As I hear clients, colleagues, and friends sharing their goals for 2015, there's a chorus being repeated over and over:
"This year is the year I FINALLY break __ figures!"
I've heard it so many times that it makes me dizzy and sad to think about the number of folks who continue to miss the mark on this particular goal each year. When I ask why they haven't hit their goal yet, I hear lots of "reasons" - but ultimately, those reasons all mask the truth of why they really haven't hit their big income goal - whatever it is.
First a warning: "Big income goal" is relative. Like dream shame, the fact that you have a goal means it's big. For you, it might be 10 figures, or 6, or 5, or being able to finally quit the day job. The number doesn't matter. The principles are the same regardless of the number of zeroes at the end of the figure.
Why is it that most entrepreneurs that dream of making "mucho dinero" don't hit their big income goal? Here are a few reasons I've encountered (both on my own journey, as well as with my clients):
Reason 1: Believe-ability
One of the steps of setting DUMB Goals is to make sure they are believe-able. If you don't believe your goal is possible (in your bones, without a single doubt), forget it. The battle's nearly lost already. When I do my threshold of belief exercise with audiences, you'd be amazed at how many people don't believe they're capable of earning $3000 per month, let alone $300 per day ($109,500). At least half of the hands in my direct sales audiences drop (about 40% in my entrepreneurial audiences). Yet, when I ask them if they believe they are capable of being a leader in their field, many more people say yes. A direct sales leader can easily make $3k per month, and the top sales leaders consistently earn 6-7 figures (top entrepreneurs in other fields can earn billions, yo!). But these folks are not connecting the dots properly. Here's what I mean:
I don't ask them if they ARE making that kind of money, only if they believe they can. There's a difference. Maybe they hear "are you making...", but what I ask is "do you think it's possible" or "do you believe you can" - and a staggering number of people drop their hand, essentially saying "no, I don't believe it's possible to make that kind of money." That's a pretty telling statistic right there.
If you don't believe it's possible for yourself, why should anyone else? And if you don't believe it, you'll be hard pressed to take action toward it because your conditioning the File Clerk in your head to expect less income. Expect more to get more is a mantra I teach to my clients and readers. What are you expecting of yourself?
How to fix it: Practice
Put yourself in situations where you have the ability to experience "evidence" that you are capable of earning more. Maybe that's a mastermind group with higher income earners, or raising your rates on a particular product or service, or firing time-suck clients that aren't in alignment with your new direction and increased sense of self worth. It takes the same amount of time to prepare a presentation for a room full or people as it does for a room with only one person in it. Find your right audience. Then practice your presentation or offer until you've got the confidence to present it to them. Practice matters. You can't undo the negative self talk already in your head. What you CAN do is supplant it with new evidence that proves you're moving in a new direction. The more evidence you have in the "can do" folder, the quieter the head noise becomes about what you think you "can't do".
Reason 2: You actions aren't congruent with your belief
This was a big one for me. I used to say things like "I want to speak on stages all over the world" - but I don't even have a passport! How can I speak on stages all over the world without a passport? I CAN'T. I believe I am an amazing speaker. I know that there are people all over the world who are inspired by my songs, stories, and training. Yet, that one little lack of action kept me from being able to fly to the UK or Australia or anywhere else in the world - including Canada! Oy.
You may be telling yourself that you really do believe something is true. "Lisa, I really do believe I can earn 6 figures! Really! In my bones, there's no doubt in my mind that I'm worthy of earning that kind of money." Okay, so can you balance your checkbook? Do you know your profit and loss numbers from last year? Do you know your cash flow for the last month, six months, year? Are you tracking the metrics of your business to see if you're even profitable yet? If you're still flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to money and numbers, you're screwed.
I don't say that lightly. Here's why:
In a recent interview with Mike Michalowicz, I was asked if I always cared about profit. I answered honestly: "No." When I was first starting out, I knew I needed to be profitable, but for me, profit was a destination, not a habit. I figured that as long as I was making money, profit would come eventually. I figured wrong. I brought in lots of money - and it went out as quickly as it came in. There was a time I wasn't even paying myself an income from my business! That's not creating a business, that's indentured servitude!
Now, I teach a different kind of profitability. The kind where all your invested resources (time, energy, attention and money) are bringing in a positive return on that investment. Working yourself to death in your company isn't profitable or sustainable. There's no excuse for a business to NOT be profitable from day one. As a certified Profit First business coach, I've learned the importance of making sure the profit is always there in your business. Always.
