“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
I’ve started noticing more people mentioning that they don’t feel confident in running their small business here in San Luis Obispo County where I offer my services as a small business coach. While confidence is part of an internal conflict for most of us and hinges on our own feelings of self-esteem, all hope is not lost if you are one of those wondering how to be more confident in running your small business. The key is in repetition. Even Aristotle knew it.
I am all about habit building (I’m known around San Luis Obispo for being a broken record in telling people to put things on the calendar to get it done). Confidence occurs out of results, results occur out of repetition and building successful habits! Here’s an example:
You own a small business but after working hard on it for over a year, you still aren’t making enough money to support your desired lifestyle, which crushes your self-esteem and leaves you lacking the confidence that you can be successful working for yourself. Ask yourself where the money failure sits – are you working a lot of hours and not making enough? Raise your rates. Are you not gaining new clients? It’s time for marketing. There are, of course, many other setbacks to the revenue generation for a small business and sorting that out is one of my specialties, but I want to keep things simple for this example. Raising rates can be difficult for many small business owners without enough confidence, so I’ll use this for the rest of the example.
Asking for more money when you don’t feel you “deserve” it isn’t easy. And it doesn’t usually work out in the end. So, here comes the habit building. After researching competitor rates and calculating what you need to be charging, set a conversion date. On that date, you’ll be upping the rate for your existing clients. Prior to that date, all new clients will be at the new rate. Don’t tip-toe around it, either. When you’re presented with a new client, tell them this is the rate, not some song and dance about how you just raised your rate because you’re really not making enough to live on. Practice clearly and calmly stating this is your new rate. If you sell merchandise or a service, it doesn’t matter – don’t barter your rate. Remember, you’re already working too many hours for not enough income. If someone passes on you, so be it. You’re starting with new clients because the current clients are more valuable than a potential customer or client. Remember, one in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Once you have become comfortable with asking for this new rate to new clients, draft up a SHORT email to your current clients to announce the rate change and the date that rate goes into effect. Once that has had a week to be read, start bringing it into your conversation with clients. Ask them if they saw your email about the rate change. You can but do not have to explain that you haven’t raised your rates for some time and that this change is necessary. Hold your ground. You’ll find the clients who appreciate your product or service are going to be surprisingly accepting of this change. Also, current clients should already know your value and your customer service should have developed both a relationship with them and a sense of loyalty. Measure your successes, not the number of clients you lose. Some loss is inevitable because there are those who measure only for the “best price.” However, if you are doing a good job with the value conversation that loss should be minimal. Hold your head high and remember this is all a part of business and nothing personal. With each client that accepts the new rate, your confidence will increase and you will find that you’ll be able to openly state the new, higher rate with both new and existing customers and clients without hesitation.
This example was meant to show you what I mean by creating a habit for confidence. Select something you need and practice it again and again until you become comfortable with it. In the beginning, you may fail at it a few times, but once you become comfortable with it, your confidence will go up in turn. And when your confidence goes up, it will be easier to be effective at what you’re doing, be it asking for a higher rate, posting more often on Facebook, or picking up the phone and checking in with past clients (which is a great way to bring in more revenue but that is for another post). The more you do it, the easier it will get and the better you’ll feel about it, which will boost your confidence in running your small business.