Putting Your Business on Cruise Control
Steve Roller here, with your final edition of The Writer's Life this week.
This week has been all about re-launching your business. We started out by making that first decision to specialize. Then we went over 12 marketing ideas to get clients and a simple strategy to get the ball rolling.
Winston Churchill once said, "Strategy is all very well, but it pays to give thought from time to time to the results."
I'm about halfway to where I want to be. Three years ago, I had no clients and no experience. Last year, I made more than my previous corporate income, but not quite six figures. My goal in the next 12 months is to have my business on "cruise control" because that's when things really get fun:
- Your schedule is booked months in advance
- You no longer have to chase clients – they come to you
- You command high fees
- Peers and clients recognize you as an authority in your niche
- You're selective about projects, only taking on interesting and well-paid ones
Think of a car on cruise control. It's effortless, right?
Instead of you pushing on the gas, it feels like the engine is pulling you along. It's the synergistic effect of doing a lot of little things right, consistently, over time.
Let me leave you with a few final takeaways that will help you get one step closer to cruise-control mode:
1. Get out of your comfort zone.
I've talked all week about keeping it simple, sticking to the familiar, and focusing on one thing at a time. I've talked about finding your passion and throwing yourself into it.
Now you need to stretch.
If you're going to get to the big income, you need to do things that are slightly uncomfortable. For me, that involved contacting potential clients who used to intimidate me. (Good news – I not only got one, but I got a great testimonial from the client as well!) Check out DirectResponseJobs.com for ideas.
For other copywriters I know, stretching meant speaking in public about their business, doubling their rates, or writing a book about their specialized expertise.
2. Leverage your time.
If your time is worth $100 an hour, focus only on activities that earn you $100 an hour or more. Do what you do best.
I finally came to the conclusion that I have a very narrow range of skills. I'm good at writing direct response copy, some types of web copywriting, and selling myself in person.
I'm not good at technical things like redesigning my website, so I hired that out. I don't know enough about PR, so I took that off my list of services. I wasn't making enough money writing blog posts for clients, so I stopped.
When I started focusing on what I do best and stopped trying to do the rest, my income went up almost immediately. Yours will, too.
3. Develop tunnel vision.
My problem was having too many interests and trying to do too many things. I enjoyed writing for my personal fitness clients and dabbled in that niche. I love self-improvement, alternative health, and political activism, and spent a fair amount of time keeping up with those areas.
I was also writing my own money-making website and trying to write my first book.
All at the same time.
Just temporarily, I scrapped everything to focus on bringing in profitable projects in my new niche: direct response copy for the travel industry. Nothing else.
My suggestion: Find one area to concentrate on, put blinders on, keep your head down, and don't look up for three months.
When January 1 comes, you'll be in a good position to finally turn on the cruise control.
Stretch yourself, focus, then dive in.
I'd love to hear about your plan for hitting cruise control by the new year. What goals do you have for 2012? What are you doing now to make it happen? You can leave a comment below.
As Napoleon Hill said, "Do not wait; the time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."
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