This is Your Greatest Asset for Growth, Mastery and Impact

“I realized I’ve been trying to work on my weaknesses too much and not leveraging my strengths enough.”

That was the message I got this morning from a new client. I’m elated because this single insight will have a huge transformational impact on every aspect of her business and body of work.

Your strengths and unique genius are your greatest asset, not only for reaching your most important goals but also for making the greatest impact on others and securing the greatest fulfillment for you.

When you align your pursuits with your strengths, it infuses everything with a sense of ease. The results of your efforts amplify exponentially.

This is why I always spend some time with my clients exploring their strengths and unique genius before we dive into their business strategy.

Leveraging your strengths to their fullest requires that you continuously and relentlessly do four things.

1) Further your understanding of what your strengths are and how you can best use them to benefit others.

2) Fortify your belief in the value your strengths provide to others, especially those you serve with your work and business.

3) Focus as much of your time and energy as you can on things that align with and leverage your strengths (and always strive to increase the amount of time you are able to do so).

4) Consider how your strengths affect, align with, and can be used in every aspect of your business including content, marketing, sales, product development, business model, growth strategy, and so on. You should be thinking about your strengths with every decision you make every single day.

In my experience, most business owners have a lot of room for improvement in each of those four areas. I see them using content strategies and creating products that neglect their strengths. This is one of the greatest reasons they get stuck and their growth stagnates.

It’s so easy to get pulled towards what you think you “should” be doing when noise and dissonance bombard you from every direction — the comparison trap, well-meaning but ill-informed advice, the echo chamber of regurgitated ideas, noise from marketers selling their formulas, and the temptation to look outside of yourself for the “right answer.”

If you’re feeling dissonant or stuck in your pursuits, I recommend blocking some out time in the coming week to take an inventory of the “shoulds” that have infected your business and strategy. Reconnect with your strengths. Find one incremental way to better leverage them in your work.

The Real Reason Entrepreneurs Struggle to Find the Time to Do the Unique-Genius Work They Love

I hear business owners frequently say things like…

“My business never allows me the time I need to do the work I love most. There’s always a launch to do, decisions to make, and things to manage.”

or…

“If I could only hire the right team and automate my sales funnel, I’d finally be able to properly focus on the work that will have the biggest impact.”

I sympathize with these frustrations. I’ve felt them myself even recently.

However, these statements miss the real reason why they are struggling to do their unique-genius work and realize their vision of having bigger reach, influence, and impact as a thought leader at the top of their industry.

Evergreen Sales Funnels, Automated Systems, and a Bigger Team Are Not the Answer

In response to these frustrations, I often see business owners decide they need evergreen sales funnels, automated systems, a more effective team, and productivity hacks to free up their time and energy.

This may sound familiar.

However, the real problem is an unseen force that immediately absorbs any freed up time and energy like a black hole sucking up light.

(And that’s not to mention that even though popular “scaling and automation” strategies might grow your income, they do little to establish you as a top thought leader.)

If this “time and energy black hole” isn’t recognized and dealt with in the right way, you’ll continue to find time to do enough of the unique-genius work and thought-leadership activities required to create a truly distinct and impactful body of work.

The Cause of the Time and Energy Black Hole

 

Our human mind is wired to seek quick results. As entrepreneurs especially, we crave experiencing wins that provide fuel for our motivation, confidence, and work ethic.

This fuel is of utmost importance to our success. I call this “Efficacy Fuel” because it makes us feel competent and gives us a sense of being in control of our destiny.

As a business owner, you are constantly making decisions about where to invest your time and energy — your most important resources. We are more naturally drawn to dedicating time to things that provide us quick results (i.e. Efficacy Fuel).

Heck, I sometimes take a break in the middle of the day to play a video game just because I get to dependably win — I’m pretty good at it 😉 — and feel a hit of Efficacy Fuel.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting that. It’s a human need.

However, because you occupy two critical roles — business owner and thought leader — inevitably you have to choose how to invest your time and energy into doing the work of each role. Down the road you may be able to hand the business owner reins over to someone else, but for now you’re probably handling both roles out of necessity.

The Thought Leader Dilemma (or One Person, Two Full-Time Roles)

I call this the Thought Leader Dilemma. The way you respond to this dilemma has a significant impact on your long-term success.

The truth is that we will naturally be drawn to doing the business-owner tasks rather than thought-leadership tasks. This might surprise you to hear since you probably wish you had “more time to do the work you love most.”

