Most entrepreneurs start a business because they're looking for freedom. More often than not, this dream evolves into a nightmare.
All seems to be going smoothly — until you get your first customer. That's when chaos moves in. Before you know it, you've been sucked in — and the chaos only seems to mount every time you add another customer.
You can't possibly follow up with prospects or customers. Your database is disorganized (assuming you even have one, that is). Leads are falling through the cracks because there's not a full-proof process that you can count on. You add a different system with each fire that needs dousing, and (again, before you know it) you have the chaos that comes with multiple systems. As the brainchild of the business, you're the glue that holds it all together. And yet you can't ever seem to cross anything off that to-do list, which only gets longer and longer.
Over the years I've talked to thousands of entrepreneurs, and they all share these same pain points. Chaos makes it impossible to grow a small business quickly and effectively. Plus, you'll never win lifelong customers if you don't fix your follow-up failure.
There is a six-step formula for getting out of the chaos — and it's helping people take back their businesses and win lifelong customers.
- Build your emotional capital. You need to find a balance for yourself first. Emotional capital is the balancing of work, family, and emotional and physical health.
- Practice disciplined optimism. It starts with the undying belief that your small business will achieve the success you have envisioned, while at the same time confronting the brutal facts of your current reality — and attacking those brutal facts because you want to, not because you have to.
- Assert your entrepreneurial independence. You carve the path to your own success. If you don't believe something will work, no one will.
- Centralize and organize your database. You have to centralize your operations. Most small businesses live in multiple-system chaos. They house customer information all over the place. These disjointed systems will block you from growing your business. Worse, it will prevent you from wowing your customers.
- Tap into the magical power of follow-up. Failing to follow up with customers and prospects is what kills most small businesses. When you follow up with every new lead, you will automatically close more of the hot leads that otherwise would have fallen through the cracks. And let's face it: Some people just aren't ready to do business with you today. However, if you nurture that relationship and provide value to the prospect through your follow-up, you can be top-of-mind whenever that prospect eventually is ready.
- Burn the to-do list and move from manual to automated. Even if you were a follow-up master, you couldn't do as thorough and complete a job as an automated follow-up system can. If there are multiple steps in your marketing campaign, you're bound to make mistakes at some point. How do you know which contact receives what information, and on which day? If we were talking about managing just a handful of prospects, then maybe you could handle it yourself. But once you have dozens, hundreds, even thousands of contacts to manage, no mere mortal can do it alone. With automation, you get the benefits of follow-up without any of the pain or mistakes. Plus, you'll be building relationships that cannot be achieved any other way.
The bottom line? With automation, you're making your business more scalable. Because things are set to run as needed, it really doesn't matter how many prospects and customers you add. The system can follow up with them all automatically — but in a customized, highly targeted way.
About the Author
Clate Mask (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the cofounder and chief executive officer of Infusionsoft, a fast-growth software company that's been named to the prestigious Inc500 list four years in a row. Together with Eric and Scott Martineau brothers, he cofounded Infusionsoft out of a strip mall in Mesa, Ariz., in 2001. A nationally known expert in small-business growth who has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs, Mask is co-author of the New York Times best-selling book Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business without Going Crazy.
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