5 Observations For Growth Oriented Small Business Owners Right Now

5 Observations For Growth Oriented Small Business Owners Right Now

I’m excited for these next couple of episodes. I’m debriefing and talking through some of the observations I’ve had over the last year and growth oriented small business owners can be considering as we roll into a new year, which I’m feeling very optimistic about. 

Now, every so often, I peep the podcast stats. I’ve noticed an uptick in downloads, which means you all took me seriously last month when I was saying that I don’t want to give Zucks a dime. If you didn’t hear me say that, that’s at the end of the last couple of episodes I did. This is going to be relevant, this “how can we minimize the influence that social media has on our businesses and how can we maximize social media to have a more positive impact on our businesses?” Because the disruption in technology companies this year has had a really profound impact on small businesses. 

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Mark Zuckerberg as I have issues with his ethics and values over at Facebook. I don’t find him particularly bright when I hear him speak or when I read his documents from his meetings, which I sometimes do, they make them public and I’m like, “I think this guy really has a great pulse on what he’s got going on over there.” I tend not to give Facebook money for ads.

I’ve also seen business owners gamble big on ads and not have it pay off. Even when it led to revenue, it took a big hit on their profitability. That is also against my values. Now, this isn’t every business. Businesses that have a high actual customer lifetime value, super niche, or e-commerce businesses probably do okay with ads. But running Facebook Ads requires data and a very dialed-in sales process that you know converts. 

It’s always easier to convert warm leads than cold traffic. If you’re running ads, if you’re playing with ads, totally cool. To be honest, I might even play with some ads in 2022 just because I want to have some research and data for myself that I’m seeing being reported out by people around the statistics around the efficacy of Facebook Ads. I might dabble in that just for my own research experiment.

This is no judgment for you if you do that. However, I’m committed to showing business owners that there are other options like creating highly-valuable content that demonstrates you’ve taken the time and care to know your target market better than they know themselves, and then have the courage, the boldness to talk about the things that others might not be talking about so that you build trust with the people who you want to serve and then, in turn, those people support you in small and big ways. My goal is always to be so good that people are compelled to share my work so I never have to give Zucks a dime.

Please share, please review, put time on your calendar to take action from what we talk about today. Being inspired isn’t enough and it’s definitely not going to be enough in 2022. As always, I want you to hit me up on Instagram. Drop me a note, a voice message. I’m committed to being in this with you. The only reason why I actually use social media, Instagram specifically, is to engage in meaningful business dialogue with small business owners like you. I’m there for the engagement. I’m there for the conversation and so I really want to welcome you all to make sure you head on over to @thetaranewman and say hi, to introduce yourself, to share something. I’m there for the conversations.

Today I want to share some observations that I’m reflecting on as I plan my curriculum for The Bold Profit Academy and our brand new program, The Bold Profit Academy+ where you get everything that’s inside The Bold Profit Academy but additional mentorship and structure with me through implementation calls and hot seats. 

My observations are coming from anecdotal evidence. What I mean by that is I collect this information from my clients, from community members, and from daily conversations that I’m having with small business owners. I really run with a very diverse group of small business owners. I talk to people online. I’m really into talking to small business owners in my local area. I talk to small business owners who have service-based businesses, who are selling products, who are running manufacturing businesses, and construction. It doesn’t matter to me. To be honest, there are a lot of themes that go across all businesses. It’s not always as individualized as someone might think.

Why it’s important to invest in your own solutions and support.

Before we even get to my main set of observations, I’m going to give you my bonus observation first. It’s that I need to share a disclaimer because I’ve watched so many people cobble together free advice and do harm to their earning potential. I’ve got a client who has a very specific sales strategy and when we created it, we did it based on some very unique factors around their strengths, around their personality, around things that they really, really had some challenging beliefs around and mindset. It was a very specific strategy. 

This person was willing to test it to see if it worked, knowing full well that it might not work. Over the past year, I’ve had at least five people say to me, “Oh, so-and-so is doing this so I am chill,” and they’re copying my client’s strategy. I just shake my head because that was a strategy she paid me to develop with her based on her unique circumstances. You have no idea if it’s actually working. You’re not behind the scenes of that business.

Every day, people are copying tactics from people they see on Instagram, on social media specifically, I do not see this in my clients who do not have online businesses. While they might look successful based on their branding, their personality, their manner of communicating, you have actually no idea if they are making money; and if they are making money, if they are keeping the money they are making. 

If you want support in your business, you should really pay for it. Consulting, coaching, creators, knowledge workers deserve to be compensated for their experience and their expertise. 

Here’s my disclaimer, my boundaries: 

This content, as always, is meant to be informational. I ask that you use your own agency and critical thinking when making decisions about your business. Running a business requires investment in time, energy, and money. It’s not something that can be built and sustained by cobbling together free advice from the internet.

