I was curious to know what you guys are struggling with in your business.
So I recently got on the phone (yeah – the actual phone… remember that?) and spoke to dozens of folks to find out the answer to this question. In this Office Talk podcast episode, I’m having a heart-to-heart with you and sharing some of my observations from those conversations including the three things that are holding us back in business.
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HERE’S THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE
[Intro Music] This is Office Talk with Annette Stepanian.
Hey there! Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Office Talk.
Now, I wanted to do something a little different this time around. This is not your traditional legal quickie episode. I’m not answering a question about law. I’m not interviewing anybody. I just want to sit down and have a chat with you.
I have been recently getting on the phone and chit chatting with a lot of folks- folks who are on my email list to podcast listeners to customers and clients. Really trying to understand what is you guys are struggling with where you guys are at with your business and offer any insight or help that I can.
There are a few things that keep popping up in these conversations. And that’s why I wanted to record this episode today to share some of those conversations in those observations with you.
Now, I’ve been out of the traditional corporate nine to five for a few years now. And have been trying to navigate this entrepreneurial world for a while now. And recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about this whole journey. And what I’ve learned what I wish I knew from day one. You know what I would tell my younger self and all those things. And I wanted to share those with you as well.
First thing that I see a lot of folks struggling with is what I’m calling the DIY epidemic. It’s your Do It Yourself epidemic. And I say this partly in jest because it’s nobody’s really suffering from an epidemic. But this is kind of what it looks like. We first start off our businesses, and we are doing everything ourselves, right. Sometimes we’re limited for resources. We don’t have a lot of time or experience or money. And so we just figure, it’s easier for us just to do it ourselves. And we continue to do everything ourselves from the accounting, from your social media, writing the blog posts, getting clients, managing vendors, doing your legal work, writing your contracts, all that stuff, right? I get it, I’ve been there, I still honestly struggle with that myself. It’s hard for me to let go.
Now at the initial stages of starting a business, I think it’s great to do a lot of the things yourself. I think, in fact, it’s very important for you to have a basic understanding of all the different components of your business, so that you have the background and the requisite knowledge so that you could start bringing on the right talent and the right people to help you. However, what ends up happening, and what I see happening to a lot of people is you get stuck in this DIY mentality, YYou start thinking, well, I can do everything myself. I can figure it out. And we all know there’s plenty of information out there on the internet that will teach you how to do things yourself.
But I want you guys to pay attention to whether or not this is the best use of your time. In talking to you guys on the phone, I realize so many of you guys are also juggling a full time job. I didn’t realize how many of you guys are doing this as a side hustle. Now, that is great that you have the commitment and the stamina to do a full time job and do basically a second full time job, which is your business. But as you guys progress, you need to start getting out of this DIY mentality. You need to start thinking about, well, where can I best utilize my time, my resources? Where is that? Where am I going to get the biggest bang for my buck? And where can I start bringing in people or investing in resources to make that job easier for myself. So I don’t have to do everything.
And this isn’t just about always hiring people, it could be about actually investing in that piece of software, not just using the free version. And actually getting the paid version because it offers a certain level of functionality, that’s going to make your life a lot easier. Now again, I’m saying all of this, and I should probably take my own advice, because there’s definitely certain things I do in my business that I probably should not be doing. It’s probably not a good use of my time. I’m a little bit of a control freak with when it comes to certain things. So I am struggling with this. I’m learning, but I’m starting to learn to let go and really focus on if I want to grow my business, I need to move past this DIY mindset. So that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed that is a common theme in these conversations that I’ve been having with you guys.
The second thing I want to talk about is this thing that I like to call sophisticated forms of procrastination. Many of you guys are feeling super overwhelmed. There’s so much you need to be doing. And in light of the fact that some of you guys also have a full time job. You guys have kids. You guys have other obligations. No wonder you guys are feeling overwhelmed. There’s so many demands on your time. So it’s very important for you to utilize not only your time, but your energy, your mental and your physical energy very wisely and efficiently. And what I want you guys to start asking yourself when you take on a task is, is this a sophisticated form of procrastination? And by that what I mean is – we are often fooling ourselves, let’s be honest here. We’re fooling ourselves by doing busy work that does not get to the heart of the matter. But it makes us feel like we’re moving towards our goals, but we’re really not.
