If you have been around a while, you may or may not know that I start the year, the first quarter of the year planting seeds. We take the women in The Bold Profit Academy through this in our Revenue Acceleration Curriculum. We’re talking all about finding leads even though they feel like they might not have any and really planting those seeds. One of the ways that I plant these seeds, and I encourage the women in The Bold Profit Academy to do this, is to have listening calls.
I have free calls where I’m just here to listen, you get on my calendar, you have to be somebody who is brave enough and courageous enough to start a conversation with me. If you start a conversation with me, I’m more than happy at this time of year to offer you some of my time. What I do is I listen to what everybody’s saying. I listen for themes. I listen for trends. I listen for patterns. I combine all of that data and pull those themes out.
I like to think one of the greatest services that I can provide, one of the greatest values that I can provide not just to my clients, but my community, is the fact that I have access to a tremendous amount of small business owners, either through my community online or offline, family, friends, and I’m a researcher at heart.
Today I’m sharing with you some of what I’m hearing on these listening calls and some of what I’m going to call predictions, and guidance. This is an opinion, this isn’t fact, These are going to be my opinions based on my 20-plus years of experience, weathering a number of economic downturns.
2022 Was Tough for Many Business Owners
Some of the things that I am hearing from people, from business owners on these listening calls was that 2022 was their lowest earning year. As a matter of fact, 2020 was a lot of people’s highest earning year, 2021 was like, “Hmm,” and 2022 was a backslide.
I feel confident in saying at this point that 2020 was an anomaly of the year, a lot of governments flushed their citizens full of cash through stimulus, small business stimulus, personal stimulus. We were all on lockdown. We were time rich, we were flush with cash, and we were spending it at a higher rate.
I also think that over the last 10 years, anybody who’s been running a business has been running a business during a time of peace and prosperity. It was very easy to make money. What I’ve been cautioning people is if that was you, if you were making a lot of money during those years, especially in the online business space, don’t mistake luck for skill.
We need to be making sure that we are keeping current on our skills, that we are upskilling, that we are keeping up with trends and being relevant. Some of what I’m hearing is it was a low earning year. Renewals aren’t coming through right now as quickly as they were expecting they would or they’re not coming through at all.
I’m hearing that lead flow and opt-ins are down, that podcast downloads are down, follower counts are down, that 2022 felt like a transition year, that exchange rates are high and it’s impacting people signing contracts, that the traditional nine-to-five sector is feeling fearful with the news stories and headlines around layoffs or they do know somebody who has been impacted by a layoff and it’s making them more discerning about how they spend their money.
I will tell you for myself, I have this belief, Warren Buffett has quoted and he says, “When people are greedy, be fearful; and when people are fearful, be greedy.” The way I translate this for myself is that when times are good and cash is flowing, I’m conservative. When things take a downturn, I start doubling down. I’m being less conservative, I start taking bigger risks because I know that that’s when my competition is starting to shrink, they’re starting to hold back, and they’re starting to not invest.
That’s when I really double down and triple down. This happened in 2020. That’s when I went and got certified in Profit First and hired a coach that I worked with for two years, and really was investing in my business, investing in my own skills, and looking to move ahead.
The big thing impacting me in 2022 was my health and my family’s health. We got sick a bunch of times and when you did the back of the napkin math, three people getting sick three times was a time loss of at least 18 weeks. People are feeling time-poor I think even more times than feeling maybe financial vulnerability or insecurity.
You Might Be Feeling Both Financial Insecurity and Vulnerability and Time Vulnerability
We are in a time where people are really waking up to some of what’s been going on specifically in the online space. Even if you’re running a business that doesn’t leverage social media or online, it’s hard for me to find somebody who hasn’t opened an app and consumed content. A lot of the content out there is around building wealth and building your business and this marketing tactic and that marketing tactic. This really does come down to impacting everyone’s thought process and their perspective.
If I’ve mentioned something here that sounds like you, if you’re like, “Oh, that sounds like me. Oh, that sounds like me,” you’re not alone. This is perfectly normal. This is really happening. Because I know how uncomfortable it can be to go online and see such curated feeds and feel really gaslit.
