As entrepreneurs, one of the worst things we can do is work from a place of fear. The problem is, owning a business is very scary! So much is riding on every decision. Owning a business brings out our fears – according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, our very basics include sustenance, shelter, employment, security – all the things your business provides.
Here are some very common mistakes entrepreneurs are making – purely out of fear.
Harvesting Your Email List
Sadly, this is a common practice. Lots of people out there grab all the email addresses they’ve ever seen and import it into their “contacts” for email marketing. You assumes the more recipients, the more clients/sales. And you gotta have those sales.
Oops: It’s against the law. The law requires that we only email to people who have opted in– and if you’re grabbing emails without permission, that’ll get your email account blacklisted and you won’t be able to send anything. Also, most of those people whose emails you’re grabbing AREN’T INTERESTED! And why would you want to send marketing to people who don’t want what you’ve got?
Quick Fix: Create an opt-in box on your website and offer a free gift if they sign up for your list. The gift can be a free report, a worksheet, even a helpful video. That way you’ll be sure to get people who are really engaged in what your services.
Not Having a Contract
This is a common one– out of a need to be “liked” and to show trust, many entrepreneurs neglect to have a contract.
Oops: The contract isn’t just for you. It’s for your client as well. A good contract will cover exactly what you’re providing and how long it will take, as well as how much it should cost. It irons out what happens if one of you decides to bail– and you need to know you’ll be paid for the work you’ve put in even if your friend/client changes their mind.
Quick Fix: Get something in writing and email it, so you both know what’s expected. Call it a “statement of work” instead – but get something on paper. No one has to sign it, but you’ll at least have something to refer to.
Saying Yes to Every Job
Since you’ve got to keep afloat, you say yes to everyone who wants to work with you. The job may not be in your expertise, and it may not be the person you’ve been targeting, but who cares? They’re willing to write a check and you’re willing to take it. You’re afraid you’ll have no one to work with, and someone is better than no one, right?
Oops: Filling your schedule with anything is just that – filling your schedule. You’ll be losing time for people you DO want to work with. You’ll also burnout faster – afraid to say no to anything, you work yourself to the bone.
Quick Fix: If the job doesn’t challenge you, or you feel like you’re selling your soul, just say NO. When in doubt, do without. You’ll have more time to invest in the clients that are worth your time – and to invest in your own business.
Pricing Too Low
Very related to saying yes to every job is pricing yourself at a point where you’re working like a dog for very little result. I was guilty of this when I started out – since I was new, I really wanted clients – and I was willing to put my services “on sale” to get people to work with me.
Oops: Clients know they get what they pay for. Most people would rather pay $500 for a logo than $5 – because the quality is going to be way better. (and it is.) If you have the education and the talent, you should price yourself accordingly. You don’t have to be for sale in order to get clients. And you shouldn’t be.
Quick Fix: Research your field to see where others are priced – do a little Google-ing and see what feels comfortable. Think of where you’ll be after 3 hours work – does $180 feel right? Price at $60 per hour. Does $300 feel better? Price at $100. Or price by project, depending on what you provide. But you are not for sale!
Fear is one of those things that influences us without realizing. It sneaks up on the savviest of entrepreneurs and cuts our credibility and efforts in half.
What are some other ways you’ve seen fear influence the decisions of colleagues (or yourself?) Please comment below and let others know how to keep from letting fear run their business.