However, the reality is that, without realizing why, we very often choose to focus on business-owner tasks because they more dependably give you Efficacy Fuel in the form of numbers, dollar signs, a checkmark on a to-do list, or a pat on the back.

On the other hand, thought-leadership tasks have a much more ambiguous payoff. For example, you could spend two hours writing your book and very likely be left with nothing more than a lingering doubt as to whether anyone will care at all about what you’ve written.

Eventually, this unique-genius work might produce recognition, gratitude, feelings of confidence, and proof that you’ve had an impact, but these things show up much further down the road. As a result, it requires a lot of faith to invest energy into these activities and wait for the deferred results.

When faced with a choice between an immediate concrete payoff and a deferred ambiguous result, the former will win almost every time. As a result, thought-leadership (unique-genius) tasks get put off until someday later along with the opportunities and results that they would eventually generate for you.

This leaves you with a frustration that you never have time to do the work you love most. You’re left with the feeling that there must be something more than the daily hustle and brush fires you deal with in your role as a business owner.

You’re left wondering why your big vision and desire to make a big change in the world keep moving farther away, always beyond your reach like the horizon seen from a ship in the middle of the ocean.

We blame the problem on things like daily brush fires, a pressure to hustle, or a need to maintain cash in the bank because it seems that is what’s happening on the surface.

Yet in a very real way, the part of you that wants fast payoffs and the part of you that wants to have a long-term impact are competing inside of you all the time. No wonder it gets so exhausting and frustrating!

Once You’re Aware, Then What?

What is the answer? Once we are aware of this “black hole” force, how do we escape the pull of its gravity?

For this to change, we first have to realize that we give away our time and energy to the business-owner tasks because they feel safer; they give us the Efficacy Fuel that we crave and need right now just to keep going.

You’ll find the answer in this video I made recently with Michael Roderick.

You can fast-forward to about the 6m10s mark since the beginning of the video is similar to this post

We’ve worked with numerous thought leaders and business owners to help them overcome this dilemma in a way that is effective and feels authentic.

With a few key shifts in their work and how they make strategic decisions, they are able to attend to all the vital business-owner tasks while also giving attention to the thought-leader activities that will ultimately realize the big vision they want most. Not only that, they derive far more Efficacy Fuel (i.e. motivation, confidence, clarity, and fulfillment) and results on a daily basis from the things they choose to spend their time on.

Check out the video here.

 

Photos by Clark Tibbs,Daiga Ellaby, Yong Chuan on Unsplash on Unsplash

The Most Common Barriers to Growing Impact and Income with Your Ideas

My first marketing school was a brown 1988 Buick that I bought from my Grandma for $1500.

The velvety bench seat in the back was always littered with tapes and CDs by consummate marketers like Dan Kennedy.

It was 2002. During my commute to and from work, I’d listen to the audios to gain ideas for marketing my alternative rock band, Desmo.

That’s how I learned the three M’s of marketing.

The 3 M’s of Marketing

Message, market, and media.

Put the right message, in front of the right market using the right media.

These days, we have so many shiny new marketing tools and methods, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals.

In this series, we’ve been chatting about the common barriers that can keep your business from growing.

In this post, I list the most common business growth barriers to help you identify the greatest opportunities for boosting your income and impact.

It’s interesting to note that the key to breaking through income barriers is often going back to the basics – find the market, the right message, and the right media.

If revenue has slowed or plateaued, it’s because one or more of those needs adjusting.

Before we dive into the list of barriers, be sure you have read the first two parts in this series on how to grow your business in 2017. Everything builds on what we’ve discussed before.

Read part 1 here →

Read part 2 here →

To create the list of income and impact killers below, I looked back at more than 14 years of experience working with over 6000 students and clients

These are the exact things that I look at in my clients’ businesses to bust through barriers and slingshot their growth.

I’ve grouped the barriers by the three major growth areas that we talked about in the last post – attract more leads, convert more leads into customers, boost customer lifetime value.

I’ve given each barrier a short name that describes it, followed by a description. You’ll also find a few questions to help determine if you’re running into that barrier.

A Caveat

The list below is designed to bring you confidence and clarity about what to focus on right now in your business.

Do not get overwhelmed by it. You might feel like you’re dealing with all the barriers.

This does not mean you are failing.

Don’t get down on yourself if you notice a barrier that has been there a long time without you realizing it. You are doing the best you can.

