“An entrepreneur is the greatest contradiction of our world; it’s someone who will work an exhausting 80+ hours a week, dealing with a heap of problems, aggravation, and stress, putting their financial a** on the line for less pay than they can make working for someone else just so they can have more freedom in their life.” — Robin Robins
Here’s an important little tidbit of sheer wisdom I’ve painfully learned the hard way over the years: If you want to be truly successful as a consultant, only pick the battles (clients) you can win.
Years ago when I first published the Toolkit, I had clients coming to me who had bought the program, agreed with the ideas and strategies, and wanted to implement it into their business—but who just could not get themselves to take action on DOING the work. They would come to me on bended knees, begging me to “hold them accountable” to actually implementing the system into their business.
At first, I welcomed these clients with the fresh enthusiasm that all young, inexperienced consultants have, fully confident in my abilities to “change” their ways, banish their sloppy habits, and “show them the way” to greater success. Of course, it didn’t always work out that way. For a few, it did. For most, here’s what happens:
At first, they are super eager to get going. We’d have energized, passionate conversations about what we were going to do and how to do it. That lasted for approximately a month (stage1). About that time, the workload started piling up and suddenly they realized that this “marketing” stuff is actually pretty complex, requiring thought, research, management of details, and a HUGE learning curve that isn’t going to be conquered overnight.
Then their next call with me would be coming, and they wouldn’t have done what they said they would. That made them anxious and mentally exhausted. (More to do and I’m already buried!) In fact, they’d be tired before they even got started because they’ve been turning over all the “what if” scenarios in their mind over and over again, thinking about their to-dos, questioning themselves at every step. Worst of all, there were no results to show (yet) because they hadn’t really implemented any one strategy long enough.
At this point, they start making excuses for why they were repeatedly missing deadlines (stage 2). Calls are pushed back or skipped. Deadlines are moved and projects “put on hold” until their current circumstances change and they have “more time” to devote to it. The lunch and learn they committed to doing this month is now rescheduled for three months out. The website makeover outlined is held up because they ran into a snag getting the testimonials, or the photo, or the copy, or the whatever. The monthly drip campaign or newsletter they SWORE to get out is now only going out every other month, or, worse yet, is done once then never repeated.
In some cases, they would even cheerfully welcome a family crisis, health issue, or other distraction to give them “permission” to stop striving altogether without feeling bad about it. If THAT doesn’t happen, we reach the third and final stage: resentment. At some point, they move me from the status of “coach” and “inspiration” to “nag,” and no one wants to pay money to have someone pushing them to do uncomfortable, difficult things. Irritation sets in; after all, they can get nagged and made to feel like a failure by their wife/mother-in-law for free. Often, I’d get blamed for their failure. My strategies “don’t work” or “won’t work” for their clients/situation/business. They decide they need to “try something different.”
So why am I telling you this? Two reasons:
1. Those who are successful at anything are successful because they are determined to be. Everyone has the same challenges, learning curve, and setbacks when learning to implement effective marketing systems; the difference is those who break through and overcome these difficulties have the sheer determination to do so. Why do you think you see the SAME people winning over and over again? The SAME people being mentioned in this newsletter who are constantly growing, constantly securing bigger contracts, constantly getting more clients? It’s NOT because I’m giving them some “secret” marketing advice or exclusive strategy that I only share with a rare few and otherwise keep locked up in my office safe with the emergency chocolate.
Of course, it could be argued that I should be able to help those who struggle to push through and inspire them to overcome the procrastination that sucks them in like quicksand—but the reality is, ALL motivation is self-motivation. You can’t hire someone to do your push-ups for you. No coach or mentor has the ability to transfer to you the deep want to succeed—and the faster you internalize that reality, the faster you’ll gain the mindset of independence and self-reliance necessary to achieve great things.
2. All freedom comes with a cost, but you get to choose the price. There are people I know who choose to NOT work hard; they choose to pursue a hobby or just a simple way of life because they don’t want the stress. The “price” they pay for freedom is learning to live within meager means, not buying a big house, an expensive car, exotic vacations, or other luxuries. The price they pay might even be the stress of having to continue to work into retirement. I actually congratulate them on their decision IF they come to it with a mature acceptance of their reality; at least they’ve chosen their path and are willing to pay the price.
HOWEVER, there are a LOT more people who don’t want to work that hard, who avoid the anxiety of growth and the complexities of constantly striving to expand their wealth through business, but aren’t satisfied at all with their current circumstances. And that is a miserable existence. These are the folks who say they WANT the accountability, but when the “price” of discipline and hard work shows up to claim its fee, they lose their motivation. To quote Vince Lombardi, the only place “success” comes before “work” is in the dictionary.
Choose Your Own Path
Since it’s freedom month here in the U.S., I thought it appropriate to remind all of you that YOU have the freedom to choose. If you think the stress, work, and anxiety of growing a business is too “expensive” a price to pay, you can, by all means, choose to stay within your comfort zone and do just enough to get by. You’ll have plenty of company. But if you’ve joined the ranks of people reading THIS blog post, I would find it difficult to believe you could honestly feel that way.
My die-hard subscribers are the ones who have a healthy dose of dissatisfaction—who actually want MORE than just “getting by,” and definitely do NOT want to settle for mere mediocrity. Occasionally, those who are looking only for a quick fix sneak in, but they end up leaving as fast as they came when they suddenly realize this is a gym with workout equipment designed to make you sweat, stretch, and strengthen, not a weight loss pill.
Of course, freedom is not easily achieved; be it financial freedom, the freedom to be selective about where you spend your time, or the freedom of choosing what you get to do every day. Easy? No. Achievable? Absolutely.
Determined to succeed
But as you pursue these freedoms and new levels of success in your business, you will CONSTANTLY hit new ceilings of complexity that will be difficult to break through, requiring you to be able to reach down within yourself and find the grit and determination to push through. Priorities scream at you. Urgent and important projects pile up. The question is, will you be pig-headed and determined to succeed, breaking through your current ceiling of complexity, or will you draw back into the familiar and easy comfort zone? You either do or you don’t. There is no profit in “try.” No revenue is generated in “didn’t,” only “done.” It’s that simple.
You either get up in the morning and work on meaningful projects that move your business forward—implementing that newsletter, getting your website done, securing that big JV partner, keeping your commitments, and figuring out how to nail that big revenue/profit goal you’ve set—or you fail by letting ANOTHER hour, day, or week pass without working on that key initiative.
Excuses and reasons why you didn’t achieve your objective might soften the sting of failure, but they don’t change a damn thing, and they certainly don’t help you achieve anything. Very few people fail because of things out of their control, lack of resources, lack of knowledge, skills, or time; it’s almost always due to what they WON’T do or DON’T do. Also, how determined they are to try again, and again, and again UNTIL they reach their objective. Everyone must pay this price.
Robin Robins is the CEO and Founder of TechnologyMarketingToolkit.com, the largest sales and marketing consulting firm in the IT channel, specializing in sales-generating marketing campaigns for MSPs, VARs, and solution providers. To date, over 7,000 IT services firms have enrolled in one or more of her programs. Click here for more information and to request a free one-on-one marketing consultation and marketing roadmap for your IT services firm.