May 22, 2017

A story in three acts: excitement, disillusionment, and disaster

It seems almost silly to say, but it needs saying:

You have to work on your business if you want it to grow.

It’s shocking how many people think that just because they have a skill, that they magically know how to run a business selling that skill.

Sure, almost anyone can hang out a shingle and make a go of it for a little while. But turning it into a durable business seems pretty rare.

The typical story plays out in three acts: excitement, disillusionment, and disaster.

Act 1: Excitement

You decide to quit your job. You tell your friends, family, and colleagues. Everyone is excited for you.

This excitement gets you some word of mouth. You get several introductions to prospective clients. You actually land a few projects. Yay!

You think, “By golly, this might just work!”

Act 2: Disillusionment

The projects mostly go okay (but not all of them do).

Some of your clients hire you for a second project (but it’s not as common as you’d like).

The excitement dies down and referrals drop to close to zero (maybe one or two per year).

Things are okay, but not great. You’re getting by but not getting ahead. Your enthusiasm has dropped noticeably. You find yourself appreciating how cushy your full time job was.

Act 3: Disaster

Then the bomb drops.

Your biggest, steadiest client - the one responsible for 80% or more of your revenue since the beginning - tells you that they’re not going to need you anymore.


You suddenly realize that you have been working IN your business, not ON your business.

In fact, you realize you haven’t really created a business at all.

You’ve created a job.

And it’s about to become a low paying one.

Should you crawl back to your old employer with your tail between your legs?

Should you look through Craigslist for small gigs to tide you over?

Should you sign up for a marketplace like Toptal, Upwork, or 99 Designs?

Ugh… these are all horrible options, but you don’t know what else to do.

Don’t Let This Happen To You

The best time to work on your business is: all the time!

Not just when you’re panicking because your whale client fired you. In fact, that’s probably the worst time because you’re going to be tempted to make bad decisions based on fear.

By hook or by crook, you need to carve out at least 10 hours per week, every week, to work on growing your business.

I know that 10 hours per week might sound like a lot. But if you really want to have a business instead of a job, you’re going to have to make some changes.

I’ll leave you with a quote:

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” —Thomas Jefferson



P.S. Have you got the time to work on your business but don’t know what to do? Apply for a roadmap and I’ll let you know if it’s a good fit for your situation ->