Over time you get better at choosing and focusing on the best growth strategies for your business. That’s part of becoming a stronger leader (a CEO) for your business.

It gets easier as you gain experience, resources, and advisors.

You can’t fix all the growth barriers overnight.

A robust business model takes some time to build. Even the most successful and profitable businesses have “holes in their bucket.”

Here’s the key to getting the most from the list of growth barriers below.

Based on your current resources, goals, and stage of business growth, choose which barrier is limiting your growth the most.

In other words, ask yourself which one will produce the greatest ROI in terms of increased income and impact once it is removed.

This is where mastermind groups, mentors, coaches and consultants can offer valuable outside perspective.

Finally, realize that this is not a comprehensive list. These are just the most common barriers for businesses that are in the six-figure range on a trajectory to reach a million a year in revenue.

Growth Barriers to Growing Your Audience

Attention Deficiency (Message Mismatch)

We live in an “attention economy.” In other words, attention is one of the most valuable resources that you can acquire and leverage in your business.

Your marketing message must capture and keep the attention of your ideal prospects. Without their attention, you can’t earn their trust.

No trust, no income, no impact.

The challenge is that it’s getting harder and more expensive to gain attention online. People tune out more easily. They are jaded after repeatedly hearing the same marketing messages. The best advertising and marketing channels are getting more competitive.

For this reason, it’s increasingly important to craft a message that is highly relevant to and resonant with the thoughts, pains, and desires of a laser-targeted audience. That is how you cut through the noise.

And market attention can shift. It’s vital that you keep up with (or even ahead of) what’s working right now to gain the attention of your market. A marketing message that once got attention might not do as well moving forward. This requires refining and testing your message often.

Questions to Ask

  • Is your marketing message highly relevant to the top-of-mind pains of your ideal customers?
  • Is your marketing message unique enough to stand out in the increasing noise online?
  • Does your marketing message communicate your unique value?
  • Does your marketing connect with the top-of-mind pains and problems of your intended customer before talking about the solution?

Media Mismatch

Another facet of effective marketing is using the right media to communicate your message to your target market.

I see business owners mess this up all the time. They take on too many content and marketing channels because they think that’s what they should do to grow their reach.

Because each marketing and sales channel requires additional time and resources to maintain, you must be selective about which ones you choose.

Your media channels must work together in a cohesive way to create a customer journey that moves prospects towards a sale and maximizes your income and impact.

Another mistake I commonly see is that business owners don’t know which media channels are producing results and which ones are a waste of time.

The Pareto Principle (also called the 80/20 Rule) tells us that 20% of your marketing efforts are producing 80% of your results. So which ones are in the 20%?

While the numbers might not be exactly 80/20 for you, the point is still the same – to double down on what’s working and give up what’s not. This is a continuous process as you take on new media channels to grow.

Questions to Ask

  • Does your marketing strategy incorporate media that are most likely to get the attention of your ideal audience?
  • Do your chosen marketing and content channels work together strategically to attract your ideal prospects and move them towards a sale?
  • Are you wasting resources on media channels that do not directly contribute to attracting prospects and customers? Do you have a plan for better leveraging the ones that are working?

Leads by Luck

To grow your business, you must get to a point where you can buy leads (through channels like Facebook ads) and quickly earn back your investment plus a profit.

This gives you a dependable, predictable way to generate and grow your monthly income.

In the past, you could grow an online business by relying solely on free content channels like social media, search traffic, blogs, podcasts and video. Those days are gone.

Free traffic is the slow route to growth. It’s tough to track the results. It’s unpredictable because there are too many variables that are out of your control. Free traffic channels can disappear overnight leaving your business without a source of new customers.

If you use only free marketing channels to generate leads, then you are depending on luck to grow your business.

Questions to Ask

  • Is your business entirely dependent on free sources of traffic?
  • Do you know how much money you can spend attracting a new lead and still earn a profit within a reasonable amount of time?

One-Size-Fits-All Marketing

Perhaps you’ve heard it’s important to define a description of your “customer avatar” to create effective marketing and sales. While that’s wise advice, the often-touted methods for defining an avatar are inadequate for growing your business in the current digital marketing landscape.

Most avatar definitions are made up of no more than basic demographic info and a shallow description of their desired outcome.

But your intended audience is made up of different sub-avatars, each with slightly different pains, challenges, and desired outcomes, not to mention different language for describing them. Some are ready to buy now while others need time to warm up.

