The 5 hidden time sucks in your business (and what to do about them).

Janine looking scared and worried in front of multicoloured stopwatches and next to the blog title

How we all wish we could create more time and get more done in our small businesses.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could just wave a wand and magic you up a few more hours in your day? Better still, a few more days in your week? 

Or… *Genius Idea Approaching*… I could clone you! 

Step into my machine and five identical replicas of you would pop out. One to create your content, one to do your social media, one to do your launches and sales, one for admin and one to do anything scary. Leaving you free to focus solely on the work that lights you up; the stuff you’re actually paid for. Bliss! 

Well, you aren’t going to get either of those in this blog…

BUT you will get some insight into the lesser-noticed time-sucks and how to mitigate their effects.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I’m going to put my fancy-dress doctor’s outfit on and ask you a diagnostic question:

The best advice for you will depend on your answer(s) to that question. Here are the common ones I come across with my clients:

  • Too much good client work
  • Too much bad client work
  • Conscious procrastination
  • Unconscious procrastination
  • Serving too many audiences

Let’s take them one at a time.

You might be in the heady stage of your business where word has got out about how good you are. You’re working all the hours and you feel like you can’t say no to good business because ‘it’s all money’ and who knows what’s around the corner. Make hay while the sun shines. Right?

That’s fine if you’re happy to carry on working nineteen-to-the-dozen indefinitely. But in my experience, people who are working like this are making major sacrifices in other areas of their life. Family and relationships are suffering. Self care goes down the toilet. Hobbies; what are they?! 

Also, having a ‘mixed bag’ client roster has a multitude of problems including:

  • If you use testimonials from your less on-point clients they attract other less on-point clients.
  • The challenges your non-ideal clients come to you with muddy the water for your messaging. It’s hard to create content when the people you’re interacting with have wildly different problems or perspectives from each other. This is why niching is so powerful.
  • The fact that it dilutes your positioning of what you do in your own mind, which makes it tricky to articulate what you do to others.

Here are some alternatives to you working your fingers to the bone:

  • Get crystal clear on who you want to attract then start ‘auditioning’ clients rather than reacting to what they’re asking you to do for them.
  • Do this in conjunction with limiting your working hours. I worked with a client recently who was working 8am-8pm every day and weekends too. She told me that she wanted to work 9am-5pm Monday to Thursday only, so we structured her pricing accordingly. The look of relief on her face was a picture.

I love helping one-to-one coaches and consultants fine tune and sell their current one-to-one offering so they can earn more with that simple business model but without slogging their guts out. (And of course, sorting this first makes sense even if they do want to scale with associates or a one-to-many model later.)

I cover all this on The Freedom Giver. Want a chat to see if you’d be a good fit for it? Book a call to speak to me here. 

Time Suck 2: Too much bad client work

Can you get bad client work? If you need to ask that question then congratulations, you’ve never had a situation where you’ve given a client way more than they’ve paid for! This isn’t necessarily the fault of the client and it can usually be fixed.

  • If you haven’t already, make sure your service level agreements are in your contract. Better still, discuss it before they sign up and make it part of your sales and onboarding process.
  • Create content about what your boundaries are and why they’re good for you and your clients. Here’s an example of a blog I send to people who are about to start working with me: ‘Four things that will make or break our work together’. It sets the tone and avoids any last minute misconceptions about what clients might expect from me.
  • Add unwanted behaviours to an ‘anti-ideal avatar’. One of my favourite things to do when I’ve had a poor experience with a client is to work out what went wrong and fix it for future. If I accidentally recruit a non-ideal customer I’ll pinpoint the issues I had a problem with and make sure my sales copy is clear about who I work with.
  • And of course getting clear on who you want to work with in the first place is the best place to start with this. As mentioned in time suck 1. :  )

Do you ever catch yourself procrastinating but then feel incapable to do anything about it? I do! This usually happens when I’m undergoing some major changes in my business. Perhaps I’m planning a big price increase or I’m pitching to someone who feels out of my league. Very few business owners are devoid of mind monkeys. I’ve done plenty of mindset work over the years and can now notice when these things rear their cheeky heads.