#1 Prediction for Small Business Owners: The toxic online business culture is not going anywhere
Probably since 2015, some of my business strategist colleagues and I have been speculating about the bubble that we’re in and the bubble bursting. Flash forward from 2015 to today, and here’s my prediction.
The toxic online business culture is not going anywhere.
I’ve been watching the infighting, people calling people out, and people up in arms over lack of regulation, and culty this and culty that. I’m 100% a strong critique of this culture, but the bubble is not going to burst. I know that you might be waiting around, but it is not going to happen.
It’s unlikely to happen because whether you love these web celebs or you hate them, they are still capturing your attention. I know many of you still follow people even though you don’t like them. You’re literally sitting there waiting for the shoe to drop. It’s not going to drop, you’re just wasting your time and energy and you’re still thinking about them and following them even if it’s just to see what the next grift will be.
These web celebs, these fake gurus are pivoting, they’re pivoting to attract a new round of entrepreneurs who are sick of their corporate jobs and want to start businesses without any upfront money. They’re selling them the dream; have the business and the life you love, and leave your corporate job where the threat of layoff is happening.
I’m sure you’re seeing the ads coming through. There is always a new crop of people who are going to come through and be attracted to that kind of messaging. I would just remove your attention from the things you don’t want. It’s not going anywhere. We’re not going to get a regulated space. High-ticket coaching is not going anywhere. The grift is not going anywhere. New people are going to be the carbon copy web celebs, the C list, the D list, the E list, the F list web celebs are just going to keep popping up, just ignore them.
#2 Prediction for Small Business Owners: It’s going to get a lot noisier.
I’m watching an unprecedented amount of people fail at self-employment. That’s pretty normal actually. A new crop is hitting the scene. As layoffs continue to gain traction, people start to feel insecure in their nine-to-five, and corporations have zero understanding of how to treat people like you, we’re going to see the gig economy grow. We always do during times of economic downturn, which means a few things for you.
It’s going to get a lot noisier.
If you’ve been taking the right steps to grow your business, you have a massive head start. But if you haven’t, now’s the time to put your blinders on, build deep relationships, collaborate with your network, and make opportunities happen. It’s also time to get really clear on who your core market is because many experts that I work with are selling to a core market that is too entry-level for the service that they sell. They’re talking to the masses, they’re talking to newbies, they’re talking to people who have entry-level problems.
That’s where the market is the noisiest. I want everybody who is a true expert to have the confidence to communicate their value to a more advanced market segment, get out of the baby business entry-level problem-solving place, and let the people who are just coming out of their corporate careers go and feast on those folks.
I think one of the biggest reasons why experts do that is because they’re reluctant to go back into the environments that they came out of. However, that’s where the higher-paying work is. That’s where the need for your skill set is.
There’s going to be people coming out of corporate jobs and they’re going to say, “I’m so burned out. I’m so traumatized. I never want to work with a business again.” “Even though I was working in training, development, and leadership coaching, I’m going to go and be a life coach or I’m going to go and be a transformational coach. I’m going to talk to small business owners, female small business owners,” except here’s the thing, female small business owners, 88% of them are making less than $100,000 a year in revenue.
That’s not where the money is. That’s where the market is the noisiest: selling them memberships, selling them courses, selling them coaching, selling them all the things. The marketplace loves those people. Pick a different market. Pick a different customer segment. You’ve been in this long enough, you’ve been doing this, you get your folks results, be confident in that.
#3 Prediction for Small Business Owners: Consider if you can sell B2B.
If you can sell B2B strongly, consider it. Especially as these layoffs that are happening in the labor market are tight, you have a tremendous advantage of being a freelancer that can solve some big problems and operate as an extension of the team that they don’t have to pay you a fringe benefit for. If they were paying an employee $100,000 a year, they probably have another $30,000 to $40,000 on top of that, health benefits, time off, ancillary benefits, training and development, and whatever that is. Even if they paid you the same $100,000 for your contract, it’s still a 30% to 40% savings on their bottom line.