This goes back to the importance of relevance and resonance in your marketing message.

If your marketing and sales process is built around one single customer avatar, you are ignoring as much as 80% of your income and impact. The good news is that 3-5 sub-avatar descriptions is adequate to cover your bases.

You have to use different content, ads, lead magnets and follow-up emails for each sub-avatar.

Questions to Ask

  • Have you identified the 3-5 sub-avatars that make up your ideal customer base?
  • Do you know the primary hot buttons for each sub-avatar?
  • Do you have a different lead magnet and follow up sequence for each of your sub-avatars?

Barriers to Attracting the Right Customers and Having a Bigger Impact

Customer Mismatch

Working with the wrong customers and clients is draining. You can’t do your best work. It pulls you outside of your strengths and unique genius.

It’s tempting to make exceptions and take on clients or customers that feel like “easy money” even if they’re not an ideal fit.

Attracting and working with the wrong people is a recipe for burnout. You can’t sell effectively or get the kind of results that your business or your clients need.

It’s also common to start out serving on kind of customer only to find out that it’s not really who you want to work with. To fix this you have to pivot your branding and marketing.

Eventually, you reach a point where you must adjust your customer definition, marketing, and sales process to move away from customers that limit and drain you to ones that will ultimately lead to more fulfillment, opportunities, and growth.

The sooner you do this, the sooner you accelerate your growth.

Questions to Ask

  • Do enjoy working with your clients? Are you energized by your interactions with them?
  • Are you able to do your best work and use your biggest strengths to deliver results for your customers?
  • Do you attract enough of the right leads to stay fully booked with your ideal clients, or do you make compromises because you’re afraid of not earning enough revenue?
  • Is it getting harder to attract the right clients?

Customer Capacity Limit

At some point, every business risks reaches the point where the demand for their products outpaces their ability to fulfill the product or service. One the one hand, this is a great position to be in. However, it immediately creates a barrier to increased revenue.

This is common occurrence when the offer is a service and you’ve capped out on how much time you can dedicate to delivering the service.

This is when the service needs to be productized (e.g. turned into a scalable course) or additional service providers much be brought on to increase customer capacity.

The other common limitation is when one person (such as the owner) is the only source of ideas, content or the final sign-off for new products. If this person becomes a bottleneck in the process, due to limited time and bandwidth, it will limit quickly limit revenue growth.

Questions to Ask

  • Does your business rely 100% on delivering 1:1 services to generate revenue or do you have scalable offers as a part of your product suite?
  • Does your business require a single person to deliver, create or sign-off on products?
  • Is there a cap to how many customers or clients you can take on because of limited human capital?

Boost Customer Lifetime Value

As a quick note, customer lifetime value is most often used to mean “the amount of money generated from a customer over the period of time they do business with you. I find it important to look at this from the perspective of value exhange. You’re not simply “extracting” as much income as you can from each customer. This line of thinking quickly becomes problematic. You must look at maximizing the value (or impact) delivered to each customer as a joint focus as you maximize the income you generate from the value you provide.

Incomplete Customer Journey

This one is the most important barrier to understand.

In fact, this one can make or break your entire business model. Get the customer journey right and all the other barriers fall away much more easily.

For that reason, I’m going to dedicate my next post to understanding this powerful leverage point for growing your business.

One final note.

The barriers listed above recur multiple times over the lifetime of your business. As your goals change and the market shifts, barriers that you dealt with once before can re-emerge.

Okay. You’ve made it to this point in this meaty newsletter. It’s worth reviewing this one regularly.

Whenever you sense a barrier holding you back, look over the list above to identify the most important thing to focus on next to grow your income and impact.

Take Action

Choose the barrier above that feels like it could generate the biggest growth if you were to remove it. Look for the low-hanging fruit.

And don’t get overwhelmed. Focus on one at a time. Next thing you know you will be at that one-million dollar a year mark, making an impact the way you’ve always envisioned.

Next time, we discuss the customer journey. It’ll be a juicy one!

3 Common Mistakes that Will Hinder the Growth of Your Business and the Impact of Your Work

Confession time! I’m avoiding the ginormous task of deciding which schools to apply my daughter to for kindergarten this fall. The system here in Manhattan is overwhelming, even for the public schools!

So instead, I’m writing this post to chat more about growing your business – a much more enjoyable task :).