  • First of all, take notice of what your frequent procrastination triggers are. Is it that you nip on Facebook to message a potential client then two hours later you realise all you’ve done is learned how not to do your eye make-up when you’re over forty? Only me..?
  • Next, try and catch yourself in the act. When you find yourself procrastinating, work out what you were trying to avoid. Were you trying to avoid an unpleasant task or a scary activity? Unpleasant but ‘must-do’ tasks are best performed in a brisk fashion!
  • Scary tasks might need some more digging into. Our mind gremlins are trying to keep us safe. Deep down if you have some unhelpful beliefs about who you’re meant to be as a business owner; or perhaps more pertinently as a woman/ mother/ wife/ friend etc. there might be some internal clashes in how deep down you feel like you should be acting and how you consciously want to act to move your business forward. I highly recommend digging into this through journaling or even some mindset coaching if you’re noticing severe faffing behaviours.

One of my former clients is the most productive person I’ve ever met. She handles a large load of one-to-one work, runs massive training programmes as well as regularly publishing books, blogs and a podcast to boot. But nobody is infallible. We’d be merrily working away when suddenly, out of the blue a genius MUST DO idea would strike that HAD to be launched immediately. This meant some of the other work that was better aligned to her long term goals was in danger of being parked for a few weeks or months. NOT ON MY WATCH. This kind of procrastination can easily go under the radar. It’s insidious. You feel like you’re getting loads of work done, working on the next launch, then the next then the next, but actually you’re treading water and not really moving your business forwards in the way you want.

  • Put aside a day per month or per quarter to step back and get clear on where you see your business going. Your goals don’t have to be detailed. They don’t even have to be written down, but you do need a direction or you’ll be meandering all over the place; not actually moving forwards at all.
  • Remind yourself of your mission. Why are you doing what you do? You might even want to write down who you’re serving and how you help people and stick it on your desk somewhere noticeable to act as a yardstick for your business decisions. It’ll make it easier to spot when your mind gremlins have taken control and put another shiny must-do idea into your head to distract you from your bigger (scarier?) long-term goal.
  • Remember that saying ‘yes’ to something new usually means saying ‘no’ to something else. What are you saying ‘no’ to by allowing this new potential cuckoo into your nest?
  • Work with a coach. Knowing the theory is all well and good but it’s so hard doing the work on our own businesses. We’re just not objective. I specialise in helping people grow their income with their one-to-one services without getting knackered, so book a chat with me if that sounds like you. My little black book is stuffed with all sorts of other types of coaches and mentors, so do tap me up on LinkedIn if you want me to recommend someone to you.

There are many ways this can happen, here are the most common ones:

  • You’re resisting ‘niching’ because you don’t want to cut down your options of who’d want to work with you.
  • You want to scale your business so you’re adding some new higher or lower ticket services that appeal.
  • You’re pivoting your business towards a new audience but haven’t let go of the old one yet.

Whichever situation you’re in, serving more than one audience is exhausting if you haven’t got the structure, resources or support in place to accommodate their differing idiosyncrasies. Also, when you’re appealing to more than one audience, it can muddy your messaging. I’ve seen people present several very different offers to three sets of people with contrasting needs and business sizes on the same sales page and even in one social media post. The result is confusing. And confused people don’t buy. If you needed a new kitchen fitting would you go to a jack-of-all trades builder for who ‘no job is too big or too small’. Or would you go with a kitchen fitter? Ideally, every piece of marketing communication you produce e.g. blog, email, social media post, should be written with one audience in mind. And certainly, if you have a specific service to sell, the sharper you can be with how you’ve defined they type of person who’ll want it, the better. Let’s say you have high ticket services that costs £5k a pop; working one-to-one mentoring experienced dog salon owners to franchise their business. You’re tempted by the idea of launching a membership and get some sweet recurring income. In this scenario there are two things to look out for:

  • The same people who are buying your £5k programme, aren’t necessarily the same people who’d want your membership. This means that you have to put in the effort to define your target market for your membership, learn what their pain points are and craft the messaging to this audience. If you don’t get this right, it’ll be impossible to recruit members and even harder to get them to stay.
  • OR your membership does appeal to your current audience, so your high ticket leads join your low ticket offer instead and you ‘cannibalise’ your revenue.

Both of these outcomes can be managed by adjusting your content strategy and reallocating your resources etc. But if you launch without thinking it all through, you’re in for a mad scramble as the dice fall where they may! Read more about serving new audiences as a way to grow your business in my blogs ‘Which growth strategy is best for your business?’ and Which is the better coaching consulting business model for you: One-to-One vs Group Programmes vs Membership vs Online Courses.

I love sharing advice on how to simplify services and unlock the freedom in your business. This blog is the kind of thing I send out regularly to my subscribers. Speaking of which…

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