Episode 216: Escaping the External BS
Want to build a BS-free service business? Then you’re definitely going to want to listen to this episode where I deconstruct some of the external BS that gets in the way. From pricing to online influencers to client relationships, we’re going in.
Over the last few episodes we’ve been looking at all the BS in your business that may be messing with you. It may be standing between you and your goals, or having you doing things that aren’t actually doing anything for you.
And that’s exactly why I want to talk about the external factors, or BS that have an impact on how we run our businesses and what we do on a daily or weekly basis.
I will be the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the external influences on my business over the past five or more years. To be honest, there’s been a lot to love as it’s shown me what’s possible and helped me redefine how I run my business. Friends and colleagues have had a positive impact on my business in so many ways.
When I sift through the good vs. bad influences on my business, there’s one key difference that stands out to me. The good ones made me feel sovereign and powerful, like I had true agency, and was the ultimate decision maker.
The not-so good ones made me feel the opposite. I felt like I was doing things wrong, Like I was defective and never going to get it right. And that for me, has become the easiest way to decide if something needs to stay or go.
If you’re not sure if something is BS or not, look at if it’s helping or hurting you. And be brutally honest with yourself. Many of the things that are pure BS that are going to be wrapped up in layers of glitter and rainbows, and initially make you feel good, but then start to chip away at you.
Watch for that feeling. Because that’s a surefire sign there’s some external BS at play, and you need to be the ultimate decision maker in your business.
So, what’s on my list of external BS that plays with us as bosses?
Client Relationships: You Set and Maintain the Rules
One of the biggest reasons people give up on services is that they feel like they’ve got a whole pile of little bosses. So they decide the problem is the service business instead of fixing the problem.
When really, the problem is the client’s expectations. And believe me when I say, the wrong clients can ruin you. They can destroy your confidence, undermine your authority and have you jumping through hoops.
Been there, done that. And here’s what I know. If you want to run a service business, there’s simply no room to tolerate clients who don’t respect you and run roughshod with your boundaries. Period.
I’ve never once regretted ending this type of client relationship, so if you’re finding yourself stuck in this type of toxic client relationship, it’s likely time to end it.
While dealing with a toxic client is pretty clear cut, what about the other issues that stem from serving clients that feel like they’re outside our control?
Boss, that’s some BS. Because they’re in our control. It’s up to us to build better relationships with clients and own that relationship. When I think back to clients that were serving up some BS, many times, I was complicit in allowing it to happen.
It’s up to us to define and enforce the rules of engagement. We need to train our clients how to treat us and command respect from day one. And then once the relationship is established, do not get sloppy and start breaking your own rules.
For example, if you continuously tell a client that there’s a 48-hour turnaround time, but then always make exceptions, you’re telling them that there’s really no need for a 48-hour turnaround time.
If you’re listening and now thinking about a current client relationship which needs to get back on track, know you can reset boundaries and how you work together at any time. It’s never too late, we just need to decide that it’s important to us, and stick with the plan.
The type of clients that are best for us and our businesses will respect the working relationship, and if they won’t that’s a clear indication that it may be time for them to move on.
Online Influencers: Stop Giving Them Your Time and Attention
Have you ever logged into Instagram or Facebook and immediately felt like crap? Or you follow influencers such as big name online coaches and personalities and you leave feeling like garbage?
Or maybe you feel inspired, but in a way that’s not entirely positive.
Raise your hand if this is you. And my hand is WAY up in the air right now as it’s definitely me.
The fact is, so much of what we see and consume is a big fat fake. From contrived photo shoots to make people look affluent, to marriages that are on the rocks while playing the happy couple in public (and yes that’s a shot at Rachel Hollis), to lying about how much money is being made….it’s some serious, hardcore BS.
Under the guise of “empowerment” we’re made to feel like shit so we’ll buy the next course, retreat, program, or whatever will be for sale. And when I say feeling like shit, it’s not always that blatant, sometimes it’s a longing or a feeling of deficiency.