My daughter and I -- check out that smile!

Maybe you can relate to my overwhelm. Our business sometimes feels like our child. “Raising it” to be happy, healthy and growing can be overwhelming.

So, let’s continue our chat from the last email about how to grow your business in 2017 so you can survive the big shifts taking place online.

First, a quick summary of what we talked about in the last email…

  • Every entrepreneur will hit multiple growth barriers (income ceilings) along their journey
  • A growth barrier will hold you back until you make the necessary upgrades in your business
  • For every week spent hitting a barrier, you miss out on more money, impact, and opportunities
  • Busting through a barrier always requires a) getting outside perspective from coaches, mentors or masterminds and b) making uncomfortable leaps of faith
  • Taking the leap to the next level is an investment that produces a huge ROI

Click here if you want to (re-)read part one in this series email series. I’ll meet you back here.

Did you know there are only three ways to grow your business? That’s it. Can you guess what they are?

I’ll let you think about that for just a minute. Did you know there are only three ways to grow your business? That’s it. Can you guess what they are?

First, let’s look at three things that most people think will grow their business, but that really lead to overwhelm, burnout and mediocre results.

  1. Get more traffic
  2. Do more product promotions or launches
  3. Raise prices or take on more clients

Are you nodding your head yet? I am. I’ve been guilty of focusing on each these. And boy was it disappointing.

Here’s why focusing on these three things to grow your business is often a huge mistake.

Mistake #1: Focusing on Generating More Traffic

Everyone wants more traffic, right? We all want more people to see our content and visit our site because some of them might like what they see and become customers or clients…in theory.

It seems to make a lot of sense. It’s an easy assumption to make.

The problem is this…

You don’t need traffic.

When you’re starting out, there are far more effective (and faster) ways to get your first customers than getting more traffic from content, search engines or social media.

What about when you already have customers, but want more? Again, traffic is the wrong focus.

Focusing on getting more traffic usually means adding yet another media channel or social network to your marketing mix and creating more content.

Each one of these things requires more of your time. Sooner than later, you max out and burnout.

Plus, free traffic is usually slow to grow. Sure, you can get the quick hit here and there. But overall the rate of content-driven traffic is out of your control, not to mention it can disappear overnight when Google, Facebook or whatever other platform changes the rules of the game.

To be clear, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do content marketing. It still plays a role in establishing your authority, earning the trust of your audience and preparing them to buy.

However, to grow your business you need a predictable flow of qualified leads, not more traffic.

Shift your focus from getting more traffic to getting more leads. This will help you choose strategies that will produce growth faster and more frequently.

Mistake #2: Doing More Product Launches and Promotions

Ever thought or said something like this:

“If I want to grow my income, I just need to sell more products.  So, I’ll do more launches and promotions.”

The logics seems sound. It’s an easy assumption to make (one that I have made many times).

Here’s the harsh truth.

Launches are good for bringing in cash, not for growing your baseline, predictable monthly income.

The way most people do launches, it turns into a vicious cycle of boom and bust.

Fill the coffers. Yay! Spend the money. Boo! Gotta launch again!

Again, I want to be clear. Launches are great when you use them as a part of your business model in the right way.

But they are horrible for business growth.

Launches are exhausting, resource-intensive and unpredictable.

You can’t easily test, tweak and improve them.

When you launch too often, you also burn out your list.

Bottom line: if you depend solely on launches and frequent promotions to generate income and growth, you are at risk and far more likely to stay stuck.

Mistake #3: Taking on More Clients and/or Raising Prices

If you make most of your money doing direct client work, then pay close attention here.

Eventually, you hit a point where you’re hustling too hard to make too little money.

To make more money, you take on more clients. But there’s a limit to how many clients you can handle. This creates a ceiling on your income.

Or maybe you raise your prices. Great! Most people need to raise their prices. And yes, that will earn you more revenue.

However, if this is your primary way of growing your income, you are severely limited. You can still only handle so many clients and there’s only so much each is willing to pay.

Now that we’ve looked at what not to focus on to grow your business, let’s look at what does work.

When it Comes Down to It, There Are Only Three Ways to Grow Your Business

Every strategy, tactic or system for growing your income, and impact falls into one of these three categories.

  1. Attract more leads
  2. Convert more leads into customers
  3. Boost the lifetime value of each customer (i.e. how much value you deliver to and income you generate from each customer over time)

That’s it. The key is knowing…

  1. Which of the three growth areas is most important to focus on now
  2. The one or two strategies that will generate the biggest growth in that area

Notice how focused that is. One growth area at a time. One or two strategies at a time.