This honestly just isn’t about business, this is about anything. You can insert anything that requires an investment of time, energy, money, relationships, health, so many things require that level of investment. I’m at the point, in my truth-telling, where I’m going to say something that is going to be hard for some of you to hear. I say the hard things with the deepest respect and from a place that I want to serve. It’s never meant to denigrate. 

If all you can afford is free advice from random Facebook groups, Instagram reels, freebies, then you might be better off not running a business. There are a lot of jobs out there that you can do. It is a hot job market right now. I’ve got friends negotiating much bigger salaries than they thought possible, and a lot more flexibility in their schedules. I am always, always, always here for you prioritizing your mental and emotional health. Sometimes, that includes your financial health and how your financial health is impacting your emotional and mental health. If you need to get a job, please, there is no shame in that. Your financial, emotional, and mental health are so important.

Businesses require investment. They require you to pay people like accountants and lawyers for contracts. You’re going to need support in your business from support staff. You’ll most likely need to invest in some business or money education because you’re most likely a real, true, credible expert in what you do with lots of years of expertise, but that thing you do might not be in business or in money. 

Here’s the other thing, I consider myself to be an expert in business and money education and I still invest in coaches and consultants to help me in my business and with my money. The same things that I coach and consult other people on. Because I want a different set of eyes. I want someone to challenge the way I’m thinking about something. I want someone to make me check in on my accountability and my integrity with my work, and if I’m avoiding something, and what I need support and prioritizing.

Even though I do this for a living and I invest in these people as well, they help me see my own work through a different lens and it makes me better. It makes me so much better at what I do and then I can add value to my clients. When I can add value to my clients, my clients get better results. When my clients get better results, then it leads to more sales. There are truly profitable ways that you can be investing in your business that add value to the whole ecosystem of you doing business. I’ve seen way too many people try to keep their investment in their business super low and it fails. 

I was just talking the other day, it was an interview for this person’s event. We were talking and she said that she implements Profit First and she was saying how the first year or two in her business, she was reinvesting everything into the business. That’s accurate. I want to normalize that. I want to normalize that it does cost money to get your business up and running and to keep your business running. I want to normalize that you’re going to have to make these investments. It would be really unprofessional of me to let anybody believe otherwise.

If you’re not willing to invest in your skills, knowledge, abilities, into your improvement, to take yourself seriously in that way, think about what you’re attracting into your business. It’s just not congruent to ask people to do something that you’re unable or unwilling to do for yourself. That is the first observation that I’m going to make. That was actually my bonus observation. 

With that, here are five observations.

Observation one for growth oriented small business owners like you.

It’s time to take ownership seriously and do some of your own googling. 

Most business owners, especially if they’re heavily reliant on, or spend a lot of time on social media, they’re not engaging in real business news and industry information, they are engaging in business entertainment, in the memification of business and recycled content that says the same thing over and over again in a more boring and inaccurate way each time somebody copies a style or advice. I’m on the same platforms as you, I see it happening all the time. 

If you’re relying on headlines or even avoiding the news because you want to stay positive or protect your energy, you’re making a choice to be uninformed and disengaged from critical thinking. Two things that are required to make business decisions.

For example, I can feel the hesitation right now that small business owners have in making growth decisions. They are feeling uncertain and maybe afraid of the unknown. They’re feeling fatigued, unsure, and maybe a little not trusting in themselves at the moment. If you’re skimming the headlines or scrolling through the news feed, you’re most likely to believe that the economy is in a grim state. We’re seeing things about inflation. We’re seeing governments arguing. We’re seeing climate things happening. But the reality is the economy is actually doing incredibly well and there has never been more opportunity and prosperity, yet people think it’s dire.

There was a New York Times article and it was titled “Americans Are Flush With Cash and Jobs. They Also Think the Economy Is Awful.” This was written by Neil Irwin. He talks about the psychological effects of inflation and says, “Americans are, by many measures, in a better financial position than they have been in many years. They also believe the economy is in terrible shape.” This is leading to people deliberating too long in their businesses around what direction to take, making investments they need to move forward and solving the problems that they actually have. I’ve seen an over abundance of hemming and hawing and waiting and seeing. You’re not being discerning, you’re in fear and it’s costing you opportunities daily.

I’m going to give you a totally personal example about something that I did, made a quick decision, and I was able to take advantage of an opportunity to really make more money and get my money working for me. About eight weeks ago, I accidentally decided to buy some Tesla stock because it dipped. I hemmed and hawed for a few minutes, I absolutely did, and came to the conclusion that if something really dire happened to Tesla, then we are all way more screwed than anything. I jumped in and now eight weeks later, I am up 74% in my investment. If I waited, if I wasn’t sure, if I got into “the sky is falling, the economy is collapsing,” then I would have never bought that stock and I would have never made that money over the last eight weeks. By the way, that was money that I made using the money I make in my business. I invested in the stock so it made more money for me that I didn’t have to work for. This is why I want you to be profitable because I want you to start being able to make these decisions. I know for some of you, that feels really far away but if you just start to engage in the conversation, if you just start to engage in the dialogue, it happens a lot faster.

