So you want to grow your business. You start tracking new Facebook likes, new email subscribers, and your website traffic. You discover how to move the needle on each and do more and more of the activities that create growth in these metrics.
It takes a lot of time. You’re posting to Facebook 5 times a day—which takes creative energy to come up with posts, reading time to share others posts, and productive time to tear yourself away from the onslaught of other people’s posts. You’re looking for new ways to gain email subscribers—hosting webinars, planning joint ventures, hosting telesummits, setting ad campaigns. You’re writing more blog posts, adding pillar content pages, and optimizing the SEO on your site.
The metrics you’re paying attention to are constantly pulling you away from time with clients. But you’re growing your business!
Or are you?
Are you paying attention to the right things? What have those new Facebook likes, email subscribers, or website visitors gotten you? Have they brought in new revenue? (Do you even have a way to tell?) Have they streamlined your production? Have they helped you develop new opportunities?
Most likely, no.
And if they have, they’ve only entrenched you further into the business you have instead of helping you grow the business you want.
Now, I’m not at all opposed to new Facebook likes, email subscribers, or website visitors. Those are 3 metrics I track myself.
However, I don’t spend time on those metrics until I’ve actually gone about the business of working on my business.
You see, building your Facebook page, growing your list, and buoying your website traffic isn’t working on your business. Marketing your business is an “in” your business kind of activity. And if it’s the only thing you’re making time for, it’s not going to do you a lot of a good in the long-term. Unless you’ve got the right systems, strategy, and development plan set up, it’s not buying you any more time, money, or sanity.
Let me say that again: Promoting your business isn’t buying you any more time, money, or sanity.
You might have noticed that. You might have realized posting more on Facebook—even sending more emails, one of my personal favorite activities—isn’t improving your quality of life.
But if your metrics of growth are all things that lead to more time spent on marketing, you’re wasting time and not creating the kind of systems that lead to true growth, true profit, and true sanity. And I write this as someone who loves marketing with a burning passion.
You’re paying attention to the wrong things.
And it’s costing you time (not to mention money and energy, too).
So what should you be paying attention to?
Just because you don’t get a paycheck anymore doesn’t mean you can’t get stuck living paycheck-to-paycheck. In fact, your whole business can get caught operating paycheck-to-paycheck.
When you’re in the never-quite-enough cycle, no matter how much you want to grow your business and no matter how hard you’re willing to work, business growth can feel impossible. You’re always a little short on the money you need to invest in a sweet new design, a rockstar employee, or the applications that can make running your business easier. You’re also just a little short on the time you need to evolve your business model, leverage your services, and grow your platform.
I’ve tried to figure out what separates those who make the leap from never-quite-enoughness to abundance and growth with their businesses. And here’s what I’ve discovered:
You have to use what you want, not what you have, as your baseline.
That means you don’t figure out how to replace your day job salary, you make a plan to make 20% more. You don’t figure out how to get enough clients, you make a plan to have a waiting list. You don’t figure out what you need to price your offers at to pay yourself, you plan a pricing strategy that builds in profit.
That means part of planning for your business is getting clear on what you want:
- Enough income and extra profit to take the summer off?
- A team of talented co-conspirators who can help you serve your clients?
- A website that truly represents the personality and quality of your business?
- Tools that make your life easier?
If you want to take the summer off, make sure your plan has your business generating enough revenue in January-May, September-December. That changes the way you launch offers, plan partnerships, and schedule marketing activities.
If you want a team (or to grow your existing one), make sure your plan includes a pricing strategy that pays them. Put that extra labor budget into savings and you’ll have a cushion that makes you feel comfortable expanding.
If you want a new website, stop trying to piecemeal your solutions (i.e. spending unnecessary money) and find the credit you need to get one. Then make sure your plan includes how you’ll harness that website to payback the credit as quickly as possible.
If you want tools that make your life easier, make sure your plan makes it clear exactly what they need to do for you. That changes what you look for in new solutions so that you’re only investing in the ones that do what you need them to do.
Setting goals and stretching your comfort zone pays both strategic and tactical dividends. When you know what you want, you can make the business strategy decisions that help you get there. If you’re always focused on maintaining the status quo, you’ll be stuck there.
P.S. If you’re a maker or designer trying to get ahead in your own business, check out my Pricing Your Craft workshop on CreativeLive on August 17th. You can watch totally FREE while it’s live: RSVP here.
Business not as hot as you’d like? Repeat this simple mantra, “hustle.”
That seems to be the answer you’re most likely to find for all your woes. Write more, create more, network more, pitch more. Hustle.
I don’t have an across-the-board problem with hustling. My problem with it is that it can easily lead to more ugliness than it solves.
When you’re measuring your work against the hustle imperative, it’s hard to see others success in perspective. You end up repeating others hustling instead of figuring out what actions would best serve your own goals.
The hustle imperative can also force you to work from a sense of scarcity. There’s only so much time, only so many tactics, only so many connections that count. You’re constantly racing against the clock and your own sanity.
It’s not that it doesn’t work; it’s that it’s exhausting.
Hustling is not the key to growth. It’s the key to getting individual things done, checking things off the list, sealing the deal. It’s not a long term strategy.
Growth is big. It’s expansive. It’s nourishing.
Growth requires effectiveness. It thrives on ease.
If you’re ready to grow your business–make a bigger impact, reach a wider audience, or generate more revenue, you need to focus on discovering what creates the most returns (as you define them) with as much ease as possible.
Doesn’t sound much like hustling to me. What do you think?
Let’s go a bit deeper with this conundrum, though. It’s not enough to say that growth is more about ease than hustle. There’s a pervasive belief that, while concentrating on ease, strengths, and core desires can lead to plenty of good feelings and a softer variety of prosperity, these things don’t lead to the kind of immense impact that hustling creates.
What I want to see in this new year of growth is a melding of ease & effectiveness with big goals & hardcore prosperity. It’s not a choice.
A brave approach to ease really can lead to bold growth.
Click to tweet.
As you begin to execute on your plans for this year, consider what bold growth might mean for you and your business: a bigger team, a shorter workday, 10,000 downloads, a life transformed, a 6-figure year, a book deal, a vacation, a baby, an investment. And as you’re tempted to do more and more and more to achieve that growth, remember that there’s a path–albeit, not well marked–by which you do less to reach greater success.
Effectiveness leads to expansiveness.
My new book, The Art of Growth, tackles exactly this subject. How do you make a bigger impact with your business without working yourself to the bone?