Until you have a team of five or more people, you can’t handle more than that without hurting your results.

Given everything we’ve discussed so far, it’s easy to see why so many business owners hit a growth barrier and just keep slamming against it.

If you are struggling to grow your business you are likely either…

  • Focused on the wrongs things and/or
  • Doing too many things at once

The end result?

You get distracted by your next idea. You get pulled into the next sexy marketing message and buy yet another product.

“Oh, this must be what I need! Sign me up!”

Bit by bit you end up with a menagerie of tactics and partial strategies that add up to disappointment, overwhelm, and little growth.

All right. That’s a lot to think over for today. The big takeaway here is to FOCUS.

Know what to focus on next to grow your most important objectives right now.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the most common growth barriers that online businesses run into for each of the three growth areas we discussed above.

It will help you identify the biggest weaknesses (and therefore opportunities) when it comes to growing your income and impact.

 

The Uncomfortable Truth about Growing Your Business in 2017

Let’s talk about how to grow your business to the next level in 2017

First, let’s discuss what to do if you are:

  • Hustling too hard and making too little money
  • Struggling to attract enough leads and customers
  • Attracting the wrong customers and clients
  • No longer fulfilled by a business you once loved
  • Hitting an income plateau and don’t know how to get to the next level
  • Cycling through boom and bust periods, doing launch after launch, without predictable monthly revenue coming in

If any of that resonates, then keep reading. We’re going to talk about the uncomfortable truth that keeps so many businesses from growing (and even dooms many to fail).

Each of the bullet points above is a symptom that your business has hit a growth barrier.

Without the right changes, your business won’t grow.

No matter how hard you work.

No matter how many new tactics and strategies you try.

No matter how many new ideas you through against the wall.

Your income, opportunities, impact and fulfillment will stay stuck until you uncover the cause of the barrier and make the changes necessary to remove it.

Even worse, your business could become irrelevant, wither and die.

The truth is that every month (or year) spent up against a barrier is income, opportunity, and impact lost.

When you look at it that way, you can’t afford to NOT do whatever it takes to bust through now, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

Not to mention, more people than ever are coming online to share their own message. The ones who bust through the barriers fastest will leave the rest in the dust.

But if you do what so many others are not willing to do and embrace change, even if it’s uncomfortable at first, your business will leap frog to new levels.

This can either be the best or worst thing to happen to you. The choice is yours.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at…

How to Recognize When You’ve Hit a Barrier and How to Bust Through it as Quickly as Possible.

Let me share a quick story about a time I got stuck and how I finally fixed it.

In October of 2005, I started a podcast with a friend to see if this new medium had business potential.

We were thrilled when our “side project” suddenly rushed to the top of the podcast charts, even beating out major brands. Our audience was begging us to create a product for them.

And so a new business was born.

We doubled our income every year for the first three years.

We were making six figures from our podcast before most podcasters had figured out how to make a dime.

Then suddenly, BAM! Our income stopped growing. It didn’t shrink. It just wouldn’t go any higher.

So we buckled down and worked harder, confident that our income would eventually grow again. After all, we just needed to do more of what had gotten us that far, right?

Nope!

The fourth year generated the exact same income as the previous one. We hadn’t realized it yet, but we were slamming up against a growth barrier.

No amount of hard work was going to get us any farther.

Finally, we signed up to work with a coach that a friend recommended. It was a big investment, but we knew we needed to get outside insight.

Right away the coach could see that we were up against a growth barrier. More importantly, he knew why. He showed us that…

In order to break through the barrier and continue growing, we had to make key adjustments to how we operated our business.

Getting past each barrier requires different changes in your business.

It might be a shift in branding, target audience, or business model. Perhaps you’ll need new messaging or marketing systems. It almost always demands an upgrade to your mindset.

Each case is different.

In our case, getting to the next level meant hiring a team. We’d resisted hiring people for two years, worried that it would limit our freedom. And if I’m honest, I was scared of hiring and managing people. It felt so uncertain.

Our coach pointed out that we could either accept the certainty that we would stay stuck at our current income level OR we could step into uncertainty and reach a new level of opportunity and growth.

We knew he was right, so we moved toward the discomfort and invested in hiring a team.