Consider if you can sell B2B, and I don’t mean like big corporations even. My larger companies are between $3 million and $60 million that I work with, but they’re not online. I don’t need to provide content. I need to go build relationships. They’re not listening to this podcast. They’re not reading my emails. They’re not on social media. The things that you get taught on how to market in the online space and how to use online tools might not apply to that customer segment.
#4 Prediction for Small Business Owners: We’re going to be in an uncertain time for awhile longer.
Things are going to be slow and tedious for another 6 to 12 months. I just want to be honest about that.
When VCs started pulling out of tech companies about a year ago, they said, “Okay, we’re no longer giving to companies that aren’t profitable. You need to be demonstrating a clear profit in order to get venture capital.” They said, “I hope these companies, I hope these businesses have cash flow to 2025.”
I laughed because I thought it was actually funny that these tech companies that have been burning through venture capital faster than anything else, that they would have cash on hand. They don’t. They have to borrow it constantly, even if they would have cash on hand for three years. However, I really think that there’s some truth to that, that we’re going to be in an uncertain time for another few years.
I think that halfway through this year, we’re going to see things starting to turn around. But again, these are just opinions and predictions. I’m pretty researched on this. I follow a number of economists of varying different backgrounds and belief systems. So this isn’t a pure guess. But it’s definitely not fact. Nobody has facts right now, not even economists.
#5 Prediction for Small Business Owners: Not knowing your numbers will cost you your business.
If you don’t have your numbers organized, you don’t understand what your revenue goal is, and how that leads to you paying yourself and profit and expenses in your business, you are going to have to close up shop. You’re not going to make it.
I’m seeing people both online and in brick-and-mortar businesses that I have personally talked to during last year’s listening calls, who have shared with me details about their business, one of them being that they have no idea what’s going on with their money and they are not here right now. They have closed down.
Please get to know your numbers. You can do this in three ways for free. Listen to the podcast, join my email list. For pay, join The Bold Profit Academy. That is by far the best bang for your buck. If you want to work with me personally, put in a discovery call submission form and speak to me personally about working together one-to-one in one of my Profit First containers. But you have to start understanding your finances and knowing your numbers.
#6 Prediction for Small Business Owners: If you don’t have intrinsic motivation for your goals this is going to get more painful.
If you don’t know why your goals are your goals, meaning you are setting goals that are not yours, you’re setting goals that look good on Instagram, you’re setting goals based on your ego, you’re setting goals because they sound good and you’re plucking numbers out of the sky, this is going to get more painful. We need to be able to get up every day and put one foot in front of the other. That means we need to have intrinsic motivation, not extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation happens when you complete the Revenue Goal Calculator.
#7 Prediction for Small Business Owners: The biggest objection right now isn’t money.
I just spoke to a client and we went through all of her sales calls and we debriefed them, and a lot of the objections were technically money, but the biggest objection right now isn’t money. It’s time.
This means as business owners, our competitive advantage is going to be empathy and a strong process of follow-up. If you’re organized, patient, and building for the long term, you will succeed. The majority of people stink at follow-up. They don’t do it. This is your opportunity to have a strong follow-up process in place.
This is also what we’re teaching in The Bold Profit Academy in our Revenue Acceleration Cycle which is going on in Q1 or can be gone through at any time during the year. If someone is giving you a money objection, you’re going to have to be bold and you’re going to have to dig into that and understand it a little better because it’s likely not about the money.
You have to understand if the money objection is irrational. Meaning they really do have the money and it’s something else that they’re not telling you. Or is it rational? Meaning they actually know for a fact that they don’t have the money.
People buy emotionally and they justify logically later, so it’s more likely that you haven’t understood what their actual urgency is in fixing the problem because if there is no urgency.
Most business owners are terrible at identifying urgency because they’re using fake urgency: countdown timers, launching, FOMO, and things like that to create
#8 Prediction for Small Business Owners: People are exiting social media, go see them in person.
In-person networking events. People are exiting social media, they’re tired, and they’re drained. It’s noisy. It’s disruptive. Now that things are opening up again, people are traveling, people are going places, and networking is happening.
In-person networking and events are going to be big. I went to one last year. I went to ProfitCon which is the Profit First event for Profit First certified professionals and it was amazing to be in a room with humans, be around humans, it was good to be around real people.
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