Every business goes through a season of stagnation; some come out of it tough and thriving, others wither and die regardless of their magnitude.
From years of mentoring young people and women in business, I have had the privilege of watching small businesses grow from what seemed as laughable ideas to dignified businesses. But I have also witnessed the pitiful plateauing of businesses after months of rocketing up at unimaginable speeds. While the first case is celebratory, the thought that the second would happen to any business is a soul-crasher!
It’s even more devastating to have these two pictures in mind at the same time and know deep inside that both have a 50 – 50 chance of winning.
Unknown to many, stagnation of small businesses isn’t as a result of lack of money. The root cause of the plateau is in the thought process of those running the business. Money becomes the key suspect because without it, very little happens. To address this situation, you should focus not on the symptoms; the absence of money, but the king question;
“If lack of money seems to be the problem, what caused its absence?”
Are you surprised that you missed the question all through your stagnation season? What would have been the outcome if you had addressed this question?
You see, it is so easy to treat symptoms. When your capital wells go dry, going to bed with the moneylender becomes the next priority.
But a few months after acquiring the loan, your small business assumes a false kick start just to tailspin to its death. The thought of picking up the ever-buzzing phone to answer to the once-persuasive moneylender becomes a public assault.
Unworthiness Choked Your Business To Stagnation …then to death.
That’s a title you would love to hate me for; but it’s the naked truth. And I would rather undress it further if resuscitating your business is important to you.
While attending networking events is today’s lionized way of getting clients, only a few small business owners know how to go about it. Networking is of no good use if you can’t connect with at least one person at the event. Before you dive into it though, note, dishing out your business cards to everyone in sight won’t win you a single client.
What wins the client is your ability to bring out the ferocious thrust of ‘Let me serve you, make you feel good like no one has ever made you feel’ in a sweet way!
And that comes only if you feel worthy of serving the person you choose to talk to at the event.
It doesn’t matter if your target client is the sexiest billionaire in town, drives a car your 10 years’ salary can never buy or wears an Italian suit your dreams can’t behold. The mere fact that you share a venue should hint you; both of you have common interests. It’s your core business to investigate what those interests are.
So when you reach out to shake their hands, aim to connect and leave the venue with either immediate business or a 101% guarantee for a lunch date to discuss how you can serve them. The second is even better; it gives you an opportunity to further study the target’s needs and evaluate how to shape your products to suit them. Below that, everything else is petty pitiful!
If you feel hesitant to shake hands with your target client, sniff your skin for hints of unworthy feelings. Therein lays the reason why your small business will stagnate and die, soon.
What to do? What to do? What to do?
Now that you know you are guilty of stagnating your small business and not absence of the $$$$, consider these three things:
1. Re-affirm yourself
Before going to any event, prepare yourself mentally to meet and connect with people; both new and old buddies. Prime your mind to with a simple mantra, “I’m worthy of…” and finish the statement with what you have been struggling with. If you feel unworthy of getting business from them, declare that you are worthy of their business and the money that will come from it.
2. Re-evaluate situations
Could it be that you feel short of the ability to satisfy clients with deep pockets because all those you have at the moment are of your level?
If so, appreciate those you already have and then pursue for the bigger fish! The only reason you haven’t served the deep pocketed fellows is because you haven’t told them about your services. Investigate their businesses for needs you can fulfil; such are the type you should pitch to them.
If one turns you down, that’s not the end of the world, re-affirm yourself and go to the next. See the ‘Little Take Away’ at the end of this article for more details.
Keep in mind though, people value relationships and not a one-night-stand; aim to build such from the start.
3. Re-package yourself
‘No’ isn’t always such a bad word, it could mean neither you nor the target client are ready for each other. This calls for, ‘How can I pitch my business in your language?’
Carry out a research to see if you have missed any pre-qualifier and attend to it. If none, investigate how you presented yourself and make necessary changes. You may need a third or fourth opinion on this.
Repackaging then presenting yourself again to the client makes them notice your persistence. It tells them that you have seen a gap in their business and you are certain only you can help them.
Unless you spot foul play, realize that good business doesn’t come easy.
Whether your desire is to send an email, make a phone call or walk up to the target client, feeling unworthy freaks you out from pursuing the business relationship of your choice. Without clients, your business won’t have adequate cash flow to grow. Don’t let stagnation starve your small business to death. Start saving it now!
Here is something you can do when you find yourself at the same event with your potential client. It beats making phone calls, writing emails and having someone introduce you to the person in question. In fact, these three could end up in the hands of people who don’t make key business decisions; your loss.
A Little Take Away
A friend of yours invites you to an event through social media. They make it clear that they won’t see you until all tents have been pulled down and the guests are out of sight. You do some ground work and find out the owner of a company you have wanted to work with will attend. It’s obvious, they would never attend the event alone; some employees will show up. An ounce of wisdom up your brain warns you to target speaking to the big guy even though top employees have history of not leaving his side.
Chances are, by the time you walk up to the target client, one of the top-dogs in the company will be tagging on his Brioni Vanquish II jacket trying to warm his heart before asking for a raise. Worst case scenario, a friend of his employing will be pitching his heart out for a grant.
That’s ok. Don’t let the other person’s presence overwhelm you with jealousy. Even if you have seen the two in an expensive restaurant before dinning, it doesn’t make your pitch invalid. Aim to have their attention.
Drop the inferiority complex and march up to them and compliment them on something you know for sure is true; the jacket for example. President Donald Trump use to wear such, but be careful, he may not be Trump’s fun. Make sure you speak up and maintain a friendly eye contact as you shake hands. Introduce yourself; by name and the business, and add no flavor.
From that moment on, seek to know him better by asking questions that encourage him to speak about himself. This is a great time to know his name if you didn’t. Note how he pronounces it and repeat it after him.
The first few minutes are meant to neutralize the alien feelings between you two; seek to pick the common ground and make it the subject of discussion. Don’t be surprised if they decide to pick your brain and investigate your business; remain honest and maintain eye contact and a bucket-full of pleasantness. Keep in mind every question asked, they are the guide to your target’s interest.
Before you part, if your conversation didn’t lead to immediate business, seek to have an appointment with him at a later but specific date. Make sure the planned meeting has a particular agenda, not just a meeting. To end the meeting, acknowledge his sacrifice of time with gratitude and give him a firm handshake again. Remember to include his name in your parting words.
Stagnation in your small business is now history. Bravo! You have saved it from choking to death.