What I’ve learned from running Hay There Social Media, a social media agency that serves small to medium-size business clients for the last 10 years is, we know what works—and what doesn’t. My team of moms is the original work from home crew, back before the pandemic forced many people to make this their reality. So, when I say that I understand the juggle, the shuffle, the hustle: I really understand.
And we are now working every day to empower women to do what we do: to become social media business owners. The decade of experience, knowledge, and skills we’ve amassed are part of a tested business model and a proven system. But the skills we’ve learned and the scars we have to show from our mistakes can be applied to any woman who wants to start her own side hustle, company, or endeavor. That’s because these lessons are truly universal and timeless—and unique to women.
If you want to strike out on your own, but haven’t; if you hung your shingle but are floundering; if you are doing OK but know deep down you can do better: We understand. So, we’re sharing the top 5 things that are holding you back from making money and how you can fix them. Here’s to working smarter, not harder in 2021!
Worrying about what others think.
We hear this a lot—both as it pertains to business and in your personal life. But have you ever thought about how this concept is literally taking dollars out of your business’ bank account?
You have clients. You want more clients, so you need prospects. Obviously, for you to get more clients, they need to—on some level—like you or feel like you are someone they want to work with. This isn’t a bad thing! But if you are lowballing your prices or undercharging or undervaluing your services so people will like you, the only person you are shortchanging is yourself.
We get it. The desire to be likable could be its own discussion; it’s proven that our society literally conditions women to feel this obligation. The key here is, be likable but also be confident. Confident in your prices and your ability.
Sure, there are times when you need to get creative to make things work for a client but if you feel you are compromising your ability to be effective as a service provider out of a desire to keep the client liking you, it’s time to move on.
Imposter syndrome. This is a concept talked about a lot lately on social media. Women tend to fall into the trap of feeling like they aren’t qualified enough; not talented enough. Just…not enough. Professionally speaking, this can hold you back in a number of ways, from not applying for the next level job or not asking for a promotion because you don’t feel you have met every qualification perfectly and fully. However, have you ever thought that this fear could actually be stopping you from starting the business of your dreams in the first place? And that means fear is holding you back from making money.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned—and lessons I’ve seen work for the women we train to run their own social media businesses—is to say yes before you are ready.
When I started my own business, I didn’t have formal certification. I didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my family to follow or lean on for advice. I didn’t even know how it worked to price your services and run a team! I understand how busy we women are…especially in a pandemic and especially if you are a mom. It can seem more challenging to get going than to accept where you are today.
But know this: You are resourceful, capable, and intelligent. I promise, say “yes” and you will figure it out along the way. The more you practice doing that, the easier it becomes. Remember, there’s no official designation saying you are ready to be your own boss. But being self-employed doesn’t have to mean you have to do it alone, so don’t let fear stop you from starting.
Not having a plan.
Part of the challenge of not having a plan is not knowing what to plan! This is directly related to the fear problem. You are fearful of starting but yet you can’t plan without getting started.
You have to get off the hamster wheel.
When it comes to making money, start with making a plan of how much you’d like to earn. Then figure out the services you offer and how you can package them so you know exactly how many of each it would take to get to your goal. After that, determine how many prospects you’d have to have to give yourself a chance of closing the designated number of clients at each amount. It’s much more effective to reverse engineer rather than just say I want to make $10,000 a month but have no idea how to make up that number.
In the entrepreneurial spirit, you must be ready for change. Balls can drop when you don’t take time to outline a plan, so jot down possible scenarios and outcomes so you are ready for the inevitable change business—and life—throws at you.
Doing the bare minimum.
If you want to make money, you have to get clients. And if you don’t hold onto clients, you are holding yourself back from making money. One surefire way to have a high client turnover is to just do the bare minimum. To keep clients, you must focus on being what we call an “extra miler.”
Losing clients is extremely costly and time-consuming to have to keep onboarding new ones over and over again because you just can’t seem to keep them around for more than a few months. One thing our team has learned with utter certainty: If you are an extra miler, clients will notice and they will tell their colleagues and friends about you.
So, what does it mean to be an extra miler? It means doing what needs to be done in a cheerful way. It means anticipating what a client needs before he or she asks for it and delivering it with a smile. It means being available and responsive, overdelivering and being “that person” to your client. Make yourself indispensable.
Working outside your swim lane.
To start, you have to determine what your swim lane is. Are you a writer, a marketer, a graphic artist? What are you the best at and what skill lights you up?
By pulling your focus away from what you do best, by working outside of your swim lane, you are holding yourself back from making money. Why? Because you do your best—and achieve more—when you are in your swim lane.
An example of working outside your swim lane can be taking on projects that are not really a fit but you thought you could make it work for the money. It also means doing work that doesn’t really make you happy.
My advice, in the beginning, is, go for it. Be open to finding businesses that are the right fit and experiment with service pricing. Taking on a client who might not be the highest spender is worth it if you can get a testimonial or a case study out of it—that intangible value will bring you a monetary return in the future. You’ll make mistakes, but they only hold you back if you don’t learn from them.
Subscribe to the BlogHer newsletter for more tactical advice, exclusive content, and timely event updates.