So I’m going to share a story with somebody that I talked to on the phone. And if you’re listening, I hope you don’t mind that I’m using you as an example. I was chatting with somebody who has a full time job and is wanting to start a wedding planning business on the side. And she said that her goal was to get one or two clients, so that she could start getting the experience she needs and start developing those testimonials that she needs to then hopefully bring on more clients. So then I asked her, Well, what are you doing to get out there and to start getting these clients? And she said, Well, right now I’m working on developing my website and building out the content for my blog. So my question to her was, is that where you’re going to find your clients? Or your clients going to hire you based on the content you have on your blog and on your website? And she said, “no.” And so I then I asked her, Well, then why are you spending so much of your very limited time – because remember, she has a full time job – why are you spending so much of your limited time developing your website and your blog content? Instead, I suggested to her if I think it is important to have some sort of a website, some sort of a presence, I suggested to her keep it simple. Maybe put it one or two pages: a page about what you do and how to contact you. Keep it super simple, delay getting this blog content up, and you get out there and you figure out how you can find clients.
At that point for her, she said that a lot of her clients are coming through word of mouth referrals and leads like that and said, that’s what you need to be working on. So my point here is, we often do so much busy work that does not matter. They’re kind of like nice to haves, but they’re not must haves when it comes to getting towards your goals.
Now, I again, have suffered from this tremendously. I remember in my jewelry business, I would spend so much time writing blog posts and sending out newsletters and doing all these things, because subconsciously, I felt like I was busy and I was doing all this work. But the reality was that was not getting me the sale. That was not moving me towards getting business in the door. And so I want to push you guys in a very loving way to really start thinking about your day and the tasks that you have on your to do list and think about what is the one thing I can do that’s gonna have the greatest impact on getting me towards my goals.
So in this example, with the person that I talked to, if your goal is to get clients – is writing blog posts and developing your website really going to help you? And if the answer is no, move on, put that to do on a list on a someday to do list, and then get to what it is that you need to do.
Now I realize sometimes we procrastinate because we either feel fear, we probably feel inadequate, we probably feel like we don’t have the required education or expertise. And so it’s so much easier to fill our days with stuff that doesn’t matter to make ourselves feel good. But I really want to encourage you guys to move past that. The reality is I always say life is simple. And people make it complicated. Businesses simple. Don’t make it complicated for yourself.
Now the next observation I have is I want you to get out of the office. Most of you guys are working at home. So I want you to get out of the house. Now, the phrase get out of the office is really coined by Steve Blank, who wrote the Startup Owners Manual. And he uses it in the context of getting out of the office to talk to your customers to really test your concept and your idea before you spend so much time investing in creating whatever product or service it is. And I agree that’s a great advice. It’s partly why I decided to pick up the actual phone and talk to you guys. But the way that I’m using it here is I want you to get out of the office and start meeting people and interacting.
Now in so many of the conversations that I’ve had here on the podcast, the one thing that we keep returning to over and over again, is this idea that business is based on relationships. That is true no matter the technology, no matter how life changes. At the end of the day we are here to serve people. Right now as I’m recording this. I am sitting in a hotel room here in Anaheim. California. I am here because I’m going to be speaking at Wedding Wire World. And this is just one way that you can get out. You can get out and go to conferences. In fact, I really want to encourage you, if you have the means if you have the capability to do it, I would encourage you to pick out one or two conferences in your industry, and really make an effort to go to them. There’s so many different conferences out there, regardless of what industry you’re in, there is something so valuable about seeing people face to face, meeting them. I mean, these are people who friends I’ve met online, that I have now had the opportunity to meet face to face and it all that does is it just strengthens the relationship. It provides another touch point, it expands your network, not to mention, it is also a lot of fun. So I would really encourage you to check a few conferences out.
I’m also going to be speaking at lending gather in Brooklyn in August, and at the Be Sage Cnference in Hilton Head, South Carolina in December. So I’ll put links to those conferences in the show notes, whether you come to those conferences or not, again, I really encourage you to get out and start meeting people. And a lot of these conferences do require travel and they require a little bit of an investment to register and get tickets. But there’s so many free meetups and get togethers that are happening in local communities. And so please, please, please, I know it can be very scary, can be intimidating to get out and meet people. But I really encourage you to do that. I think it brings you good perspective. It keeps you sane. It keeps this fun. And when life has given you the opportunity, and it’s given you an empty canvas, and it’s given you all the pains, it’s given you all the paint brushes, it’s your responsibility to pick up that paintbrush and to really design a life in a business that you love.
So that’s it for today’s episode, just a little chat with you from the heart about what I wish I knew about business and what I have learned over the last few years. So I hope this has been helpful to you. You can find the links to those conferences that I mentioned in the show notes which is available at annettestepanian.com/podcast/36. And with that said my friend, I hope you’re having a fantastic day and I can’t wait to talk to you later.