Now some of you are probably like, “But Tara, what happens if it all collapses?” 

A. The market, the economy, the state of business is always ebbing and flowing. It will lose steam, slow down, and become recessive. That’s a fact. We have data on that. But we also have data that wealth is created in times of economic recession. I’ve seen statistics that have said about 50% of businesses are started during recessive economies—and by the way, we are not in a recessive economy, I’m just making a point—we’re seeing that now, as people are entering entrepreneurship at an accelerated rate because something happened to create disruption, to create a little chaos. Chaos is opportunity, chaos isn’t something to be feared. 

B. This really comes down to do you trust yourself to always be okay? What if you lose some money? What if the economy goes to shit for a bit? Do you trust yourself to figure that out? Do you trust that you will always make money, that you will rise to the occasion and fight your way through? What’s going to cause more problems in our economy is mass amounts of people operating from their feelings which are not actually facts. That is really why I want you to spend some time, take ownership seriously, do research, and to read articles that are talking about the real things that are happening in the world.

Be curious. Be willing to not have all the information. My husband is the person who will read a book and he has to understand every part of it. If he doesn’t understand it and he can’t grasp it, then he puts it down. I can read something—and this does not make me better, it just makes me different—I can read something and be like, “Okay, I really don’t understand what that means,” but I can zoom out and get the gist of what is being said and continue on with the information. I think sometimes what happens for people is they don’t understand something or something feels hard to conceptualize and they just avoid it completely instead of zooming out and going, “Okay, what’s one thing that I can take away from this article or from this thing?” 

Observation two for growth oriented small business owners like you.

Generating leads and converting leads to sales are two different things entirely. I’m hearing a lot of time, money, and energy being put into generating leads without any ability or knowledge or confidence in converting the lead to the sell. Leads for the sake of leads does not make sense, which is why in our program, The Bold Profit Academy, we focus on finding your invisible leads; the ones that are already there. 

People come to me all the time, “Tara, I have no leads.” Nope. You really do. Trust me, we can find them. We can find your invisible leads and convert those before spending more money on generating new leads. This is an observation that I’m making. If you are head-down focused on generating leads but you’re also not making the sales you need to make, we have a disconnect that we need to have a conversation about. Those conversations happen in The Bold Profit Academy.

Observation three for growth oriented small business owners like you.

I’m super stoked about this one—so in The Bold Profit Academy, we have a couple of pieces of curriculum; one is around lead generation, one is around creating your boldest offer, one is around aligning your sales system, and one is around implementing Profit First. We do those based on quarter because these are the things you always need to be working on in your business. We do them in that order for a reason. 

Why do we focus on lead generation in Q1? We call it revenue acceleration; because Q1 is a great time to be planting seeds. That’s what we’re doing. We’re planting seeds, we’re identifying these invisible leads, we’re seeing how much we have, we’re engaging with them so that either right away or within 90 days, the sales start to come through.

Then in Q2, we look at creating your boldest offer because you were just in a sales cycle with this revenue acceleration. You have learned something about the offer that you were selling and we want to use what we’ve learned from Q1 to improve upon our offer in a way that allows us to increase our price to make it easier to deliver, or to create something new for the offer stack. 

What we found in Q2 was that women were really inclined to create a down sell. They wanted to create an offer that was lower than the one that they were creating and I said, “No. No, you’re not going to create a downsell. I want you to create an upsell.” This offer-creation curriculum, you can use it in lots of different ways. One of the ways that I love to think about offer creation is being creative. This is my way to be creative, by creating new offers. Just play with it. Create something. You don’t have to sell it, but let’s see, try it on, how does it feel when you talk about it, when you share it, when you think about delivering it?

We had people create this upsell or an upserve, as I like to call them, and they created programs that were a little more one-on-one support or live support. We’re giving the people more, we were up serving. What we found was that during slower seasons, people were having an easier time selling the premium priced offer with some live or one-on-one support. People are a little tired right now of automated stuff. They want a human. People have limited capacity to do one more thing. They want to be guided better. All humans crave to be led. 

We need to be giving more thought about what is actually happening for the people we want to serve, know them better, and how do we then create better solutions, not just for them but for us too? We want these solutions to be a win-win. We don’t want it to be heavily skewed to what your audience or your customer wants, and we don’t want it to be so heavily skewed that this is necessarily the only way that you’re willing to work because that might become limiting. We have to reflect on the relevancy of our times right now and really understand that what worked for people before might not be working for them now. How do we need to shift, adapt, and be innovative to find these solutions?