But incongruence comes in a lot of forms. It might be that you're not giving yourself enough time to get work done, or you're not taking care of yourself so you can enjoy the income you're earning. It might be that your family has forgotten what you look like, or that you're living in "the shoulds" of what someone else has told you to do in order to be successful.
There are two specific forms of incongruence that are so common among entrepreneurs, I've made them separate reasons, which we'll get to in a minute.
How to fix it: Divine Alignment
Okay the name may sound a little metaphysical or woo-woo, but I have no better way to explain what happens when you are o in sync with your actions and beliefs. When your actions and your beliefs are lined up, things can move incredibly fast. After my car "incident" in 2013, I got clear on a step I needed to take and - I'm not kidding - like magic, an opportunity came out of the blue to work with a very lucrative client. That opened up so many opportunities in 2014 that weren't even on my radar - all because I got in Divine Alignment with MY path, and charted a course that made sense for who I was and how I wanted to show up in the world.
As a personality-based business owner, you've got to build a business around what works for YOU and your unique situation. Corporations don't have the same kinds of issues we do. That's also an advantage for us, because we have this gift of independence that lets us create something that works uniquely for us. Use that gift, yo!
You have a gift inside you. Use it to create something that matters to YOU. (tweet this)
Reason 3: You're a financial hypocrite
This is a particular kind of incongruence that I see over and over with entrepreneurs. They want to have a six or seven figure lifestyle, but they're not willing to invest in themselves to do it. I've seen "professionals" who want to learn everything for free. They just refuse to pay for any kind of training. They get mad at trainers who send an email inviting them to join an upcoming paid program, and then they unsubscribe. Those same folks expect their clients to pay top dollar to work with them.
Karma, baby! Karma!
Now I'm all for getting a good deal, and if someone only charges you $150 for a $10k job (and you like their work), by all means go for it. An yes, there are times when you simply don't have the cash to make a huge investment, which means trading time googling stuff to get the info you need. We've all been there. The library has been my friend for decades!
How to fix it: Budget and invest in your development
If you expect to build a solid career by trick-or-treating your way through your business education, you might as well keep your day job. The amount of time you'll spend (yes, I said spend, not invest) researching something for "free" could be put to better use building your business. Pay for the coach, the course, or the info and shorten your learning curve!
A good coach can be a mirror that helps you make incredible progress beyond your wildest dreams. A quality training program can help you get the scoop on what works NOW and get you in the game faster than trying to google your way through it. your research time needs to be spent investigating content for your next blog post, or your book, or anything that improves the quality of your offering - not the technical aspects of building your business. There are people and tools for that. Find a VA that you resonate with and trust them to do the mechanicals so you can focus on your genius work.
If you're expecting people to invest in you, you need to expect to be investing in others. There is one caution to that...
Reason 4: You're financially irresponsible
I've heard stories about people who've invested $100,000 to work with a coach when their annual income was only $120,000. Some coaches have a sales team that pressure you into selling off your possessions or getting a loan to be able to work with them. I learned the hard way that putting yourself in financial jeopardy is NOT the healthy, sustainable way to grow a business. It creates too much tension, stress, and a crap load of other negative emotions around working with that person. Not cool. If you've been saving up your pennies, that's different. But that's not typically what I see.
I was working with a well-known internet marketing guru who was launching a program - with a $500 per month price tag. We enrolled over 800 students in the first month (the guru offered a 30-day trial for $1 - an idea I abhorred, by the way). Nearly 75% of those enrollees dropped out after month one because they were counting on "getting enough support to earn the $500 for the next month's fee" - I lost count at the number of students who said those words to me.
Talk about poor target marketing!
What's worse were all those people that came into the program, counting on a magic bean to rescue them from whatever financial calamity they were facing. That's financial irresponsibility
How to fix it: Educate yourself - it's your money!
If you know you can't afford a program, don't enroll. Don't put it on your card and pray that the money will be there at the end of the month to pay it off. That's not sustainable. That's problematic - and it's why a lot of women get into it with their spouses about their "expensive hobby". Create your own "lay-away" plan, and put the cash somewhere you can't touch it until you can afford to jump in. Yes, it might mean waiting a year (I waited 5 years to join a program I'd been wanting to take), but if the program is worth its salt, it will keep coming around.
