I’ve been on this entrepreneurial journey for three years. I don’t have much to show for it except an external hard drive (actually three, and I need a fourth one!) full of all kinds of awesome course material and free information. My Kindle is overflowing with business books. I entered a time of information overload that nearly completely shut me down. I was working through everything, and nothing gave me the results that were promised. I did the work, the steps, and the systems; I read all the books, blueprints, and rehearsed scripts. Still, nothing.
This past year, I told myself if I didn’t make something happen by May, I was going to quit. May came and went. I was completely at a loss. I had so much going my way—momentum from the outstanding NACWE conference in February and new connections. So, in June, I cried when I got out my résumé and tried to do something with it. I had to figure out how I was going homeschool and work around that. A strategy session with a trusted mentor and friend quickly pointed to my biggest problem: clarity—I didn’t have it!
I thought I had clarity. How many times have I answered the basic questions about my “who?” Age, gender, general status, what keeps me up at night—I knew that. . .or so I thought.
But that is not enough. That is not clarity! That is one step in the beginning of a narrowing-down process. I was still too broad, and “broad is broke!” Since finding clarity, my focus has become extremely pin-pointed. I have been able to create a business system and focus that is reproducible, repeatable, and predictable (not to mention simple). It’s not anything that I didn’t know before. It was just the simple fact that I was not nearly as clear as I thought I was.
Three Steps in an Entrepreneur’s Journey to Clarity
- Look into your own journey for clues.
- Know, and I mean really know your avatar/ideal client.
- Be very clear in your business plan, your schedule, your process, your offer, and your conversations.
You cannot skip any of these—they are all necessary to gain the kind of clarity you need to carry you forward.
Your Journey Exercise
You will need either index cards or a pad of sticky notes and a writing instrument of your choosing. Even if you think you are clear, go ahead and do this exercise anyway. It will be good for you!
Think back on your journey: what challenges and obstacles you have faced? List each one at the top of the card/note (use a separate card/note for each obstacle or challenge).
For each challenge or obstacle, answer the following questions:
- What was your life like in the midst of it?
- How did you manage it or create a solution out of it?
- How was your life as a result of your solution?
- Is there something from that experience that you can teach others?
After you have worked through this exercise, are there any obstacles or challenges that were easiest for you to work through that process? Any that you felt spark that passion inside of you? What are you most proud of?
These are the clues that will point you to areas that you might need to focus on if you are having a hard time nailing down your niche! This is also where your KLT/Elevator Pitch comes from. It’s also great for your About Me pages on your website! You should be able to clearly state who you are, what you do, what you’ve been through, and what solutions you offer in under 90 seconds.
Thomas Sankara said, “It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.”
Sometimes, we are the “madmen” in our own history! It’s that mad history that becomes clarity in our future.
Write this down. A piece of paper will work fine for this exercise. Actually, if you really do this right, you might need two sheets of paper.
Who is your ideal client/avatar? Get past the usual stuff (gender, age, status, etc.). Where do they shop? What are their top five favorite books? Where do they like to play? What organizations are they involved in? What are their top five favorite movies? What are their musical tastes? What does their ideal day look like? What does their typical day look like? What do they do for self-care? How do they learn? How do they perceive life and learn? What are they afraid of? How do they deal with fear? What are they committed to? What are their core beliefs? What are their personality types? How do they interact with others?
This is all very important. This also helps later with marketing purposes—but that is for another post entirely!
You should have a picture of your ideal client. Maybe you know an actual person who would be your ideal client. Get their pic and keep it up in front of you any time you are working on something for your business. I actually know someone who meets the criteria of my ideal client. I spend a lot of time getting to know her! Or, if you don’t know someone specifically, find an avatar or image of someone that looks like they would fit your ideal client image in your mind. Use sites like Google images or istockphoto.
Know where your ideal clients are—not only where to find them, but also how to get their attention! You have to know them well enough that you can resonate with them in ways that attract them to you. As Max Simon in a training last week reminded me, chances are, they are going to be a lot like you. You just happen to be a few steps ahead of them.
Clarity in Business Strategy
Be clear on your business plan, schedule, process and systems, your offer, and most importantly, your conversations. Your sales will come in your conversations. Whether that conversation is passive through copy or personally connecting with someone in person, on the phone, or on Skype, use whatever means necessary to connect with your prospects. Your business plan and systems needs to be executable, actionable, and consistent.
For me, it also had to be simple! The most important thing is that it has to be reproducible, repeatable, and predictable. I now tell people I work twelve weeks a year. I work the same twelve weeks for four quarters! With consistency, that will propel me onward, bring income, and get me where I want to go. It will be so automated, I won’t have to worry about the details. I just have to deliver the content, which I am passionate about and have been doing for a long time (just not in this way). For me, that is the fun and easy part.
Just know this: you cannot be clear on your business strategy until you are clear on who you were born to serve and why.
MelAnn Morales is a L.I.F.E.Strategist & Empowerment Coach. She is passionate about recreating that space between a rock and a hard place to win at the unfair game of life. She can find powerful life lessons in what she sees or experiences in every day life and excels at creating powerful habits and strategies that keep life moving forward when it encounters crisis or the unexpected. She hijacks the status quo. She “unschools” her two children. She enjoys photography, cooking, movies, reading, music, the outdoors, and the adventure of travel and new experiences. You can find her at melannmorales.com.