This is one of the main reasons we’ve created The Bold Profit Academy + as a new offer; countless conversations with small business owners needing help creating the financial stability in their businesses that allows them to support their mental health and emotional health, feeling anxious and stressed about their businesses, and wanting more support but also feeling the very real fact that they have overspent on solutions that they didn’t feel were helpful. Now I didn’t then go and say, “Okay, I’m going to slash my prices.” No, “I’m going to create an offer that I can deliver at the price point and the support level that these people are asking for, and create something new.” That’s really what we did around The Bold Profit Academy +.

Observation four for growth oriented small business owners like you. 

Your buyers are becoming really discerning, perhaps skeptical. I know my buyers. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “I want to work with Tara,” and you’re a potential buyer, check-in. Listen, every single call I have talked about the thing they bought that didn’t work, the bad experience they had in someone’s program, feeling traumatized by what a mentor or coach had said to them, or treated them in a certain way that they felt invalidated by. This has been coming up all the time for me in the last few years. We have to be present to that no matter what your industry is. I want to give you a case in point and I really love the point. My mom clicked on a Facebook ad and bought my daughter a bracelet with a motivational saying. Next thing you know, she’s being charged every month for $29.99 but isn’t receiving anything additional to the original bracelet that she had bought. Super, super sketch.

I did a quick internet search and a perusal of the Better Business Bureau has turned up thousands of people like my mom with the same complaint about the same company. It was a giant headache between credit card companies and trying to get a hold of this company. Do you think my mom is going to click on a Facebook ad again? Do you think she’s going to buy something from a Facebook ad? Most likely not. 

Or you might be thinking, “But I’m not like that,” you are a reputable company that sells gorgeous bracelets. This is absolutely true but what is also true is that your potential buyers are being bombarded and burned on the regular. This is why you need to be so specific and direct in who you work with, the problem you solve, how you’re going to help somebody, the time it takes, the ability to tweak and evolve, the tenacity required. It takes work on both ends. It takes work to have these boundaries and communicate in this way and I am looking at this and reflecting upon this weekly.

This is what I really encourage business owners to be doing, is to be reflecting on this stuff weekly and then iterating, implementing, and applying. It takes work for the other person, if you’re a service-based business owner, for you to be like, “Listen, this isn’t a quick fix. This isn’t a one-two-three kind of a thing. If you’re okay with that, then let’s work together. But if not, maybe I’m not the right person for you.” It’s really about setting those expectations. My mom’s case was this expectation that she clicked on an ad, she bought something, she would receive it, and then not be continually charged. We have to really be conscious again of what is happening in the world, what is happening around us, and what is happening for our prospective buyers.

Observation five for growth oriented small business owners like you. 

We are doing business in a volatile and disruptive time. To be honest, this is really nothing new. The world is always volatile and disruptive. It just looks a little different, has a little different flair, or might be hitting you differently than it would in the past. But this is really nothing new. 

This year though has been massively disruptive with Facebook changes, ads being shut down with little understanding why, Instagram deciding it wants to be, it’s easy to jump on every fad. But even Instagram has admitted it’s in a highly experimental phase over the next six months and things will be changing. They’re always testing. Just as you get used to one thing or pay to learn a new fad, then something is likely to change. Businesses that have focused on using social media as a business delivery system are on shaky ground.

If your programs are delivered in a Facebook group, you’re using a free Facebook group as your primary nurture vehicle, you’re solely or heavily reliant on ads to generate leads, you’re someone who’s regularly using Facebook Live to reach your audience, that’s unstable. Will social media up and disappear one day? No, it’s not. It’s here to stay. Is social media still a great tool to engage with people you want to reach? 100%, absolutely. I just said I love using Instagram to engage in real conversations. Will the internet be providing tons of opportunities for years to come? You bet. But the internet is a very big place and it’s something that’s separate from the two social media platforms you might be on. You are going to want to dig into some of the statistics on the social media platforms you’re on, see who is actually using each platform. Is that the biggest concentration of your best fit client? Many of my best and highest paying clients don’t use social media at all. There is more than one way to grow your business.

Service-based businesses that are clear about who they help can identify an underserved market with the right solution, and will always be able to charge more which requires less volume. That doesn’t mean you still can’t have a lot of volume, but when you need huge amounts of volume, you do need to rely on paid advertising strategies which become less predictable. 

We have to be willing to spot the challenges in order to create new opportunities. That’s why I wanted to make these observations. I’m sure you’re making observations as well. When we understand the overall landscape, step outside our bubbles, and consider varying perspectives, there is so much more possibility. I would love to hear what you’re observing and thinking about as you wrap up your year, so hit me up over on Instagram. I’m @thetaranewman. It has been a privilege to share this episode with you. Please know that I believe in you and the power of small business ownership. Take good care.

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