The sophisticated tactics marketers use to get you to buy now are rooted in fear - fear you'll miss out, fear you'll not be part of the in-crowd, and others. If you go into the year with an education plan (things you know you want/need to learn), and budget for them, YOU are in control of your money - not the gurus. It's common to up-sell to a pricey year-long program at the end of a three-day event. Whether or not it's a high-pressure environment (not all of them are. Some are done quite tastefully), remember that the offer is being made on their timeline, not yours. Heck, even when I make an offer for coaching or a training program like Dreamblazing, I have deadlines that coincide with what I need to have happen in my work and in my life. All my pricing went up January 6. Why? Because my birthday was Jan 5, and I took time off to enjoy my life!
When you create your business and your offers, you need to build them around what works for you. If you're a direct seller and your company closes out orders on the last day of the month, you might choose to close out two days early, so you beat the month-end rush (and have time to fix last-minute issues). If you're a musician, you may request half your payment up-front and half when you walk through the door - before you play a note - just to be sure you actually get paid (the horror stories I've heard about bands that don't get paid saddens me).
The fact of the matter is, it's YOUR business, so YOU get to set the terms - the same is true for the people with whom you do business. If their terms don't work for you, sometimes you can negotiate, and other times, you may have to go your separate ways (or save up to join them next year). The world won't end. With apologies to Sir Richard Branson, offers are like buses, there's always another coming right around the corner.
Reason 5: You're doing it all yourself
This is the killer of a sustainable business. You can be making all kinds of profit, but if you're doing everything yourself, you'll die. I had a client putting in 16-20 hours a day on her business, napping for a couple of hours mid-day and getting to bed around 3am, only to be off and running by 6am. Her health was failing, but she was making six figures.
Doesn't sound like my idea of fun, how about you?
When you're running around trying to keep all the plates spinning in your life and work, it gets incredibly frustrating because there's no time for you. In fact, if you do take time out to stop, something falls. As your business grows, you have to get used to the idea of letting other people into the dream. Nobody builds a successful business by themselves. There are always people behind the scenes making the magic happen even if you're the face of the company. Trying to do it all yourself forever is a recipe for disaster and serious health issues.
How to fix it: Delegate responsibly
At first, she was hell-bent that this was the way it had to be,because it had been like that for a long time (see #1 above). I managed to persuade her to delegate some of her team training to her team leaders. This not only empowered her leadership team to become better leaders, it gave her a chance to take a longer nap. More sleep meant she was in better shape to do her work, and eventually she realized the value of delegating to her team and to a VA. After three months of working together, she doubled her six-figure income, and had free time - a first for her in years. After 18 months together we parted company - because she wanted to buy a new home and have it paid off in two years. She took control of her timeline and her money (see #4 above), and started delegating.
Responsible delegation means selectively releasing tasks to a responsible third party. This could be hiring a housekeeper or bookkeeper, or getting the local teenager to watch your kids or label your product catalogs. If your budget is small, it doesn't have to break the bank. Sometimes family will help you out for a pizza and pop, or a back rub (my hubby's favorite compensation). If your business is pulling in consistent revenues, then it's time to look at the tasks on your plate and hire an assistant to get stuff done so you can focus on your genius work. My VA is amazing and runs my social media statistical reports every Friday. I HATE running those numbers, ye I know how important they are for me to be able to keep the pulse of my business. So she runs them and I review them. Easy peasy. And she can do it in about 15-20 minutes, where I'd get caught up on the various sites responding to people. She's saved me dozens, if not hundreds of hours in the time-suck of social media by doing that report. Then, when I get to my social media time in my schedule, I can be present and mindful to the people I'm engaging with, instead of haphazardly plugging numbers into a spreadsheet between tweets.
A quick caution: it might seem sexy to just dump everything to your VA. Experience says don't over-delegate. Your cash flow needs to support the investment in support services. If you're earning under $250k, the Profit First baseline recommendation is to spend no more than about 30% of your revenues on expenses (like a VA). Plus, you want to move tasks to your VA gradually so that they've got time to learn how to do them properly, and you have time to review them so that things aren't falling through the cracks. Once you trust your VA with one recurring task, assign the second. Don't pile it all on at once, or something is bound to fall through the cracks.
What's your "reason"?
There are other reasons, too (wrong market, wrong offer, etc), but these are the big ones I see most of the time with clients and colleagues that have a great offer, but keep getting stuck.
Where do you find yourself in this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below. It's important to see where you fall on this spectrum. If you find yourself banging your head against an income ceiling, I invite you to schedule a Next Steps session and get some clarity about what's next. Clarity simplifies things immensely, and can give you great insight into ways you can define success on your terms.