And over the last few weeks with the turning tide around Black Lives Matter, we’ve seen the true colors of so many influencers. We’ve learned that they’re really and truly not here to serve, but here for the money, Black Lives be damned.
While I’ve appreciated seeing who’s willing to step up, I’ve been deeply disturbed by the flagrant attempt to gloss over what’s happening. And even more so, the willingness of these people’s followers to apologize for them, as it speaks to the cult of personality in the online world.
All of that is some BS that messes with our heads (and hearts).
You’re not a follower. You’re a leader and that means channeling your precious energy, time and money to back that up.
If you’re following anyone and they make you feel bad, the solution is simple. Unfollow them. Unsubscribe. Stop giving them your attention. Because that one nugget that’s helpful isn’t worth the nine others that are dragging you down.
Most of all, stop giving these people your money. I have a policy (learned the hard way) of not buying anything ever from people I don’t like. I used to do mental gymnastics around this as I was convinced I was missing something. (Newsflash: I wasn’t. )
My policy now is that if I wouldn’t want to hang with you in real life, I don’t want you in my social feeds, and nowhere near my business.
I call this the Margarita Test. As in, would I want to invite you to my house for a pitcher of margaritas in the backyard? If you can’t pass that test, you’re not in my inbox or social media, that’s for damn sure.
Now’s the perfect time to do a clean up. And once you do, you’ll be surprised how quickly you forget about them. It’s freeing.
And as we go into Summer, it’s also a good time to do a digital detox. Unplug and go live your life. I get my best insights and ideas when I’m far away from my laptop or phone, as the answers are in me, not on someone else’s glossy IG feed.
External Expectations: Pricing, Breaking Up with Services & More
Next up, and this is a big one, are external expectations. This is a big bucket, and while I could have broken a lot of these out further, they’re so personal, that this would have ended up being a four hour episode!
I know for me, there have been a number of external expectations that have caused me a lot of grief over the years. One of the biggest ones are the “shoulds” – as in all the things I’m conditioned or told I “should” be doing as a business owner.
And the “shoulds” have been plentiful, but I wanted to share the ones that I believe are most relevant to service business owners, starting with expectations around how we should price our services.
Leaving Money on the Table
This is some BS that gets me fired up, as pricing is one of the most powerful tools we have in our businesses. Yet, too many times external factors hold us back from making more money. Those factors are everything from an offhand remark from a potential client about you being too expensive, to a coach who tells you there’s only one way to price your services.
The fact is, pricing is complex, and it’s nuanced. We let external ideas decide what our services are “worth” and we leave money on the table.
To be clear, in the time I’ve been mentoring service business owners, it’s been extremely rare that someone’s trying to charge too much. Typically, people are charging too little and they’re letting external BS stand between them and making more money.
I was recently talking to a client who’s maxed out on her and her team’s time. The only way she can make more money is by raising her prices, so I challenged her to tell any new clients that her rate was higher, as well as her minimum client engagement.
To be honest, she was resistant, as she’s at the high end of the range for services in her industry, but she decided to try it.
And guess what? Those new clients didn’t blink an eye.
I could go on about pricing, but again, it’s only one example of where we let external expectations hold us back.
Another one that I’ve spoken about before is the idea that if you’re running a service business, you really should be working up to a group program or course or method of “passive” income. If that’s what you want, all good.
But if it’s not, don’t believe it. You CAN run a service business and work with clients and be happy. I know I sure am, and I have the time and money freedom that so many are chasing with other business models.
The key is figuring out if something is really yours and if not, where it came from. From family, to society, to industry, there are always expectations placed on us. But we get to decide if we accept those expectations.
As always, none of this will be a quick overnight fix, but eliminating this BS will serve you well. I should know as a lot of this is BS I’ve had to work on, and continue to work on as a boss.