then just as quickly, as if she had lost the will to fight, her shoulders slumped, and she sat back and let out a heavy sigh.
The truth was taking hold.
The words no business owner wants to hear, “You are still a Start Up,” made sense to her.
These words sting when you hear them. I know. I’ve heard them too.
The true indication that you are stuck in Start Up Mode is when you are still in the “getting clients” phase of your business.
Even though the business will always need you to get clients, the difference between Start Up Mode and the next level of business is this:
In Start Up, your business relies on your getting clients to cover expenses and bills. You are happy to break even.
At the Next Level the business relies on the systems you have put in place that bring in clients routinely.
You have consistent cash flow and profitability.
At the Next Level you have stopped scrambling to find clients.
Depending on the literature you read, this can happen at 6 figures or the 7 figure mark.
It depends on your business type, structure, and overhead.
Sadly, there is no magic number of years, clients, revenue or Eureka moment. This phase lasts for years. Some businesses never get out of it.
I will tell you like I told my friend:
It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is just a part of entrepreneurship.
And it sure as heck beats the Close the Doors Forever Phase.
So here’s what knowing this can do for you (and ultimately did for my friend):
It tells you where you are and tells you what you need to do to get out of it.
The answer to getting out of Start Up Mode is actually quite simple with these 3 steps:
1) Create consistent cash flow by getting clients
2) Pinpoint the process in which you got the clients
When you don’t have one solid way to bring in clientele, you risk constantly creating new ways to create leads which are costly endeavors that tie up your money and time.
By focusing on doing one or two things consistently well, you will get out of being stuck in Start Up Mode and moving beyond the Start Up Phase.
- Be consistent and your business will run smoother.
- You will have consistent income.
- You will pay the bills.
Being a Start Up is a part of the business growth process.
Learn to trust the process and be willing to stay with it until you figure it out.
- What are your thoughts about being a Start Up after a several years in business?
- How would you feel about being called a Start Up—offended, surprised, relieved?
- How would “going back to the basics” help you?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photo by Flickr (maddy3m)
About Karen Graves
Karen Graves is an expert at teaching business owners how to be powerful and profitable. She helps coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs with a heart for service make money with what they already know. Karen takes her award-winning sales and sales training experience from Pfizer, Inc. to teach them the must-have skills they need to get higher paying clients and to build businesses they love.
Karen understands that there is too much conflicting information on “how to grow a business.” She has developed a “simpler is better” approach to business growth with specific strategies and tools that make the most impact in getting clients and creating consistent cash flow.
To learn more about Karen, visit the Your Sales Fix website: www.YourSalesFix.com
Hi there! I’m Karen Graves. I help service based business owners with a heart for service build profitable businesses that they love. As an entrepreneur you answered a very special call. You recognize that God has given you a genius–a gifting that allows you to serve powerfully. The challenge may be in how to connect to the clients you are meant to serve or how to get compensated by serving through this purpose. This is where I can help you by teaching you specifically what to do to build your business into what you desire. Please reach out to me to let me know what specifically is stopping you in your business and I will be happy to address those challenges.
Wishing you success,