The moment we made the leap, we started seeing the payoff. In fact, we wondered why we hadn’t made the leap earlier.

Our income started growing again.

Here are five key insights to pull from this story to help you break through your next barrier.

1) Growth Barriers Are a Sign of Success

If you’re doing things right you can expect to hit growth barriers along the way. Every entrepreneur does. Barriers are actually mileposts marking your journey.

You see, every business goes through predictable stages of growth. To get from one stage to the next, you have to cross a barrier. The barrier is a sign of bigger things to come.

Think of it as your business challenging you to see if you’re ready and worthy for what’s next. The barrier is an invitation to upgrade.

2) Growth Barriers are an Opportunity to Upgrade

Again, what got you here won’t get you there.

Your current mindset, systems, strategies and team (if you have one) have a built-in level of success that they can generate. Eventually, you hit a max.

Every stage of business growth requires a new way of thinking and operating. It’s like installing a new operating system on your computer with new features that enable you to do bigger and better things.

Though upgrading isn’t easy, it’s worth it.

Bigger income, impact, and opportunities are waiting at the next level. But you have to prove you’re ready for bigger rewards.

3) Busting a Barrier Requires Uncomfortable Leaps of Faith

We’ve already established that it requires change to get to the next level. Change isn’t easy.

And often the required changes are uncomfortable because they require us to expand and step into uncertainty.

The best thing to do is recognize this, embrace it, and take the leap. Have confidence that you are capable of tackling whatever comes your way.

4) You Need Outside Perspective to Break Through a Growth Barrier

The entrepreneurs that move past growth barriers quickly get outside perspective. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to break through on your own.

We each have blind spots when it comes to life and business.

You’ve probably had that experience where a friend is venting about a problem. To you it seems so clear what the problem is and what to do about it. But she can’t see it. She’s too close to the issue.

We’re often so busy working in our business that we fail to see the barrier ahead of us.

Also, we don’t know what we don’t know.

I’ve had clients come to me asking for help refining their marketing message, but when we dig into their business I can see what they need is to pivot their business model.

I see this all the time. It’s easy to make assumptions about what your business needs based on past experience.

However, this often leads to ignoring the underlying problem and focusing on the wrong thing.

That’s why coaches, consultants, mentors, and masterminds are so critical to growth.

They offer foresight outside our own experience, help remove the blinders. and fill in the gaps. They also encourage us to push into unknown (uncomfortable) territory

5) Busting Through a Barrier is an Investment with a High ROI

I’m in an invite-only Facebook Group mastermind with 100 entrepreneurs and influencers each making six- or seven-figures in their business.

One day someone asked the group what the most important shifts were to go from 100k, to 500k and then to a million dollars a year.

One of the answers really stood out to me because it’s so true.

“The tricky thing about getting to seven figures is you have to start investing in ‘seven figure things’ even before you are making seven-figure money.

As my friend Breanne Dyck says, “You have to build for the business you want, not the business you have.”

Entrepreneurs who grow quickly are willing to invest resources into upgrading their mindset, systems, strategy, and business model — even if it feels like a leap of faith to do so.

In the case of my earlier story, we had to invest money into hiring team members. It wasn’t easy to commit to a new monthly expense.

But the truth is, it wasn’t an expense. It was an investment because it freed up our time so that we could focus on more profitable activities.

As a result, our income started growing again.

Your changes might be different, but there will always be an investment.

Whether it’s hiring a coach, building a team, buying new software or any other investment of time, money or energy, it will feel like a leap of faith.

Remember that there’s an ROI just on the other side of the barrier.

Also remember what our coach told us. You can either except the certainty that you’ll stay stuck at your current level or you can step into uncertainty of change and reap the rewards.

In my next post, I’ll outline the most common barriers to business growth and how to get passed each.

It will help you assess your specific situation and what changes are necessary to get to the next level of impact and income.

After all, the last thing we want is for 2017 to end only to realize that you’re still stuck in the same place.

In the meantime, look at the list below and pick out the statement that best describes the barrier you’re up against right now. This will help you prepare to break through it.

  • I’m hustling too hard and making too little money
  • I’m struggling to attract enough leads and customers
  • I’m attracting the wrong customers and clients
  • I’m no longer fulfilled by a business you once loved
  • I’ve hit an income plateau and don’t know how to get to the next level
  • I cycle through boom and bust periods, doing launch after launch, without predictable monthly revenue coming in